Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Lye Dong Boa aka "Lye Bow" - 1838-3/12/1930

A very old and highly respected resident of Alexandra in the person of Mr Lye Bow passed away in the Dunedin Hospital at an early hour on Tuesday morning. Mr Bow had reached the age of 100 some few years ago, but, despite his age, he was still able to move about and possessed all his faculties. He met with an accident on Monday while working on his orchard at Butcher’s Gully. He was removed to the hospital. In the early days, and in the days of the mining boom, he held valuable mining rights, and used these in his claims. Mr Bow was always of a generous disposition, giving freely at all times to the hospitals and patriotic funds. For a number of years he carted fruit throughout Central Otago, where he was renowned for his honesty and fair dealing. The funeral was held at Alexandra yesterday afternoon, and was attended by the Mayor, exmayors, councillors, and ex-councillors, who acted as pall-bearers. The Rev. A. B. Pywell (Anglican) conducted the service at the graveside, according to the customs of the East.   -Otago Daily Times, 6/12/1930.

Alexandra Cemetery.  The grave was found and the stone erected in 2014.

Lye Dong Boa was one of many Chinese miners who came to Otago (known to them as "New Gold Mountain") from the Guangdong Province in the 1860s.  A local legend - perhaps a myth - has it that he was smuggled out of the country after killing a man and with his life in peril.  He arrived in 1864.

Life for the Chinese miners in Otago was harsh and lonely.  Extremes of weather were expected.  Far from home, and without women (New Zealand authorities wanted no Chinese babies hoping for citizenship) it was a very difficult life.

Notice of application to Purchase Waste Lands of the Crown 

TAKE NOTICE that I have, in accordance with “The Land Act, 1885,” applied to the Waste Lands Board at Dunedin to purchase all that piece of land, containing 12 acres (more or less), situated in the Cairnhill district, and being portion of Run 249b —This piece of land is situated on a terrace on the east side of Butcher’s Gully, about a quarter of a mile south east from the Butcher’s Gully Hotel, and is fenced in partly by a sod wall and partly by a stone wall. 

Dated this 10th day of December. 1888. LYE BOW, By his Solicitor— Spence H. Turton. 

Any objections to the above-mentioned application must be lodged in writing at the office of the District Land Officer, Clyde, and a copy served on the applicant or his solicitor on or before the first day of January, 1889 ; and the hearing of any objections will take place at the Courthouse, Alexandra, on the 7th day of January, 1889, at the hour of 11 o’clock in the forenoon.  -Dunstan Times, 14/12/1888.

By 1893, Lye Don Boa was beginning to win prizes and commendations for his fruit at the local horticultural shows.   Apples and plums were successful.

Lye Bow,of Butchers Gully, has 1200 apple trees in his orchard, and 500 other fruit trees of various kinds. This season he has fully ten tons of apples for local consumption.   -Dunstan Times, 6/4/1894.

But the constant problem for him, as for all others working in growing or mining pursuits in the area, was water.  Without water, gold could not be won and crops could not be raised.  A right to take water for whatever purpose from a local stream was essential and to be guarded carefully.

Water Races
Henry Symes. —Two miles long, two heads, Butcher’s Creek, to be returned to creek again. Opposed by McNeill and party and Lye Bow. Granted for nine months from 1st April to 31st December. The water to be turned into Butcher's Gully above McNeil’s head-race. The water to be used for battery purposes only.  -Dunstan Times, 11/5/1894. 

er successful he might be in local competitions, Lye Dong Boa would always be seen and defined as "a Chinaman."  However, he was part of the Teviot and Alexandra Fruitgrowers Association and his apples, peas, pears and plums continued to be praised.

May 25. — Our winter so far has been exceptionally mild, and were it not for the sharp frosts experienced at night it might be said with some truth that we have real summer weather, so warm and sunny are the days. Fruit growers' Conference.— I am pleased to note that Mr Dawson, of Conroy's Gully, secured an honorary certificate for his exhibit of out-door grapes at the fruit show held in connection with the recent conference. Mr Dawson is most certainly worthy the esteem of all fruit-growers in Central Otago, as he is ever first and the most prominent in every thing that is likely to bear testimony of the fruit-growing capabilities of this district. Unlike some of his neighboring orchardists Mr Dawson takes a delight in practically illustrating the importance of the district as a fruit-growing centre, and it is admitted by all that he has been eminently successful in his efforts to make our district known throughout the length and breadth of Australasia. Had we another orchardist in Central Otago of a like active and energetic nature, we would indeed have reason to believe that there is a glorious future awaiting us at no distant date. And a word of praise is also due to Mr Lye Bow, of Butcher's Gully. Mr Bow is a straight-out enthusiast in fruit culture, and is ever ready with his purse and energy to assist in any movement for furthering the interests of the industry. His exhibit of apples was greatly admired at Wellington; and there is one little matter in connection with his orchard that might be worth the knowing by orchardists in general. I have been informed on very good authority that Mr Lye Bow succeeded in keeping away the codlin moth pest from his orchard for a number of years; in fact, it was only last season that the pest found its way to Mr Lye Bow's property, and even yet the damage done is comparatively slight. The wonder is what means were employed in keeping back the pest, as other orchards in the neighbourhood were being literally destroyed by it during a number of years past, and all this time Mr Bow enjoyed an interesting immunity from the moth.   -Otago Witness, 28/5/1896.

The Courts
Wardens Court, Alexandra
COMPLAINTS. Lye Bow v Olof Magnus.— Damages Ll0 for alleged illegal diversion of water in Butcher's Creek after being notified to desist. Mr Gilkison for complainant and Mr Macdonald for defendant. This case was partially held last court day, and was now continued, when the court records and all kinds of ancient history as far back as 1863, were ransacked. The question in dispute was priority of water in Butcher's Creek. A large number of witnesses were called and lengthy legal argument advanced on both sides. After a patient hearing his Worship reserved his decision to the October court day.  -Dunstan Times, 25/9/1896.

