Fields Of The Gum Lyrics

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When the landlords pressed their claim in Scotland long ago,
The crofters lost their little farms, and bitter was their woe,
And the Reverend Norman McLeod, he lifted up his head,
"With the help of God we'll find a ship, and I'll lead you forth", he said.

And the Gael fares forth, where he never fared before,
Across the wide and stormy seas, to seek a kinder shore.

So in Nova Scotia's land they lived for thirty years,
And hard their toil in stubborn soil through winters long and drear.
Then one day a letter came from a kinsman far away
Who had sailed for fair Australia, and had never rued the day.

Then they looked at the leaden skies, and the snowdrifts on the ground,
And they longed to go to Australia, where the sun shines all year 'round,
And the Reverend Norman McLeod, he raised his aged head,
"If your sons will build and man the ships, I'll lead you forth", he said.

So in ships that numbered six, in faith they sailed away,
And braved again the raging main through many a wintry day,
Over thirteen thousand miles, for as far as they could rove,
'Til they came to fair New Zealand, and the bonny Waipu Cove.

And the Gail fared forth, where he never fared before, 
Across the wide and stormy seas, and he found a kinder shore.


The wind is blowing strongly, and it's time to loose the sails, boys.
Hauraki Islands glistening in the early morning sun.
It's fun time on the gulf and we'll lighten up our boats, boys,
Shake the crew to readiness, the race it has begun.

Our boats are not all young, boys, and neither are the skippers.
In breeze or gales we'll trim our sails and strain the stay with pride;
But win or lose, we'll fill our shoes with water from the scuppers,
As we lean into the wind and spray with topsides in the tide.

The sea's alive with boats all sizes, fighting for a place, boys.
Tacking, gybing, running, as excitement rises high.
To get a good start towards the mark at the outset of the race, boys,
Is every skipper's hopeful wish as he sees the seconds fly.

We'll race all day and come what may, we'll reach the final mark, boys.
If our boat is small our handicap will keep us in the fray.
We'll tighten sheet 'till winches creak and sailcloth stretches hard, boys,
And run with kite to that wondrous sight of big sails on display.

And when the race is over, we will hear the tavern's noise, boys;
We'll celebrate our taking part on Auckland's pearly sea.
From the smallest keel to the largest we'll be swapping tales with joy, boys,
And heading home with happy heart to dream contentedly.

DALMATION BLOODLINES     B. Worsfold/K. Worsfold

Our fathers left homes on the far Adriatic
For the gumfields of Northland, their fortunes to find.
Digging by daylight, scraping by lamplight,
And dreaming of girls that they'd left behind.

The land it was good, the climate was gentle,
And many men wanted to stay all their lives.
They sent home for friends to share in the bounty, 
They sent home for families, they sent home for wives.

When the fields petered out, the Dalmations kept digging.
They ploughed up the hillsides in long furrowed lines.
With rootstocks from homelands they planted the gumlands,
The hills of West Auckland grew green with their vines.

They watered their crops with the sweat of their backs, and then
Gathered the harvest, and pressed out the wines.
They set down their own roots, deep in the new land,
And mixed in New Zealand, Dalmation bloodlines.

From gumfields to vineyards, is a mighty long journey -
A journey of men, forgotten by time;
So crack open a bottle of New Zealand vintage,
And toast to the diggers who planted the vines.


My name's Jose Luiz Santini,
A cooper's boy, proud Portuguese;
Shanghai'd by an American whaler 
Bound down for the Southern Seas.

But I couldn't speak their language,
I was beaten mercilessly;
At Cable Bay I slipped over the side,
And I fled from the ship and the sea.

Taken in and sheltered by the Maoris, 
The chieftain took pity on me.
I fell in love with his pretty young daughter,
And I knew in my heart she loved me.

For the heart knows only one language,
That the eyes alone speak with ease,
Though she could only speak Maori, 
And I only spoke Portuguese.

Now it's fifty-six years we've been lovers, 
Though it seems like just yesterday,
And it's twenty-one children she bore me; 
No man more contented today.

And if I had the wings of a tui, 
I would sing from the highest of trees,
That she can still only speak Maori,
And I only speak Portuguese. 

KO'RAREKA     B. Worsfold

Ko'rareka, you're a hellhole, say the missionaries,
But after all I've been through, you're heaven to me.
Ko'rareka, you're a hellhole, say the missionaries,
But after all I've been through, you're heaven to me.

We sailed out of 'Frisco all of sixteen months ago,
Hunting for the sperm whales that haunt the southern seas;
Now I'm sick of the sailing, and I'm sick of the whaling,
And I'm sick of the pack of rogues who shanghai'd me.

I really don't remember volunteering for this voyage;
I woke up with a sore head, and out of sight of land.
They said, "If you don't like it, that's fine, just start a-swimming!"
They lead you with rum, and they drive you with the cat.

We were storm-tossed and seasick, in cruel desperation.
My best mate, from the main mast was lost into the sea.
At last we made landfall in the port of Kororareka,
Now Ko'rareka's fleshpots are calling to me.

