Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Thames (NZ): Shortland Wharf 1891 Painting

Thames River with native canoe in foreground, wooden dwelling in background.Painting by: Cheeseman, Ellen Maud 1848-1928, artist
A magnificent view of Shortland Wharf, the painting by Ellen Maud Cheeseman, signed 1891.
While the Shortland Wharf structure can be clearly seen in the distance, it also shows us how the area was more accessible than today. The landing itself being further east, and vessels such as waka could land well past the Shortland Wharf itself. There few mangroves in those days - or maybe they were cleared! The photo below by W A Price was taken a decade later, in the early 1900s.

PA-Group-00719. Price, William Archer, 1866-1948 :Collection of post card negatives. 1900 - 1930. [Collection]
Repository: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
Who was Ellen Maud CHEESEMAN?
"Ellen Cheeseman was the sister of Thomas Frederick Cheeseman, Curator of Auckland Institute and Museum from 1874-1923." There are several of her watercolours at the Auckland Museum.
Ellen was the daughter of Thomas Cheeseman and Eliza (Cawkwell) Cheeseman


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thames (NZ): Mrs Milne's Postcards

Something a little different for us to consider - two glitter postcards are my latest find. I wasn't sure if they were real or not, in the sense of being a professionally produced postcard, but having received the cards they are definitely genuine (and in mint condition).


The cards have been written by 'Harriett' to her dear friend Ruby Milne of the Waiotahi.

"Dear Ruby, I received your kind ? welcome PC & was very pleased to get it.  The reason I was so long in answering it is because my father is not at all well again. Well I tried to get that PC that you ask me but I could not so I thought you would be just as pleased to get one of these sort.
I hope to get one from you by Monday you don't know how I look for the postman on a Monday.  So don't forget Remember me to all at home,  Hoping to see you down our way again soon, 
from Harriett." (Top left card reverse.)

On the second card (top right), are the clues that give Ruby's address - Mrs J Milne, Waiotahi, Thames. It also provides us with the approximate date of after 1907, as the one penny red universal stamp was used. Part of the date stamp is visible, and the card to Ruby was posted in Thames. While this may appear strange, it certainly isn't uncommon and I have struck before the instance of people in Thames writing to one another.

Harriet wrote on the second card:
Dear Ruby, You will think it a  longtime since I sent you a post card.  I was going to send in before this but its better late than never,  I hope you will all get this one allright.  
Hoping you will send me one soon."

What can the cards tell us in terms of genealogy research? Who was Ruby Milne?

Mrs Ruby Milne nee Given was married to William Henry John Milne in 1906, they went on to live up the Waiotahi for many years. Mr Milne was a soldier during World War One.
Contact details on Ruby's husbands war file.
Archives New Zealand

ABOVE Left: William Henry John Milne.  Right: Ruby Milne, in her Salvation Army uniform.
Source: G Milne Family Collection.

Mr Milne passed away in 1937, while Ruby died in 1979 - both are interred at Shortland Cemetery

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Thames (NZ): WWI Pilots with a Thames Connection

When you think of WWI, the first thought are the troops on the ground, and our miners aka tunnellers - but we often forget those brave men who first fought in the sky.

Thames has the honour of having had four men who were pilots in World War One. A new book from Massey University Press called Fearless by Adam Claasen has information on our men.

1.  While remembered by many for his efforts in World War Two, Sir Keith Park, then just Pilot Keith Park went on to be highly distinguished and received several awards. 

Park was born and initially schooled in Thames. Initially during WWI, Park was an instructor, which led him to having had many more flying hours than most pilots flying in 1917.

The book Fearless covers Park's experiences in the war and how he rose from pilot to commander. "Keith Park's sterling work in 1917, when he and observers between them accumulated 16 victories in the Bristol fighter, saw him promoted to Major Park, commanding 48 Squadron in 1948." Claasen page 296.
Major K.R. Park, O.C. 48th Sqdn. R.A.F. -/6/1918 with his 275 Rolls Engine in Bristol Scout (120mph).  Source: AWM Cenotaph contributor.
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Euan Dickson RN
2. Euan Dickson was from England and recruited by A & G Price, to work in the local foundry in 1913. Dickson called Thames home for three years before signing up for WWI. During his time in World War One, the Thames Star newspaper kept readers up-to-date with his service - a tribute to his community involvement during his brief stay in the town.