Central Otago A&P Show (excerpt)
The refreshment booth was presided over by Miss Pitches, who seemed to be doing a good business, Mr Lye Bow had the fruit stall and seemed to be well patronised. Mr Pitches, the popular president, was indefatigable in looking after everything. During the day, our member, Mr C. C. Rawlins, M.H.R., visited the show ground.   -Dunstan Times, 25/11/1898.

As ever, water was an ongoing problem - especially for the people of the nearby town of Alexandra.

Alexandra Notes
Water Supply. —As I have already stated the town race was dry on the morning of the fire, and until Tuesday night we had no water for more than a fortnight. The slightest shower seems to break the race away, and it takes a considerable time to effect repairs. As showing the scarcity of laborers in the district, none could be got to go on the race, and a party of Chinamen had to be engaged. The water question is assuming a serious phase, and the sooner the council does something practical the better for the place. No one in the council seems able to lead off into anything which would cause a water scheme to be gone thoroughly into, and what apparently is wanted are practical members to constitute that body. Since writing the above, I notice that at the last council meeting, Mr Kelman brought the matter of the water supply before the council, and stated that something would have to be done. After some discussion, a committee was appointed to interview Lye Bow,who has a water right from Butcher's Creek, to ascertain if he would lease or sell part of his water to the council. It is to be hoped arrangements will be made with Lye Bow, as it will thus allow of some water to flow continuously into the town. The old race ought to be got rid of, as at the present rate of cost for maintenance, it would soon ruin the council.  -Cromwell Argus, 18/4/1899.

An interesting case was disposed of at the Clyde Court on Tuesday last, before Mr S. E. McCarthy, S.M. John Ewing applied for leave to shift water out of a race heading out of Butcher's Gully Creek into a race four chains higher up the creek, the present termination of the existing race to remain unaltered. Lye Bow, fearing that this was an infringement of his right, insomuch as that if the water were taken outside the present watershed it would be very much harder for him to detect any infringement on his superior rights out of the same creek, objected. Mr R. Gilkison appeared for the applicant and Mr Shortland (instructed by Mr S. Solomon, of Dunedin) appeared on behalf of the objector. The case was heard at Alexandra on Monday, and the Warden then granted the application subject to Lye Bow's superior right. The next day at Clyde the case was again mentioned, and a re-hearing applied for. His Worship, after hearing argument, refused to grant the re hearing, Mr Gilkison having assured him that his client (Mr Ewing) did not intend in any way to interfere with existing rights to lift water out of the said creek, but at the same time to make Lye Bow's position more secure, he made some substantial alterations in the minutes of his judgment. -Dunstan Times, 15/6/1900.

Dessert Fruits
The Canterbury M H R's, who accompanied sir Joseph Ward, on his late lightning tour of Central Otago, were-greatly pleased at the show of fruit upon the dining table at the Commercial Hotel, Clyde, they being the object of much favorable comment. A great quantity of the fruit was supplied by Mr Dawson, of Conroy's Gully, and there was a great display of apples from Mr Lye Bow's wellknown orchard at Butcher's Gully. Mr Lye Bow is one of our most patriotic fellow colonists, as mark how he is ever to the fore with presentations of fruit when any distinguished visitors pay us the honor of a brief stay in the district.  -Dunstan Times, 19/5/1903.

Earnscleugh and Conroys Orchards (excerpt)
Mr Lye Bow is famous as an apple grower and took first prize at the Wellington show some years ago for this fruit. The trees are dressed with a decoction of Chinese oil and have hitherto escaped the ravages of the codlin moth, but scale and woolly aphis blight are plainly visible on most of them. The young trees planted out this year were obtained from Ferguson’s Nursery, New South Wales, and have grown well, in fact almost without a failure. They consist of apricots, peaches and cherries. As an evidence of the quantity of fruit taken off his property annually, Mr Lye Bow stated that his return for last year amounted to £2500. Against this however he has to make an outlay of over £600 in wages and horse feed. The greater part of the orchard is laid down in grass which he cuts for hay.  -Dunstan Times, 10/11/1903.

From Conroy's Gully we proceeded to Butcher's Gully, where Mr Lye Bow's orchard was visited. Mr Bow has attained quite a reputation for the quality and quantity of apples raised by him annually. This orchard contains a thousand apple trees, two thousand apricot, two hundred peach, and two hundred greengage plum trees, besides several hundred pear trees of many varieties. The apple trees showed promise of bearing a heavy crop, and the apricots are fairly well laden. Mr Lye Bow planted out a thousand young trees this season, the greater number of these being apricots. Owing to the unfavourable weather in the past year, Mr Bow was at a financial loss through his wages sheet, but with a smile he informed us of his expectation of netting £3000 this incoming season, "It seems a large sum for the produce of 14 acres," my companion remarks; but Mr Bow is serious, and assures us that it is "all lite," and that he has nearly reached that figure "befoah" now. Wishing Mr Bow the realisation of his hopes, we turn our horse's head, towards Alexandra, and after a drive of an hour's duration we draw rein at Mr Noble's...  -Otago Daily Times, 14/11/1903.

Local and General
The Otago Central Railway League, having come to the conclusion that an exhibit, from Central Otago at the forthcoming winter show, to be held in Dunedin on Wednesday, June 1st, would do a great deal to show the urgent necessity which exists for pushing on this railway, secured space for this purpose. The league has very kindly offered to defray all expenses in connection with the exhibit and has written to Messrs J S Dickie, Jno Sheehy, James Bodkin, Edward Freed, Jno Wilson, R Dawson, A C Iversen, Wm Noble, J Roberts and Lye Bow, asking them to consult with others in the district with a view to collecting a really first-class assortment, and it is to be hoped that, for the good of the district, the exhibit will be one which will do it justice. Moreover, especially as regards fruit it is somewhat late to get a representative exhibit, as the bulk of this product has been marketed long since. However, with the gentlemen above mentioned at the head of affairs there is little doubt but that, if they decide to fall in with the league’s suggestion, the display will be a creditable one.   -Dunstan Times, 17/5/1904.

