Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thames (NZ): Erebus Disaster 1979

In the news over the past week, have been a series of reports and articles on the disaster that happened 28 November 1979, that affected not just New Zealand but many around the world. The day that Air New Zealand Flight TE901 left Mangere Airport destined for a sightseeing flight to the Antarctica.

At 12.49 p.m. NZST, the aircraft crashed into the lower slopes of Mt Erebus killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board. It was the worst civil disaster in New Zealand's history.

Thames-Coromandel Connections
Step back to 1979, and travel agents in the area were promoting the flight to Antarctica. Its hard for many to talk about it to this day; if you are like me, maybe you too had planned to go on the flight, but changed as time approached. For nine people from the region, this was their last flight.

Looking at the local Thames Star newspaper, I was surprised to see that the disaster did not make the headlines, maybe I need to look into 1980 editions. 

There is mention in the Thames Country Women's Institute report that Mrs Barbara Wood and her husband were aboard the plane that crashed on Mount Erebus.

Thames Star 20 December 1979.

On the December 28th, the paper reported that nine people from the region had died in the crash.

Thames Star 28 December 1979

There are pages dedicated to recording and gathering information on the crew and passengers that died 28 November 1979, forty years ago this year.

A selection of sites include: Erebus, and Roll of Remembrance, Memorials, and National Erebus Memorial and memorial names. A quick 'google' and you will find many more sites. The New Zealand Herald articles and podcasts are available to read and listen to.

Search the memorial list for names from different areas. There are names from Thames, Te Puru, Turua and Pauanui. At this stage the names will not be listed, until I gather newspaper clippings for confirmation. 

Other information:
A selection of New Zealand's worst disasters.
Timeline of New Zealand Disasters.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Thames (NZ): When was the Old Men's Home moved to Tararu?

In today's Hauraki Herald dated 29 November 2019 there is an article  titled: Bupa Tararu marks 135 years. Did they mean that Bupa was 135 years old? Surely they did not mean that the homes at Tararu were 135 years 'old' in terms of when the land first became a place for aged care?

The facts below, will show that the land for a Men's Home was purchased in 1894 - 125 years ago - that is when the home moved to Tararu.

District Homes at Tararu.

Initially there was an Old Men's Shelter on the eastern side of Baillie Street, near the Karaka Creek - known to be occupied from September 1879. The need for the care of the elderly, typically miners was great in these early goldmining years. The Charitable Aid Board which managed the home (located near the Goldfield Hospital), added more rooms in 1889.

In 1894, the Charitable Aid Board purchased land at Taruru,12 acres that were owned by Messrs Wilson and Darrow. By December came the good news that the Government was paying towards the expense of moving from Baillie Street to Tararu, and that an adjoining property was to be purchased for an Old Women's Home.


By January 1895, work was well underway on the erection of buildings at the Tararu site. In February the Men's Home was complete and being occupied, while the building to be used for the Women, was to be moved back from the road boundary to be in alignment with the Men's accommodation.

The homes came under the umbrella of the Thames Hospital Board for many decades and included a farm that supplied meat and fresh vegetables to the Thames District Homes and to Thames Hospital.

Known Masters & Matrons include: Mr & Mrs Butterworth (1895-1897); Mr & Mrs Hart (1891); Mr & Mrs Spong (1897-1909); Mr & Mrs H C Chapman (1909-1916); Mr & Mrs W Gilmore (1916-1928); Mr & Mrs L Bush (1946-1951); Mr & Mrs L B Cooke (1952-1962); Mr & Mrs W Parry (1962-c1983); and Mrs Liz Jacobs (c1987 - ?).

The Health Board structure changed, Thames Hospital Board became part of Waikato Area Health Board, and the homes became privately owned.

The District Homes provided vital care over the time it was run by the Charitable Aid Board / Thames Hospital Board. Men and women came from around the world to work and live on the Thames Goldfield. There were numerous examples where one partner was left alone (no living family in New Zealand), or men who were single and never married. These pioneers had no one to care for them; the homes at Tararu became the last place of residence for these settlers. May that care continue throughout the following years, regardless of the ownership.

In conclusion, the care of aged people at Tararu has been inplace for nearly one hundred and twenty five years (125) - NOT 135 years as quoted in the local newspaper. So if anyone knows what the 135 commemorations were about, please let me know!
Corrections always welcome!

Source: The notes of late Mr Douglas Campbell, article in "True Tales of Thames Hosptial 1868-2018."

The District Homes at Tararu c1904 - Women on the left and Men on the right.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thames (NZ): Paintings by Barker & Hoyte

Its been a week of looking at art from Thames or by Thames artists.