"Sub-lieutenant E. Dickson, who made many friends while he was at Thames a few years ago, is now doing good work in the Royal Flying Corps in France. Lieut. Dickson participate in a recent air raid when 15 German machines were destroyed." Thames Star, 12 December 1917. Dickson went on to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"Dickson undertook more bombing sorties than any other airman in the Great War, and went on to become one of the two most successful bomber pilots in aerial combat." Claasen page 331.

Albert Gordon.
3. Albert Gordon was another flier from Thames.  After leaving school Albert worked for a local builder and then in Auckland was recorded as a Master Builder on his enlistment.

His love of flying led him to train at Kohimarama and he became a member of the Royal Flying Corps. The rest is sadly history, and Thamesite Albert Gordon became the "first New Zealand trained pilot to be killed in action in World War I." (Roger Strong, NZ Memories Issue 130)

Gordon was wounded while flying in a battle that took him completely by surprise during what should have been a routine flight. "Within hours the newcomer would be in hospital with two broken legs, thanks to a nasty crash landing." Claasen page 281. He was transferred to England but died of wounds received in action.

Thames Star 12 August 1918.
4. Another Thamesite who flew in the Great War was Carrick Stewart Paul. He was also a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. 

"Paul and his observer William Weir were jointly awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 8 February 1919. Paul never knew of the honor; while on the voyage home to New Zealand, he drowned on 22 January 1919." Wikipedia.

Further Reading: 
Air Vice Marshall Sir Keith Park, by Kae Lewis, The Treasury Journal - Our People.
Carrick Stewart Paul at AWM cenotaph entry.
Euan Dickson, D.F.C. by Roger Strong in Treasury Journal Volume 9 2016.
Fearless by Adam Claasen, Massey University Press.
Thamesite Albert Gordon, by Althea Barker - blog entry.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thames (NZ): New Signage at Historic Cemeteries

Improvements are continuing at Shortland and Tararu Cemeteries. In this instance it is new signage at the entrance to the two historic burial sites.

While in the first instance the entrance signs have been placed in challenging positions, they are at least in place.

The background for the sign at Tararu Historic Cemetery is of the coast road decades back. (above)

The new signs at the Shortland Historic Cemetery include a map that shows how the cemetery is divided into three sections and gives plot numbers contained in each block.

ABOVE: Close-up of the sign at the Danby Street entrance to the Shortland Historic Cemetery.
BELOW: The map and plot section on the sign (left) and the sign taken from the footpath (right).


There should be some official news on the proposed 'Friends of the Historic Cemeteries' in the near future. Hopefully this makes us all more conscious of the state of these great landmarks and allow volunteers to get in and make some improvements - assisting the great work done by volunteer Graeme.

Further Reading:
Shortland and Tararu Cemeteries of Thames by Margaret Nankivell. Treasury Journal Volume 2.
Tararu Cemetery - What secrets and stories does it hold? by Althea Barker. Treasury Journal Vol 5.
General Cemetery Information.
TCDC Cemetery Information and Search of Burials.
Findagrave - location and plot details, some with photos: Shortland, Tararu and Totara Cemeteries.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Thames (NZ): The Booms, Kauaeranga, Thames

If you grew up in Thames, you probably went swimming at the 'Booms' - an area of the Kauaeranga River just past the Thames Racecourse, as you proceed up the Kauaeranga Valley. In more recent years a new housing development was named 'The Booms' located on the hill above the Thames Parawai Racecourse.

There is a new article by David Wilton in the Treasury Journal on the "BOOMS FLAT" which reveals there is much more to the name, and what took place in order to bring the Kauri logs down the river to the sea.
"This article describes sites identified and recorded around the Booms Flat area (the name 'Booms Flat' now applying to a DoC campground near the old Main Booms)."