The Golden Beach dredge has not yet made a start. This is owing to the fact that water cannot be obtained to keep it a sufficient depth in the paddock. I hear that there is just a chance of procuring a supply of water from Lye Bow; but, owing to certain parties, some few years ago, trying to upset Lye Bow's water rights, he is somewhat suspicious. A supply of water from this source is, therefore, problematical and if the company induces Lye Bow to let it have water it will pay pretty stiffly for it.   -Otago Witness, 24/5/1905.

Water.  Always a problem in mining country of Otago.  Usually there was never enough for those who needed it.  Sometimes there was too much:


Lye Bow's orchard at Butcher's Gully suffered severely by the recent thunderstorm (says the Dunstan Times). The flood carried everything before it, about 200 young fruit trees and a crop of potatoes estimated to yield over 30 tons being sluiced out of the orchard and into the gully below. The whole of the soil in this part of the orchard (about eight acres) was swept clean off down to the clay bottom. The whole occurrence did not take more than 10 minutes.  -Otago Daily Times, 30/1/1907.

And, when there was not enough water for everyone's needs, there were arguments.  The following is merely one of many court hearings in which Lye Dong Bao - or his counsel - sought a ruling over who had the right to use the water of Butchers Creek.  This one, however, is significant because it shows that the water right has now been signed over for use by the people of Alexandra.

The Courts.
Monday, June 10th 1907. (Before F. J. Burgess, Esq., Warden.) 
Lye Bow and anr., permission to change the purpose of water race, 1008a. —Objected to by Josiah P. Lane. Mr Bartholomew appeared for applicants, Mr McKean for the objector. 
This was a case in which Lye Bow, being the holder of a water right of two heads from Butchers Gully and haying sold his interest in the water race to the Borough of Alexandra, sought to apply for an exchange of title from mining purposes to that of domestic purposes. The objector filed the following reasons for his objection to the granting of the application :
1. The objector has for some time been carrying on gold mining near Alexandra and has expended on his properties large sums of money without so far obtaining any return, and is employing on the said properties a number of workmen. 2. The objector, amongst other rights, holds a water race granted from Butchers Creek, the same creek as applicant's race takes its supply from. 3. The objector's said race is used to carry water to his claim at Alexandra and is of  the greatest importance to objector, as the water is used both for sluicing and for working the dredge. In case of shortage of water operations are seriously interfered with. 4. Objector's race has been continuously bona fide used for gold mining for about 40 years past. The applicant's race was granted for mining, but for many years past has been mainly used by the applicant, Lye Bow (without the permission of the Warden) for gardening, and no bona fide mining has been carried on with same of recent years. 5. Objector has been in the past much interfered with by the shortage of water and litigation with, and demands by the said Lye Bow, although objector believes his title is superior to that of Lye Bow, but some of the old papers connected with his title (both at Alexandra Court, and these which should have been kept by his predecessors in title) have been lost. 6. The whole of the water available is required for mining purposes by objector except in the spring time when there is a surplus. 7. In case any order is made, I ask that all my rights and my industry be protected. 
Mr Bartholomew raised objections to the court recognising two clauses—viz., 4 and 5 of the objections to the application. Regarding clause 4, counsel contended that the court had previously came to a finding in this matter, hence such could not be used as an objection. As to clause 5, the priority of the right had been finally fixed and counsel submitted that it was conclusive for all time.
Mr McKean did not rely greatly on clause 4 of the objections, but contended that by clause 5 there was no reason why he should not show that the objector's right had been interfered with by the shortage of water. The Warden ruled that Lye Bow had priority according to the documents, but as the chief objection was the taking of the water away from being used for mining purposes the evidence of the objection must be confined to that.
For the objector Mr McKean said the objector was the proprietor of the Golden Beach dredge, which was worked by water power, whilst water was also required for sluicing purposes. The objector held a subsequent right to Lye Bow's out of the creek, but there was not sufficient water in the creek to supply both rights. Counsel contended that water required for mining operations should not be granted for other purposes, and as the water was necessary for working objector's property by the granting of the application mining operations would be greatly interfered with. He did not deny that the borough was entitled to it, but he would say that the borough should not get it at the expense of the mining industry. The council did not need two heads, as at present one head was sufficient to supply the borough's wants. He submitted that if the license was granted at all it could only be granted on condition that one-half of the water be at the disposal of the inferior rights effected.. He would show that the water was required for mining purposes and the application should not be granted. He asked that after hearing the evidence the order be revoked and that the water be restored to its usual position, as the evidence would establish that the water was required for mining purposes. 
Evidence in support of the objection was given by Louis Anderson (dredgemaster of the objector's dredge), who deposed that the water in the creek was not sufficient to supply the existing rights. The shortage of water seriously interfered with the working of the dredge. Under cross-examination witness said that serious interference of the water necessitated working the dredge by steam instead of water. 
Robert Symes, miner, of Bald Hill Flat, gave evidence that the granting of the application would have the effect of locking up hundreds of acres of prospecting country in Butchers Creek. If the application was granted and mining operations were carried on the water would be polluted. Witness admitted that all the alluvial mining in Bald Hill Flat was worked out, and no mining had been done in Butchers Creek of recent years.
In support of the application Mr Bartholomew submitted that the objection had not been met from a proper point of view. He contended that it had not been proved, all that was brought forth in support of the objection being that Lane required more water. It had not been shown that there was sufficient water available for storage purposes. He submitted that the matter should be governed by the provisions of subsection 8 of section 116. That section had a strong bearing, as even if Lane held the water and the borough applied for it under this section Lane's right could be cancelled. So it was when a public body was prepared to go to considerable expense in requiring it for public use. As the matter stood Lane wanted the whole water in the creek without being put to any expense on his part. Counsel pointed out that it was purely a contest between Lane and the borough, and the council was prepared to accept the attendant disadvantages by giving half the water for mining purposes. Counsel proceeded to show that a short time ago a certain quantity of water had to be reserved in the same creek for couple of settlers. How then was a borough of over 1000 inhabitants to be prevented from having rights reserved them. He contended that Lane wished to get a cheap means of working his dredge at no expense to himself. He hoped the warden would look at it from the borough's point of view. The town was an important centre, and should not be handicapped or prevented from developing the place by being unable to obtain a water supply. In the past the borough had been subject to considerable loss of revenue by not having a good water supply, and from the evidence he would call His Worship would have no hesitation in granting the application.

