Sunday, December 16, 2018

Thames (NZ): WW100 Thames Forest in full bloom

Thames’ World War One Memorial Forest was officially opened and planted 11 August 2015.
“The New Zealand World War I Memorial Forests, which are based in up to 10 sites in the Coromandel, will eventually mature into forests which will enhance environmental values and serve as calm places for people to walk and remember New Zealand history. Each forest will commemorate a different battle or campaign of the war, with at least one site in each Community Board area.” (

The Reality:
Money ran out and the TCDC was unable to complete all of the forests, the 'canned' forests included the Messines Forest that was to be planted on the Waiotahi spur, Thames.

Thankfully the forest that commemorates the known Thames ROH in WWI, was planted and continues to flourish! There have been lost trees, but plans implemented to do replanting and further work is planned for the following year.

TODAY, 16 December 2018:
The pohutakawa are a picture, and look even more spectacular as one drives along the Ngati Maru Highway to the Kauaeranga Bridge.

There were doubters who wondered how the trees would survive and yes some have been lost to flooding (resulting in the moving of some/replanting). To show how the trees have grown, see the example for the tree planted to commemorate John Polton Hicks GLESSING who was Killed in Action 4 June 1917. If you have a chance, stop and walk amongst the trees, and if you need help identifying a tree/soldier sing out or contact TCDC.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thames (NZ): "With Them Through Hell" WWI Book & Thames Connections

The publishers have been busy over the WW100 commemorations, and recently there was a new release that has reference to several Thamesites and others from around the district.

The book is "With Them Through Hell, New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War."
Written by Anna Rogers, it covers the medical services involved in the Great War. While repetitive of some other publications, the book aims to pull all the groups together rather than focus on the usual nurses or doctors. A beautifully presented hardcover book, 495 pages and published by Massey University Press. (copy available at Thames Library)

Our Thames trained nurse Cora Beattie Anderson is mentioned and used to highlight the stresses placed on those who cared for others.  When "Cora Beattie Anderson, mentioned in despatches and holder of the Royal Red Cross, was boarded on 10 May 1919, the diagnosis was debility caused by the 'stress and strain' of active service." page 406

Life onboard the hospital ships is discussed and mention is made of Sister Clara Hawkins from Thames who was aboard the Maheno.

Well worth a read, and I look forward to the chapters on dentistry, horses, and the many health support roles that were undertaken during World War One.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Thames (NZ): 'Jandal' Sculpture beside Ngāti Maru Highway.

The Thames Public Art Trust ran a competition some months back for sculptures that could be positioned along the Hauraki Rail Trail - along a 7 km section from Kopu to Thames.

They will offer interest for the walker, cyclist and passing tourist. The magnificent statue for the Thames 150th Commemorations already stands south of the Kauaeranga Bridge.

The winning design for the competition mentioned above was a 'jandal'. Described as being "2.4m by 1m sculpture by Hastings artist Ricks Terstappen won the utilitarian category of the trust's sculpture design competition." Source: Stuff 24 August 2018.

The headlines labelled the new sculpture as the Giant Jandal, I was therefore somewhat surprised to see its size when I finally reached it - walk from the airfield south and it is opposite the garden centre. The jandal is somewhat dwarfed  by the large fence behind, but an interesting addition to Thames' art works. Would have made a great 'seat' at Porritt Park where I am sure children would have delighted in climbing and jumping from the structure.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Thames (NZ): Ureia - the Taniwha

In the latest Heritage Magazine (Issue 151 Summer 2018 ), is an article by Kennedy Warne entitled "The Taniwha's backscratcher".

The Taniwha in the article is Ureia - the Hauraki's Taniwha. Stories about Ureia abound, including the story that the taniwha escorted the Tainui waka when it arrived and anchored at Te Anaputu, a rocky outcrop north of Tararu, Thames Coast.

On the right is "This carving of the taniwha Ureia is in the Hotonui meeting house, formerly at Thames but now in the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Ureia was a powerful taniwha living at Tīkapa (Firth of Thames). The taniwha is in the marakihau style – with a serpent-like body and hollow tongue."

The 'new' Kopu Bridge also includes an etching of the taniwha Ureia on the piles. The essence of a taniwha is explained in Warne's article and explained that taniwha's can be seen as 'kaitiaki' "a deep concept that is approximated by ideas of guardianship and stewardship of the natural world.

Death of Ureia. Newspaper article 1927 and another in 1931.

Te Anaputa-o-Tainui. The name today is Tainui Cove, 6km north of Thames. It remained a place of shelter for centuries, but has mostly been destroyed following the goldmining and widening of the road. Further reading page 151-152 Te Takoto o te Whenua o Hauraki  by T Turoa and Te A C Royal.

