Topic: The Volunteers - early military history in the Hauraki plains

Topic type:

The 6th Battalion (Hauraki) Regimental Association in 2012 began working with Tauranga City Libraries Research Collections staff to digitise their photographic and written history. Part of that collection was an unpublished 55 page manuscript typed sometime in the 1940s or 50s. Compiled by an 'A.M. Isdale' it describes the events and personalities of the early volunteer forces in the Hauraki Plains though without referencing sources. There are no chapters but we have broken the document into pages by groups of ten, and added the years mentioned at the beginning and end of each section. Images are additional to the original manuscript and text may contain some OCR related errors.

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Compiled By: Mr A.M. Isdale of Thames

Date compiled uncertain but it was estimated to be in the 1950s.



1863 - 1879 (pages 1-10)

Militia in Hauraki 

When Von Tempsky was commissioned a lieutenant in August 1863, he armed his famous Forest Rangers.  An important element of those consisted of sawyers and gold diggers from Coromandel. Gold was discovered there officially in 1852, with a short-lived rush of no more than 300, and the field was fitfully dormant till it was officially reopened in 1862. Among the diggers recorded in 1862 was Gustavus Ferdinand Von Tempsky. The Forest Rangers were for general service, not local.


During the main fighting of the Maori War, the latter part of  1865 and 1864, the Coromandel goldfield was for a period almost deserted, but around 100 remained. Local tradition says that some Maoris threatened attack, but a scratch force, with Ring at their head, rode out, and the Maoris backed, down. This was not an organised militia.


After the defeat of the main Maori forces, 1865 on saw a considerable lull in fighting, with few irreconcilable Hauhau. By 1868, with the return of Te Kooti from the Chathams  the Hauhaus became a serious threat.


In mid 1867, when the Thames goldfield was opened, the Maoris were considered pacified, but it was also considered bad policy to do anything that might cause a renewal of hostilities.


The goldfield at first was a very small area immediately around Thames, and housing and business sections were rented from the Maoris, who also received money for each miner on the field. The miners were really there as guests. In view of the experience with the Coromandel field it was thought that the initial rush could well be temporary and gold mining revert to nothing or small time.


So the Europeans did not bring soldiers, and very few police, too few for the many diggers. If said diggers trespassed over their narrow limits, Civil Commissioner James Mackay was happy to depend on the Maoris. He recorded that when a couple trespassed into the Waiotahi block, some of the Maori owners there brought them back.


Under such circumstances, the first Thames equivalents of Armed Constabulary were Maoris. When a number of men went up the Kauaeranga into ground not yet opened up for mining, James Mackay sent detective Crick and three native police all well armed with carbines and revolvers, and ordered them to bring back the trespassers. This had the effect of stopping further proceedings of this kind.


  In the same month Mackay also persuaded the diggers not to try to get into the Ohinemuri before it was opened for mining, and entered into negotiations which opened firstly the land around Tapu, a rush to which soon diverted the attention of the diggers, towards the end of 1867, and other areas.  During 1868 he found stiffening resistance to the opening of the Ohinemuri to the growing influence of the Hauhaus. In April he had the opportunity of opening land for mining at Hikataia, "but refused to do so for fear of causing a quarrel" between the other Maoris and the Hauhaus. However a quarrel did take place, and other Maoris gave up land in spite of the opposition of the Hauhaus because of said quarrel. On 19th December 1868 there was a formal handing over 0of some Ohinemuri lands, boundaries yet to be defined. The Maoris did not wait for that, and before the end of December 1868 were encamped near present day Paeroa, while Mackay had preliminary agreements extending as far south as Te Aroha, only the letter with the wrong tribe. (In the upshot it was to be 1875 before the Ohinemuri was opened and 1880 before Te Aroha had mining too.


