Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Thames (NZ): Have you seen your Thamesite's signature?

Do you love to find new snippets on your ancestors who lived in Thames pre 1900?
Do you look for information? Photographs? Special mentions?
Well, do you know what your Thamesite's signature/s looked like?

I have seen a few signatures of my female line, on documents relating to the suffrage petitions, The signatures allow you to stop and imagine the circumstances surrounding the event.

Now thanks to the Kura Heritage Collection at Auckland Library you can see the signatures of possibly hundreds of Thamesites.

The resource in question is:
Addresses to Sir George Grey, K.C.B. on his seventy-fourth birthday. (Cover photo on right) 
Details given are: Addresses presented to Sir George Grey K C B by the European and Maori residents in the Provincial District of Auckland on his seventy-fourth birthday, 14 April 1886. Consists mainly of autograph signatures to the illuminated addresses. Illustrated by James Slator
Produced by Wilson and Horton, Auckland.
Creative Commons Attribution: CC BY

Pages from the book.

The good news is that you can search for the surname you are after, or you can merely browse and read each page. There are 307 pages in total. The bonus is that each person signs their name and also the date of their arrival in New Zealand. Tangata whenua and women also sign the book. The term native NZ includes those who were born in New Zealand of European parents.

Names from Kiri Kiri Hauraki on page 299.

Signatures of Priscilla Williams, Mary Paull, C T Quinn, and Annie Curtis. Page 158.

If you are unsure of the signature, each page has been transcribed. 
Well known Thames names on page 158 include:

James Adams, First Headmaster at Thames High School.


Why am I interested in page 158? 
Well this is where I found my Great, Great Grandfather's signature - Clement Augustus Cornes. In the crop below, at the top of the left column is C A Cornes, he arrived in New Zealand in 1862.

Search or Browse and see if you can find your Thamesites in the book presented to Sir George Grey in 1886.

Part of Page 8, introduction dated 14 April 1886.

In total there are 12, 919 Signatures.
European 12,780; Maori 106; and Committee 33.

UPDATE 7 July 2019
Special thanks to Helen at Auckland Libraries for information on how to just search the Sir George Grey Manuscript - GNZMS 275:

To search GNZMS 275 only:

- Under Enter Search Term, type into the search box the image title with a wildcard asterix * after the item number, e.g. GNZMS_275*

- Then Add Row

- Type the name you want to search for in the search box. (sample below)

- Click on Search (sample result below)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Thames (NZ): Thamesites feel earthquake 90 years ago

Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0
Ninety years ago, 17 June 1929, Thamesites had a mid morning 'shake'. Reports soon circulated of an earthquake that was felt by many at 10.21a.m.

While at nearby Turua, there were reports of cars parked at a local garage, moving backwards and forwards four inches. Water in the drains also moved considerably.

While the reports said that earthquakes were uncommon at Thames, they could hardly be overlooked given the fault lines that surround the town, and across the Hauraki Plains.

The earthquake was felt all over New Zealand, the epicentre at the top of the South Island. The magnitude given was 7.3 or 7.8 on a different scale. Fifteen people were killed and one injured.

"The earthquake that struck Murchison on 17 June 1929 was felt all over New Zealand. Fortunately, the most intense shaking occurred in a mountainous and densely wooded area extending ~65 km north of Murchison that was sparsely populated. Casualties were therefore comparatively light and the damage was mostly confined to the surrounding landscape, where the shaking triggered extensive landslides over thousands of square kilometres, and surface faulting on the White Creek Fault in Buller Gorge."  Source: Geonet

Thames Fault Lines:
In 1897 the Thames Star covered a report by Mr James Park of the School of Mines concerning the three fault lines of interest. The Moanataiari Fault, the Collarbone Fault, and the Beach Slide Fault. Many disputed the Beach Slide Fault, but Park was adamant of its existence. He also went onto explain the importance of the faults in relation to the gold bearing reefs around the town.

Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 New Zealand
Indepth reports on the Goldfields of New Zealand feature in the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives 1894 Session 1; and includes James Park's 1894 map: Geological Map of the Thames Goldfield 1894. Snip of map below, click the link for full file. The faults are marked as dash lines ------.

If you read any of the mining material and reports in the Thames Star there are frequent mentions of the different faults, especially the Moanataiari. In 1925 Mr J S Jobe, felt the Kuranui Mine on the south side of the fault was the best proposition for mining at the Thames.

Another report in 1929, mentions the Punga Flat Fault - entitled the Geology of Thames, A Volcanic Upheaval.

Many will remember the swarms of faults in the 1970s that led to the demise of the A Block at Thames High School. The iconic building was cracked during a series of earthquakes and later demolished. As was the old primer block at Thames South School.

