Friday, February 16, 2018

Thames (NZ): Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre OPENED!

Work started on the new community recreation centre back in September 2016, but behind the scenes fundraising and development for such a building, is said to have started 20 years previously.
From the demolition of buildings to the start of construction everything appeared smooth enough, but behind the scenes the weather and other construction issues occurred. Finally all issues were resolved, and at a cost of six million dollars, the building today was officially opened.

A timeline of the construction is available that shows what a major project this was. Prefabs moved, site prepared - to building opened! Many man hours and dollars were needed to make this happen.

 Today, Friday 16 February 2018, marked the opening of the Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre. A dawn blessing  by Ngati Maru kaumatua Wati Ngamane, followed by a full opening ceremony at 10am within the new gymnasium complex. It was shoes off as everyone entered the new hall.

 Everyone appeared impressed with the size of the new complex, that has various sporting courts marked out and ready for action!

Very quickly the downstairs and upstairs seating was filled, with students, guests and members from the community. Plus most importantly members of the late Jack McLean's family.

 The view from upstairs is spectacular - dignitaries and the Thames High School kapa haka group were assembled in the centre of the hall. A karakia by Wati Ngamane was followed by a performance by the kapa haka members.


 By this stage, the hall's seating areas were full, and the speeches and opening programme was completed. The hall is ready to meet the needs of the community and it was noted that bookings had already been made by various groups!

Not a bad effort! The Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre is open for business.

ABOVE: Jack (John Kenneth) McLean 1923-2005 (left) and the new Jack McLean Community Recreation Centre.

Background Reading:
TCDC Official news on the planned opening, including biographical information on Jack McLean.
Jack McLean - All Black - background All Back no 473 Wikipaedia info
TCDC Official News update on the opening. News that Jack McLean's All Black cap that the family had donated to the school previously, will now be on display in the foyer of the new community recreation centre. (photo below)

Jack McLean's All Blacks Cap.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Thames (NZ): Thames Goldfield Schools & Miss Millington

Finally a reprint of the booklet Thames Goldfield Schools is available.

The cover has been altered to include a photograph that was found after the publication of the first edition last year.

Not long after the goldfield opened in August 1867, families started descending to The Thames. The families on the whole were poor, but schooling while not yet compulsory, was a priority for most families. Private schools proliferated alongside those receiving special state funding.

A list of known schools has been collected, and a summary of each school is given in the Thames Goldfield Schools booklet.

There are few photographs of these early schools in action, so it was one of those special moments to find online Miss Millington's 1907 cooking class at the Thames Technical School. (photo below)
Cookery Class with Miss Millington 1907.
Hammond, Thomas William George Howard, 1868-1967,ca. 1907,PH-1991-12-A1041.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Library Collection 

The opening of the new technical school building took place 4th August 1905, the land had been donated by past Thamesite Mr Arthur M Myers, a framed photograph was revealed in his honour. An accompanying inscription read: “A very kind benefactor to whom those who attend this school are deeply indebted.” Prior to this, Technical and Continuation Classes had been held in the Kauaeranga School during 1902-1904 (at least).130 A glimpse of the cooking classroom 1907, can be seen on the front cover of the Thames Goldfield Schools booklet. The school was located right on the corner of Sealey and Rolleston Street, where the Thames High School Gymnasium is located today.

A closer look: Miss Millington (3rd from left) and the girls in the cookery class c1907. Rolling pins, crockery bowls and utensils ready for the days recipes lesson. 
Miss Millington left the Thames Technical School in June 1907, at which time the students presented her several gifts including photographs of the school and cookery class. It is assumed that this photo is one of the gifts that Miss Millington received a copy of. The Thames Star 13 June 1907 reported that another gift was a set of silver serviette rings. Some of the pupils mentioned were Misses Lizzie Bulling and Violet George; and the headmaster was Mr Marsdon.

The photograph above will bring back memories of manual cooking classes for many. The days of no cooking unless you had an apron! The style of apron varies, and a couple of pupils even have bands/covers on their lower arms.  

The room must have been used for sewing classes as well, as a stern warning is written on the blackboard. "Sewing Class - Care must be taken to leave no needle lying about. The Caretaker last week, when scrubbing, ran a needle into their thumb..."

