Friday, July 13, 2018

Thames (NZ): Loss of wooden grave markers 1948 Shortland Cemetery

Often we get asked by researchers as to why their family have no headstone or simple cross at Shortland Cemetery? Yes the obvious answer is that there never was one, but often the more probable answer is that time and events have taken their toll.

We know that there was a major fire in the cemetery in 1943, and another report just fire years later suggests the reason why more grave markers were lost or damaged.

The background is that this is a cemetery that appears to have suffered major neglect over the years. Whether this was aggravated by the location as much as the gradient and layout of the cemetery itself. How we know it today, is obviously a great improvement on how it has been cared for in past decades (thanks to Graeme P).

So, if you have been looking for evidence of a grave marker at Shortland Cemetery, don't rule out the possibility that it was destroyed by either the 1943 or 1948 fires. Below is the report of a fire that spread through the upper portion of Shortland Cemetery, Thames - in February 1948.

Source: The Thames Star Collection, The Treasury, Thames

Monday, July 9, 2018

Thames (NZ): New Motel Fifty Years Ago

From the time the Thames Goldfield opened nearly 151 years ago, there were periods of building growth and decline. Accommodation over the years was at times stretched to meet the needs of the travelers that came to visit or work at The Thames.

The numerous hotels always provided a great source of accommodation, along with hostels and other private establishments.

In 1870 Street Directory there were 102 listings for 'Hotels & Taverns'. While we know that at times there were many more and in fact a total of over 140 unique hotels at The Thames at various times. There were also Boarding houses advertised.

At times when the hotel numbers were being reduced, the liquor license was refused by the Thames Licensing Committee, but an accommodation only license granted. Such was the case for the Kauaeranga Hotel, near the end of the pub's history - no liquor, just accommodation!

In more recent decades motels were built, with locals often thinking perhaps there were too many - but tourism appears to have led only to expansion and an increase in available bed numbers.

It is fifty years ago that one of these motels was built and opened - namely the Crescent Motel, that now goes by the name of Shortland Court Motel.


From July to September 1968, the Thames Star Newspaper reported on building progress for a new motel that was under construction in the Jellicoe Crescent area. This was the Crescent Motel'

The postcard above shows the original motel layout, in later years the motel was expanded to include extra rooms facing Fenton Street (as shown in the google maps view below).

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Thames (NZ):Tararu Cemetery Access now open

Well good news from TCDC that the repairs to the entrance of Tararu Cemetery (north of Thames), have been completed. The site is once again safe for visitors - remembering of course that it is still a mission to access the hillside site.

Considerable work has gone into the step access, and a handrail will be a welcome addition to those making the climb to the top. Well done to TCDC staff and contractors for getting this work completed.

Photographs courtesy of Graeme Pearce. The view is: Looking down to the Thames Coast Road below.

History of the Tararu Cemetery. The Treasury Journal Volume 5 2012
Thames Cemetery information
July 2017 Storm Damage

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Thames (NZ): Thames Hospital Commemorations and James Mackay Lecture Series

Email for programme and registration form or Ring the Thames Hospital


Four monthly lectures will lead up to the celebration of 150 years since the opening of Thames Hospital. The general public is welcome to attend on a Wednesday evening from 5 to 7pm. The presentations will be followed by questions in under an hour. A small supper will be served. Koha (gold coin) entry is optional.

25 JULY 2018
Introduction and history – Mr Paul Silvester
Cardiac Prevention & Rehab Specialty Nurse – Rosemary McGoldrick
Changes in cardiac care – Dr John Lennane
Diabetic Specialty nurse – Christine Bierre
The future of diabetic and cardiac care – Dr Vijaya Pera
Questions then supper

WHAT DOES THAMES HOSPITAL DO WELL? (Sperry Lane Cafe, Thames Hospital)

Introduction and history – Mr Paul Silvester
Day Stay Surgery – Mr Gowan Creamer
Endoscopy –Lead Endoscopy nurse - Maria McHardy
Post-polio syndrome – Gordon Jackman (carbon fibre prosthetics)
Outpatient Chemotherapy – Nurse Coordinator - Fiona Sayer
Questions then supper

X-RAY SERVICES (School of Mines)

Beginnings, specialising, technology - Fiaola Siatuu
Growing a service – Chris Hovell
Colonography and remote reporting – Rodger Clark
Developing the specialty – Kirsti Grant-Mackie
Supper at the Bridge Club (koha)


Historical review – Mr Paul Silvester
Evolving links between Thames and Waikato – Dr Ruth Large / Dr Gillian Twinem
Robotic physicians – Dr Erik McClain
Primary health – Te Korowai
The DHB perspective – Sally Christie
Questions then supper

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Thames (NZ): Thames Coast Road Postcard

The Thames Coast Road on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula has always been a challenge, but the past year saw storms continually wreck havoc along the narrow pathway. It was good news to hear that the reconstruction work had been completed, and Mayor Sandra Goudie recently took the opportunity to thank all involved.

