There are times when coincidence overwhelms logic, when an unseen force seems to infiltrate our experiences to provide prompts that direct us along previously unseen pathways.
That may seem a little oblique to some but then how else can one define the moment when a copy of a hand-written diary written by Kiwi soldier BB, a combatant in the Boer War more than a century ago, was handed to one of the writer Wilkins on the eve of a one-day hike over the Tongoriro Crossing, a signature route between three live volcanoes on New Zealand’s North Island.
The content of that diary, the original of which is on file in the government archives in Wellington, illuminated the rocky road that the authors stumbled along as they delved into the murky mirages surrounding the missing Kruger millions, possibly the world’s most intriguing lost treasure mystery.
The unearthing of the diary was but one of the coincidences kept marching into the path of the authors.
One could could claim with justification that the authors, both of whom were born in South Africa before choosing New Zealand as their permanent home, were primed years before to forage into Kiwi involvement in the Boer War – the first time in New Zealand’s young history that New Zealanders engaged in battle on international soil.
The great grandfathers of both Dwight and Wilkins were combatants in the Boer War while one of Dwight’s ancestors, the Reverend John Taylor, baptised Paul Kruger (later, the president of the Transvaal Republic who declared war on the British Empire in 1899) in Craddock in 1825.
Dwight is the author of a biography on Maori serviceman Walter Callaway, who volunteered in 1899 to fight in the Boer War knowing that people of colour were barred from participating in what the British regarded at that time as a ‘white man’s war’. Today, the story of Callaway’s often daring exploits is the only published, focused account of a Maori combatant’s experiences in the Boer War. The book was published in New Zealand in 2010.
Suffice to say that the Kiwi influence in the genisis of this book has been profound. We hope that readers will enjoy sharing with us the journey of discovery and the many unanswered questions that struggled to the surface like minnows seeking the light as we attempted to unravel the mystery of the missing Kruger millions.
Mike Dwight and Blake Wilkins
* Dwight and others were responsible for the launch in New Zealand of an Incorporated Society called KIWISA that draws on the traditional relationships between New Zealand and South Africa, applying these relationships to heritage and educational initiatives that promote benefit and goodwill. Projects to date include bringing the rugby Springboks to Thames to view a display of Boer rifles captured during the nearly three-year-long war, the development of an extensive educational resource based on historical information in the Callaway book, and the building of a cairn in Colesberg, South Africa in memory of Kiwi combatants who perished on New Zealand’s first foreign battlefield.