Topic: Gold Street (DN 03/07/2010)
Lieutenant-colonel Gold's stint as commander of military forces in New Zealand started without too much trouble, but by the time he left Taranaki, in August 1860, his reputation had became somewhat tarnished.
Charles Emilius Gold was born in 1809 at Woolwich, London, into an army family. His military career began as an ensign in the 65th Regiment in 1828; he served in the West Indies and Canada, where he married Eleanor Geddes in 1839.
Gold arrived in New Zealand with the 65th Regiment in January 1847. He was posted to Wellington in August as commander of the regimental detachment. Life in the fledgling township was relatively uneventful for Gold, barely testing his military acumen. He lived well beyond his means mixing with the social elite and supporting his wife and their fifteen children. Gold also found ample time to indulge his passion for watercolours, a collection of which is now housed at the Alexander Turnbull Library.
In November 1858 Gold assumed the command of the military forces in New Zealand. It was in this role that he was dispatched to Taranaki early in 1860 as tensions rose over the Waitara purchase.
Gold's optimism that British military strength would easily defeat the Maori was to prove unfounded. British embarrassment at Puketakauere on June 27th 1860 sealed Gold's fate. In the disastrous attack led by Major Nelson, but sanctioned by Gold, thirty British soldiers were killed. Maori on the other hand suffered few casualties. Nelson and Gold blamed one another for the failure; however it was Gold who bore the brunt of settler criticism.
Gold was hurriedly replaced by Major General Thomas Pratt and moved back to Auckland. It is thought he secretly boarded a ship to England in early 1861 leaving a trail of debt and hounded by creditors. He died at Dover on July 29th 1871 aged 61.