Sunday, December 31, 2017

Thames (NZ): First Caledonian Games at the Thames 150 years ago

The town of Shortland was ready for a good party by the time the 31 December 1867 rolled around. The miners, their families and associated businesses had already had their ups and downs. For many mostly downs!

Preparations had been weeks in the making for the 'first' New Year's Day on the Thames, a four-day Caledonian Games had been planned with precision. Events to include horse racing, foot racing, canoe racing and boat racing; along with the more traditional games of quoits, greasy pole and cricket. (see Daily Southern Cross 25 December 1867 on right)

First was the drinking on New Year's Eve. There were ten hotels open and it was estimated in the Daily Southern Cross 6 January 1868, that there were 500 men at each establishment. First footing took place and the proceedings wound up without any noted problems, the men no doubt eager to save something for the sporting events to follow over the following days.

The sports were held on the flat ground near the Hape Creek, with Mr Mackay's grand new house looking proudly down upon those gathered.
ABOVE: This view looking east along Grey Street is later 1868-69, but shows the flat area where the sports were held. James Mackay's residence is on the hill (two gables) centre left. The building in the foreground is the Shortland Town Post Office at the corner of Grey and Mackay Streets. The Hape Creek and one of the many pedestrian bridges is in the centre.
Refreshment stands, temporary grandstands and marquees lined the sporting ground, ready to quench the thirsts and feed those attending. Extra ships brought extra spectators and competitors to the town. An interesting note made by the correspondent was that the Europeans were making an effort to prove to the 'natives' that they were friendly. One must not and should forget the impact that mining had on the tribal groups who were well established and content before the goldfield was flung open! Just five months previously this was Maori owned land, now in occupation of thousands of Europeans out to make money.

The sports started at 11 o'clock 1 January 1868. A 100 yard and 350 year running race started the day. The local Maori also took part and the latter race was won by Nikorima who was far too strong for his opposition. A full report appears in the Daily Southern Cross 6 January 1868, snippets are below.

There was a damp start to the second day of events, but eventually some did take place. These included throwing the Hammer competition and hack races. The stewards had to deal with some heated dispute over the running of several of these heats.

1864 view of the Waihou River
The third day of events, 3 January 1868, was also affected by the weather. Those entered in the boat races faced a difficult breeze blowing from the south-west.

The highlight of day for many was the magnificent canoe race between the Kirikiri and Parawai 'natives.' The men displayed their skill, not even an upturn into the sea delayed proceedings during the 4 mile event. Chief Taipari was standing in his canoe urging the crew on, but was just tipped at the end by the challenging crew. (Description below)

Partial details of the canoe race Day Three
After further events, Taipari gathered the natives present and they performed war dances and songs for the Europeans gathered. The exchange of cultures and activities appeared to have been the star of the days events.  Two groups finding their way with one another and appreciating what each group had to offer. Anyway, the day ended with Landlord Mulligan being carried back to his hotel by the local Maori, as an expression of thanks for the gracious way he accepted them and their customs. Joseph Mulligan was associated with several hotels at the Thames, the first was the Victoria Hotel, Pollen Street just north of the Grey Street intersect.
ABOVE: 1870s view of the Victoria Hotel, Pollen Street, Shortland Town.
Day Four, Saturday 4 January 1868, and the events just kept on happening! The 100 yard foot race was rerun and won again by Foster. Followed by miscellaneous events and horse races. The highland bagpipes sung out and delighted all those who were gathered. The day coming to a close with a great speech by Landlord Joseph Mulligan. Mulligan was well received by the crowd given that he had offered to share a hogshead of beer with his friends gathered before him! Plus he pledged money to hold a further event on St Patrick's Day next!

So ended the first New Year on the Thames Goldfield.

4 January 2018
As the town continues to celebrate 150 years since the goldfield opened, it is 150 years since those first horse races were held on Shortland Flat. The Thames Jockey Club will on 4 January 2018 celebrate 150 years of horse racing at The Thames, with a race meeting at the Parawai Racecourse.