The Thames Technical School, the new building was opened in 1905.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19050824-11-1

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Thames (NZ): Karaka Road intersection Then & Now

Some things never change at the Thames. When the streets were surveyed in late 1867, the plans appeared in the most part very easy to follow, with the majority of streets running in simple grid like pattern.
Part of 1868 Miners Illustrated Map of the Thames Goldfield. Rolleston Street and Karaka Road intersect, centre left.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 4531
One of the more unusual layouts centred around Karaka Road and the connection to Rolleston Street. Over decades realignment happened on several streets, but this was one where houses had been built on plots that limited corrections to the road.

The 1889 Alignment Survey highlighted many problems around the town. The north end of Rolleston Street, had the challenges of two triangular shaped pieces of land - to the west with Baillie Street and to the east with Karaka Road.

The Post Office Hotel, tackled the problem by building a structure to fit the land at the corner of Baillie (Court), Mary and Rolleston Streets. On the Karaka Road side (where the Nurses' Home sits today), the site was filled with a boarding house, hall and a residence.

In the 1902 Cleave's Directory the listings were: Commercial Boarding House (Foy's), Protestant Alliance Hall and 'probably' the house of John Wade (miner). On the right side of Rolleston Street, from the Mary Street intersect were: The Post Office Hotel (Morrison's), William Deeble (Grocer), Archibald Currie (Bootmaker), W H Smith (Miner), R Hill (Baker), Mrs Schmidt (School teacher), Mr Egginton (Telegraphist), T Taylor (Fisherman), William Hosking (Grocer), Mrs Simpson, F W Keller (Stationer), and on the Sealey Street intersect R Bateman's butcher shop. 

Today, the sharp bend into Rolleston Street remains, as it did in the 1900s photograph below.

Above: c1900s View down Karaka Road to the intersection with Rolleston Street.
Below: The Karaka Road & Rolleston Street intersect c2010 (Google Maps)

 Below: a closer look at the 1900s view of the Karaka Road and Rolleston Street intersect. Today the Rolleston Street side is where the Thames Medical Centre is located.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Thames (NZ): Thamesite Albert Gordon in magazine article

There is a four page article on Lieutenant Albert William Gordon (1888-1917) in the latest New Zealand Memories Magazine (Issue 130 Feb/Mar 2018).

Written by Roger Strong, the article covers the story of Albert's life from birth, until he Died of Wounds 12 August 1917. Albert's parents were Frederick and Margaret Gordon, his father was a butcher. The family lived in Pollen Street, the butcher shop in the 1900s was located at the Grahamstown end of town, just south of Wood's Grocery store. Gordon attended Tararu and Kauaeranga Boys' School at Thames.

After leaving school Albert worked for a local builder and then in Auckland was recorded as a Master Builder on his enlistment. His love of flying led him to train at Kohimarama and he became a member of the Royal Flying Corps. The rest is sadly history, and Thamesite Albert Gordon became the "first New Zealand trained pilot to be killed in action in World War I." (Roger Strong, NZ Memories Issue 130)
Thames Star 17 August 1917

Albert's cenotaph entry at the Auckland War Memorial Museum backgrounds information on his time in the Royal Flying Corps. Lay a poppy at the site, and remember Albert Gordon of Thames.

(New Zealand Memories Magazines are Available at bookstores if you don't have a subscription - Carsons Bookshop Thames had a few copies left this pm - otherwise check your local Library)

Background Reading:
Letter from Flying Corps: Thames Star 19 January 1918

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thames (NZ): Serious flooding 1938 Hauraki Plains

Was the King Tide 5th January 2018 a big event? Well it appears so! "As a guide, this is one of the biggest events that have occurred in the Firth of Thames in recorded history," said Waikato Regional Council's Rick Liefting. The water level was a metre higher than a normal high tide, combined with the high waves it really was an extraordinary occurrence. (If you missed the significance of the day a collage of photographs has been prepared by Denis Tegg.)

It was reported that the last time the water levels were so high was in 1938, when the Hauraki Plains were flooded. What happened back in 1938, and was it really as bad as the recent event of 5th January 2018. 

1938 Flood Event on the Hauraki Plains.
On the evening 4th May 1938, residents became concerned about the water that was gathering on the Hauraki Plains. Mr C Walsh warned his neighbour at 10pm that the water was becoming a problem. Mr McQuoid and his family took heed but almost immediately the water started to flow into his house, which soon was over three feet deep. Objects floated around the room and the family could not escape. Mr and Mrs McQuoid placed their four small children onto a bed and attempted to hold it all night until flood waters started to recede in the early morning hours. With much relief the family were rescued at daylight and taken to the Pipiroa Hall. Press 7 May 1938. 

