Monday, July 31, 2017

Thames (NZ): Chief Rapana Maunganoa Portrait & the Hui Mai Connection

While reading Meghan Hawkes' new blog on the first year at the Thames, it was of interest to see a portrait painted by my father Doug Barker many decades ago. Not many people have known about this special painting, as the numbers of Hui Mai players pass with each year.

The painting was done for the husband of Doug's niece, and portrayed an ancestor of her husband Bob. The Hui MaiRugby Club team were playing an important match against the Whakarewarewa Rugby team from Rotorua. The painting was done on a large piece of wood intended for a door, as Doug was a carpenter by trade. Bob put the painting up as the trophy for the event, but sadly the team lost and the painting/trophy headed to the Whakarewarewa Clubrooms. The Hui Mai Club ceased to exist and the trophy was not replayed for.

Bob and members from my family visited the rooms over the years, sometimes with the intention that the painting could find its way back home. It was noted the the 'Chief' was in a special spot by the stage and was used as the backdrop for many prizegivings and events. It is only in more recent years that members of Ngati Maru rediscovered the painting and were making moves to have the painting returned. Whether this has happened, I am not sure?

Chief Rapana Maunganoa Portrait 

Hui Mai & Whakarewarewa Rugby Clubs Trophy
Photo taken at the Whakarewarewa Clubrooms 1980s

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Thames (NZ): 150 years ago at The Thames - Proclamation signed

The search for gold around the area known as The Thames, came to ahead in July 1867. R Lawlor and Mr Rogan reported that Chief Taipari offered to open up 3,000 acres for the prospecting of gold by Europeans. Lawlor visited the area and witnessed for himself two Maoris panning for gold. It was apparent soon that the dirt below the surface was more likely where the treasure laid.  Adjoining land belonging to Te Hira also seemed promising for a prospecting deal.

On the 30th July a public meeting in Auckland was told that a deal was close to being finalised which would allow men to prospect the Thames field for a license fee of one pound a head - and that they knew from James Mackay that there were already a few men on the field.

After much negotiation, the final preparations were made and Dr Daniel Pollen (photo above) signed the proclamation that would allow for mining at the Thames on 30th July 1867. With the news of the Proclamation, the city of Auckland prepared for a mass exodus as unemployed men readied to leave for the new goldfield. At this early stage it was speculated that the area would be known as the Karaka Goldfield, as it turned out the term Thames Goldfield became the name for the mining area.

On the 31st July, Commissioner James Mackay prepared to leave Auckland to head to the Thames, along with the first eager prospectors. Until he got there and issued licenses nothing could legally be done. The goldfield officially opened on the 1st August 1867 - but inclement weather played a part in delaying Mackay's arrival onshore at Kauaeranga and therefore the issuing of the first miner's rights.
Daily Southern Cross 31 July 1867
Shortland 1868

Thames Heritage Information LINK

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thames (NZ): New book by Allan Berry

STOP PRESS!!!  A new book is due for release by Allan Berry of Thames.

A previous book on the Kauaeranga Valley provided a full history of the valley and the early settlers.

Berry's new book is focused on Thames, and is due to be released in time for the start of the town's 150th Commemorations.

Thames An Early History 1838-1920 by Allan Berry is 252 pages; cost $50.

On Saturday 5th August 2017, the Thames Museum is officially opening their new display area at 1.30 pm.

After the official proceedings Allan will launch this new book.

The cover of the book (right) is taken at the corner of Beach Road and Albert Street. With the Band Rotunda on the right and Station Masters house on the left. In the distance is the Burke Street Wharf.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Thames (NZ): The history of the Kopu-Hikuai Road SH25A

The Kopu-Hikuai Road Fifty Years Old
2017 has been an eventful year in and around Thames; with the Thames Coast road closed on multiple occasions by rock falls. The nearby Kopu-Hikuai Road (State Highway 25A) has gone relatively untouched until a major slip on Sunday 23 July 2017. 