ABOVE: 1930s views of the Parawai Racecourse, Thames.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thames (NZ): The last WWI deaths for 1917 remembered

With two days to go till the end of 1917 (100 years ago), Thamesites must have been hopeful that no more bad news would be received from France. Alas there was one war death on the 30th and another on the 31st December 1917.

They were:
30/12/1917 In the Field, France; MCCLYMONT Frederick George4/1369; Lance Corporal  NZETC
31/12/1917 In the Field, Belgium; MURRAY Raika Whakarongatai20846; L/Corporal  NZ Maori Batt
  Source: THAMES STAR, 18 & 19 JANUARY 1918  

Raika Murray of Kopu, was just 18 years of aged when he was Killed in Action. His name was also included on the Matatoki Roll of Honour. Raika's next-of-kin was Wikitoria Tengahue (mother), Kopu, Thames, New Zealand. Corporal Murray is remembered in the Ramparts Cemetery, Lille Gate, Belgium.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thames (NZ): Pahau Street revisited

One of the first views we have of Pahau Street, was taken from the Beach looking back at the Junction Hotel c1869. The iconic hotel is centre right in the photograph on the right - photographer James D Richardson. Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3681-8

Pahau Street Facts:

  • the boundary line between Shortland Town and Grahamstown.
  • named after the Maori land owner Pahau who lived on and cultivated the land.
  • the Presbyterian Church was/is  located on the Shortland Town side of the street - land purchased from Ngatiawa Pahau,. 
  • on the first maps Pahau Street ran from Bella Street (east) to the sea. By the 1910s, the street had been shortened and ended at Queen Street.
  • the street has flooded many times from the overflow of the Karaka Creek (the course of which has been altered several times since the goldfield opened. (see photos at end of article)
The postcard below was taken by Muir & Moodie in the 1910s. The view west of the Pollen Street intersect, looking towards Bella Street to the east. All the main landmarks remain. The Junction Hotel, The St James Church and hall. Plus several of the houses on the Bird-in-hand hill above Bella Street remain to this day.

THEN & NOW: Pahau Street 1910s (above) and 2015 (below - Google maps)

In the 1923 Street Directory the following people/businesses were mentioned for Pahau Street.

Bella Street intersect                                                Bella Street intersect
John O'Reilly (constable)                                         George Smith (patternmaker)
Jack Doddrell (carter)                                               James Hogg (hairdresser) 
                                                                                  William Davey (blacksmith)
Mackay Street intersect                                            Mackay Street intersect 
Thomas Johnstone (church caretaker)                      Thomas Judd (Chas Judd Ltd)
                                                                                  Jonah Gardner (carpenter)
Martha Street intersect                                              Presbyterian Sunday School
Junction Hotel (John Kelly Proprietor)
Pollen Street intersect                                               Pollen Street intersect
Herbert Clinker (painter)                                          Fire Brigade Station (A Garrett Super)
Kirkwood Street intersect                                         Herbert Rose (Fire station caretaker)
Arthur Ludwig (fisherman)                                      Francis Long (iron moulder)
Charles Taylor (fish dealer)                                      John Smith (fisherman)
Queen Street intersect                                               Queen Street intersect

LEFT SIDE From Queen St                                   RIGHT SIDE From Queen St

 1985 - Pahau Street - the water has gone, the flood debris remains.
 ABOVE Left: 1985 Flood - view along Pahau Street to the east - flood cleanup underway.
ABOVE Right: The view looking west from the Pollen Street intersect to Queen Street.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Thames (NZ): Totara Cemetery Gates CLOSED

Well what a way to start Christmas Day. As we drove up the road to Totara Cemetery, there was a line-up of cars and people waiting along the drive. The problem? At 8.30am the gates were still padlocked! While it could have been possible for some to make the long trek up the hill, it was not a viable option for most of us.

The Council were rung but no one came while I was waiting. Many cars turned around, hopefully to return later. Some ingenuity got us in one way at least.