I stole muskets from the lockers and sold them to the Maoris;
Bought myself a brown girl, bought myself some rum.
When the captain and the mate come a-calling me to sea again,
They won't catch me a second time, I'll run, my boys, I'll run.

HAKARU RACES     B. Worsfold/Anon

It was up at the Hakaru Races,
Bill Sarah was riding a ring-in that day;
His grey was always the champion,
But this time he rode on a bay.

The betting was more varied than usual,
The favourite was out of the play,
But still I could not help but notice
That Bill bet his all on the bay.

The mustered the field at the start line,
The sky, it was darkening and grey,
And just as the rain started falling,
A pistol crack and they're away.

The first lap was run at a fast pace,
The bay shot away from the field;
But then as the rain poured down harder,
A curious thing was revealed.

The bay was streaking in more ways than one - 
Brown paint started dripping away.
Bill knew that he was in trouble
When the rain washed the bay back to grey!

They still talk of the Hakaru races,
Though the track closed in 19 and 10.
And Bill? He got three years' suspension,
And he never tried painting again.


Apple season's over, work is now done;
Harvest is all finished, now's the time for fun.
We're going to have a party, come one and come all!
Tonight we'll be merry at the Apple Pickers' Ball.

We went by foot, we went by car, we went to the Settlers' Hall.
'Twas the night we waited for, the Apple Pickers' Ball.
We danced all night to music bright, great fun was had by all.
We danced all night, until daylight, at the Apple Pickers' Ball.

We tidied up the Settlers' Hall, put grease upon the floor;
Supper's in the kitchen, sandwiches galore.
Balloons and streamers hanging high, and ferns against the wall;
Everything is ready for the Apple Pickers' Ball.

The M.C. gets up on the stage, he calls for order then;
"Gentlemen, your partners; dancing will begin."
The band is ready, all tuned up - their numbers may be small;
Fiddle, drums, accordion, at the Apple Pickers' Ball.

Clancy danced with Nancy, he held her by the hand;
He led her through the Lancers, and then the Circle Grand.
And then he whirled her 'round and 'round, and waltzed her 'round the hall;
They spent the night in dancing at the Apple Pickers' Ball.


We stood and stared in wonder from the dunes above the harbour;
A strong ebb tide was running 'gainst a wind from off the Tasman.
A fishing boat came up the coast, a long hard slog homeward;
Trying to make the harbour, trying to beat the gale.

A man can rest in safety, in the shelter of the harbour,
But many a man has lost his life, crossing the Kaipara Bar.

They wear sea boots and jumpers - fishermen don't wear life vests.
Forty foot looks like a big boat when it's sitting on the hard;
But from where I stood above the bar, and watched the breakers boiling,
It looked just like a child's toy, tossing in the bath.

She turns to make the home run, lines up for the entrance;
Two men on the wheel, trying to fight against the pull.
You've got to keep her stern-on to the sea to make the harbour;
A wave can come from anywhere - if she broaches, then she'll roll.

Then suddenly the helm swings back and she swings beam-on to windward,
I watched a breaker hit her, and I watched her slowly roll.
She wallowed in the waters, just like a whale in torment,
I saw her bow rise up just once, then fall to rise no more.

It's not for nothing that they call this place the graveyard;
Every fisherman on the harbour's lost a friend out on the bar.
I thought I heard screaming, but perhaps it's just the seagulls.
A man can rest forever, out on the Kaipara Bar.


Just below the Kaihu Valley at a place called Maropiu
Where the diggers sold their gum and drank their liquor, too,
Even in from Ti-tree Gully for a spree they used to tramp,
Hogan, Bill and Scotty all came from Hogan's Camp.
They had spent a week in boozing and in the morning swore
They must somehow get a curer - which meant just a trifle more.
Their credit was exhausted - they'd sold up all their gum,
And Hogan, Bill and Scotty were looking pretty glum.

Then Bill espied a river stone and jumped up in delight,
"Up and build a roaring fire, boys, we'll be drunk again tonight!"
Into the red-hot embers the stone was quickly thrust,
And when it was hot they rolled it in a heap of fine gumdust.
Cooled, it left a coating of an inch of solid gum - 
And eighteen pounds of rock within, which meant a tidy sum!
They scraped it nice and lightly 'til with safety could no more,
And with it these three boozers marched in triumph to the store.

They placed it gently on the scales - twenty pounds of solid gum!
Then went off to celebrate in whisky, beer and rum.
The storeman said "What a lovely piece, what a pity it's been burnt",
But when he tried to chip it clean, that's when the truth he learnt!
Yes, when the head flew off his axe he fainted to the ground,
And he heard a drunken chorus on the breeze as he came 'round.
He cursed each drunken digger as no more than a scamp
But he won't forget the curer for the three from Hogan's Camp!

