Don Buck

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Don Buck (real name Randoff Sanfrisco Figuero[1] or Francisco Rodriques Figuero[2]) (died 1917)[2] was a Portuguese [1] immigrant in New Zealand in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He was known for working newly released prisoners as gum diggers and trading the gum for a profit.[1] He is seen as a mixed figure; this is mostly because of the perceived conflict between his profiteering and his making use of criminals and ex-criminals.

Biography[edit]

Little is known of Don Buck's early life.

He tried various business, all of which failed, before moving out to Henderson, New Zealand, in 1911, when he started gum-digging at the recommendation of some locals;[1] Kauri gum was at that time experiencing considerable prospecting attention in New Zealand, of which it became an important product for a short time. From there, he moved out near Swanson Stream and built his abode on some likely prospecting land.[1] There, he found an abundance of gum, but was not able to do the work to remove it himself, due to a heart condition. He persuaded the Police Magistrates in the Auckland Courts, that they should give convicted criminals the option of working at his camp, or serving a sentence in jail.[1] Alongside this, multiple ex-prisoners without any prospects were sent to him.

On top of gaining a profit from selling the gum, he made gain by renting out shacks to prospectors.[1]

Don Buck did not supply alcohol (he himself did not drink, again due to his heart condition), but drunkenness was not rare at his camp, since there were several near-by vineyards.[1] During one drunken bout in the camp, a murder was reported to have happened. The police did not take the much interest in the matter, and after it was found that the victim had drunk large amounts of alcohol prior to his death, the case became stagnant.[1]

Don Buck died suddenly on 5 August 1917, one day after suffering a heart attack.[1] He was buried in a pauper's grave in Waikumete Cemetery, originally with an un-marked or poorly marked grave. The grave has since been marked with a gravestone as a result of a campaign and financing by local historian Marianne Simpkins.

Commemoration[edit]

Don Buck Road in Massey, New Zealand is named after him.

The Huruhuru Stream (also known as the Swanson Stream) is known locally as Don Buck Creek from Don Buck Road down to where the Northwestern Motorway crosses it.

Don Buck Primary School, which is located part way along Don Buck Road, is also named in his honour: http://www.donbuck.school.nz/

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Waitakere History
  2. ^ a b Flude, Anthony G. (1977). "The growth of the township". Henderson's Mill: A History of the Henderson Township in New Zealand. Retrieved 2 June 2010.