The logs were collected in the Parawai Booms until they could be prepared and taken to Auckland. The logs were typically tied together and towed to Auckland.
~ Check out the article on "Boom Flat" by D Wilton ~

Showing kauri logs collected by the Kauri Timber Company's booms across the Kauaeranga River at Parawai.
Auckland Weekly News 23 July 1898 p002 
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18980723-2-1
Auckland Weekly News 28 SEPTEMBER 1905 p004 Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19050928-4-1 
Auckland Weekly News 22 AUGUST 1907 p004 Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19070822-4-4
Auckland Weekly News 28 June 1923 p049 
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19230628-49-4
Further information:
Booms Flat Campsite, Kauaeranga Valley.
Historic Kauri Dams, Kauaeranga Valley.
Kauri Timber Industry - Kauaeranga Valley by Gary Staples. Ohinemuri Journal.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Thames (NZ): Landmarks remembered in 1948

Each generation appears to regret not having listened to the stories of yesteryear...those memories that parents or grandparents shared. Each generation believes to some degree that important history and memories will be or have already been forgotten.

In 1948 the Thames Star published a series of articles to 'test' whether Thamesites of the day knew the important old landmarks around the town.

The Thames Chamber of Commerce planned to place signposts at places worthy of commemoration. Messrs W Hammond, J Kernick and F E McCullough were responsible for coming up with the places of interest. There is no evidence to suggest that signs did get erected! At least until the Lions Club took up the challenge several decades later.
Landmarks mentioned were as follows:

FOOT of KURANUI CREEK: “It was here that Messrs W A Hunt, W Cobley, G Clarkson and J E White discovered the first gold-bearing reef at Thames.”

ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD IN FRONT OF THE MOANATAIARI TUNNEL: “Left-hand side looking up the hill. The hill on the right contained the famous Caledonian, Golden Crown, Manukau and Cure Mines.”

Waiotahi Mine.
AT THE FOOT OF THE WAIOTAHI CREEK: “This is the site of the famous Waiotahi mine, which during 43 years’ existence, produced bullion to the value of £655,167.”

AT THE FOOT OF THE HILL IN POLLEN STREET NORTH: “Opposite  where Williamson Street connects with Pollen Street. This is the site of the famous Prince Imperial Mine which produced in five years 43,094 ounces of gold.”

IN FRONT OF THE BOROUGH ELECTRICAL POWER STATION: “At the rear of the building was sunk the deepest shaft in Thames – 1050 feet.  A short distance hillward on the left was the famous May Queen Mine.”
The May Queen Mine.

THE SITE OF THE CALEDONIA MINE: “Described by the later Colin Fraser …as the greatest bonanza of the field, and one of the richest in the annals of quartz mining.”

TOTARA POINT: “Scene of inter-tribal fights – one of the first recorded being an attack on the pa by the Ngati Maru about 300 years ago, when the District was held by the Ngati Nuarere and the Ngati Nei…In 1819, Totara Pa was attacked by a combined force of Nga Puhi and Waikato…In December, 1821, a powerful force of Nga Puhi, under Hongi Hika, with 1000 muskets, attacked Totara Pa, which fell, a massacre and cannibal feast following.”
Site of the old Totara Pa.
SHORTLAND:  Bounded by Grey Street, Queen Street and Pollen Street, was the site of an old Maori pa, Kauaeranga…The gunboats Esk and Miranda are said to have dropped shells in this pa about 1863.”

THE OLD AMERICAN THEATRE: “Stood on the eastern side of the Shortland Hotel, facing Grey Street in 1867. It was here that Johnny Hall, the actor, used to entertain the Thames public.  This building was pulled down in 1876 after being used for some years as a land court. The timber was used in making additions to the Shortland Hotel.”
Shortland Post Office (centre right) and Butt's Hotel and American Theatre (above Post Office). Courthouse (centre left and Kauaeranga Landing later Shortland Wharf (top centre).
THE OLD THAMES POST OFFICE: “At the corner of Grey and Mackay Street prior to the Post Office being on the site of the present County Council Chambers.”

THE OLD MAORI LAND COURT BUILDING:  “Situated at the corner of Pollen and Grey Streets, on the south-west corner.”

ANAPUTU, AT FISHING ROCKS at TARARU. “Here the Tainui canoe, bringing the immigrants from Hawiki [sic] about 1350 AD was fastened to a hole in a rock, and remained for sometime before proceeding on its journey.”
Tararu Fishing Rocks, north of Tararu.
THE SHORTLAND SAWMILL AND STONE’s SHIP-BUILDING Yards: Located south of the Maori Land Court building.

THE CHURCH MISSION STATION: At Parawai, on the hill opposite the old Maori Church, later years the residence of Warden Kenrick.