In February 1869 Mackay complained that some persons had been tampering with and making treasonable overtures to the Hauhaus, so that he considered it necessary to get the diggers out and back to Thames. Most went when he asked, but a few hid out in the hills and went on prospecting. So on February 12 Mackay "swore in 35 friendly natives as special constables and by the 15th all except the old settlers and their servants had been compelled to leave the district." Some Ohinemuri Maoris of Hauhau sympathies then wanted the settlers to go too, saying; if Te Kooti came, which was not unlikely, and killed these settlers, they would be blamed, though innocent. Mackay retorted that chief Te Hina would be sure to receive notice of Te Kootis coming. The Maoris could not deny that, and the matter was dropped.


The Te Kooti danger caused a change in feeling, and thoughts of self defence. Also it was obvious that Thames was not going to be an overnight gold rush camp, and there was also valuable property to defend. With references to March 1869, with its Hauhau threats in the Ohinemuri only 20 miles from Thames, Mackay noted that a large and flourishing township" had arisen under the arrangements made with the natives on behalf of the Government, that the value of the buildings erected there at least £250,000 and this great interest requires protection, for if this is not done the European lease will he at the mercy of the Native grantees When they receive their Crown titles to the land." Mackay was thinking primarily of legal safeguard but more physical ones were also strongly in mind.


So at the end of March 1869 there was a parading of newly formed Volunteers - mainly hardy miners. The first parade was that of the Thames Rifle Rangers to the shooting butts at Tararu Point, under Major Cooper and Lieutenant Jackson. Then there was a general parade of Volunteers from the Hospital. There were 27 Rifle-Rangers with Captain Skinner and Lieutenant Jackson, 30 Engineers with Captain Gwynneth, 63 in No. 1 Company with Captain Power, and 46 in No. 2 Company with Major Keddell.


A later formation (1875) was a body of Native Volunteers, under Captain Taipari. But there was a change here from the earlier bodies of heavily armed Maoris with only two or three police for the Europeans to keep order among themselves. The Hauhaus, especially Te Kooti, had caused fear and suspicion, so it was suggested the guns would get knocked about if the Maoris took them home to their whares, and their arms were issued for parades only, being otherwise kept under lock and key in the armoury.


Some idea of the fears and sentiments aroused by Te Kooti is given by a letter of December 13, 1869, to her sister in England, by wife of Dr Fox of Thames. She wrote of 


a report (probably true) that Te Kooti the great rebel chief has come to Tauranga. and is on his way to the Maori settlement here. Te Kooti is the worst enemy of the British, and would eat them all alive if he could. The Maoris here call him their enemy and profess themselves friendly to the British, but it is known quite well that they know Te Kootis hiding places and could give him up in a minute if they chose.  Of course the real danger is of panic, for the English are more numerous than the Maoris, but as Mr Mackay said in a speech the other day, should the Maoris (who are strong fellows) make an attack, two thirds of the English or rather Irish would run away. I am quite sure that were you here you would think of the Maoris as disagreeable wild animals. The girls about 17 and 18 are rather handsome, but the women are hideous. The best thing for them is, to die out as fast as possible....... Against the Maori difficulty, there is the cry of gold, which brings many more people here than the other drives away."

 Armed Constabularly at Opepe - 1871

Armed Constabularly at Opepe - 1871. 

Alexander Turnbull Library

Thames at this time had a population of around 15,000 and the Maoris had no such numbers. When Te Kooti approached the southern approaches at the head of the Thames Valley, he had about 40 hard riding guerrillas with him. Josiah Clifton Firth, who had been a friend of the dead Wiremu Tamehana, "the King Maker and was laying the foundations of his great Matamata estate went out with a couple of Maoris to meet him. While in Thames volunteers were parading and standing to, and the N.Z. Military forces were starting to get moving, Firth talked with Te Kooti, who promised to kill no more women and children and rode back, to be pursued by the military as soon as he was beyond their reach. But it meant a great deal of noise and fuse, and more parades by Thames Volunteers ready to defend their big town, whatever Scotchman Mackay thought of the Irish.