Description of Ureia. The above book also has an appendix on Hauraki Taniwha and Tupua. Said to be a giant reptile that was said to be lured away from the Waikato River by a Hauraki tribe. At the entrance of the Hauraki Gulf, Ureia assumed the shape of a dolphin and guided the Tainui canoe and people to safety. Famed for his deeds, the Hauraki tribe are said to have become the envy of their neighbours, which later contributed to the 'death' of the legendary taniwha.

George Grahams translation regarding taniwha including Ureia. (Te reo with English translations)

A descriptive board at the east end of the Kopu Bridge features information on the Taniwha known as Ureia.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thames (NZ): Restoration of 'New' Nurses Home Plaques

In years past it was the norm to place foundation and opening day 'stones' when new public buildings were constructed. Something that seems to go unmarked with many new buildings in Thames today. That being said, there are many that are in a sad state, so it was pleasing to see the Thames Hospital get in behind a project to restore and rehang several important plaques.

When I researched Thames Memorial and Plaques two years ago, the foundation stone details for the Thames Hospital Nurses' Home (that was opened in 1954) were barely readable.

Background from the above book:
Thames Hospital underwent many changes from the time it was founded as the Thames Goldfields Hospital in 1868. The need for hospital beds and subsequent nursing staff continued to grow. New campus buildings from the 1950s included a new Nurses’ Home at the corner of Mary and Rolleston Streets, Thames. It was mandatory that student nurses live in during the majority of their training; hence the need for a new hostel became imperative.

The foundation stone is on the right hand side of the steps. It reads: “This Stone was laid by the Hon. J R Marshall Minister of Health on the 1st May 1952 Lewis Walker ANZIA Architect The Carrington Building Co Ltd Builders.” On the left hand side of the front steps is a plaque that gives details of the Thames Hospital Board in 1952. It reads: “Thames Hospital Board W C Kennedy Chairman J W Neate (?) Deputy Chairman. Members of the Board 1952 T A Barrett, J W Danby, ?” The remainder of the names are unable to be read due to deterioration of the plaque.

When the Nurses’ Home opened in 1954 it was described as equal to a 4 star hotel.[1] Staff would subsequently call it the ‘New’ Nurses Home, to identify it from the ‘old’ home that was located to the north of the building. It was the first building completed as part of a one million pound upgrade to the hospital campus. Mr W C Kennedy (Chairman of the Thames Hospital Board) “appealed to girls of the district to give consideration to nursing when choosing their future careers.”

[1] Thames Star, 11 October 1954. A Barker Collection.
Opening day 9 October 1954
Thanks to the efforts of the local stone mason and hospital staff, the plaques at the base of the stairs to the past 'New' Nurses' Home now Manaaki Centre, have been restored and all information can be clearly read. Another excellent project completed as part of the Thames Hospital 150 Commemorations.
The Plaque on the north side of the Manaaki Centre, has the names of the Thames Hospital Board Members in 1952.

This is the Foundation stone that was laid 1 May 1952.

The view from the carpark in front of the Manaaki Centre, showing the location of the Foundation Stones.

So if you see some plaques that are deteriorating, see what you can do to ensure the history of the building continues.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thames (NZ): A & G Price's Shunter Contract 1956

Class 'Tr' diesel shunter number 100, the first of 10 of this type built by A and G Price in Thames for New Zealand Railways, on the occasion of the handover at Thames to New Zealand RailwaysSir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1370-341-3  New Zealand Herald 14 November 1956
The Sir George Grey Collection at Auckland Libraries never fails to come up trumps with some new material to be discovered. I hadn't spotted these ones relating to our local train builders.

These photographs concerned a contract that the foundry had from 1956 to 1958, whereby they produced ten 15-ton 107hp diesel-mechanical shunting locomotives for New Zealand Rail. They were classed as shunting tractors and given the classification "Tr".  

Above Description:
Class 'Tr' diesel shunter number 100, the first of 10 of this type built by A and G Price in Thames for New Zealand Railways, on the occasion of the handover at Thames to New Zealand Railways. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1370-341-2 New Zealand Herald 14 November 1956

Below Description:
Class 'Tr' diesel shunter number 100, the first of 10 of this type built by A and G Price in Thames for New Zealand Railways, on the occasion of the handover at Thames to New Zealand Railways. Showing the Minister of Railways, Hon J K McAlpine (left), and the General Manager of New Zealand Railways, A T Gandell (right).