1. Douglas Owen Barker (1923-1988)
Its always a surprise to see 'new' paintings done by my late father, he produced so many...its interesting to remember back and think "Yes I remember that one"!

On Trademe this past week one of Doug Barker's black and white paintings was put up for sale. Too rich for my means, lets hope its gone to a good home. Labelled "Nigh Shift" Auckland Scow "Thistle" Pahiki Island - painted in 1976.


Other examples of Doug's work:
A & G Price exhibition at Thames Museum; Rob Muldoon cartoon; Train painting and Price's cartoons.
2. John Barr Clark Hoyte (1835-1913):

We have featured a few of Hoyte's paintings of the Thames area in earlier blog entries, this week on Trademe there was a reproduction for sale. Described as "Hunt's Shotover Claim". 

A beautiful painting showing a very serene and idyllic view of goldmining at the Thames. Not the normal image we have of early Thames and the chaos of mining! Maybe a touch of imagination on behalf of the artist, but very typical of his other works!

Other Hoyte painings of the Thames area include:
Source: Hoyte, John Barr Clark, 1835-1913. [Hoyte, John Barr Clark, 1835-1913] :[Gold mining near Kopu. ca 1868]. 
Ref: C-052-009. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Source: Hoyte, John Barr Clark, 1835-1913. Hoyte, John Barr Clark, 1835-1913 :[Golden Crown Stamper Battery , Golden Crown Street, Thames. ca 1868]. 
Ref: C-174-003. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/35140730

Other early paintings of The Thames:
Walter Boodle - Moanataiari Creek
Liardet - Early Parawai
Lindauer - Maori Collection
Henry Severn - Panorama of Thames Goldfield

Background Reading:
Christchurch Library have online: Nineteenth century New Zealand Artists by Una Platts.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thames (NZ): Twenty years ago - looking back at Oct-Nov 1999

What was important twenty years ago, what headlines and stories featured in the Hauraki Herald (the local newspaper for the Coromandel Peninsula)?

1999 October-November:
1st October: 

  • Thames Hospital had installed new phones that were Y2K compliant - replacing the old PABX system.
  • Brokenshire's Bookshop was named Thames' 'Top Shop.' [Now Paper Power]
  • Local man Ted Egan was busy making heritage building models and clocks. [Many of these can be seen at The Thames Museum]
  • Cost of consumer items were: LG 68cm TV $1599, Houses ranged from $145,000 to 230,000, and a Nissen Primera GX car $26,990.
  • The local cinema was showing: Tarzan, Star Wars and Big Daddy.
5th October:
  • The 'Swamp Foxes' ended their rugby season with a loss, 19-25 against Bay of Plenty at Waihi.
8th October:
  • The Tararu South Flood Protection committee had explored ways to protect the land from flooding, and a new sea wall project was going to be constructed at a cost of $30,000. Residents were being asked to contribute $300 each towards the project. "Developing a seawall and groyne system for flood protection is recommended by Environment Waikato and was considered suitable at Tararu following the success of an embankment built at the Price Ave reserve a few years ago."

29th October:

  • Get ready for Guy Fawkes, a Mega Shot Box at the Warehouse cost $29.99.
5th November:
  • Election time! Candidates names were published in the paper. Jeanette Fitzsimons was standing for the Green Party, previously having stood for the Alliance Party. [Fitzsimons went on to win the Coromandel electorate].
9th November: 
  • News that the Whitianga Waterways had been given the green light for 46 sections and canals.
16th November:
  • Debate over the fate of the Kopu Bridge raged, would there ever be approval for a new bridge? [The new bridge opened 10 November 2011]

Source: Hauraki Herald Newspapers - available for viewing in the Reading Room, The Treasury, Thames.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Thames (NZ): Lions Club Heritage Sign - PACIFIC HOTEL

There is a new Lions Club Yellow Heritage Sign on the corner of Albert and Brown Streets, on the south-west intersect. The Lions Club have been adding photographs to their signs to help the visitor step back in time and see the 'landmark' as it was decades back.

the Pacific Hotel was grand building, with an entertainment hall on the south side (The Academy of Music). The proprietor for many years was an American Charles Curtis, who diligently celebrated the '4th of July' each year.