Other formations that were raised in Thames were the Thames Navals, and the popular Scottish Volunteers, originally kilted. The dying echoes of the long drawn out guerrilla campaigns which ended the Maori Wars, including an unending; and profitless pursuit of Te Kooti which went on till around 1877, when it was tacitly dropped, further alarms and excursions.


Thames had some good marksmen, Lieut. Hoskins sinning (signing) the Rifle Belt for the Colony of New Zealand in 1873.


In 1873 there was a flare up, at least of official alarm, and towards the end of the year a corps, consisting of 3 companies, was raised in Thames, under the command of Major I.R. Cooper. It was "for proceeding to the Waikato, where it was afterwards employed in the construction of the line of railway between Rangiriri and Hamilton. It was called the "Engineer Volunteer Militia. It was considered a combination of a defence and public works corps - "i.e. the value of the work done was to cover the outlay of wages to officers and men". Major Cooper found some aspects he did not like, apparently, and resigned. Certain tendencies then came out into the open.


"On Major Coopers resignation the corps speedily lapsed into a nest of corruption.'' There was collusion with the contractors, by receiving a percentage and half the profit on certain articles purchased for use in the railway works. Sergeant-Major Small wrote twice to Dr Pollen about the dangerous position into which they were drifting through dishonesty and drunken example - his second letter told about the death of Lieut.' Russell though excessive drinking. Then there was a charge of embezzlement and fraud, the latter consisting of falsification of the records showing the deserters still on the strength. A Court of Enquiry finally dealt with this matter in 1875. The defence was a conspiracy against the officers, and Captain Rowe was found not guilty of the charges preferred against him by J.S. Craig "in a. malicious and vindictive spirit." Sergeant-Major Small at once resigned and went to Auckland and exposed the matter in the newspapers. For this he was demoted, and finally discharged.


Meanwhile the Audit office had something to say about the verdict, completed the case against Captain Rowe, and also implicated the Pay Clerk in concealment of the falsification of Accounts."  Premier Atkinson telegraphed dismissing Rowe, and required an explanation from the head of the Court of Enquiry, Major Gordon, commanding Auckland district. Small and another, Barlow, for their services which did great public good in rooting out what was really a nest of corruption," were recommended for recompense for their "losses incurred in exposing the embezzlement of public moneys".


Thames got something of its own back when the Ohinemuri goldfield was opened. (March 3,  1875). Armed Constabulary belonging to N.Z. as a whole were sent and made roads to serve the new goldfield.


They were with Sergeant Bullen and the police on the spot at Mackay town to keep order when the goldfield was declared open on March 3, 1875, having been brought to the field a little before. Even so, on the day they were unable to stop crowding and congestion at the Government Marquee, as the policy had been adopted, of issuing the miner's rights as soon as the field was declared open, and there was an unholy rush for them. Then there was a wild scramble across the river and up to the mining; ground. A reporter on top of the hill described the arrival of horsemen and runners in a cloud of dust, and men everywhere pegging, with a row among some Maoris. By that time the crowding at the marquee had eased, and it looked as if the emergency was up on the hill over the river. As the reporter came down off the hill he "met Captain Nowall of the Armed Constabulary running, and some distance behind Mr Bullen and some constables, but there was no need of their services." It sounded as if the Armed Constabulary, leading a more active outdoor life, were fitter.


However, quarrels about pegging and so on required the services of the Armed Constabulary during; the next four days. On March 13 a crowd of excited diggers accused Thorpe of having misled them as to their being gold on his original prospector's claim, and wanted a demonstration of gold being got out of the ground. Thorpe said they had no right to be on the ground and if they stayed on it he would get 50 Maoris to drive them off. That was the wrong thing to say. The miners crowded around shouting and gesticulating, and Thorpe was both threatened and shaken. Capt Newall, with his small force of Armed Constabulary men, arrived in time to prevent a serious row."