For decades the residents of Thames and the eastern Coromandel Peninsula Coast advocated and petitioned for a quicker route across the ranges. One of the most popular routes was up the Kauaeranga Valley. There were, and still are tracks all over the Coromandel Ranges that have provided access for pre and post goldfield era settlers; catering for foot and horse traffic. Bushmen and prospectors walked the tracks for decades following settlement in August 1867, and before that local iwi traversed the hills alongside early explorers to the area. The Neavesville track was a popular route as shown by the 1914 photograph on the right. (Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19140716-49-4)

The Thames County Council considered at length in 1934, the possibility of turning the Kauaeranga-Tairua track into a road. They decision was that the road was not warranted and that the maintenance costs would be too great. (Thames Star, 20 January 1934)

The roading dilemma continued and in 1936 the Thames County asked for government assistance to form and metal a road from the Kauaeranga to Tairua. On that occasion the Minister for Public Works, Mr R Semple said “On the information that I have had before me…I have come to the conclusion that the construction and metalling of this road will eventually be necessary, but that at the moment it is considered a little premature. (Thames Star, 18 April 1936)

On 20 September 1943 the Thames Star reported that a deputation from the Thames Chamber of Commerce, Thames RSA, and Hikuai soldier settlers met with the Hon R Semple (Minister of Works) to stress the need for a Kauaeranga-Hikuai Road. The group stressed the urgent need for a link to the soldiers’ settlement where farm land was being developed.

After years of debate the Kopu-Hikuai Road as we know it today, started to become a reality in 1957.
1957: Survey of possible routes were carried out.

1958: Work started on a Hikuai land development road that would later become part of the Kopu-Hikuai Road.

1961: In March the first three miles of the road were metalled. The Ministry of Works used metal from the Matatoki Quarry for the job. (Thames Star, 6 March 1961 - photo right)

1964: The final two-mile contract to connect the two ends of road was let in December. That year two ladies walked the Kopu-Hikuai Road aged 70 and 59. They were Mrs I Watts of Whangamata and Mrs L Watts of Beachaven. “The two ladies left Hikuai at 9am and arrived at the last bridge on the Kopu side of the road at approximately 5pm.” They spent the night and had a well deserved rest at Mrs Watt’s sisters (Mrs W McNeil) in Fenton Street, Thames. (Thames Star 24 November 1964)

1965: A summary in the Thames Star 24 November 1965, outlined the progress that had taken place over the previous years. The scheme was estimated at £1,089,000 to create 18 miles of highway through difficult country. This involved moving two million yards of spoil, building of seven bridges, and diversion of part of the Kiri Kiri Stream. The maximum grade was 1 in 10. At this stage four miles of the road had been sealed. At that time Mr M R Lancaster was the Resident Engineer, Mr J M Palmer the Assistance Engineer; and Mr J Harpur the Surveyor. (photos below)

1966: The Thames Star 22 April 1966 had the good news that the Kopu-Hikuai Road was progressing well and should be open by Christmas. “Given reasonable weather conditions, eight to nine miles of the road will be sealed by the time it is ready for opening, and the remaining section should be completed by the end of next year [1967].” It was envisaged that there were going to be great benefits opening up the two sides of the peninsula. “It will bring the peninsula area within a reasonable distance of hospitals, schools and other amenities.  The distance to Auckland will be reduced by 30 miles, and to Hamilton by 15 miles.” It was foreseen that the road would also have great benefit to industries such as forestry. It was noted that there would be a few curves that would be sharp and be marked as25m.p.h.; while others would be comfortable at 40 m.p.h.

The Thames Star 13 October 1966, brought the news that it was unlikely that the road would be open for Christmas as planned, due to ongoing bad weather. At that time they were awaiting the arrival of “a new Armco culvert…10 feet in diameter by 195 feet long” which was to be positioned in a gully on the Hikuai side of the summit.

