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.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thames (NZ): The last WWI deaths for 1917 remembered

With two days to go till the end of 1917 (100 years ago), Thamesites must have been hopeful that no more bad news would be received from France. Alas there was one war death on the 30th and another on the 31st December 1917.

They were:
30/12/1917 In the Field, France; MCCLYMONT Frederick George4/1369; Lance Corporal  NZETC
31/12/1917 In the Field, Belgium; MURRAY Raika Whakarongatai20846; L/Corporal  NZ Maori Batt
  Source: THAMES STAR, 18 & 19 JANUARY 1918  

Raika Murray of Kopu, was just 18 years of aged when he was Killed in Action. His name was also included on the Matatoki Roll of Honour. Raika's next-of-kin was Wikitoria Tengahue (mother), Kopu, Thames, New Zealand. Corporal Murray is remembered in the Ramparts Cemetery, Lille Gate, Belgium.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thames (NZ): Pahau Street revisited

One of the first views we have of Pahau Street, was taken from the Beach looking back at the Junction Hotel c1869. The iconic hotel is centre right in the photograph on the right - photographer James D Richardson. Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3681-8

Pahau Street Facts:

  • the boundary line between Shortland Town and Grahamstown.
  • named after the Maori land owner Pahau who lived on and cultivated the land.
  • the Presbyterian Church was/is  located on the Shortland Town side of the street - land purchased from Ngatiawa Pahau,. 
  • on the first maps Pahau Street ran from Bella Street (east) to the sea. By the 1910s, the street had been shortened and ended at Queen Street.
  • the street has flooded many times from the overflow of the Karaka Creek (the course of which has been altered several times since the goldfield opened. (see photos at end of article)
The postcard below was taken by Muir & Moodie in the 1910s. The view west of the Pollen Street intersect, looking towards Bella Street to the east. All the main landmarks remain. The Junction Hotel, The St James Church and hall. Plus several of the houses on the Bird-in-hand hill above Bella Street remain to this day.

THEN & NOW: Pahau Street 1910s (above) and 2015 (below - Google maps)

In the 1923 Street Directory the following people/businesses were mentioned for Pahau Street.

Bella Street intersect                                                Bella Street intersect
John O'Reilly (constable)                                         George Smith (patternmaker)
Jack Doddrell (carter)                                               James Hogg (hairdresser) 
                                                                                  William Davey (blacksmith)
Mackay Street intersect                                            Mackay Street intersect 
Thomas Johnstone (church caretaker)                      Thomas Judd (Chas Judd Ltd)
                                                                                  Jonah Gardner (carpenter)
Martha Street intersect                                              Presbyterian Sunday School
Junction Hotel (John Kelly Proprietor)
Pollen Street intersect                                               Pollen Street intersect
Herbert Clinker (painter)                                          Fire Brigade Station (A Garrett Super)
Kirkwood Street intersect                                         Herbert Rose (Fire station caretaker)
Arthur Ludwig (fisherman)                                      Francis Long (iron moulder)
Charles Taylor (fish dealer)                                      John Smith (fisherman)
Queen Street intersect                                               Queen Street intersect

LEFT SIDE From Queen St                                   RIGHT SIDE From Queen St

 1985 - Pahau Street - the water has gone, the flood debris remains.
 ABOVE Left: 1985 Flood - view along Pahau Street to the east - flood cleanup underway.
ABOVE Right: The view looking west from the Pollen Street intersect to Queen Street.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Thames (NZ): Totara Cemetery Gates CLOSED

Well what a way to start Christmas Day. As we drove up the road to Totara Cemetery, there was a line-up of cars and people waiting along the drive. The problem? At 8.30am the gates were still padlocked! While it could have been possible for some to make the long trek up the hill, it was not a viable option for most of us.

The Council were rung but no one came while I was waiting. Many cars turned around, hopefully to return later. Some ingenuity got us in one way at least.

The next surprise came at the grounds of the cemetery itself. Normally Christmas Day is a pristine view along the 'beautifully' kept cemetery.  Alas today many areas were deep in grass, and some hand pruning was necessary around the grave-sites we visited.

PS. TCDC when are you ever going to replace the water tap at the tree opposite the RSA section. The sooner we get a "Friends of the Cemetery Group" going the better. Yes sorry for the rant.

*****Merry Xmas*****

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Thames (NZ): Merry Xmas - Meri Kirihimete

Greetings from Thames, New Zealand. These days there is a decorated tree at Kuranui Bay for those that venture towards Tararu - but to older Thamesites things were never the same the day the old Chestnut tree was cut down. Young and old waited expectantly to see the tree at the corner of Mary and Pollen Streets, which was covered in lights every December.

The magic was enhanced, because those were the days when late night shopping was an important social event. On Christmas Eve everyone would go down town, do last minute shopping, meet with friends and view the lights along Pollen Street. The photo below is from Christmas 1968.