The miners soon scattered to various fields beyond Mackaytown, such as the Waitekauri and Rotukehu and things quietened down. On March 16 their was mention of Captain Turner and a Party of surveyors coming over to lay off the roads, the work to be let in small contracts. This was for labourers and not up to this time for Armed Constabulary. The authorities were still apprehensive of rows. By March 24 Captain Turner had laid off the new main road to Mackaytown from Paeroa, eliminating two river crossings, and a Mr McCarthy was laying off the road going on to Waitekauri, so Captain Turner could make estimates. By March 31 roadmen" had started operations, and James Mackay and Captain Burner had laid off a dray route between the Ohinemuri and Katikati. Immediately afterwards the Tairua (Neaveville) field opened, and the local authorities had to go on to roading for that, district engineer McLaren being concerned by April 30 19 miles of the Tauranga » Katikati road had already been done, with the remaining 15 miles delayed to give work to expected immigrants. It was noted the section through the Ohinemuri Gorge would be the slowest and most difficult.


Work slowed down even more with the draining of the Ohinemuri to what seemed brighter prospects at Neavesville. On October 28, 1875, it was noted that a party surveying between Mackaytown and Katikati had been stopped by Maoris when they went to put a peg in at Waihi. However, by December 1, discoveries at Owharoa were reactivating the Ohinemuri, while Tairua was noted as almost deserted. There was more Maori troubles at Tauranga, prospectors being driven away there.


1876 opened with complaints about the "frightful state" of the roads from Mackaytown to Waitekauri (and Owharoa), and Paeroa to Mackaytown, men were put on, and more contracts let. From Mackaytown to the new find at Owharoa was 4 miles, and a road was needed there. The Armed Constabulary were put on to this, probably because of Maori trouble with surveyors in that direction. On January 20, 1876, a correspondent going to look at the new Owharoa diggings saw "a party of Armed Constabulary at work on the road, mosquitoes a terror." He also noted that the Government had clothed them in Mosgiel tweed, "as thick as a deal board, with the temperature 90 in the shade. With coasts buttoned up their throats they had to march in close order from Mackaytown to Puke (river junction near Paeroa) with kit on their backs. On January 22 Captain Newall was noted as being in charge of the Armed Constabulary party working; on the Waitekauri road. They had no trouble with the Maoris, who had a great respect for military uniforms, however impractical in the heat. On January 26 it was noted that 40 unemployed who had started work on a road between Thames and Paeroa were turned back by the Maoris. By February 6 a good part of these had been brought to the Waitekauri road. Captain Newall was busy by Feb 14 with-Captain Fraser and Engineer McLaren prospecting a track to the prospector's claim at Owharoa.


By February 17, the unemployed had been pulled off the Waitokauri road again, and by February 23, Grey, member for Thames, and concerned about the 400 or so unemployed there, was pointing out that the road was really of great urgency. "It is a main highway to Tauranga, and you have already recognised the importance of this road by ordering working parties of Armed Constabulary to be employed on it," Sir George wrote to the Colonial Secretary.


On February 29, 1876, 8 N.C.O.s and 12 men of the Armed Constabulary started work on the Katikati road, on the Waitokauri side of Owharoa. On April 18 it was noted that the Armed Constabulary men were camped on "rising ground beyond the mines at Owharoa, on the Waitekauri road. They were working on the Katikati road, "and making a first class job". They first went on a line laid out by Mr and Captain Newell, but when Captain Turner came and took charge he found the gradients were steeper than the 1 in 10 fixed by the General Government, so he took the men off that on to a better line, on which he was having an 18 foot wide road made. The actual work was still being carried on under Captain with Mr Krapp, Captain Turner's deputy.


On September 4, 1876, it was noted that the Armed Constabulary appropriation for New Zealand was down to £30,000, from £40,000. "At Present there are 676, in small bodies in various places in the North Island. (Such cutting down took the steam out of the pursuit of Te Kooti).


The Armed Constabulary had a part to play for a little longer on the Ohinemuri goldfield. On October 5, 1876, the first golf escort under Captain Newall left Waitokauri Via Mackaytown for Paeroa. A big enough cavalcade of interested spectators accompanied to have scared off any would be bushrangers for miles. A mounted constable rode in advance, followed by the packer with the golf, and Captain Newall, all well armed. The manager Of the Bank of New Zealand in Thames, Mr Murray, rode with Captain Newall. The other horsemen followed, and the large party received a welcome at Mackaytown with a "cold Collation in "Mr McCloughlon's gaily decorated store."