Flood waters around Mr C Walsh's home at Pipiroa. The family (right) spent the night in the ceiling.

Boats provided the only way to move about the flooded Hauraki Plains.
 The New Zealand Herald 6 May 1938, stated it was the worst flood in the history of the Hauraki Plains. There had been heavy rain and northerly winds all day, when the high tide occurred around 10pm, the stop-banks broke at Pipiroa and Hopai. Residents such as Mr Keane of Pipiroa also remarked on the suddenness of the flood event and reported levels of four feet around his property, which resulted in loss of farm animals. A beekeeper lost all his hives, the list of losses was large.
The Pipiroa Public Hall, where many people sought refuge during the flood. The stopbank in the foreground had broken.

The Pipiroa Store, which had three feet of water during the height of the flood.
Photographs from the Auckland Weekly News, 11 May 1938, page 46.Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19380511-46-1
Flooding also occurred at Turua and Kopuarahi.  Only the main road at Kopuarahi was above the water, and stock took shelter on this higher ground. Everyone stressed the flood was far worse than the 1936 event, the last great flood. New Zealand Herald 6 May 1938.

Flooding at Thames May 1938.
Thames suffered a similar sudden 'tida'l flood to the recent 5 January 2018 King Tide Event; the water inundated the Grahamstown end of town, but quickly dispersed with the outgoing tide. The Park Hotel for instance had four feet of water and debris, and a car parked outside was submerged to the roof. (full report below)

 Floods at the Thames, in some ways the common denominator in the history of the town and area. Many Thamesites have fought for better flood management since the goldfield opened, while others have chosen to seek reassurance that it is just 'normal' for the town.

Further Reading:
1917 Flood and 1936 Flood

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thames (NZ): WWI ROH 100 Year Commemorations January 1918-2018

It seems a long time since the WW100 commemorations started back in 2014! Yes, the Great War was indeed a very long war. In January 1918, the town lost two more Thamesites.

Sergeant Ernest Oliver Stayte 24/291, was Killed in Action 11 January 1918, in the Field, Belgium. He was with the 2nd Batt 3rd NZRB A Coy. Ernest was one of four brothers who served in World War One.

While Stayte was in later years from Pukekohe, he had attended Waiokaraka School in Thames - hence the connection to Thames. The son of William and Eliza Stayte, after leaving Thames, the family moved to Paeroa for awhile. (Obituary New Zealand Herald 5 Feb 1918 - copy below) 


Corporal William Grant 12/3030, Died of Wounds 23 January 1918, in the Field, France or Belgium. He was with the 1st Batt CIR 1st Coy.

William's parents were from Scotland, and he was born in Australia. The Grant family lived in Thames when William  enlisted in 1915. Their house was in Cochrane Street, and William worked for well known butcher Mr A J Bateman (corner of Sealey and Rolleston Streets).
Corporal W Grant's Headstone in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

+++++     Lest We Forget     +++++

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Thames (NZ): The fury of the King Tide

By now, everyone will have seen images of the damaging King Tide that occurred yesterday morning, Friday 5 January 2018. (The Thames Coromandel District Council has a gallery of photos in their news releases)

While Thamesites are well used to heavy rain and floods, this event was somewhat different given the speed it happened, and with virtually no rain. The sea prior to the high tide was literally roaring south down the firth, the waves like grand breakers at the best surf beach. Still, one could not be prepared for what happened as the high tide approached. There were breaches of the sea wall all along the Thames Foreshore, and the stormwater drains spewed out tidal water. Along Queen Street, Goldfield Mall, to Moanataiari and north, the waters covered the verges and roads. Within minutes of taking the photo below of the Lady Bowen(Albert and Brown Street intersect), the roads were flooded and closed.

The Waiotahi Creek along Burke Street was a raging torrent as the huge waves swept along towards the bridge to the refuse station. The wind was at times horrendous. At the south end of town the old Shortland Wharf took a beating, while the carpark and boat marina were inundated.

 Victoria Park was soon inundated with water and the waves crashed over further south at the Bridge Club and Miniature Railway.

The list goes on, but what happened along the Thames Coast is beyond belief. The roads were taken over by the sea, giant waves literally lifted and broke the road surface. The damage will take months to repair, and affect Thames Coasters' lives, day in and day out.

It is one hundred and fifty years since the goldfield opened, and once again the settlers of the Thames are reminded of the fury of the sea.