Evidence was then given by Henry Schaumann (mayor of the borough) stating that the present water supply was unsatisfactory and under the conditions property within the borough was depreciating in value, whilst the inhabitants did not have a pure water supply. If the application was granted the water would greatly help to develop the town and raise property to its proper value. The Warden intimated that he would take time to consider the application and would then forward it on to the Minister with his recommendation.  -Alexandra Herald, 12/6/1907.

Borough Council
The mayor said that as a result of the interview with Lye Bow by the committee appointed to go into the matter with power to act, re purchasing the water right for two heads from Butchers Gully, belonging to Lye Bow, it had been decided to purchase the race. The clerk then read the agreement of purchase, which was made subject to the granting of the title of exchange. The race had been bought for ,£500 on the following terms:— £20 to be paid when title is granted; £30 when transfer is signed; and £50 on June 10th 1908; and £100 each year till 1912, when the full amount will have been paid. 
The council expressed themselves as well pleased with the purchase, which would mean a valuable asset to the borough.   -Alexandra Herald, 12/6/1907.

The buying of the the Butchers Gully water rights was acclaimed by most - but not all - 
Sir, —As the blocking of Butchers Gully to mining is a matter of more than local importance, this is my excuse for bringing the matter before your readers. The Borough of Alexandra has purchased Lye Bow's water in Butcher's Gully, and is moving to borrow money to bring the water into the town. The effect of this scheme, if carried out, will be to block the whole of the gully, and all the country draining into the gully, from the Old Man Rock on the crown of the range right down to the intake of the race — a distance of some five or six miles. To my mind the blocking of this large area of country to mining for all time is a huge and suicidal mistake. That the bed of the creek is probably worked out is little justification for withholding the whole face of the range from the pick of the prospector. Intersecting this country several promising reefs are known to exist, and only await development. The rising generation requires bread and butter as well as water. Dredging is palpably pinching out here, and why the immense possibilities of lode mining should be deliberately blocked and ignored by a mining community is difficult, indeed, to comprehend. The arguments relied on in favour of this backward movement are that it would be obviously unfair for the intents of a few fossickers to stand in tho way of the community; that the health and wellbeing of the people of the borough depend largely upon a pure and permanent supply of water being obtained. Everyone knows that the old historic gold miner is rapidly becoming extinct, but that is no reason why the reefs his instinct and genius have located should be closed against the science, capital, and enterprise of the future. Instead of being a question between the interests of a few fossickers and those of the borough, the point is really whether the people of Alexandra should block for all time natural opportunities against the entire Dominion. No one can deny that a supply of pure water to any community is a blessing and a joy for ever. But that Butcher's Gully water, if brought in, will prove either a joy or a blessing is, to me, at least problematical. Butcher's Basin on both sides, and up towards the range in front, is very steep. The consequence is that dying sheep, poisoned rabbits, animal and vegetable matter naturally tend towards the creek. Every shower of rain, every gale of wind sweeps and blows filth into the water. The permanency of Butcher's Gully water is also a matter of grave doubt. If this race is constructed, and next season should prove as dry as this one has been, the people of Alexandra will, I venture to predict, renounce for ever expenditure on the gully water. In face of all the circumstances — in view of the fact that the people of Alexandra have at hand, waiting to be tapped, a splendid, inexhaustible supply of water, free to all, fed by the ungrudging hand of Nature from the eternal ice and snow of the Alps, there does not appear to be the slightest grounds for closing Butcher's Gully against the miner's pick. 
—I am, etc. J. H. Davidson.  -Otago Daily Times, 20/3/1908.

The acquisition of the water from Butchers Gully was only the beginning of the project to establish a reliable supply of water for the town of Alexandra.  Taking water from Lye Dong Bao's property to the town was a challenge.  The gully itself needed to be traversed, after which was a sheer cliff face.  The first was overcome using a inverted syphon - pipes from the end of the race dropping into the gully, across the creek then up on the other side.  The pipes are long gone now, but the race can be followed, after walking across the current storage dam, to where it ended at the syphon intake.
The "uphill" side of the syphon, seen from the south side of Butchers Gully.  Hocken Library photo.
The race on the northern side of the Gully is still there and in decent condition for its age.  The part which was constructed around the cliff face is still largely intact, though suffering from the years, the weather and falling rocks.  It was hung from holes drilled in the rock to take suspension bolts.  All the work was done by men lowered by ropes from the cliff top.  The following photos were taken a few years ago -
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By early 1909, work was well underway to bring Lye Dong Boa's water to the town.