The details of the ten shunting locomotives were: (makers no, date in service, NZR old no, NZR TMS No.). The wheel arrangement was 0 - 4 - 0.
169, 12/1956, 100,314; 170, 12/1956, 101, 321; 171, 12/1956, 102, 338; 172, 1/1957, 103, 344; 1732/1957, 104, 350; 1744/1957, 105, 367; 1755/1957, 106, 373; 1765/1957, 107, 396; 1777/1957, 108, 407; 1785/1957, 109, 413.

Tr 103 / 344 From 1957 - 1991 NZR Service, 1991 - 2000 Balance Fertliser, Morrinsville (IS), 2000 - 2009 Balance Fertliser, Morrinsville (ST), 12/2009 Rotorua Ngongotaha Railway Trust (On Loan) - In Service.

Tr 104 / 350 In Service with the Kingston Flyer.

Tr 107 / 396 In Service. 1957 - 2005 NZR Service, 2005 - 2007 Shantytown (IS), 2007 - 2008 Shantytown (OH), Ways & Works, Middleton (WW 4733).

Tr 108 / 407 Ways & Works, Otaki (WW 4346). Waitara Railway Preservation Society. WATCH Tr 407 in action.

Further information: Source: Wikipedia
The long established NZ engineering firm A & G Price of Thames supplied a total of 39 TRs, making them the largest single builder. Four different models were supplied: the Model 3 (TR 100-109), with Gardner 6LW engine and Self Changing Gears 4-speed gearbox; the Model 9 (TR 110-118), powered by a Gardner 6LW engine and Twin Disc torque converter; the Model 4 (TR 157-161), McLaren M6 engine and SCG 4-speed gearbox; and the Model 6 (TR 162-176), engine Gardner 6L3, also SCG 4-speed gearbox. The McLaren engined TRs were re-powered from 1975 with Gardner 6LX engines and the gearbox was replaced with a Twin Disc torque converter.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Thames (NZ): Cornes family on the Thames Goldfield

A couple of years back, a cousin of mine (a few times removed) wrote a book on the Cornes family.

Only two lines came to New Zealand in the 1860s, and both settled in and around Thames. This book is about he descendants of Clement Cornes and Barbara Moran (variant spelling).

The book is reduced and available on trade me.

Clement was a mine manager and owner all over the Coromandel Peninsula - in his own words he 'won a fortune and lost a fortune' many times over. Such was the life of anyone with gold fever!

Barbara was a true pioneer, having arrived as a young child, when her father arrived in Auckland as 'Fencible'.

So if you are a descendant of Clement and Barbara Cornes, shout out to Bob and get a copy of his book before they run out.

PS. Interestingly the School of Mines has a booklet for sale on the minerals of the Tui Mine, it was Clement Cornes that discovered and started the mine. A special banquet was held in his honour at Te Aroha in 1888.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thames (NZ): Armistice Day 1918 & 2018

Thames had been planning their peace celebrations all week, despite the worsening situation of influenza in the town and surrounds. The schools had closed and even the Post Office, while churches held very short services.

On 12 November, the paper reported that celebrations were being arranged, once it was definite the the peace agreement had been signed. Then on the front page of the late edition an overlay caption appeared (see below) The Armistice with Germany had been signed.

The newspaper the following day (13 November) reported the towns dilemma, while flags were being flow all around the town, many had been lowered to half mast, on account of all the deaths that occurring in the district from the influenza outbreak.

2018, 11 November.
Today the town has remembered the 100th Anniversary of Armistice, with a service up on the Waiotahi Hill beneath the Thames Peace Memorial. Shuttle van and cars ferried people to the event, while others were like mountain goats climbing the steps from Upper Albert Street.



The service was co-ordinated by the Thames RSA, opening prayers from Rev Brendon Wilkinson of the St George's Church, Thames. Followed by short speeches from Scott Simpson MP and Sally Christie TCDC Councillor. All spoke of the effects of war for those who came home, as well as the numbers lost overseas. The ATC stood guard, at the car park and surrounding the Peace Memorial.

Scott Simpson (left) and Sally Christie (right) addressing the crowd.

The TCDC wreath was laid by Sally and friends.

Thames Nurses laid a wreath (left) and Scott Simpson MP (right).

A wreath was laid by the RSA followed by a prayer. The last Post was played and the wreaths were then taken by the ATC Guards to be laid at the base of the cenotaph. 


The wreaths presented by the RSA, Thames Nurses, Scott Simpson MP and the TCDC.

Those gathered then climbed the path to the Peace Memorial.

 Thames Nurses gathered at the Memorial to remember the nurses who served overseas in the Great War. Four dressed in the commemorative WWI uniform and two in the uniform from the 1980s.