'The hotel had a balcony facing the sea - that even graced a visit by His Excellency and Lady
Bowen in January 1870. In 1897 there were 23 accommodation rooms. As the years went on the
hotel went into decline and there had been conduct problems over the years. The foreshore was
so close to the premises that the area was often flooded. In 1874 “The tide came up to the
flooring of the Pacific Hotel; and the passage leading to the front seats of the Academy of Music
was for some time nearly ankle deep.”  Many often wonder why Thames has lost all its grand old buildings, well ‘fire’ was often the answer, as you will read here, numerous hotels ended their days in flames. At 4am 3rd November 1916 the hotel was totally destroyed. Licensee Mr R Price was awoken by an employee to the news that the hotel was on fire! The firebells rang as the Price family and staff escaped the burning building. So fierce was the blaze, that paint on the buildings on opposite corners was blistered (the Wharf Hotel and Albert Bruce’s offices). The fire brigade could merely contain the blaze, and it continued until 6.30am when there was nothing left but the smouldering ruins. The building was owned by Mr Joseph Howard of Auckland. “The fire-proof safe was opened during the forenoon everything it contained, consisting of money, jewellery, and other valuables, was found to be intact.” 

For a few years the hotel traded out of temporary premises in Albert Street. In the Thames Star 20th August 1917, came the news that a past employee of the Pacific Hotel (and the Brian Boru) had been Killed in Action. Private P Clarken had been for some time a porter at the hotel. The hotel debris remained on site for several years until finally the site was cleared in 1920. The land was purchased by the Thames Borough Council and became part of Victoria Park.' Source: Hotels of Thames by A Barker.


ABOVE: Left Side- Victoria Park 1920s. There was a footpath that circled the park with park benches at regular intervals for Thamesites to stop and rest, watch the tennis and the trains going passed. Or maybe wander down to the public swimming pool in the distance (behind the house top left). Right Side- Collage view of the pohutakawa in the park 2018.
BELOW: Victoria Park November 2019.

Closing Comments:
While the park is a lovely yet underutilised reserve, it lacks the formality and cared for look of old. The foreshore path to the right (west), encourages a large number of pedestrians and bikers, the invitation to wander the park grounds would possibly be enhanced if we had paths around the park boundary.

Related article:
Curtis' Wharf, Albert Street.
PS. Did you spot the typo in the sign?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Thames (NZ): 250 Years since James Cook visited and named The Thames

Today is the Day! 250 years ago James Cook and his exploration party ventured up the Waihou River and named the river area The Thames!

I made a brief stop at the Kopu Bridge this morning, and the feeling was one of  disbelief . What would it have been like to be in one of the villages along the river and see on the horizon two boats rowing up the river! Had advance warning been received? Or was it a complete surprise to see these men appear.

The Cook Memorial has not yet been reinstated! This was a terrible oversight by our local Council; and wouldn't have happened at any of the chosen places to be part of the Tuia 250 Encounter sites.

Thankfully the Thames Heritage Network Members came to the rescue and a temporary poster produced. Today thanks to Alan (Goldmine Experience) and Carolyn (Thames Museum) the poster was placed near the old Kopy Bridge. Also on display was Carolyn's mobile display on Captain Cook - a series of laminated cards that give background to Cook's voyage to and around Aotearoa New Zealand.


Several members of the Thames Heritage Network, met at the bridge and shared breakfast in memory of the 250th year anniversary of Cook travelling the waters of the Thames Firth / Tikapa Moana.

The Temporary Poster telling the story of Cook's 1769 visit to Waihou
Update 21 November 2019
I touched yesterday on the support from the Thames Heritage Network, and was remiss not to acknowledge the members of the Historic Kopu Bridge Society who are always available to come and support events such as this. 
Below left: Rachel,Sereena and Francis read the 'Cook poster'. Below right: Gary at the breakfast gathering - he has taken time over the past weeks to raise the profile of the voyage of James Cook.

When will the Cook Memorial be reinstated?
Thanks to the people who have contacted me about this. The expected date in early in the New Year, I will keep you posted!

1949 View of the Memorial which was erected and unveiled 21 November 1941.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Thames (NZ): Dr Catherine Bishop's book launch at the Thames

Above left: The Thames book launch poster. Right: Dr Bishop holding her new book

I was lucky enough to go to Dr Catherine Bishop's book launch at Carsons Bookshop, in Thames yesterday, Tuesday 12 November 2019.

The title of the book is Women Mean Business Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand, and retails at $45.

"From Kaitaia in Northland to Oban on Stewart Island, New Zealands nineteenth-century towns were full of entrepreneurial women.
Contrary to what we might expect, colonial women were not only wives and mothers or domestic servants. A surprising number ran their own businesses, supporting themselves and their families, sometimes in productive partnership with husbands, but in other cases compensating for a spouses incompetence, intemperance, absence or all three.
The pages of this book overflow with the stories of hard-working milliners and dressmakers, teachers, boarding-house keepers and laundresses, colourful publicans, brothelkeepers and travelling performers, along with the odd taxidermist, bootmaker and butcher and Australasias first woman chemist. Then, as now, there was no typical businesswoman. They were middle and working class; young and old; Māori and Pākehā; single, married, widowed and sometimes bigamists. Their businesses could be wild successes or dismal failures, lasting just a few months or a lifetime.
In this fascinating and entertaining book, award-winning historian Dr Catherine Bishop showcases many of the individual businesswomen whose efforts, collectively, contributed so much to the making of urban life in New Zealand." Source: Carsons Bookshop

 Dr Catherine Bishop delivers a presentation on New Zealand Businesswomen.