Christmas 1917 in Thames
If you were stuck for ideas of what to buy, the newspaper suggested 'walking the Ladies Mile' aka Pollen Street. Drapery shops included Hetherington's, Court's, Cullen's, The Caledonian, and The Elite. Dunnage's and Coad's could meet all your stationery and book requirements. While the livery stables and garages in business were Hawkes', Phillip's and Shaw's.

This had been a tough year for the town, floods earlier in the year, while the Great War continued claiming the lives of tens of Thames men each month.  Nine Thames WWI soldiers are known to have died this month, one hundred years ago. 

The Kings message to the troops in 1917 wished all  good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
"Our Christmas thoughts are with you, the sick and wounded soldiers and Sailors.  We know by personal experience with what patience and cheerfulness their suffering is borne.  We wish all a speedy restoration to health, a restful Christmastide, and brighter days to come - (signed) George R and I and Mary R."

The Thames Star 24 December 1917, had a four page supplement devoted to Christmas. From poems to general stories, for young and old, a wide range of topics included. Such as: The Story of the Nativity; Origin of the Maori; to poems such as Santa Claus.
Link for page One, Two, Three and Four.

There is even a picture of Thames 'today' 1917. Sadly the quality is poor, but a popular view looking south along Pollen Street.

On 25 Decmeber 1917 there were special Christmas Church services in the town, while many eagerly awaited the Thames Race meeting on Boxing Day. The highlight for many churchgoers occurred on the 23rd December when the Baptist and Congregational Church used their newly installed electric light for the first time during the evening service.

***** Best wishes and Merry Xmas to all*****

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Thames (NZ): Women overseas in WWI - new Jane Tolerton book

Whenever there is a new book released, I always hope to find some Thames references. Well, Jane Tolerton's new book is full of surprises.

Make Her Praises Heard Afar, New Zealand women overseas in World War One has just been released and covers the women from New Zealand who have previously been overlooked in World War One.

We may have been the first country to give women the vote, but the New Zealand women who served as doctors, ambulance drivers and munitions workers World War I have largely been left out of our written history – until now. - Jane Tolerton

Women with a connection to the Thames area, who get a mention in the book are: Cora Anderson, Mary Barkas, Theresa Butler, and Emma Harris.

The highlight are the letters that Mary Barkas wrote to her father back in Timaru. Mary was 25 and had gone to London to attend the London School of Medicine. With friends, Mary Barkas was travelling around Europe before the war broke. The following are quotes from "Make Her Praises Head Afar."

Monday 3 August: "A week ago nobody dreamed that a great European War was possible...Now, in only four days, it seems that all Europe is on fire."

Thursday 6 August: "The German People seem to be enthusiastic and talk about the righteous cause"

Tuesday 11 August: "Here we are in the midst of War, and apparently likely to stay here for some time. Tonight comes the news of a big German victory."

Thursday 27 August: "Our special train is to go tomorrow...Last night Marjorie wrote obituary notices for us all in case we get blown up in the Channel."

Mary and her friends went by train to France, then crossed the English Channel on a crowded ship. "A month after the outbreak of war between Germany and France when Mary finally arrived at the flat she shared with her mother."

Dr Barkas completed her medical training and then moved into the field of Psychiatry. You may well ask, how does this person have a connection to Thames? After her father died in 1932, Mary came back to New Zealand and instead of returning to England, settled on the Thames Coast.

Dr Mary Barkas, is a name that is still well known amongst older Thamesites to this day. 
MEMBERS OF THE EXECUTIVE OF THE SUNLIGHT LEAGUE OF NEW ZEALAND—A photograph taken at Cashmere House, Cashmere Hills, on Saturday afternoon, when members were the guests of Mrs J,Cracroft Wilson. Seated in front, from left, are: Mrs J. Cracroft Wilson, Dr. Mary Barkas, Sir Arthur Dobson, and Professor J. Macmillan Brown. PRESS, VOLUME LXIX, ISSUE 20861, 22 MAY 1933
Dr Barkas was a world renown psychiatrist; and during her time on the Thames Coast she was also the first in New Zealand to breed Schnauzer dogs. 

Mary was an active member of the community, for instance in 1937 she was a member of the Tapu Branch of the New Zealand Labour Party. During World War Two, Dr Barkas helped establish emergency training services in Thames and gave lectures in all levels of home nursing to the people of Thames.

Little did the people of Thames and Coast know, that they had such a famous person in their midst. Someone who had studied psycho- analytical methods from a pupil of Dr Freud himself. Her papers were published widely and she attended many conferences. Considered a true pioneer in the field of Psychiatry and a pioneer for women in this branch of medicine.

Dr Mary Rushton Barkas passed away at Thames Hospital 17 April 1959, her funeral was held at the Thames St George's Anglican Church;  Dr Barkas was cremated at Purewa Crematorium in Auckland on 20 April 1959.
Dr Barkas' Obituary.
Further information on Dr Barkas:
Wikipedia Mary Barkas
Article in Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine
Women Psychoanalysts in Great Britain - this has links to selected papers written by Dr Barkas