The next surprise came at the grounds of the cemetery itself. Normally Christmas Day is a pristine view along the 'beautifully' kept cemetery.  Alas today many areas were deep in grass, and some hand pruning was necessary around the grave-sites we visited.

PS. TCDC when are you ever going to replace the water tap at the tree opposite the RSA section. The sooner we get a "Friends of the Cemetery Group" going the better. Yes sorry for the rant.

*****Merry Xmas*****

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Thames (NZ): Merry Xmas - Meri Kirihimete

Greetings from Thames, New Zealand. These days there is a decorated tree at Kuranui Bay for those that venture towards Tararu - but to older Thamesites things were never the same the day the old Chestnut tree was cut down. Young and old waited expectantly to see the tree at the corner of Mary and Pollen Streets, which was covered in lights every December.

The magic was enhanced, because those were the days when late night shopping was an important social event. On Christmas Eve everyone would go down town, do last minute shopping, meet with friends and view the lights along Pollen Street. The photo below is from Christmas 1968.

Christmas 1917 in Thames
If you were stuck for ideas of what to buy, the newspaper suggested 'walking the Ladies Mile' aka Pollen Street. Drapery shops included Hetherington's, Court's, Cullen's, The Caledonian, and The Elite. Dunnage's and Coad's could meet all your stationery and book requirements. While the livery stables and garages in business were Hawkes', Phillip's and Shaw's.

This had been a tough year for the town, floods earlier in the year, while the Great War continued claiming the lives of tens of Thames men each month.  Nine Thames WWI soldiers are known to have died this month, one hundred years ago. 

The Kings message to the troops in 1917 wished all  good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
"Our Christmas thoughts are with you, the sick and wounded soldiers and Sailors.  We know by personal experience with what patience and cheerfulness their suffering is borne.  We wish all a speedy restoration to health, a restful Christmastide, and brighter days to come - (signed) George R and I and Mary R."

The Thames Star 24 December 1917, had a four page supplement devoted to Christmas. From poems to general stories, for young and old, a wide range of topics included. Such as: The Story of the Nativity; Origin of the Maori; to poems such as Santa Claus.
Link for page One, Two, Three and Four.

There is even a picture of Thames 'today' 1917. Sadly the quality is poor, but a popular view looking south along Pollen Street.

On 25 Decmeber 1917 there were special Christmas Church services in the town, while many eagerly awaited the Thames Race meeting on Boxing Day. The highlight for many churchgoers occurred on the 23rd December when the Baptist and Congregational Church used their newly installed electric light for the first time during the evening service.

***** Best wishes and Merry Xmas to all*****

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Thames (NZ): Women overseas in WWI - new Jane Tolerton book

Whenever there is a new book released, I always hope to find some Thames references. Well, Jane Tolerton's new book is full of surprises.

Make Her Praises Heard Afar, New Zealand women overseas in World War One has just been released and covers the women from New Zealand who have previously been overlooked in World War One.

We may have been the first country to give women the vote, but the New Zealand women who served as doctors, ambulance drivers and munitions workers World War I have largely been left out of our written history – until now. - Jane Tolerton

Women with a connection to the Thames area, who get a mention in the book are: Cora Anderson, Mary Barkas, Theresa Butler, and Emma Harris.

The highlight are the letters that Mary Barkas wrote to her father back in Timaru. Mary was 25 and had gone to London to attend the London School of Medicine. With friends, Mary Barkas was travelling around Europe before the war broke. The following are quotes from "Make Her Praises Head Afar."

Monday 3 August: "A week ago nobody dreamed that a great European War was possible...Now, in only four days, it seems that all Europe is on fire."

Thursday 6 August: "The German People seem to be enthusiastic and talk about the righteous cause"

Tuesday 11 August: "Here we are in the midst of War, and apparently likely to stay here for some time. Tonight comes the news of a big German victory."

Thursday 27 August: "Our special train is to go tomorrow...Last night Marjorie wrote obituary notices for us all in case we get blown up in the Channel."

