The history of Māori miners at the Aorere gold rush in 1856–1858 is well documented in research by Hilary and John Mitchell. Philip Ross May examined the multi- layered history of Māori in the goldfields of the Buller and Westland, and the full story of the convoluted machinations of government agents and miners and their dealings with the Māori of the Coromandel are becoming known as Treaty of Waitangi hearings examine the past. However, the story of the Māori miners of Otago has remained relatively unknown, beyond a few legends offered as exotic participants parenthetic to the real events of the gold rush there. On closer examination it is clear that the true history of Māori miners in Central Otago is far richer, more complex, and much older than is widely known. This article examines this history until the mid- 1860s.