A report by STUFF 20 June 2018 summarised events:
"It took six months and $18.9 million to repair what nature destroyed in one day on the Thames Coast Rd.  Repairs to the stretch of State Highway 25 since the January 5 storm include 3km of resealing, 4 km of new pavement constructed, 41 culverts repaired, four new crossings, 70 rock walls, and many kilometres of rock protection, using 1700 tonnes of rock brought in by truck, more than 65 contractors and about 70,000 man hours. The rebuild is now complete, apart from an additional 3km of resealing scheduled for finer weather next summer."

The postcard below highlights the perfect day and drive down the Thames Coast Road to Coromandel. Pohutakawa cling to the rocks, while the driver of a few decades past, makes their way carefully around the narrow bends.

A Barker Postcard Collection
Since the Thames Goldfield was opened, roading issues have been a priority. While the early miners relied on sea transport like the local iwi, slowly tracks were developed along the coast as we know it today.

Reverend Lush for instance recalls in his diaries travelling north to Coromandel and making use of the low tide to walk along the beach. Over the decades, tracks were widened to the extent that horse and gig could travel up the coast to the more popular destinations. Car travel brought new challenges.

Biking was a popular way to travel the coast road, 
while cyclists reported punctures were a frequent occurrence.

During one week Dec 1921-Jan 1922, 1172 vehicles passed along the coast road. The majority were cars; along with lorrys, buses, motorbikes - but there were still 103 horse drawn vehicles.

1931 view of the Coromandel to Colville section of the coast road.

In 1929, concern was raised over the speed limit on the coast road. Four motorbikes had been seen doing 45 miles per hour - it was felt this was highly unsafe and that the speed limit should be reduced to 15 miles per hour. Twenty miles per hour the maximum!! Well known coast resident Mr McMahon confirmed the problem and felt some were using the coast road as a speed track!

In April 1930, the coast road was widened in places with some corners removed. Despite heavy metalling, motorists had been advised to carry chains for use in wet weather.

In 1933, a travel writer to the Thames Star extolled the virtues of travelling on the Thames Coast Road, and in particular the beauty of the pohutakawa. "Road Royal - That is the name by which men will one day acclaim the beauty of the Thames Coast Road." Thames Star 13 December 1933.

During the Depression years of the 1930s, gangs of labourers worked on the road, metalling and maintaining the road. Sea walls were built at various locations to try and protect the road from the sea.

In 1936 the news was imminent that the coast road was to be tarsealed, prior to this large sections were metalled. The people of Tapu appealed for the seal to reach them and not to stop at Thornton Bay!

A similar event had happened as during the 2018 King Tide event; the road in 1936 had been covered with silt and sand and it was feared that no would be able to gain access to the coast over the summer months.

In January 1937, a large landslide blocked the road just near the Puru Point - an event that had happened countless times and still happens to this day along the Thames Coast Road.

In March 1937 came the long awaited announcement that work was to begin on the sealing of the coast road. the first portion to be undertaken was to cost 950 Pounds. On going maintenance of the road was always a concern. in the same year 30 men were deployed to work trying to keep the road open and a public works camp was established to house them.

In 1939, Civil Engineer Mr J H Adams, raised the theory that some of the slips and landslides along the Thames Coast Road were due to seismic activity - the area had several fault lines.

Another constant over the years has been the tendency for cars to leave the road! and crash onto the rocks and into the sea. As was the case in 1939 when Mr J H Battson was a passenger in a car driven by Mr C Marshall of Paeroa.

Car nearly off the road in the 1950s.
Godwin Collection
Oral history accounts reported that during the war years 1939-1945, men were set to work to build  different structures Instead of trying to keep the road open, traps were set along the coast road, whereby the locals could block the road should it be deemed necessary to hinder foreign invaders!

The history of the coast road continues. While locals often wonder whether in their lifetime will it ever really change?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Thames (NZ): R H Bartlett early photographer at The Thames

New Zealand Herald 27 August 1967
Robert Henry Bartlett was a photographer in Auckland when the Thames Goldfield opened in August 1867. Within a matter of weeks he made his way to the new diggings and photographed the field still in its infancy. These photographs give us a factual and true view of what the area looked like before the opening of the Field and before the thousands descended onto the goldfield.

By 26 August 1867, Bartlett had returned to Auckland, developed his slides/film and displayed them at his business establishment. The views were of the Kuranui (Hunt's) reef, Karaka Flat, The Kauaeranga township and several claims.

It is timely to view these again, although you will find them referred to in previous blogs.

View up the Karaka Creek to the Karaka Hill (later known as Una Hill)
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 5-159G'

The Karaka - View to Shortland Town & the Kauaeranga
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 5-159H
Long Drive Claim 
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 589-317
Bartlett returned to the Thames Goldfield and took many more photographs - these can be found in the Sir George Grey Collection, Auckland Libraries.