With the passing of the last echoes of the Maori war, and retrenchment on military expenditure, the Armed Constabulary were becoming more and more decorative themselves. After they left the Ohinemuri - Katikati road, there was some trouble with Maoris burning fascines, but that was settled by legal rather than military means.


To return to the local Volunteers, who had been involved in the trouble about the men who were sent to the Waikato because of Maori alarms in 1873, and ended up making railways, the men were not party to the goings on, and Major Cooper from Thames had resigned before they went too far.


In this same year 1873 Captain Brassey, a Thames lawyer, took charge of the Naval Brigade. Nothing is on record re what he did about said Naval Brigade in March 1875, when he went off with one or two other Thames lawyers to find more business than Thames could offer at this time, in adjudicating miners disputes. However, there was soon no rush of any size, and the lawyers went back to Thames again.


On April 22, 1875, Captain Brassey, back in Thames, and the other officers of the Naval Brigade were wanting; the Government to help with obtaining a pinnace (a glorified large rowing boat which could also use sails) and a supply of new riffles. With three companies away toiling on Waikato railways, there was little on record about other Volunteers in Thames at time. Mining and other business, which had slumped in 1873, continued rather dull during so it was likely thought the men were as well at the Waikato with regular work to do. By 1875 they were back at Thames and also now goldfields like the Ohinemuri and Neavesville - with scandal if no action to report on the Waikato front.


During the first week in June, 1874, it was reported that an attempt by a Captain Young from Canterbury to buy land up the Thames Valley resulted in opposition by Maoris, "fully armed and hostile.  Their attitude was the result of a difference among themselves as to who owned the land. This caused no stirring; among the Volunteers, as the Authorities considered Youngs attempt at purchase through his channels illegal.


In fact, on June 25th 1874 there was news of the Thames Engineer Volunteers in the town disbanding, with the comment that it had "never known more than three members in its most flourishing days, and all officers. This seems to have been a slight exaggeration - or rather the reverse.


There were still hints of possible trouble with the Maoris not far beneath the surface. Even in Thames, the Maoris would not allow any improvement to the road up the Kauaeranga. "At one time when it had been attempted to repair the road, they came out with spears, and compelled the workmen to desist." It was also not possible at this time to start any roading out of Thames to the South. In both instances the real trouble was a feud a chief Rewai te Kiere, had with James Mackay. Therefore it was not Volunteer business, and indeed it would have constituted what we now call "provocation" to use them. If Maoris dared to attack the town, that would have been a different matter. It obviously had a good moral effect to have men drilling at regular parades, with now and then mock battles and marches through the town. No really important function was complete without them.


James Mackay had been dealing in his own way with Maori unwillingness to open up the Ohinemuri. Advancing money whenever the Maoris wanted it for tangis and so on, with their land as security, and the money as advances on miner's rights payments whenever a goldfield might be open, he was getting them in the toils. The Maoris, with no vary clear idea what it was all about, except that they were getting that very necessary thing to live in contact with pakeha civilisation - money - called the payments, in cash or orders for groceries and other goods, raihaua, after the rations issued to soldiers and friendly Maoris during the Maori Wars. By the end of the 1874 the debt had mounted to £30,000, and Mackay said he must have a goldfield opened, or take the land that was security in satisfaction of the advances. The Maoris  had big meetings and did much talking and delaying, but had to give in.  Ohinemuri opened 3.3.1875.


As noted, Captain Brassey of the Navals was busy with the new goldfield, this was from the beginning of 1875, and included with Jackson and Russell laying out a new township, already busy and bustling by the beginning of February, though the first official sale of town sections (Paeroa) did not take place till February 27. It was suggested the Naval Brigade cannon be fired to signal the opening of the goldfield on March 3. However, it was apparently found impracticable to transport a heavy gun to Mackaytown over an ill defined track with two steep fords over the Ohinemuri. The Ohinemuri was left to the Armed Constabulary.