During the time that the road was under construction, it became the Sunday drive event for many Thamesites. We would all pile into cars and drive up the road from Kopu, wondering each time how far the road had progressed. Watching endless slips and walking to catch a glimpse further up the road. Until the great day when the summit was reached. Below are a few of the photographs from the T A Trethowen Collection, kindly provided courtesy of L Mansouri. The photographs by Mr Trethowen graphically show the enormity of the task at hand and the many geographic obstacles that had to be overcome.

 From the photograph above, many will remember this incredible sight of the cuttings through the hills and the magnificent new bridges that spanned the gulleys and streams from Kopu to Hikuai. The end was finally in reach!

1967: On Thursday the 23rd March 1967 the Kopu-Hikuai Road was officially opened. Half of the 17 ¾ mile long road was sealed at that time. “The road is 24 feet wide and the seal is 188 feet, and it is built to a 50 mile-an-hour standard.” (New Zealand Herald 23 March 1967) The cost was given as £920,000, which included the building of several bridges and a major culvert. The cost was paid for by The National Roads Board (50%), roads vote (40%) and the remainder from various sources (Thames County, Thames Borough, Thames Chamber of Commerce and local roading committees). It was noted that the road climbed to 1340 feet –just slightly lower than the Tapu-Coroglen road..

The opening ceremony was attended by approximately 250 people, including the Hikuai School pupils. Speeches were held then the youngest pupil (Emmett McHardy) helped by Mrs Allen (wife of the Ministry of Works cut the ribbon that crossed the road. A scroll was presented to Master McHardy to remember the big day. (photo right)

The New Zealand Herald 25 March 1967, reported on the challenges of the day and the drive home. “Those who returned to the Thames side of the Coromandel Peninsula in the afternoon found the heavily metalled surface, yet to be sealed for eight miles on the Tairua side, hard going.” The unsealed sections were due for sealing during the 1968 season. “Mr W Brunton, Mayor of Thames described the opening of the road as the ‘most glorious golden egg ever given at Easter’”

The first map is from the 1960s, showing the road access around the Kopu to Hikuai area.

Below is part of a Ministry Works Map used during the construction of the road. The full map show s the different routes proposed and taken as the road was constructed. (Map available to view at The Treasury Thames)
 Below a google map view of the road as it is today - State Highway 25A.

Further information available:

State Highway 25A Kopu-Hikuai, Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 38, September 1994

(c) A Barker 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thames (NZ): Totara Memorial Park Cemetery at Findagrave

An update that I have added over a thousand names at the Totara Cemetery Find A Grave site. One grave recently added to Totara Cemetery was for Rev Father Dignan, catholic parish priest from 1912 to 1936.

This site is accesible to anyone for free, and as a member (free) you can add information and link memorials to others. Lay some virtual flowers and remember loved ones known and ancestors you have never met. It also is searchable as part of Ancestry, so increases the chance of people finding members of their family tree.

So maybe you can find time to add a few names or add some information, or just find a relative and leave them a bunch of flowers :)

Click the Links to checkout Shortland, Tararu and Totara Cemeteries.

If you find any errors use the edit on each memorial or contact me or the 'owner' of the memorial direct.

 The majority of RSA graves should also now be entered at the Find A Grave site.

Remember for further research check out the Cemetery page; and remember that The Treasury has headstone photographs and information on most burials.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Thames (NZ): WWI Nurse Sarah Jane Hetherington

While efforts have been made to find all the nurses from Thames who served in World War One, it was inevitable that we may only have found but a few. While it was easier to find those who trained at Thames Hospital, what about the number who may have trained at other hospitals in New Zealand and overseas?

The latest Thamesite to be found is Sarah Jane Hetherington, the daughter of Samuel and Rebecca Hetherington of Queen Street, Thames. Sarah's father Samuel had the iconic drapery store that stood proudly in central Pollen Street for nearly one hundred years.