New Waterworks for Alexandra.
Accompanied by His Worship the Mayor of Alexandra (Mr H. Schauman), a representative of this paper last week paid a visit of inspection to the new waterworks at Butcher's Creek, which are being instructed to supply the borough with water for domestic purposes. 
Some time ago the Borough Council was offered the prior right to two heads of water from Butcher's Creek for the sum of £500 and the councillors, knowing the inadequate supply that was at the disposal of the town, unanimously decided to accept the offer of Lye Bow, and the first deposit was paid, thus clinching the offer. Steps were next taken to raise the sum of £1200 from the Government for bringing in the water, and the loan was granted in November of last year. Tenders were then called for the work; and Mr George Campbell, whose name is quite familiar in race cutting throughout the district was the successful tenderer for the construction of the water race to the proposed dam at the head of Half-mile Gully. 
As stated before, our reporter was given an opportunity of viewing the progress of the work. Arriving on the scene of operations, we were at once taken in hand by the contractor (Mr Campbell), who generously showed us over the length of race already constructed. The race is taken from Butcher's Creek about three-quarters of a mile above the hotel. The water is carried in open race until it crosses Butcher's Creek by means of a syphon, but before it could be brought to this point it was necessary to construct 21 chains of new race, whilst the old portion of the race was cleaned out and widened. The syphon, which consists of 340 feet of 15 inch piping, is carried across the creek on 4 x 12 bluegum trestles, three sets having been put in, and standing 30 feet in height. From where the water enters the syphon to the bottom of the creek is 80 feet, and it can easily be seen that the handling of the pipes was no easy undertaking. However, the contractor has erected the syphon in a most commendable manner, and a closer inspection showed that not a solitary leak was to be found in the syphon, which, in order to allow it being cleaned out at any time, has a casting placed at the bottom, where the water can be run out into the creek. From the syphon the race wends its way round the rocky bluffs on the west side of Butcher's Creek, passing through many ugly places. In many parts the race is cut through very hard and rough country, and where the work of cutting was found impossible the race was constructed by building stone walls, these latter being erected in a really splendid manner; and the absence of leaks, not unlikely in such construction works, was a noticeable feature of the work. When the race was first surveyed it was found that in many parts it would be necessary to flume the water, and for this purpose the borough council wisely purchased 34 chains of fluming from the Fourteen-mile Dredging Company, and these were delivered at the race site at a moderate cost of £3 per chain. The fluming, apart from three pieces on the opposite side of the creek, commences soon after leaving the syphon, and it must be said that a permanent job has been made with the erection of the fluming. Kauri collars are placed every six feet apart, with crossbars every three feet, and the fluming is firmly laid. In two different places the race is cut through gates of solid rock in preference to going round, one of these being ten feet deep and half a chain in length; whilst at the various small creeks passed en route the fluming is raised to allow all flood water to pass underneath without endangering the race. But the most dangerous portion of the work remains to be told, for as we passed along the race we came to an enormous bluff of rocks, where it was found necessary to carry the race round by means of fluming. To do this was a stupendous undertaking, consisting as it did of nine chains of fluming with one chain of race intervening. The work of erecting the fluming was accomplished by means of a swinging chair affixed by ropes and chains to the top of the bluff. Here the workmen and material were lowered over the cliff, the men working in the chair with hundreds of feet of a clear drop into the precipitous gulf below, and mountainous cliff towering high above them. Yes! an inspection of this dangerous-looking bluff leaves one to wonder how the work was completed without the least sign of hitch or accident. Large iron bars were driven into the rock, on which rested heavy bluegum stringers, and on top of these the fluming was placed, the whole structure being bridled to the top of the cliff by wire ropes. In the majority of places the fluming was rested on benches of rock blasted out for such purpose, and often hundreds of tons of stone were shot away on the bluff, the creek below being blocked up by the large stones sent over the precipice. In one place the contractor was compelled to blast off 19 feet of projecting rock to enable a bench to be made, and one had only to stand on the brink of the bluff and look down the cliff to realise the hazardness of the work. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the fluming was successfully placed in position, and as the water was running through the portion of the race already constructed (the contractor making certain of his work by bringing the water along the race as he proceeds with his contract) we were enabled to see that the fluming was perfectly tight. The water was running smoothly all the way. To again give our readers an idea of the difficulty encountered, we may mention that in more places than one the surveyor was unable to get at the cliff to take bearings of the race evenly round the bluff. However, the work at this place was finished, and at the time of our visit the men were working on what is called the last bluff, where nine chains of fluming are required to carry the water round a perpendicular precipice, thence to the corner, where it leaves Butcher's Creek. Blasting operations were in full swing, and the contractor will be obliged to carry out similar work at this spot as was done at the other bluff. He anticipates no difficulty; and, as he remarked, "the back of the job will be broken once we are round this bluff." An inspection proved him to be right, for although the country is hard and rocky from the last bluff the work will be carried out more expeditiously. From the corner the race proceeds in a downward course to where the second spyhon will be erected to carry the water across the creek near the road, and this then brings the race alongside Lane's syphon, within a few yards of the main road. Here an old line of race is picked up, and the contractor expects to save over two miles of race cutting by taking a cut through couple of spurs, and the work thence to the dam should not take long to construct. At the time of the visit 50 chains of new race on this side of the syphon were completed, and when the last bluff has been passed all the engineering difficulties will have been encountered. The water is running through the race all the time; and, to use a common phrase, it is "as clear as crystal,'' and free from debris of any kind. As an indication of the nature of the country, and a convincing argument in support of the work already completed, it may be mentioned that a recent visitor to the locality, asked the question, "Was the £1200 loan merely for preliminary expenses and was "a further loan to be granted later on."
The contractor commenced work at Butcher's Creek syphon at the beginning of the year, and he is deserving of every credit for the highly satisfactory manner in which he has so far carried out his contract. It is indeed a matter of congratulation to the town and district to know that we have in our midst a man of the "contracting" capabilities of Mr Campbell. We have little hesitation in stating that ratepayers of the town may rest assured that the contract for constructing the new waterworks is in capable hands, and without any unforseen difficulties. Mr Campbell hopes to complete the works well within contract time. 
The dam, near the head of Halfmile Gully, was next inspected, and the site is an admirable one for storing a large body of water. It is situate in a natural basin, and only two walls (each four Chains in length) require to be built to hold the water, as the hillsides form the remaining portion of the dam. The contractors (Messrs Magnus Bros) have one of the walls almost completed, and filling-in operations were going on at the time of our visit. The walls are being constructed of stone, and the contract specifies that they must be four feet at the bottom tapered to two feet on top. Then again it is provided that loom 26 feet wide at the bottom must be placed against the walls inside the dam, and tapered to eight feet on top. This, it will be at once conjectured, should be sufficient to contend against the large extent of water pressing on the walls. The dam is roughly estimated to be over 400 feet in length, and 250 feet in width, and the walls are 11 feet in height, so that provision has been made for storing an enormous body of water. A cutting has been made from the dam to the proposed commencement of the pipe line leading to the town, and the extractors appear to be carrying out their contract in workmenlike manner. The mayor expressed himself as well satisfied with the progress being made. 
The length of pipe-line necessary to convey the water from the dam till it enters the mains at the bottom of Tarbert street is 4250 feet, and the council has sufficient pipes for this purpose. The pressure will be 300 feet, or about 30 feet short, of Rivers' supply, and the borough has received permission from the Vincent County Council to carry the pipe line across the Alexandra bridge. The right for a bye-wash down Half-mile Gully, to enable the dam to be cleaned out at any time, was recently granted to the borough by the warden.
Before concluding the article, which we trust will be of interest to the ratepayers of the town, we desire to pay a small tribute to the energy, ability and scrupulous honesty displayed by our worthy mayor in his endeavors to secure for the town a permanent supply of water at the least possible cost. Mr Schaumann has, to our own knowledge, made many good bargains in purchasing material and plant for the new waterworks, and wherever a shilling could be saved the mayor has gone into the pros and cons of the deal in order to attain his object. It is not with any desire of flattery that we make reference to Mr Schaumann's business instincts, but we merely wish to emphasise the debt of gratitude that is due to the mayor by the ratepayers of the town, for he has indeed labored long and earnestly, and is ever content to accept as the sole guerdon of his efforts the satisfaction of duty unselfishly and honorably discharged. Periodically, and with painful frequency, individuals who appear to be marked down for brilliant careers in the more important branches of local government affairs, for no apparent reason, become seized of an unconquerable desire to bury their talents in the seclusion of absolute retirement from the hurly-burly of strenuous endeavor after the common weal, and they forthwith withdraw their aid from the evolution of matters that signify so much to the community as a whole. This process of self-effacement has, however, been conspicuous by its absence in our midst of later years, and let it be here said, to the standing credit of the mayor and councillors, that the carrying out of the behests of the people has been entrusted to worthy hands, controlled with commendable patriotism, the sole object of which has been bettering the condition of the community. In other words, the present constitution of the Alexandra Borough Council has never been weary of well-doing.  -Alexandra Herald, 17/3/1909.