On November 8, 1875 it was announced that the new gun boat built for the Thames Naval Brigade by Mr Savage had been launched from his shipyard on the 7th. Mrs Ehrenfried christened it "Victoria."


At the end of February, 1876 Captain Brassey, who was a busy man, with many interests, tried to resign from the Naval Brigade, but it refused to accept.


On March 28, 1876, it was noted that new uniforms were expected for the Thames Scottish, who were up to strength in both the company and the band. "Few bands in New Zealand can surpass them." The Native Volunteers had a casualty, one being hit through the wrist in shooting practice.


By April 15 the new uniforms the Thames Scottish had arrived from Melbourne. They were no longer to wear kilts, the uniform consisting of red tunic, tartan trousers, plaid and Glengarry bonnet, of same material and pattern as the 93rd Highlanders. While the Glengarry was adopted for the winter, it was thought likely Indian military helmets would be used before summer. The band uniforms were "very gay" - red tunic heavily braided, blue trousers with yellow stripe, red circular cap with oak leaves braid. The unit was full strength. The cadets were under Captain Mennie, Captain Murray was in charge of the Thames Scottish. At a shooting practice he was noted as beating Sergeant McLeod.


On April 20, 1876, in addition to the Thames Scottish, there was mention of the Thames Rifle Rangers.


The Thames Scottish band had just been parading in their new uniforms for the first time. It was noted the Thames Scottish volunteers had few men under 6 feet and many considerably over. The new cap badges were meant to support a small plume or feather to improve the Glengarry bonnet. The uniform had a red tunic, same material, pattern and facings as the 92nd Highlanders (apparently the newspaper was tired of the 93rd) - trousers same quality and pattern of tartan as that regiment. The bonnet was the usual military Glengarry, with check border of the Highland Brigade, but otherwise the Imperial Army new pattern forage cap - meaning for less formal occasions. The cloth for the tunics was the new Army scarlet, superior to the brick red of the old tunics.


Major Cooper made a presentation to Captain Murray for "his untiring work June 2.


On July 31, 1876, it was noted that the Native Company of Volunteers under Captain Tapiari was inspected by Captain Murray, head of the Thames Scottish, in the absence of Major Cooper, the marksmen being presented with Government badges for 1876-77. The Navals were still under Captain Brassey. No 2 Hauraki Rifle Volunteers were under Lieut. Brownlow, and No 3 ditto under Lieut. Field. The Thames Rifle Rangers were under Lieut. Carnie. This meant 6 formations. (Capt T.L. Murray)


It was noted that the Kauaeranga rifle range had suffered severely in a recent gale, several portions of the gangway having been destroyed. The officers were endeavouring to get a new range nearer to Shortland on a more suitable piece of ground. On Oct 3 the Thames Scottish were noted as a favourite corps, and on Oct 31 1876 it was noted that the Thames Rifle Rangers had a Maltese Cross made for a shooting prize.


On Nov 3, some changes were noted, Captain McRoberts now being in charge of the Thames Rifle Rangers, Captain Paul of No 2 Hauraki Rifles and Lieut. Field of No 3 Hauraki Rifles. Major Cooper continued to have overall command.


On Feb 2, 1877 there came the news that Captain Brassey had finally resigned from the Thames Navals, after 4 years. This was just as things were about to become interesting.


With pressure to open up the Te Aroha lands for settlement, James Mackay's agreement of 1868 with the wrong tribe, one from the south, blew back in his face. The local Maoris themselves were divided into two parties, one of former overlords, and the other of former vassals who were the original owners of the soil. Forts were thrown up at Te Aroha, Paeroa, and Rotukohu between. The one at Paeroa was at the Puke junction and blockaded the Waihou where it joined the Ohinemuri to form the River Thames. Parties of Maoris marched up near rival forts fired shots and withdrew.