ABOVE: 'A' Block, Thames High School - under demolition (query year).
Source: Thames Museum Photographic Collection

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Pollen & Richmond St 1940s - 2019

The corner of Pollen and Richmond Streets, iconic for the old Brian Boru Hotel. What difference does eighty years make? Take a look below and see whats the same and what changes are apparent.

Many of the shops on the east side of the street between Sealey and Richmond Street are the same from the 1950s, but with new front facades...often it just means a sliding door and large windows,

It is on the north-east intersect that the biggest change has taken place, several shops replaced many years back with a garage and car yard. Previous buildings have housed Bobbet the butcher, bakers and a dry cleaning shop.

Just as well the south-east intersect has remained unchanged, while no longer a hotel, the classic Brian Boru Hotel remains, and is at least a bar/cafe on the western frontage.

My favourite landmark from this 1940s time period is the concrete strip that ran down the middle of Pollen Street. Something that heralded Thames had emerged from the depression and gold year slump and invested in this great new technology. Old photos show the cars (as traffic was not great) drove along the middle...no need for centre-line marking in those days.

THEN & NOW: Corner Pollen & Richmond Streets 1940s & 2019

Further reading:
Past Blog entries featuring Then & Now views around Thames.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Thames (NZ): Local heritage features in two magazines

Heritage stories related to the Thames, appear in two national publications this month. Articles appear in the New Zealand Legacy, the journal of the New Zealand History Federation; and secondly in the winter edition of New Zealand Heritage.

In New Zealand Legacy (Vol 31, no 1), is a story by David Verran entitled James Cook (1728-1779) and New Zealand. Then a follow-on by Robin Astridge Preparation for a 250th Commemoration. The story centres around Cook's furtherest landing up the Waihou River and the monument that now sits near Netherton on Hauraki Road. Interestingly no mention is made of the memorial cairn that was at Kopu.

A comprehensive and well researched article on Captain Cook's 1769 visit to the Firth of Thames appears in The Treasury Journal. Written by Thamesite Dave Wilton - Cook Landmarks at 'The Thames' (New Zealand), November 1769
Dave has recreated details of Cook's visit using his expertise of maps and archaeology - mixed with extensive field work. The mystery of the whereabouts of the Kahikatea tree measured by Cook is also discussed.

Cook's Landing Memorial near Netherton 

Further Reading: Blog story on the Hauraki Road Monument.

In the New Zealand Heritage Magazine (Issue 153 Winter 2019), there is a two page story on our three pillar boxes, titled Stay Posted by Jamie Douglas. The category two heritage items are the oldest in the North Island and second oldest behind one located in Nelson. The new thing in this article is that two of the pillar boxes were installed in 1869 and the third in 1877. Confirmation of this date would be of interest if anyone has found those details.

There is also an article in The Treasury Journal related to these letterboxes and the family connection to letter carrier Charles Rowley. Title Thames Letter Carrier and Entrepreneur, Goldminer and Miners' Advocate by Lisa Donnelly.

From Thames Firsts by Althea Barker:
 "The Pillar Box had been first introduced in 1848 in Belgium, followed by Paris (1850) and England (1852). The ability to buy stamps in New Zealand in the 1860s, led to the introduction of public letterboxes or Street Letter Receivers as they were known. Only a handful survive, with the majority having been replaced many years back by modern designs – deemed to be easier to keep clean and empty. When The Thames was settled, many residents suggested the need for the Pillar boxes that they had seen in Australia – based on the French design they “had three vertical apertures placed near the top of the receiver, which was the height that a person on horseback could post a letter, without having to dismount.”

It is believed that the Thames boxes were designed and made based on the British model by J H Penfold. The exact date of their establishment c1878. In 1881 the one at the corner of Albert and Brown Streets was moved to corner Mary and Pollen Streets on 7th February 1881. In 1894 there is an advertisement concerning mail clearance that names the pillar letter receivers at Shortland as being at: Rolleston, Willoughby and Mary Streets.The Rolleston Street one was on the south corner of Richmond Street and had been erected September 1878.  It would appear then that the iron pillar boxes were in Thames pre 1880, with several being moved around to different street locations.

Today (2019) there remain three Red Pillar (Post) Boxes in Thames and they have an Historic Place’s rating of Category 2. Their register numbers are: 717 (Pollen Street), 7242 (Cnr Mary & Pollen Streets) and 7244 (Queen Street)."

The pillar boxes have proved so popular over the decades that shops like Coakley's even used the location in their advertisements.
Coakley's Shop at the corner of Pollen & Willoughby Streets - the iconic Pillar Box far right.

Further Reading: Blog Story on the Pillar Boxes including further photos.

I forgot to mention that one of the best places to find information on The Post Office and Postal History is via the reports in the Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives available at PapersPast.