Miss Hetherington was born 15 August 1869 at Thames, and attended Mrs Alexander's private school before entering Thames High School (roll No 50) 19 September 1881. Sarah stayed at the school until 15 December 1885.

From the New Zealand Nursing register that was published in the New Zealand Gazettes, it shows that Sarah completed her four years nursing certificate and the London Hospital and her Midwives qualification in 1909. Miss Hetherington returned to New Zealand and was registered in 1910, where she then worked at Wellington Hospital as Sub-Matron April 1910 to 1917. (Gazette copies below)

 Sarah Jane Hetherington proved a little more elusive to track as a military nurse, given the fact that she attested in England. Details of her service are recorded on Sherayl McNabb's website on New Zealand Military Nurses and in her book "100 Years New Zealand Military Nursing New Zealand Army Nursing Service-Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps 1915-2015".

Staff Nurse Hetherington attested 4 August 1917 in England, no 22/432 in the New Zealand Army Nursing Service. (snippets from war file above, full file at New Zealand Archives). New Zealand Cenotaph record also available online.

Hetherington was Sub-Matron at the Victoria Military Hospital Ward in Wellington - it was with sadness at the end of March 1917 that she was farewelled to go overseas.

Miss Hetherington went to England and worked at the New Zealand Hospital at Brockenhurst.
In the Kai Tiaki, 1 January 1918, there was news from abroad. “Miss Hetherington writes from Brockenhurst, where she is stationed as masseuse, having signed on for that useful branch of the N.Z.A.N.S. She says there is so much of this work that is almost impossible to cope with it all. When not busy with her massage work, Sister Hetherington is glad to help in the wards with the nursing."
Shows No.1 Ward at Brockenhurst, No.1 New Zealand General Hospital. The room is decorated with foliage. Two nurses attend patients. There are beds along each side.
From caption on reverse: Masseuse at work with electric battery.

Source: Masterton Library Archive
On the 1st February 1920, Sarah Jane was placed on the Territorial list. Later working as Matron at the Cashmere Sanatorium in Christchurch. Sarah Jane later lived in Wellington before moving north to Takapuna, Auckland. Miss Hetherington died 28 June 1954 aged 84 years, and was cremated at Waikumete Cemetery.  (Death notice and obituary below - Thames Star 29 June 1954)

Miss Hetherington's name appears on the Honours Board for the NZ Returned Army Nursing Sisters Association (Auck) Inc (photo above)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thames (NZ): New book from The Treasury

Due to be released next month is a new book from The Treasury (The Coromandel Heritage Trust) in their True Tales Series.
True Tales of Thames is 289 pages of stories (102 stories) and the price will be $35.00 plus postage.

The ‘launch’ of the book takes place Sunday 20 August 2017 at The Treasury. The book can be pre-ordered or purchased from that day onwards.

Previously released titles are:
True Tales of Waikino and Waitekauri
True Tales of The Coromandel's Eastern Seaboard
Both are available at The Treasury.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Thames (NZ): Tararu Cemetery Closed due to storm damage

Sad news as the 150th Commemorations are due to kick off. Descendants will not be able to access Tararu Cemetery in the near future. For awhile now the storms have been causing havoc and trees have fallen. Leading to the latest lot that are blocking driveway and access to the damaged steps.

TCDC Media release:
The wind and rain of the last few months have taken their toll on the historic cemetery on State Highway 25, just to the north of Thames.

Two trees at the top of the cemetery have fallen across graves and the root systems are unstable. Rock falls, slips and falling branches also pose a potential hazard to visitors.

There is also a large tree across the access at the bottom of the staircase and the access way itself has been badly washed out.

Until the debris can be cleared and the hazards put right, we're asking people to avoid entering the cemetery. We've put a barrier at the foot of the access way and a sign asking people to keep out. We don't yet have a timeframe for when we might be able to reopen the cemetery to the public.

