Central Otago has its fair share of grim place names such as ‘Deadman’s Point’, ‘The Lonely Graves’, ‘Drybread Cemetery’ and the ‘Linger and Die’ reserve in Alexandra. We explore the origins of ‘Linger and Die’ and whether this bleak name is justified.

The Linger and Die is a public reserve on the Manuherekia riverbank in Alexandra. According to the story board at the reserve the exact origins of the name are unknown but assumed to be related to the site’s unsuccessful mining history.

Golden Link Dredge, Manuherekia, Alexandra Photo: Courtesy of the Alexandra Turnbull Library

Between 1899 and 1902 the area was dredged by the Golden Link Dredging Company (GLDC). In 1901 they struck gold, but then faced disaster when the riverbank collapsed onto the dredge. Recovery of the dredge cost more than £8000 – almost £6000 more than the value of gold dredged by GLDC. Subsequent tunnelling efforts also ended in disaster with miners swamped by waterlogged silt and gravel. The misadventures possibly explain the bleak place name but there are other theories and stories about its origins.

One local recalls the story from his teacher at Alexandra Primary School in the 1970s. The story goes that the site was used as a stop-off camp for hopeful goldminers in the 1860s who were warned: “Linger at the camp site too long and you’ll miss your chance of securing a claim further up the Clutha river”. It’s a plausible story but is it true?

Desk-top research uncovered more nuggets of information. GLDC was taken over by the Linger and Die Mining Company around 1912 and this seems to have been a positive move, at least for J.H. Davidson whose poem was published in a July 1926 edition of the Alexandra Herald (below).

Excerpt from Alexandra Herald, 28 July 1926

Further research uncovered four Linger and Die mines in Australia: Tasmania; Queensland; Victoria; and Western Australia, the latter dating back to 1900. The Australian Linger and Die mining group is still in operation today.

The trans-tasman flow of miners to the Otago Goldfields has been well documented. It therefore seems plausible that the grim name of this Alexandra reserve orginates from Australian mining interests.

The ongoing accidents and flooding associated with this claim after the Linger    and Die company moved on could explain why the grim name of the scooped out recess along the Manuherikia has lingered on.

Alexandra Herald, 5 July 1933

Alexandra Herald, 1 Nov 1933