CLAIM PEGGED BY MAJOR VON TEMPSKY: In Hape Creek, just above the Water Race.
View back along Holdship's Wharf to Beach Road and Cochrane Street.
HOLDSHIP’s MILL: Corner of Beach Road and Cochrane Street. Previously the site of an old Maori pa, and where Mr R B Smith opened a store known as the “Pah Store”.

THE ACADEMY OF MUSIC: On south side of the Pacific Hotel, which was oon the south-west corner of Albert and Brown Streets.
LEFT: Theatre Royal Hotel and RIGHT: The Pacific Hotel.
THEATRE ROYAL: An early Thames Theatre situated on the northern side of the Royal Hotel in Grahamstown.

SITE OF THE TURNING OF THE FIRST SOD: “For the Thames-Waikato railway by Sir George Grey, a few yards to the south of the intersection of Mary Street and Queen Street.”

: “Site of one of the earliest wharves in Thames, where the Golden Crown and other steamers landed passengers for the Thames Goldfields.”

NORTHERN TERMINUS OF THE TARARU TRAMWAY COMPANY: Near the district homes, one of the earliest of New Zealand Railways. It ran from Burke Street to Tararu, half-hourly trips.”
A 1980s postcard of the Hotonui Meeting house at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
HOTONUI CARVED MAORI MEETING HOUSE: Opened 1878 at the corner of Fenton Street. This meeting house is now in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.”
Kauaeranga Girls' School.

VOLUNTEER HALL: “Richmond Street, between Pollen and Queen Streets, closed in 1878.”

KAUAERANGA BOYS’ SCHOOL: “On site of present Thames High School.”

KAUAERANGA GIRLS’ SCHOOL: Corner of Sandes and Richmond Street, South-west corner.”

St Thomas' Catholic School.
SCHOFIELD’s GRAMMAR SCHOOL: Rolleston Street, St George’s Sunday School, about 50 yards north of Sealey Street.”

KARAKA SCHOOL: “Mackay Street east, allotment south of the ladies croquet lawn.”

THAMES SCHOOL: “Closed 1879, opposite Sarsfield’s butchery, Cochrane Street.”

CATHOLIC BOYS’ SCHOOL: Corner Walter and Queen Streets, north-east corner.”

SMALE’S FOLLY: A long corrugated Iron building extending from Pollen to Queen Street, the site of the present Post Office.”

Smale's Folly.
SHELLBACK SCHOOL: “On Tararu Road, north side of the Pukehinau Stream.”

Well, how did you go on those? Thankfully the Thames Lions Club has over the decades marked several of these spots, sadly in the town, the landmarks relating to Maori significant sites, have not been marked.

Background: The Thames Lions Club have a booklet available and map to highlight where the present day Heritage Signs are located. Available from KMG Printers, Pollen Street, Thames.

A report by J McEnteer and T Turoa "Nga Taonga o te Kauaeranga Maori Heritage of Thames" 1993, identified important Maori landmarks and recommended the locations be signposted in an acceptable manner.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Thames (NZ): A & G Price's Ab699 ready for a comeback

Without a railway line running through the town, and lack of trains in the area, it is easy to forget Thames' amazing train history. A & G Price were the magnificent manufacturers of many classes of steam locomotives - the special thing being that several still exist today.

An article on STUFF today has the news that Ab699 is making a comeback at the Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society. Placed in service in 1922, the engine is due back after after being decommissioned in 2013. Ab699 has a resume that includes 46 years of government service.

Photo online at STUFF by JOHN BISSET/STUFF
"Pleasant Point's number one steam locomotive AB699 is nearly ready to be fired up for the public for the first time in five years.

The refurbished 85 tonne locomotive - the first one the Pleasant Point Railway and Historical Society purchased - is set to be reintroduced to the public on September 23, some 96 years after it first entered service." Eleanor Rarity
An old photo of Ab699 at Work from the Pleasant Point Railway Facebook site.
Watch Ab699, at the celebration of the engine's 90th birthday in 2012.

Fingers crossed some Thamesites will be at Pleasant Point 23 September 2018, and see one of our trains back in action - a tribute to all the Thames men who worked at A & G Price and made all these great locomotives.