  • 1877: In the Post Office Department Annual Report January 1877, there were 20 Iron Pillar boxes in New Zealand, plus 45 receiving houses.
  • 1879: In the January 1879 Report, one of Thames' pillar boxes was replaced with a receiving box. In New Zealand there were 21 Iron Pillar boxes and 59 receiving houses.
  • 1881: In the January 1881 Report, there were 29 Iron Pillar boxes in New Zealand, and 100 receiving boxes.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Poppet heads at north end of Pollen Street

The Kura Heritage Collections Online, (Auckland Council Libraries) continues to have a wealth of information. One can even download a copy of Mr Isdale's iconic booklet - History of 'The River Thames' NZ.

We have looked at some of the 'new' photographs, but wanted to take another look at the one of Poppet heads at Thames.

The Record description includes: Record id, 1596-362A, Title Poppet heads, Thames, Photographer unknown. Decades: 1910-1929, a lantern slide. Attribution: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 1596-362A; No known copyright restrictions.

 ABOVE: THEN - Poppet heads, Thames c1910
BELOW: NOW - Northern end of Pollen Street by the Williamson Street intersect. The 'old' Imperal Mine site left and the Saxon Mine in the distance at the intersect of Pollen & Albert Streets.

Poppet Head - The Bella Street Pumphouse have a plan to build a poppet head. The definition of a Poppet head is: the framework above a mining shaft that supports the winding mechanism.

What a different time, with structures such as these dotted around the old mining town.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thames (NZ): Then & Now Burke Street and the Foundry

What a difference one hundred years makes! An iconic Thames corner - the intersect of Burke Street (running to the water top right) and Owen Street (left) and Golden Crown Street (right) under the aqueduct structure. Now this section of the road is named Brown Street until it reaches Burke Street, then to the north the small section of road is labelled Owen Street.

 THEN & NOW: 1910s & 2019 Burke Street, Thames

Thames Star 12 December 1913
Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 New Zealand licence
The shop on the corner of the street is J Hague Smith & Co, a large hardware business with branches at Paeroa, Waihi and Netherton.  They later went on to have a large shop in Shortland south of the Hotel Imperial (where Mitre 10 is today).

The business had been started by Mr John Hague Smith, who came to the Thames in 1874. Initially working for hardware merchant Mr Stone.

Hague Smith passed away at Paeroa  1 April 1916 and was interred at Tararu Cemetery. The business carried on for many years.

THEN & NOW: J Hague Smith & Co 1910s (left) and A & G Price Ltd 2019
Corner Burke and Owen Street, Thames

While we usually dismay at the lack of traffic and people in our old Thames scenes, we are in luck with this old Dunnage postcard No 60. Mr Dunnage was a Bookseller and Stationer, and published a large number of cards during the 1910s. A reader, has recently explained how this lack of people occurs due to the exposure time for many early cameras - so anything moving can simply occur as a blur if movement occurs during the time the image is being captured.

In the photo above left, a horse and cart appear to be waiting patiently for the customer within Hague Smith's hardware shop. More excitement when the rest of the photo is examined, and the Burke Street and wharf area is awash with activity! There are two horse and carts by the Harbour Board Office at the corner of Beach Road, along with two cabs, who's passengers are no doubt catching the next ship to Auckland. Plus we have some people walking along the aqueduct or are they disposing of mine tailings. A reminder to always looks closely at the photo and see what wonders are hidden beyond the first glance.
ABOVE: A closer look past A & G Price Ltd to the Beach Road intersect.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Thames (NZ): Thames Events 6 June 1944

At Thames, 75 years ago, the town was celebrating a Vice-Regal Visit. While it may not sound exciting to some today, it was always a highlight for the town to have a special visitor.

Prior to this 1944 visit, the last Governor-General to visit the town was Lord Galway in 1939.

The visitors on 6 June 1944 were Governor-General Sir Cyril Newall and Lady Newall.  (photo right)
His Excellency, "was a senior officer of the British Army and Royal Air Force. He commanded units of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force in the First World War, and served as Chief of the Air Staff during the first years of the Second World War. From 1941 to 1946 he was the Governor-General of New Zealand."

Part of Mayor Ensor;s Address.
The Vice-Regal Party stayed at the Hotel Imperial, and were driven the length of town to the Kings Theatre for a civic reception. Thamesites lined the street to catch a glimpse of the couple.

Part of Mayor Sid Ensor's address to Governor-General Newall stressed the historical value of the town. Ensor stressed that the county produced a large amount of food that was exported back to the homeland.

Mayor Ensor went on to assure Newall that the Thames District was well represented amongst those serving overseas, including Maoris from the area.