Mary and her friends went by train to France, then crossed the English Channel on a crowded ship. "A month after the outbreak of war between Germany and France when Mary finally arrived at the flat she shared with her mother."

Dr Barkas completed her medical training and then moved into the field of Psychiatry. You may well ask, how does this person have a connection to Thames? After her father died in 1932, Mary came back to New Zealand and instead of returning to England, settled on the Thames Coast.

Dr Mary Barkas, is a name that is still well known amongst older Thamesites to this day. 
MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE OF THE SUNLIGHT LEAGUE OF NEW ZEALAND—A photograph taken at Cashmere House, Cashmere Hills, on Saturday afternoon, when members were the guests of Mrs J,Cracroft Wilson. Seated in front, from left, are: Mrs J. Cracroft Wilson, Dr. Mary Barkas, Sir Arthur Dobson, and Professor J. Macmillan Brown. PRESS, VOLUME LXIX, ISSUE 20861, 22 MAY 1933
Dr Barkas was a world renown psychiatrist; and during her time on the Thames Coast she was also the first in New Zealand to breed Schnauzer dogs. 

Mary was an active member of the community, for instance in 1937 she was a member of the Tapu Branch of the New Zealand Labour Party. During World War Two, Dr Barkas helped establish emergency training services in Thames and gave lectures in all levels of home nursing to the people of Thames.

Little did the people of Thames and Coast know, that they had such a famous person in their midst. Someone who had studied psycho- analytical methods from a pupil of Dr Freud himself. Her papers were published widely and she attended many conferences. Considered a true pioneer in the field of Psychiatry and a pioneer for women in this branch of medicine.

Dr Mary Rushton Barkas passed away at Thames Hospital 17 April 1959, her funeral was held at the Thames St George's Anglican Church;  Dr Barkas was cremated at Purewa Crematorium in Auckland on 20 April 1959.
Dr Barkas' Obituary.
Further information on Dr Barkas:
Wikipedia Mary Barkas
Article in Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine
Women Psychoanalysts in Great Britain - this has links to selected papers written by Dr Barkas

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Thames (NZ): 2nd batch of Thames Hospital Commemorative Calendars available now

Spread the word, a second batch has been printed and available for sale at Carson's Bookshop, Thames Rock Shop and at the Accounts Department, Ground Floor, Thames Hospital (Mon-Thurs).
Proceeds towards the commemorations and Reunion 2-4 November 2018.

This is not just for staff past and present, but for anyone associated with the hospital. Maybe your ancestor worked there, started the hospital, was a contractor - ALL WELCOME!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Thames (NZ): Thames Hospital Postcard post 1901

When you come by a 'new' postcard, there is always the hope that an interesting story will be revealed on the back. The picture on the 'front' is just the bonus.

This postcard is very detailed in colour, while there appears to have been the joining of two photographs given the optical bend in the footpath and fence in the lower centre of the card.

For those unfamiliar with this building, this is the 1900 hospital built facing Baillie Street. Looking from left to right, there are two ward blocks, the two storied building in the middle is the entrance and administration/communal areas. Then there are a further two wards. To the right would be the Medical Superintendent's house, then the Karaka Creek.

The postcard was addressed to Mrs A D (or G D) Bennett of 39 Hope Street, Dunedin.

The message reads: "Many thanks for letter & enclosure received yesterday.  Will send jacket later on.  All good wishes for a happy Eastertide. (Signed) N. C."

The stamp used was a halfpenny 1900 pictorial (green) of Mt Cook. Sadly the postmark can't be read to find out exactly when the card was posted.

In the 1902 Street Directory, the house at 39 Hope Street is occupied by Mr Edmund Cook, the Chief Postmaster; so sadly doesn't reveal anything on the identity of Mr or Mrs Bennett. By 1910, Mrs E Boyer resides in the house at No 39 Hope Street. So no definite identification of the Bennett's at this stage!

The remnants of this old hospital were finally demolished in 2008, to make way for the new Clinical Services Unit at Thames Hospital.