Why have a book launch stop in Thames?
Dr Bishop is at present travelling around New Zealand promoting the book and the need to recognise, remember and acknowledge the business women of the pre 1880s in New Zealand.

There are several Thames women featured in the book. Women such as Harriet Corston (Miss Reed) who had Newington House in Brown Street. Mrs Simpson aka Mrs Ah Mow who ran several shops at The Thames.

While there were many women who were primarily based at home carrying out domestic duties, there were many who were businesswomen on the Thames Goldfield. By choice or by default when their husbands died, many of these women ran successful businesses.

Whether it was running a hotel, a private school, a millinery or dressmaking service. The list went on.
A general business list can be found in some early blogs on this site - see if you can spot some women in business.
Businesses: A-B, C-E, F-HI-L, M-O, P-R, S-T, U-Z.

This list was done nearly ten years ago, before many newspapers were available online - so please note it probably has missed as many as it found! The list above also does not include SCHOOLS or HOTELS, both areas that women featured on at the Thames Goldfield.

A very good point that Dr Bishop stressed was that you can't rely on the wording Miss or Mrs in the business title or proprietor. Bishop gave several examples where only initials were given in the business name and it turned out the owners were women!

Grab a book from the library or purchase one to read. Maybe you will find a relative among the women discussed in the book Women Mean Business Colonial businesswomen in New Zealand.

Above: Caledonian House in Albert Street. There is one 'Woman' shop assistant. While not all women owned businesses, lets not forget those who were employed - dispelling the myth that all women were at home carrying out domestic chores.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Thames (NZ): Armistice Day at The Thames 11 November 2019

Well its hard to know what to say on 11th November - in any year!

At 11am on 11 November 1918, the Great War officially ended. From that time on, it became an annual event to encourage everyone to stop and remember. Remembrance Day is a term used in many countries, where communities stop to remember those who fought and died in all wars,

Armistice Day at The Thames.
Over the decades at Thames, the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month has faithfully been marked by the local RSA / services. In 2018, it fell during the Steampunk weekend, and the remembrance ceremony was held at the Peace Memorial. The attendance was large.

Over the years, it has always been the practice to have the fire siren sound to mark the period of silence, as the siren has become automated, it appears that this is no longer possible. So for the majority in Thames, the significance of the 11th hour possibly went without notice.

So today, a very, very small gathering assembled outside the Thames War Memorial civic Hall. Those who spoke, stressed that regardless of how many turn up, while they have one person to attend, the Armistice remembrance will continue!






Thursday, November 7, 2019

Thames (NZ): Thames Museum & Reserve Garden 7 November 2019


While some towns are renown for their public gardens, it has been many years since Thames boasted anything along those lines.

This is not to say there aren't some lovely flower beds and displays around the town. For instance the plants along Queen Street from the wharf to Richmond Street are usually a 'picture', as is the Rotary Park area at the Thames Library,  and the roundabout at Mary Street also well planted. These days the varieties used range from flowers to edible herbs depending on the season.

In the early days of the Thames Goldfield, there were spectacular gardens at Tararu, first planted by property developer Robert Graham. Spencer's also had a popular garden area at Parawai, that locals visited regularly. The Parawai Gardens also provided sporting grounds that were popular for the many athletic and sporting events held by the down.

In more modern times, without doubt the most prized garden was at the Moanataiari, known as Meonstoke, and the hard work of the late Pam Gwynne.

Thames Museum & Reserve Garden:

At the end of 1983, plans were approved to build a new museum on part of the old Central School site. The rest is history!!!

Thirty-five years later,  the gardens that surround the Thames Museum, at the corner of Cochrane & Pollen Streets are maintained by the dedicated gardeners from the local council. The plantings vary, if you are coming to town in the near future check out this seasons 'beauties'. Sadly the cycle continues and within weeks they will be replaced by a new rotation of plants.

Cochrane Street flower border and the Pollen Street flower bed on the right.

Then & Now: Left, West's Blacksmith Shop, now the site of the entrance to Museum and the Central School WWI Cenotaph.  (right)

Then & Now: The courtyard garden at the north end of the Thames Museum, now known as the Women's Suffragette Garden 1893-1993.

Front of the Thames Museum, entrance on the right.