As part of Governor- General Newall's address to the large crowd gathered, he stated:
"As His Majesty's representative, I deeply appreciate your expression of loyalty to the King, which is indeed exemplified by the number of men from you town and district, both Pakeha and Maori, who are serving with the Forces. I thanks you for your assurance that the people of this district will do all they can in furtherance of New Zealand's war effort." Thames Star 6 June 1944.

The civic address ended on a high, when the Governor-General declared to the children present that they deserved a holiday, and he therefore granted the children of Thames an extra days holiday!

While the Governor-General was in town, he performed a private investiture for a Distinguished Conduct Medal that was awarded to Private G H Coad of Irishtown, Thames. The award was presented to Private Goad's parents. Their son Graham Henry Coad had been a signaller with the Auckland Battalion, had been Killed in Action July 10 1942. Thames Star 8 June 1944.


D Day 6 June 1944.
Little did the town of Thames know, that on the other side of the world on 6 June 1944 a massive battle would take place to change the course of World War Two.

ROH World war Two: While Mayor Ensor praised the number who served in the war no specific mention was made of those who had lost their lives. A list of the names is available. 

If you know of any further Thames men or women who lost their lives during the war 1939-1945, please let me know,

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Thames (NZ): Thames Hospital demolitions 2000-2007

Source: A Barker Collection
For over 150 years the Thames Hospital has stood on the land adjacent to Mary Street, and during this time there has been ongoing development of the hospital campus.

While the first hospital soon collapsed from general decay, there have been several other buildings all deemed modern and grand at the time they were built.

The photo top right is of the 'old' Nurses' Home. This photograph was taken in 1937, long before the later 'new' Nurses' Home was built - the one that still stands at the corner of Mary and Rolleston Streets aka The Manaaki Centre.

The photo lower right is of the Thames Hospital's main entrance that faced Baillie Street. The two storey section stood the longest and was only demolished in 2007 - to make way for the new Clinical Services Block.

2000: Photographs of the Demolition of the 'old' Nurses' Home.

ABOVE: Demolition of the 'old' Nurses' Home.
Source: N Pomfrett Collection

2005: Demolition of Ward One to Three Block
The block was built in 1955-56 and opened in 1957. Many Thamesite readers will have been either born or had children in the Ward One annexe. A small part remains and connects the new 'Inpatient Unit' to the new Sperry Lane Cafe.
Source: True Tales of Thames Hospital 1868-2018 by Thames Hospital 150 Group.

At the Thames Hospital 150 Commemorations, held November last year, we were lucky enough to see photographs of the interior of the old Ward One birthing unit.

ABOVE Left: The entry doors to the Maternity Annexe Nurseries. Right: The entry to old Ward One.

BELOW: A closer look at the viewing window of one of the Nurseries.

During the time this Maternity Annexe was open, care changed dramatically. When it opened women could stay two to three weeks, it was essential for the new mothers to have a rest and be fully competent in the care of their new baby/babies.

A time when the father's to be were not always welcomed in the birthing room, or chose not to be there. A time when visiting hours were very limited and when only the father could visit at night.

The mother's inpatient time was reduced to a week, then even less. Babies would be cared for in the nursery - one for newborns and one for babies who were older. Do you remember when the babies would be taken to the mother's bedside for feeding? Then taken back to the nursery.

There were a few single rooms at the north end of the ward, a sitting room, and four bedded rooms. There were two delivery rooms off the main ward corridor,

Maybe you can remember visiting hours when all the babies would be propped up in their cots under the slanted viewing windows (shown above). Changes in the 1980s saw babies being by their mother's bed during the day - a radical move at the time!!

The Ward One to Three Block prior to demolition in 2005, from the Bella Street carpark.
Source: L Holden Collection,

Further Reading:
True Tales of Thames Hospital by the Thames Hospital 150 Group.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Thames (NZ): Thames School Records online to 1920

Have you checked Archives New Zealand recently, to see what Thames school records are digitised and available to view online?

We can now view up to 1920, so fingers crossed you can find some relatives amongst the school children listed in the rolls. While not all class years are available as in the earlier decades, the senior classes are all available.

Thames Central School - Standards 3-5
Thames North School - Standards 3-5
Thames South School - Standards 3-5

Below is part of the files for Thames South School, Bowen (later Rolleston) Street, Thames.
As you can see there is alot of information that can be learnt from the review of school records.
There is the child's name and age, along with results of certain examinations

Thames South School - part of the Standard 3-6 Records for 1920
Archway Item ID:R22143779, Archway Series Number:4135

Thames Central School, now the site of the Thames Museum

North School, now the Thames Arts Centre,

Thames South School, still on the same site, with a new buildings.

Archives New Zealand does not just specialise in 'old' school records for Thames. You can also view Education Reviews for recent years.
The category is under: Education Review Office Standard Education Accountability Reviews - Final Reports. Years covered vary from 1990s to 2000s.
Search "Thames school review" to easily find most of the matching files.