  • Youtube videos of ex-Thames trains.
  • Ab 688 manufactured 1922.
  • Ab 699 Service History.
  • Pleasant Point Railway Facebook.
  • Summary of Thames Trains. There are several books available that give a complete history of A & G Price, and the details of the Locomotives built. Prices of Thames by Bob Stott has the following summary:

123 Steam Locomotives built for NZ Railways
22 Steam Locomotives built for other companies
40 Miscellaneous petrol, diesel and battery electric locomotives
54 'Second Generation' internal combustion engine locomotives.

A total of 239 locomotives.

Thames (NZ): WWI ROH Remembrance Board

A simple wreath of poppies has been placed over the remembrance cross outside the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre, in Mary Street, Thames.

Yesterday was the 100th year commemoration for the death of  Leonard Arthur NEWMAN.

Next month, August 2018, will see remembrance articles for ten further Thames men, who lost their lives during World War One. Lest We Forget

Monday, July 23, 2018

Thames (NZ): Thamesites' connections to the 1859 Passenger ship Shalimar

Last year on the Thames Connect site, Thames researcher Carolyn, asked if there were any descendants from the Shalimar's voyage to New Zealand in 1859.

"I've been interested in genealogy for many years and at present, I'm researching a book which will trace the adventures of the passengers who came to settle in NZ on the SHALIMAR. The ship arrived in Auckland from Liverpool on 23rd December 1859. My mother's father's grandparents were on board and my aim now is to trace the descendants of some of the other passengers and collate their family histories as a celebration, in 2019, of the 160th anniversary of the ship's arrival. If any of your ancestors were passengers on the SHALIMAR in 1859 and you would like to join the Shalimar160 project, I would love to hear from you." Signed Carolyn.

Several of the passengers from this 1859 voyage are known to have come to the Thames; maybe more that have not yet traced??

Harriett White was a child when the ship arrived in Auckland December 1859, she had travelled with her family from Ireland. Harriett went onto marry Mr Napian Pollard, the couple lived for a time at The Thames, and he had shares in the great Caledonian Mine. They returned to Auckland in the 1870s, and Mr Pollard was for a time Mayor of Parnell. Mrs Harriett Pollard nee White died at Parnell on 1 January 1928.

If you can help locate more passengers from the Shalimar's 1859 voyage, 
please contact Carolyn via her new blog.


Further details on the Shalimar and passengers in the New Zealand 10 December 1859.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Thames (NZ): WWI deaths continue 100 years ago

Since April 2015, I have been writing special blog entries to commemorate all the men from Thames who died during World War One. To-date between 25 April 1915 and 16 July 1918, 171 young Thames men had lost their lives during the Great War.

In one weeks time, 23 July 2018, it will be one hundred years since the death of another Thames-born man, Leonard Arthur NEWMAN.

Killed In Action 23/07/1918 In the Field, France; NEWMAN Leonard Arthur; 18891; Private XXII Corps Cyclist Bn
Leonard's war file is online at Archives New Zealand. For those new to war research, all the World War One personnel files have been digitised. You can either search from Archives or from the Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph (at the end of each person's entry).

Leonard was the son of Harry and Jane Newman, born 24 July 1893 at Thames. The family lived in Edward Street, and Leonard attended the Kauaeranga Boys. and the Kauaeranga Girls' School - both located with in a few blocks of his home.

Newman left school in 1907 and began working as a carpenter. In a strange twist of fate, on his enlistment he was working as a carpenter in Auckland. Leonard was employed by Mr Albert Gordon of Thames, another ex Thamesite, who also was killed during the war 12 August 1917.

Private Newman embarked from New Zealand 4 April 1916. He was wounded in action 3 February 1917. Newman was treated in France then sent onward to England for further treatment and recovery. In June he was sent back to France. Later that year he was back in hospital at a Gas Cleaning Station.

PM William Massey inspects the New Zealand Cyclist Corps at Oissy, 3 July 1918.
It was March 1918 that Private Newman was transferred into the Cyclist Battalion. Then on 23 July 1918, he was Killed in Action on the battlefields of France,

Leonard's obituary in the Thames Star Newspaper revealed more details on his prewar life and war service. It was noted that he was a talented rugby player and had junior rugby at The Thames, and later in Auckland.

Thames Star 9 August 1918

There is a memorial for Leonard Arthur Newman at the War Grave Cemetery: Marfaux (New Zealand) Memorial, France.