After the successful completion of the Borough Water Race, Lye Dong Bao applied for the right to a quarter heard of water from the Borough supply, presumably to keep his orchard and gardens irrigated.  This application was opposed by the Borough and went to court.

Alexandra Wardens Court.
Lye Bow, water race, 1/4 head from Butcher's Gully. Objected to by Borough of Alexandra and J. P. Lane. Mr McKean for applicant, Mr Bodkin objectors. Mr Bodkin explained in opening that objectors were not altogether opposed to the grant of the application, but desired that the order now in force providing that half a head of water now down the creek for public purposes be varied to one-quarter of a head. Applicant and David Low were the only parties in the Creek, and as water made in the creek below the borough intake no one would be effected if the order was varied. Evidence was given by J. P. Lane and G. Hannay (borough raceman). The Warden said that as from the evidence there was no necessity for Lane to allow half a head to pass down for public use. It appeared to him that neither of the objectors were effected by the Warden's order or by the grant of the present application. He intimated his intention of inspecting the locality and would give his decision next court day.   -Alexandra Herald, 20/7/1910.

Lye Bow (in cart) - Hocken Library photo
On Monday, October 17th, 1910, the right was granted.  Lye Dong Bao had his water and continued growing and selling fruit and winning prizes.  In 1914, news of war came to Otago.

ALEXANDRA. (From Our Own Correspondent.) ALEXANDRA, September: 18. The Patriotic Fund stands at £422 8s 3d. Councillor Murphy deserves great credit for time given to collecting. He alone gathered £114 odd. A noteworthy incident of Mr Murphy's activities occurred one day, when he met Lye Bow, a wellknown Chinese orchardist, of Butcher's Gully. When shown the list Lye Bow said: "Welly good, see you by-and-bye." A few days later Lye Bow came in to Alexandra, hunted up Mr Murphy, and handed him £10 10s for the fund. When thanked he smiled and said: "Oh, no matter." Lye Bow is naturalised.  -Otago Daily Times, 19/9/1914.

A later issue of the ODT - 100 years later - adds that Lye Dong Bao was one of the first Chinese citizens naturalised in New Zealand.  This had occurred in 1887 and enabled him to lawfully own property in New Zealand.  It might have been with a touch of conscious irony that he was described by a number of newspapers as a "white" man.  This now archaic term (this author recalls seeing "A White Man" as an epitaph on a gravestone at Frankton in Central Otago - a cemetery not yet explored by him) was used as a complement to a person's integrity at the time.

Local and General

A White Man. With characteristic generosity, Lye Bow, of Butcher’s Gully has given ten guineas to the Patriotic Fund.—Dunstan Times.   -Lake County Press, 24/9/1914.



"HE WAS WHITE CLEAN WHITE INSIDE." So in effect wrote Kipling of Gunga Din and the same may well be said of our respected Butcher's Gully Chinese orchardist Lye Bow. He has at various times given proof of his whiteness and goodness of heart, but the latest proof is in addition, evidence of his loyalty to the flag under which he is located, and the Empire of which he is a naturalised subject. The other day Councillor Murphy "stuck, up" Lye Bow for a subscription to the patriotic fund. "All li me see you again" was the reply. Shortly afterwards when Lye Bow was in town again he hunted Mr Murphy up and handed him the splendid donation of ten guineas. When Mr Murphy very naturally expressed his high appreciation of this generous contribution Lye Bow merely smiled benignly and said "Oh all li that no mattah." The gift is generous and the spirit displayed worthy a Briton. Long live Lye Bow.  -Alexandra Herald, 23/9/1914.

The same cart, the same employee and some locals - at Waitahuna, 1910.  Hocken Library photo.

Those ten guineas were by no means the last donation to the various patriotic and benevolent funds set up during the war and acknowledged by the local paper.
After the end of the war, time may have been telling on Mr Lye.  In 1924 came reports that he sold his orchard.