Thames (NZ): Le Quesnoy and the Thames Connection

There is an online documentary series by Jude Dobson that I have not yet had time to watch, but mark it down as a must. Why? When compiling the list of WWI ROH100 for November I noted that there were the names of at least two men who are remembered at the cemetery at Le Quesnoy:

RAE Thomas Handley12/3453; 2nd Lieutenant NZRB KIA, and buried at Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France and HUNTER  John Joseph49153; Private  2nd Batt WIR, KIA, and buried at Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

Reading an article by Jude Dobson in the New Zealand Herald, Sunday 11 November 2018, the name of Bernard Ayling is recorded. 

The article discusses the Dolores Cross Project where our soldiers overseas are taken a little bit of New Zealand. Dobson recalled placing one for NZ soldier Bernard Ayling, "Another, Bernard Ayling, I knew of as the wounded man on the stretcher in an archive photo - their concern wondering if he would survive. Alas, he did not.

AYLING Arthur Bernard; 23/58; 2nd Lieutenant 1st Batt 3rd NZRB

Bernard Ayling was the son of Stanley and Minnie Ayling of Rolleston Street Thames. Stan worked in the Post Office and Bernard was a clerk in Auckland on enlistment. Bernard's brother Herbert had died in 1915.

The full article is online : Armistice day: Lest We Forget.
NZ soldier Bernard Ayling on stretcher at Le Quesnoy. Photo / Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Bernard Ayling's grave in Romeries Communal Cemetery Extenstion, France.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thames (NZ): Armistice Day Eve 1918

While to the town tried to cope with the flu pandemic, the Thames Star Newspaper was still full of news of the Great War end.

There were still men dying in the month of November 1918:
4/11/1918 In the Field, France; RAE Thomas Handley12/3453; 2nd Lieutenant NZRB KIA, and buried at Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France
4/11/1918 In the Field, France; AYLING Arthur Bernard23/58; 2nd Lieutenant 1st Batt 3rd NZRB
4/11/1918 In the Field, France; HUNTER  John Joseph49153; Private  2nd Batt WIR, KIA, and buried at Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France
5/11/1918 In the Field, France; JUDD Reginald Augustine42942; Gnr 1st Brigade NZFA 1st Battery
7/11/1918 Staffordshire, England; ELLIOT Alexander Noel76918; Rifleman 5th (Res) Batt 3rd NZRB
7/11/1918 Auckland, New Zealand; MORRISON Harry4/1571; Sapper NZETC
9/11/1918 Auckland, New Zealand; DEEBLE William45487; Private 1st Batt AIR
9/11/1918 Auckland, New Zealand; TWEEDIE  Alexander Nelson2/1909; Bombardier  NZFA
10/11/1918 Whangarei, New Zealand; COAKLEY Austin Edward12/326; Sergeant-Major AIR
13/11/1918 Auckland, New Zealand; MURPHY Dennis84881; Private Maori Reinforcements
15/11/1918 Palmerston North, New Zealand; TRUSCOTT  John10/3139; Pte 2nd Batt WIR 17th Coy
18/11/1918 Featherston, New Zealand; TONKS Percival Gordon86391; Private NZTU
21/11/1918 Auckland, New Zealand; SMITH Albert Harrison35522; Sergeant Permanent Band
24/11/1918 Trentham, New Zealand; MARSHALL Cecil James Cunningham89710; Corporal NZTU
25/12/1918 Thames, New Zealand ; HALL Walter Ernest7/603; Sergeant CMR
28/11/1918 Samoa; MARTIN  George Peter23/2235; Lance Corporal  Samoan Relief Force
29/11/1918 Germany; HAWKINS Benjamin Arthur64502; Private No 2 NZ Entrenching Bttn

Thames Star Newspaper 10 November 1918
Thamesites celebrated the end of the wharf a few days early, with bells tolling and horns tooting, only to be told that confirmation of the end of the war had not yet been officially received!

The towns folk where reminded that they should wait until official news was received - there would be three tolls at intervals of the Shortland and Pahau Street Firebells. People should then quickly proceed to the Shortland end of Pollen Street and march behind the bands to the Park. The proclamation would then be read!


WW100 FOREST UPDATE 10 11 2018
Driving past the WW100 Commemorative Forest it was pleasing to see the progress being made to the forest located at Rhodes Park, south of the Kauaeranga River.

A boardwalk crossing has been made from the car park over the drain to the cycle/walkway. An entrance is being constructed and a covered kiosk that will have information on the forest and the war. Well done TCDC and all concerned with the project.