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.

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