‘Messrs Scott and Sharpe’ found the heaviest gold nugget on record in New Zealand at Ross on the West Coast in 1909. Weighing in at a hefty 2.81 kg (99 ounces), the nugget was named the ‘Honourable Roddy’ after the Minister of Mines, Roderick McKenzie.
The nugget was bought for £400 by a Ross storekeeper and his Canterbury associate. A cast of it was soon on show in the Canterbury Museum. In 1911 the ‘Honourable Roddy’ was bought by the government. Mounted in a ‘fitting setting’, it became New Zealand’s ‘decidedly handsome’ Coronation gift to King George V. When enquiries were made 40 years later, it was discovered that the nugget had been melted down to make a royal tea service.
As impressive as the Honourable Roddy was, it failed to compare with the world’s largest gold nugget, the ‘Welcome Stranger’ nugget found at Moliagul, Victoria, Australia, in 1869. John Deason and Richard Oates’ discovery weighed a staggering 78 kg.
In September 2011 gold was selling for about NZ$2000 an ounce, so the Honourable Roddy would be worth close to $200,000 today.
Image: The Gold Room.