James Lalor, my great-grandfather, mined for gold at South Beach on the West Coast, and was also known as a 'parliamentary messenger'. In the last year I have come to know a lot more about him as a person, by using the excellent Papers Past website.
The most interesting 'find' I had was an article in the New Zealand Free Lance in 1901, talking about his recent service as a parliamentary messenger. I had imagined that this calling was like being a glorified 'postie' who carried messages by horseback along the Coast- but not at all. He did in fact go to Wellington when Parliament was in session to wait on the Members with messages. The article reads: "Yet Mr James Lalor, who came up from Greymouth to wear the livery of Parliament and who has just got back to the Coast this week to resume his avocation as a gold miner could boast of his family connections if he were not far too modest a man to say anything about himself at all." And the article goes on to say he was a 'full cousin of the celebrated Irish orator Richard Lalor Shiel'.
And the Papers Past site was a treasure trove that told me more and more about him, as he was active on the School Committee and various other bodies. His marriage to Catherine Rowland was recorded in the pages of the Grey River Argus in 1871 and then on 4 October 1916, his death is recorded in the same paper, a man who was 'well and favourably known throughout the West Coast.'