Further information on Mr R H BARTLETT:
"Bartlett continued to practise as a photographer in Auckland until well into the 1890s, despite a disastrous fire that destroyed his premises in September 1873, and repeated flirtations with bankruptcy. He died at the Rookwood Asylum in Sydney on 2 June 1911."

View down Broad Street c1870 towards Shortland Town
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A16669

Moanataiari Creek
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A16668
Hunt's Claim at the Shotover
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 5-159K
There are many more!!! 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Thames (NZ): Long Drive Claim part Two

Following on from yesterday's post about the Long Drive Claim, a even older photo has emerged at Auckland Libraries in their Sir George Grey Collection. First though, some doubt was raised by some readers regarding the location of the photo in that post...was it further up towards the Shotover Claim, rather than the Long Drive Claim. WE can but take the information provided

The latest photo is by R H Bartlett, and is of the Long Drive Claim area August 1867!
The caption reads: 
"Camp at Long Drive, showing the mouth of the Kuranui Creek (centre), the path from Thames (Shortland) (left) along Kuranui Bay (left), the bluff leading up to Pukehinau Ridge (right), and Tararu Flat (left centre, distance). Hunt's claim is approximately 150 metres to the right of the camp."
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 589-317
***A high resolution scan sent by an interested researcher, shows a group of diggers centre right, under the trees** 
(Thanks Dick W for the info).

Another view of the area is available in an 1872 photograph.

Below the location of the Long Drive Claim, south of the Kuranui Creek.

The view today via Google Maps 2013.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Thames (NZ): Long Drive Claim

Another gem from the Sir George Grey Collection at Auckland Libraries.

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 536-Album-285-8-1
What can you see? A tramline runs across centre of photo, transporting the days finds to the nearest battery no doubt. All looks rudimentary - a work in progress! But take another look and see the hills completely denuded of any growth, as men have hacked at claims in search of traces of gold. Small miners huts dotted over the hills, close to the days work.

The Long Drive Claim, was south of the Kuranui Creek, not far from the famous Shotover Claim. A group of miners pegged out an eight man's claim from August 1867, one of whom was Alfred Newdick. Good money was made, which led to the floating of the Long Drive Gold Mining Company.

The name of John Watson Walker aka Long Drive Walker became synonymous with the mine, he was the Manager of the mine for many years, and lived in a large house on the Tararu Flat.

Lions Club Heritage Sign, marks the area of the Long Drive Claim.

Alfred Newdick's Memories

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Thames (NZ): Old School Records

For those of you looking for extra snippets on your ancestors, school records provide a little insight into their lives. Link this with newspaper reports and you get a more complete view.

First, to new readers there is a list of Thames Schools online, and The Treasury and Thames Library have school registration records.

The NEWS today is that the New Zealand Archives have been busy digitising records since I last wrote, with many schools already online up to 1920!

Here is an example. Search for Thames North School. Here are a selection of the results.

Click on 1919 Thames North School - then the hyperlink

You can then enlarge or download the file. Some are single sheets, while others are multi-page pdf files. In this example for 1919, there were four pupils in Standard Six. Alexander Campbell, May Edgar, Wilma Herival and Walter Lang. Their ages ranged from 15 years six months to 13 years seven months.  This was not uncommon, with many not going onto Thames High School, instead staying and completing their Proficiency or Competency Certificate.

As you can see from one examination sheet you can gain, information on: age, class, attendance, examination scores in the main curriculum subject areas. Different files often include extra notes from the head teacher or examiner.

Combine reports like this with newspaper reports and you can gain more knowledge of the childrens' time at school. Two of the Standard Six pupils, were awarded Gott Memorial Prizes for Sewing (May Edgar) and Composition (Wilma Herival).

Check out the other records for Thames, if in doubt just use "Thames Schools" for your search query.
Tararu School aka North School
Now the building is used as an art gallery.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thames (NZ): Update on the Toss Hammond Photograph Collection

Following on from yesterdays article on the Hammond Collection of photographs at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, there appears to be an easier way to locate the entire collection!

The photographs are contained in Albums and the contents can be seen by searching the individual album.  The photographs are not only of Thames, but include family outings and trips to places such as Rotorua. They include iwi from several areas other than just Thames/Hauraki.

[Totara Point, Thames],Hammond, Thomas William George Howard, 1868-1967, photographer,ca.

ALBUM THREE PH-ALB-357-3: CLICK HERE - scroll to Catalogue/Contains and then view all.
MAORI CAMP by Waiomu Creek 1903
[Ratira camp by Waiomo Creek],Hammond, Thomas William George Howard, 1868-1967,
photographer,ca. 1903,PH-ALB-357-3-P12-1