ABOVE: Left - Looking down on part of the old 1900 Baillie Street Hospital building. Right - 2008 view of the demolition of the buildings viewed from Mary Street.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thames (NZ): Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre

Wowww!!! I was so thrilled to see this press release from the Thames Coromandel District Council this morning - giving details of the naming of the new recreation centre adjacent to the Thames High School Gymnasium.

The centre is to be called the JACK MCLEAN COMMUNITY RECREATION CENTRE in honour of the late Jack McLean. Jack was a true Thamesite who went on to be an All Black and a rugby league star in England in the 1950s.

John Kenneth (Jack) McLean was All Black No 473, a wing three-quarter, he played five matches for the All Blacks (two Tests); a member of the Thames United Club, Jack played for the Auckland Rugby Union of which Thames was a sub-union.

Many will have been taught at Thames High School by Mr McLean, and fittingly his 1970s classroom in A Block would have been close to where the new recreation centre is today. Jack took a keen interest in many sports, for instance he was a member of the Thames Athletics Club in 1973, when Mr M McPherson was presented with a life membership. (photo right) He also coached rugby while at Thames High School.

Further Information: Wikipedia

ABOVE: J K McLean, captain of the Thames Representative Rugby Team (middle row, centre)
The glory days of Thames Rugby, Thames was Peace Cup holders at the time!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thames (NZ): Thames Hospital 150 Commemoration Calendars

Just a gentle reminder and suggestion for a great Xmas present

The Thames Hospital 150 Commemorative Calendar is available for just $10.
Available via this website or drop into:
Accounts Office at Thames Hospital Monday to Thursday (office hours)
School of Mines Rock Shop


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Thames (NZ): Hauraki Trucks and Truckers Book

Well, when you least expect it, another very original book about the greater Thames-Hauraki area. I was surprised walking into Carson's Bookshop today to see a book that had completely gone unnoticed by me...obviously not by many, as apparently it has been flying off the shelves!!

The book title is:
Hauraki Trucks and Truckers
Gavin M Abbot, Opotiki.

Its a good sized A4 soft cover book of 164 pages, the photographs of the trucks are full colour where available. Locally there is a feature on Verran's trucks, spreading out to the transport companies from Turua, Puriri, and further afield. Just too many to mention here, but names that are operating and those that are not. Such as: Wright, Fisher, Sarjant, White, Main, Brenan, Provincial, Shaw, Stembridge...

Anyone with a farming background, interested in transport or just history in general will find this a very interesting read, and trip down memory lane. Plus the book provides an excellent overview of the history of transport through the Thames valley during the 20th Century.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Thames (NZ): Xmas Parade 9 December 2017

The town was packed today waiting for the annual Xmas Parade. Roads were closed along Pollen Street, while crowds gathered on the edge of the footpath, all wanting the best vantage point. The parade itself took over 30 minutes to pass by, with lots of lollies distributed to children young and old. The parade started at Grey Street at the south end of Pollen Street, and those participating must have been exhausted after the mile trek to the Grahamstown end of town.

A selection of photographs feature below, while a full set is on the slideshow.
Above: The Police Car's siren signals the beginning of the parade at 11am.


Schools from country and town were spread through the parade, aboard transport trucks - one of G Wright's trucks above. The band played, along with several other musical groups.

Thames Hospital chose the theme of uniforms through the decades. With different uniforms worn to represent nursing and cleaning staff. This was in preparation for the Thames Hospital 150 Commemorations 2-4 November 2018.

 The WWI Commemorative Nurses have featured in many parades since the start of the WW100 commemorations. They share a special place in our hearts at Thames, given the number of World War One Nurses who trained and worked at the Thames Hospital.


 There were several animals in the parade, many associated with the SPCA Float.

Always a popular addition to the parade, going back to when Mr Johnny Paynter always entered it into the parades. Now it has been given a makeover and proudly runs thanks to Jared Fisher Automotive.


 The star of the show, Santa Claus brought up the rear of the parade.

Thames Xmas 2017 SLIDESHOW Available NOW