Further photographs and video:
Stuff: Thames Coast Road and NZ Herald Thames Coast Road.
TCDC: Mayor Sandra Goudie video update.

**Update 7 1 2018, excellent article on Stuff "In a Town near Thames, the summer storm felt like a 'mini Tsunami'." Showing devastation of the road and impact on the seaside village of Te Puru.**

***Update 16 1 2018, Denis Tegg has compiled information on the King Tide event - a MUST Watch!! On Youtube. ***

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Thames (NZ): First Caledonian Games at the Thames 150 years ago

The town of Shortland was ready for a good party by the time the 31 December 1867 rolled around. The miners, their families and associated businesses had already had their ups and downs. For many mostly downs!

Preparations had been weeks in the making for the 'first' New Year's Day on the Thames, a four-day Caledonian Games had been planned with precision. Events to include horse racing, foot racing, canoe racing and boat racing; along with the more traditional games of quoits, greasy pole and cricket. (see Daily Southern Cross 25 December 1867 on right)

First was the drinking on New Year's Eve. There were ten hotels open and it was estimated in the Daily Southern Cross 6 January 1868, that there were 500 men at each establishment. First footing took place and the proceedings wound up without any noted problems, the men no doubt eager to save something for the sporting events to follow over the following days.

The sports were held on the flat ground near the Hape Creek, with Mr Mackay's grand new house looking proudly down upon those gathered.
ABOVE: This view looking east along Grey Street is later 1868-69, but shows the flat area where the sports were held. James Mackay's residence is on the hill (two gables) centre left. The building in the foreground is the Shortland Town Post Office at the corner of Grey and Mackay Streets. The Hape Creek and one of the many pedestrian bridges is in the centre.
Refreshment stands, temporary grandstands and marquees lined the sporting ground, ready to quench the thirsts and feed those attending. Extra ships brought extra spectators and competitors to the town. An interesting note made by the correspondent was that the Europeans were making an effort to prove to the 'natives' that they were friendly. One must not and should forget the impact that mining had on the tribal groups who were well established and content before the goldfield was flung open! Just five months previously this was Maori owned land, now in occupation of thousands of Europeans out to make money.

The sports started at 11 o'clock 1 January 1868. A 100 yard and 350 year running race started the day. The local Maori also took part and the latter race was won by Nikorima who was far too strong for his opposition. A full report appears in the Daily Southern Cross 6 January 1868, snippets are below.

There was a damp start to the second day of events, but eventually some did take place. These included throwing the Hammer competition and hack races. The stewards had to deal with some heated dispute over the running of several of these heats.

1864 view of the Waihou River
The third day of events, 3 January 1868, was also affected by the weather. Those entered in the boat races faced a difficult breeze blowing from the south-west.

The highlight of day for many was the magnificent canoe race between the Kirikiri and Parawai 'natives.' The men displayed their skill, not even an upturn into the sea delayed proceedings during the 4 mile event. Chief Taipari was standing in his canoe urging the crew on, but was just tipped at the end by the challenging crew. (Description below)

Partial details of the canoe race Day Three
After further events, Taipari gathered the natives present and they performed war dances and songs for the Europeans gathered. The exchange of cultures and activities appeared to have been the star of the days events.  Two groups finding their way with one another and appreciating what each group had to offer. Anyway, the day ended with Landlord Mulligan being carried back to his hotel by the local Maori, as an expression of thanks for the gracious way he accepted them and their customs. Joseph Mulligan was associated with several hotels at the Thames, the first was the Victoria Hotel, Pollen Street just north of the Grey Street intersect.
ABOVE: 1870s view of the Victoria Hotel, Pollen Street, Shortland Town.
Day Four, Saturday 4 January 1868, and the events just kept on happening! The 100 yard foot race was rerun and won again by Foster. Followed by miscellaneous events and horse races. The highland bagpipes sung out and delighted all those who were gathered. The day coming to a close with a great speech by Landlord Joseph Mulligan. Mulligan was well received by the crowd given that he had offered to share a hogshead of beer with his friends gathered before him! Plus he pledged money to hold a further event on St Patrick's Day next!

So ended the first New Year on the Thames Goldfield.

4 January 2018
As the town continues to celebrate 150 years since the goldfield opened, it is 150 years since those first horse races were held on Shortland Flat. The Thames Jockey Club will on 4 January 2018 celebrate 150 years of horse racing at The Thames, with a race meeting at the Parawai Racecourse.

ABOVE: 1930s views of the Parawai Racecourse, Thames.