Some Thames people visited the fort at the Junction near Paeroa, and reported on February 7 that it was not of much account. "The whole thing could be blown away by one of the Naval Brigade's guns." The Maoris were sitting around playing card games like poker. More seriously, upriver there were obstructions, including cut down willows and big logs. If the Navals had any thoughts, they were impracticable, especially as clearing the river of snags was far from complete, even to Te Aroha. Firth of Matamata had been clearing the river for some time, interrupted at intervals by trouble with the Maoris, which he could usually resolve with money if officialdom did not poke its head in.


The Maoris were perfectly aware of the strategic importance of the Junction, and set up a barricade of stakes, with only one narrow passage, easily controlled, to blockade the other tribes further upriver. They also had a steamer, the Pearl.


On February 12 1877 there were wiser counsels about what the Naval Brigade guns could do to the pa. It was noted that certain people had been exaggerating the power of the Thames Navals' guns. They were inexperienced, like Colonel Despard in 1845, when he lost 100 men. Another instance of 1863 was given, when Commodore Seymour of the Pelorus joined with the Royal artillery and set to work on a pa with ships' guns, 24 lb. howitzors and a 98 lb long range gun. They bombarded for several days without much effect, and on attacking were mowen down by murderous fire. Shot went clean through the "flimsy breastworks" without making a breach. Only mortars with a heavy bursting charge had any effect. Having no mortars, the Navals subsided. The Maoris carried on their war undisturbed, or rather their blockade, nobody being hurt.


The armed steamer was more serious, but that was not a matter for the Navals either. James Mackay went on board and took it over and had some outside trouble makers taken back home up the Piako.


On February 24, 1877, there were complaints that the several corps of Volunteers in the Thames are in danger of declining through lack of interest by the Government and the people."


The Pearl had brought nearly 40 Maoris from the Piako, having been chartered as a gunboat, and was set to guard the river. With "spears hoisted at the mast head and a flagstaff and Maori ensign, she looked like trouble, especially when she went back up the Piako and returned with 30 more Maoris. Charterer was Hone Te Kooti. Mackay first sent the Pearl up the Piako with the Maoris from there, but kept Hone and chief Tarapipipi at Shortland, apparently to talk to away from their followers. He was autocratic, but knew how to handle the Maoris.


This tended to quicken matters among the settlers and miners at Paeroa, who had been drawing together and seeing to their arms. Nor were there any further threatened incidents like that reported on February 19. A young officer of the Thames Navals on a visit to Ohinemuri had it brought to his notice that the Maori flag was flying above the Queen's flag at Rotukohu. "He threatened to bring up a posse of his men and show them how weak their defences were." But wiser counsel of the old soldiers kept him from pushing any of the men into a hornets nest.


By March 8, 1877, it was reported that the Ohinemuri martial spirit was gradually cooling down in the community, but "not in the Natives, who are keeping it up with-unflagging spirit. Every day Maori troopers armed cap-a-pie are to be seen galloping backwards and forwards." The Paeroa people had been having thoughts of a volunteer formation there, though it was not a good time, with the Government retrenching expenditure. However, in the next year or two Paeroa did form Volunteers.


Meanwhile both sides of the Maoris were making it clear their quarrel was one they wished the Europeans to keep clear of, and not interfere. However, the Maoris themselves interfered with road making between Paeroa and Thames, needed for the Ohinemuri goldfield to be developed properly, in addition to shipping. However, in spite of actual destruction of works, the new County Council kept men at work. Over between Paeroa and the goldfield like Waitekauri, there were Armed Constabulary to keep things quiet. The volunteers at Thames did not get a look in.


On March 28 there were complaints of leakages of volunteer ammunition, possibly through the floor, which was in a bad state. The militia and volunteer office is in a very dilapidated state and the furniture is in a very demoralised condition. The volunteers themselves were probably somewhat demoralised, as the result of government retrenchment and lack of encouragement, and more seriously funds.