Tararu Historic Cemetery dates from shortly after the proclamation of the Thames goldfields 150 years ago. The first recorded burial was in August 1873 and there are nearly 1,000 registered burials there. It was in use for more than 100 years and the land is maintained by our Council.

Source: TCDC

Thames (NZ): Central Thames 1909

I am always fascinated by the few photographs that were taken from Una (Karaka) Hill that looked down over the township of Shortland and more particularly Block 27. Several branches of my ancestors lived in the area from early 1870, my Grandmother was born at Hill Street, and I have lived in the area for the majority of years.

By 1909 the remainder of the flat area was fully settled, and slowly the hill areas were being settled. No doubt the delay for many was the obtaining of a suitable land lease to allow for a more permanent habitation.

The Auckland Weekly News 30 September 1909, featured a view over the town. (see below)
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19090930-9-3
Above: Mount Pleasant centre left. Running lower left to top right is Hape Road, Hill Street running along the lower portion of the photograph.
Below: Sealey Street runs from lower centre to the sea, with the Karaka Valley far right and Irishtown.

Above: 1909 Full view looking down over the old Block 27 and Shortland Town of Thames.
Below: 1980s postcard of the view from Una Hill.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thames (NZ): Shortland Cemetery

Do you ever feel that the town or powers to be just don't understand the value of Thames Heritage?
There are days when I just feel we are wasting time planning events for the elite, when important historic places and landmarks are ignored and/or given very little attention.

Take a look at the entrance to our historic Shortland Cemetery. Hope you weren't planning on visiting during the 150th Commemorations..come equipped with gumboots and a good walking stick!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Thames (NZ): Fifty years ago 1967

While thoughts are with the opening of the goldfield nearly 150 years ago, there was a lot happening in Thames as the town awaited their centennial commemorations in 1967.

The year started on 1st January 1967 with a celebration of Captain Cook's visit to the area, a massive re-enactment was held at the Shortland Wharf.

Then in February the town was reminded of it's vulnerabilities with yet another flood. There was the usual flooding around the town and several boats were badly damaged at Shortland Wharf.

ANZAC Day April 25th, there was a large turnout of War Veterans who marched down Pollen Street to the War Memorial Cenotaph in Mary Street.

In May, the Thames South School held their reunion, while the following month (June) saw the opening of the new Parawai School.
The town was in a state on development and advancement with old buildings such as Koefoed's (corner Pollen & Willoughby Street) demolished. New streets and parks were developed and named. Bowen Place was named at a new subdivision at Parawai, and Margaret Place at Moanataiari. The new sports ground on the foreshore (created from reclaimed land) was named Danby Field.
The new subdivision on reclaimed land at the Moanataiari was proceeding, with roads and amenities well established.
Next thing on the agenda was planning for the big centennial commemorations. The memorial cairn site was chosen at the south end of town and building was begun in July 1967.

Now fifty years later, the town prepares for the next commemorations for the 150th anniversary of the Thames Goldfields.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Thames (NZ): Decimal Currency Fifty Years ago

What are your memories of the change to decimal currency in Thames and New Zealand?

If you were at school, there were endless lessons on the change and how the new denominations matched our old currency.

The excitement the first day was everywhere. Like many of my friends we couldn't wait till lunchtime and a trip to the nearby dairy for our lunch order. Everyone excited about the change and new coins that they received!

Children weren't the only ones who needed teaching. Local banks held education days for businesses. The Thames Star had been doing their bit to prepare the town with regular updates. They printed photographs of how the two sets of coins would be in-circulation during the initial introduction period.

The Bank of New Zealand (photo below) held evenings to instruct business owners how to complete normal banking transactions such as deposits to fit the new decimal currency format.

The new coinage was secretly delivered to Thames banks on the 31st May 1967, in preparation for the big day. The Thames Star was not even allowed to publish a photograph of the event until the 10th July. With the new coinage the cost of a pint of milk was four cents; and a loaf of bread was 11 cents.