FAREWELL TO THE GUMFIELDS     B. Worsfold/K. Worsfold

I arrived on the gumfields on a mail coach from Auckland,
With four hungry children, and luggage and all.
My husband was waiting in the rain there to meet us
And welcome us to our new home.

Farewell to the gumfields, I'm not sad to leave you,
Farewell to the whare of tea-tree and sod.
The dirt floor at last is a thing of the past,
No more through your mud-fields I'll plod.

The place that awaited, I'd sure not expected,
With sod walls and chimney, and a nikau frond thatch.
Only one room, and us with four children,
And a bedroom that's made out of sacks.

While John was away on the gumfields all day,
I'd cook and I'd garden, and clean all we had.
With three miles of mud to the nearest companion,
It's a wonder I didn't go mad.

It feels that I've wasted my years on the gumfields,
Far from my family, and the friends that I knew.
But now we've a farm on the edge of the town,
Oh, gumfields, I'm glad to leave you.


We would roll our swag on Friday, leaving shanties near and far
To spend our hard-won silver with the diggers from the pa.
Then with Shorty, Carl and Scotty, and the roving Jolly Tar
We would gather 'round the barrel in the Old Gumdiggers Bar.

In the Old Gumdiggers Bar, in the Old Gumdiggers Bar,
(Repeat last line of preceding verse).

We would sing in happy chorus when the beer began to foam
In billows on the tankards as it used to do at home.
Then our hardships were forgotten, and with not a note to mar,
We found joy in harmonising in the Old Gumdiggers Bar. 

We would camp beneath the nikau if there wasn't room inside,
We were hardened birds of passage, truly tough in hair and hide.
So if the daylight found us sleeping 'neath the paling star,
It was only as it should be, 'round the Old Gumdiggers Bar.

Now those days have long since vanished, and the shanties far and wide
Have disappeared forever from the settled countryside,
Yet the memory still lingers of those distant days afar
When we sang with mellow voices 'round the Old Gumdiggers Bar.


When the rainbird sings in the tea-tree
And there's cloud on the hills up the back,
Look out of your window and you'll see me,
I'll be riding down the track.

I'll be droving a mob of black-polls,
And me dogs'll be foot-sore and done,
But I'll sing out as I go by your window,
Just to show you you are the one.

It's a long drove up from the buwai,
By Woodcocks and Kaipara Flats,
And I'm sick of me oilskins and me gumboots,
And the rain pelting down off me hat.

I've got a stockwhip over me shoulder,
I've got a plain golden ring in me pack - 
So perhaps when I come by your window,
I'll be pullin' in off the track.

When the rainbird sings in the tea-tree
And there's cloud on the hills up the back,
Look out of your window and you'll see me,
I'll be riding down the track.

FIDDLER'S HILL     B. Worsfold

Old Michael lived on Fiddler's Hill,
He fiddled it sweet and he fiddled it shrill,
He played with a heart and he played with a will,
And he played for the people 'round Fiddler's Hill.

He fiddled for the dancers all alone,
They say he'd fiddle 'till the cows came home.
But he'd leave his plow when the days work's done
And he'd play for the dancers 'till the morning sun.

We danced Harmichel and the Umadum too.
I like a Sprat Polka, now how about you?
When the creek's in flood, you can't get through - 
If the fiddler can keep going, then I can too!

We danced all night and we danced all day,
'Till even the moon and the stars sashay.
The dancers would dance and Michael would play,
And we'd happily dance our lives away.

To the south of the town stands Fiddler's Hill,
I won't go up there - yes I will!
When the moon is bright and the wind is still . . .
They say you can hear him fiddling still.

FIELDS OF THE GUM     B. Worsfold

On the great Northern Wairoa in the year '92,
I was headed for Poroti - Samuel was, too.
He was green from the old land and new to the track,
And I'd left the city with a swag on my back.

Walking and talking, we decided to team,
We found us a spot by the side of a stream
Where we built us a whare of tea-tree and sack - 
Set up our camp on the old northern track.

By lamplight, by moonlight, scraping our gum,
No thought of the past, or the years to come;
Sam played a squeezebox and I beat a drum,
As the years rolled by on the fields of the gum.

The storekeeper staked us with gum-spear and spade,
Diggers soon taught us the ways of the trade.
We'd sore backs and blisters, but boy, we were keen,
And soon we'd a fine stack of gum-lumps to clean.

Friendships were easy with the blokes that we met - 
Hard cases and misfits, but some of the best.
A hardship's no hardship with a friend at you back,
And I'd good friends a-plenty on the old northern track.

Then the Empire called, and we all marched to war,
To fight and to die on Africa's shore.
I lost many good friends to bullets and mines,
And when I came home, Sam stayed behind.

But all of that's past now, the gumfields long gone,
As the days grow weary, I sit all alone,
And I dream of the days on the fields of the gum
When Sam played a squeezebox and I beat a drum.


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RD 3 Warkworth 0983, New Zealand
Phone: +64-9-425-9538

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This page was last updated December 2, 2008.

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