WE beg to announce that we have purchased the old-established ORCHARD at Butcher’s Gully from Mr Lye Bow. Our address is Thompson and West, Braeval Orchard, Fruitlands road. All varieties of fruit for sale.  -Otago Daily Times, 17/9/1924.

Lye Bow, a very old and respected resident, and particularly well known in Central, is at present an inmate of the Dunstan Hospital. He arrived home late on Sunday and tripped and fell over a bank, with the result that some of his ribs were broken. The injury is serious. Just as we were going to press word came through from the Hospital to say that Mr Lye Bow died this morning. It is not known what age deceased was, but it is generally believed that he must have been close on 100.  -Alexandra Herald, 3/12/1930.

There seems to be some contradiction in the reported last years of Lye Dong Bao's life.  The reports of his orchard changing hands are contradicted by the detail of him dying after an accident working in his orchard, and also by the advertising of it for sale on behalf of his estate in 1931.  The orchard, as might be expected, came with its essential water right.
Also after his death, a claim against his estate offers details of the life of an orchard worker at the time and a portrait of Ly Dong Bao in his last years.

(Before Mr H. J. Dixon, S.M.) The monthly sitting of the Magistrate's Court was held at Alexandra on Thursday. 
Long v. Estate of Lye Bow. 
Jim Long claimed from A. W. Gascoigne, executor in the estate of Lye Bow, deceased, wages for two years and eight months, less some small amounts received, at the rate of 12/per day. Mr Jamieson appeared for plaintiff, and Mr Sunderland for defendant. 
Jim Long (through an interpreter) produced his account book. He started work for Lye Bow in February, 1928. He worked two full fruit seasons, and up to the time of Lye Bow's death. They were in the midst of the fruit season when he began work. This made the time of starting, February, 1929, till December last year. Lye Bow agreed to pay him 12/- per day, the amount paid the remainder. Sue Pee called on him in the Chinese Gardens in Dunedin, and instructed him to come up to Lye Bow, who told him to start work at 12/- per day all the year round. Witness, at one time, desired to leave, but Lye Bow told him if he stayed he would get his 12/- a day. Witness paid for his own food. He had to cook, feed the horses and fowls, and cut wood on Sundays. Lye Bow was 101 years of age. He was that feeble he could hardly walk. Witness had to do all Lye Bow's business. He supplied his own food, because the food required by Lye Bow, on account of his age, was not suitable. Witness worked in the orchard, weeding and building a stone wall. Lye Bow would sometimes tell him what to do. He had told him not to touch the dead trees. Witness attended to the consigning of fruit for one season. He carted fruit to the station on five Sundays. He worked from daylight to dark. He always did what work Lye Bow told him. Witness kept a record of money given him in the book produced. He planted some of the potatoes, and Lye Bow assisted him to plant others.
To Mr Sunderland: Witness was 72 years of age in January. He worked from daylight to dark in the gardens in Dunedin at a wage of £3 a week, with tobacco. He was always in the garden. Some men got more than others. Sue Pee pressed him to come to Lye Bow. The work in the gardens was not too hard for him. Lye Bow went about with the cart, but witness had to harness the horse and assist him into the cart. Lye Bow packed all the fruit, but witness put it into the cart. He assisted Lye Bow with the spraying. Lye Bow mixed the spray, but witness applied it. He was never paid up to date. Lye Bow always said his money was with Mr Solomon. After witness left Lye Bow he spent a day in the hotel. He was off one day when he broke his wrist. He had just come into town when he broke his wrist, and had not had time to get drunk. He had £30 odd when he came from Dunedin. On Sunday he chopped enough wood to do the week. It took a few hours. He bought blankets and an axe at a clearing sale. He had had some drink, but was not drunk. He bidded for whatever he fancied. He did not knock about the town drinking when employed by Lye Bow. Lye Bow left his tools lying about, but witness used to pick them up. He did not clean up the place while Lye Bow was alive. He was offered £60 in settlement of the claim, but he required the full amount. The first offer was £25, the next £50, and the third £60, but still he would not accept this. 
To Mr Jamieson: The sheep used to get over the stone fence, which he was repairing, to get the good grass inside.
William Carline, Borough foreman. Alexandra, said he was sometimes once a week, and sometimes twice a week, through Lye Bow's property, while attending to the Borough race. He saw claimant working in Lye Bow's property. It took Lye Bow all his time to walk about at the end. He was not capable of looking after himself.
To Mr Sunderland: He would be perhaps an hour around Lye Bow's place during the week, and sometimes two hours. Two or three hundred trees were cultivated by Long. He had not seen Long in Alexandra for a whole day. He had seen him going out of town with loads of cases between 5 and 6 o'clock. He had never seen him drunk. As far as pruning was concerned, the orchard was in a disgraceful condition. It was impossible for one man to keep the orchard clean. Lye Bow would not allow anyone to prune the trees. 
William Williams, farmer, Butcher's Gully, said he was a neighbour of Lye Bow's. Jim Long worked among the trees, and attended to the fruit. He was conscientious, and worked early and late. He had never seen claimant the worse for drink. Lye Bow was feeble, and could not look after himself. Long had to cook for him, and help him along on many occasions. Witness thought Long was worth 12/per day, as he worked long hours. The present fence would not keep the sheep out. It would need a new fence to do so. 
To Mr Sunderland: Witness had not had a difference with Lye Bow. The trees were cultivated. Lye Bow would not allow others to pack the fruit. Long picked fruit constantly. Chopping wood was not his principal duty. 
George Campbell, raceman, Alexandra, said Long seemed to be in charge of the pickers. He cultivated around the trees, and brought the fruit to Alexandra. Lye Bow was very weak. Long was a fairly good worker, and worked long hours. 
To Mr Sunderland: It would be very hard to say how much Long was worth. He worked long hours. At the rate that Lye Bow paid the other pickers, Long would be worth 12/- per day. 
David L. Cooney, Alexandra, said that Long was quite capable. He did his share of fruit picking. 
To Mr Sunderland: Long was never drunk, to his knowledge. He did picking, and made cases. 
Mr Sunderland, for the defence, said that the claim was extravagant. The estate, without this claim, was solvent, but if £297 had to be paid to Long the estate was insolvent. He did not wish this to have any influence on His Worship's decision, but stated the fact to show that Long, had he accepted the £60 offered, he would have been better off probably, than if he succeeded in this case. They wished to have the matter settled, within reason, and that was why the offer had been made. 
A. E. Gascoigne, solicitor, Dunedin, said he was the executor of the estate of Lye Bow. Lye Bow, at the time of his death, was 92 years of age. He received an account from Long, and he sent for Lye Bow, who went to Dunedin. Lye Bow said Long would be well paid if he received £40. Witness visited the orchard when Lye Bow died. It was in a shocking condition. The property brought a trifle over £500.
To Mr Jamieson: Lye Bow, when he went to Dunedin, came to witness's office without assistance, and left without assistance. He had adopted, to a large extent, the methods of living of the British. He was a most reasonable man generally, but he might be a little difficult to deal with at times.
A. Davidson, orchardist, Conroys Gully, said he knew Lye Bow quite well. He had done a good deal of his business for him. He had never seen Long doing any manual work. A few trees had been dug around, but not many. He often saw Long in Alexandra, and was not always sober. The orchard was disgraceful. The chief part of Long's work would be carting fruit to the Railway. Lye Bow was an honest man. His mentality was good right to the time of his death.
To Mr Jamieson: It would be better for Lye Bow to have someone to look after him. The orchard had always been in a bad state.
Victor John Schaumann, orchardist, Alexandra, said he sprayed Lye Bow's orchard about New Year time. The orchard was rough. It was hard to get about the orchard when spraying, owing to the long grass.
To Mr Jamieson: There were some fairly good trees in the orchard. The trees had originally been planted in rows, but others had been put in anywhere. Constable Sorrell said he had seen Long under the influence of liquor often. He had seen him drunk only once. Witness said that not a quarter of the orchard had been grubbed. He supposed Long could grub all right, if he had a rest occasionally. The day of the sale mentioned Long was drunk, and bidded for everything put up at the sale. He told plaintiff to get away home, and Mr Cooney said he would look after him. About 10 o'clock that night claimant came to him, and told him that he had bought lots of things at the sale, and he had paid a lot of money to the auctioneer and had got nothing. Mr Cooney had taken the things bought by Long for safe custody.
Mr Jamieson: A sale to many people in the country was a holiday. 

His Worship: It wasn't a stock sale, Mr Jamieson. 

To Mr Jamieson: Lye Bow walked very, slowly. He was a better man at 94 than Long was that day. 

His Worship awarded Long 30/- a week for two years and two months, and six months at 12/- a day; making the net amount, after deductions had been made, £134/8/7. The expenses were fixed at £2/12/for witnesses, £3/16/- Court costs, and £7/14/- solicitor's fee.  -Alexandra Herald, 16/9/1931.

The final mention of Lye Dong Bao and his orchard in "Papers Past" is, appropriately enough, found in a story describing the new and current water supply dam which put much of the orchard under water.

Much has been done in recent years for the advancement of irrigation in Central Otago. The fertility of the soil in the district is a proven fact, but many hundreds of acres still lie waste through the absence of water. With the purpose of overcoming this deficiency and magically turning barren wildernesses into fertile Edens. numerous dams for water conservation have been erected and miles of races have been conducted round rocky faces or syphoned across gullies for the use of the settler. Nearly every valley and gorge has its stream more or less permanently snow fed from the higher levels, and it is merely a question of choosing a suitable site comparatively close to the area to be irrigated. Such schemes as the Manorburn Dam, Manuherikia River, Ardgour, Conroy's dam and the Last Chance are well known successes, and nearly every stream is tapped direct by races. 

The most recent work of this nature is the Butcher's Gully dam, some four miles from Alexandra on the Roxburgh road. It is now approaching completion. The wall is to be about 80 feet high, and will form a lake over a mile long and of greatly varying width. A tunnel 300 yards long is being driven through Butcher's Hill, and down this the overflow will be led to increase the Alexandra water supply and to meet irrigation purposes en route. 

In this new Butcher's Gully dam the water will submerge the lower level of Lye Bow's old orchard, as well us the site of extensive diggings and sluicing areas alongside. Another old landmark to go will be the one-time Butcher's Gully Hotel, which will be under many feet of water. Once a centre of activity and life in the 'sixties when roystering miners gathered and waggoners drew up, it now stands in a state of partial demolition, a last sad link with those prosperous and mad gold rush days. 

Work is also being carried out in the formation of a higher level road from the foot of Carroll's cutting to the Butcher's Gully Hill, as the old intervening road will be inundated. 

The dam, when filled, will be stocked with trout, and it is understood that trees are to be planted round its edges, so that, with its background of the 6000 foot Old Man Range and the nearer rocky slopes, it will become one of the beauty spots in Central Otago, and will he one of the most serviceable and necessary storage reserves for the district.  -Otago Daily Times, 12/6/1936.

Image may contain: bridge, plant, sky, outdoor, nature and water
Butchers Gully Dam.

Not a lot can now be seen of the orchard and home of My Lye Dong Bao, of Guangdong Province.  His old cool store is intact, old stone walls can still be seen and a few of his fruit trees - heritage trees now - still survive.  The property is now a boutique B&B with a garden which is stunning in every season.
The remains of Lye Dong Bao's property lie within the stand of trees to the left of the photo - which is courtesy of the Lye Bow B&B.

In traditional Chinese culture, it is believed that where the body lies, there the soul of the deceased will live for eternity.  Lye Dong Bao presumably made his decision, when he applied to be naturalised, that his bones would not be sent home to China after death.  He lies in the cemetery at Alexandra; he is still with us.  
Lye Dong Bao's cool store in Spring.

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