While the armed constabulary were seizing forbidden kegs of bullets from the Maoris near Paeroa, the Thames volunteers had nothing better to occupy their time then squabbling about certain arrangements regarding land scrip.


These arrangements reflected the Maori War origin of the Volunteer movement in Thames. Soldiers actually fighting in the Maori War got grants of land, confiscated from rebels. The Volunteers got land scrip, representing blocks.


(The seizure was by Sub-Inspector Bullen, in charge of the Ohinemuri district, who integrated the contraband bullets being transhipped while on his way to Paeroa by river. They were in a keg in a dirty sack, supposed to be corned beef. He had then lodged in the Armed Constabulary Station, and they caused a great sensation at Paeroa.)


The scrip arrangements reflected the Maori War origin of the Volunteer movement in Thames. The soldiers who fought in the Maori War often got grants of land, confiscated from rebels. Land scrip arrangements had been made with the Volunteers, entiteling them to land at the end of 5 years service. On April 10, 1877, the Thames volunteers held a meeting about Volunteers land scrip they held with no available land on which to realise their scrip. They wanted to make land available. It was found there was some land, but all that was on offer was some poor land north of Auckland. It was suggested the government be petitioned either to buy the scrip at full value, or place a block of land in their own Thames district, or convenient there to, at their disposal. It was decided to write to the major commanding the district and the officers and NCCs of the several volunteers companies, asking their support.


Meanwhile various matters were being settled without the need of military intervention. The matters of a road out of Thames southwards, about which there had been some division among the Maoris, and the roading between Thames and Paeroa near Paeroa, were being settled by sheer persistence. The Thames Maoris were divided rather curiously. Counter petitions were circulated, for and against the road going a certain way, and quite a few of the Maoris signed both. Those who took around the petitions were no doubt good friends. The Maori forts upriver were suddenly dismantled and deserted when a party of Thames Maoris were taken up in a steamer by James Mackay to tell the contending parties an important Thames chief had had a bad dream foreboding ill to the Maori people if they persisted. So they desisted.


The Thames volunteers went on with trying to get satisfaction about land scrip. On April 28 it was reported that St Georges Naval Cadets were receiving 50 stand of breech-loading carbines from the Government Armoury, Wellington, through Major Cooper. They are the only cadet corps in this province now armed with breach loading weapons.


Maoris near Paeroa started in tearing up formed roads, and there were complaints about the soft policy towards them. But the Volunteers were not called on. The new Thames County Council merely noted fascines had been burnt, with an estimate of repairs. The Volunteers noted that the Rev Hill (Presbyterian) had been chaplain of the Thames Scottish Volunteers since 1871. The Armed  Constabulary around Paeroa were seeking a little more excitement, there being a report on May 25, 1877, of their picking up a Maori horse stealing who was hiding out in the district. *Was leaving the Thames.


It was noted there was quite a different pay differential between the Armed Constabulary and the Volunteers (the latter for the time actually taken up with parades and exercises). This was noted as being due to the Volunteer being soldiers rather than police.


If the Maori scares had not given the Volunteers anything to do, they had at least helped their recruiting. For a queens Birthday parade reported on May 25, the formations and numbers were as follows: Thames Scottish, 62, Captain Murray, Lieuts Day and Johnson. No 2 Hauraki Rifles 64, Capt Paul, Lieuts Small and Denby. No 3 Hauraki Rifles, 30, Capt MacDonald and Lieut Gale. Thames Rifle Rangers, 30, Capt McRoberts, Lieuts Carnie and Young. Native Volunteers, 40, Capt Taipari, Lieuts Raika and Matiu Poona. Engineer Cadets, 29, Hon Lieuts Philp and Frearson. Scottish Cadets, 34, Capt Mennie  and Honorary  Lieut Rowe. Naval Brigade, 56, Captain Best, Lieuts Dalton and Bennett. They had two gun detachments with field howitzers.


On June 5, 1877, it was reported Thames Scottish Volunteers had decided to adopt the big feather bonnet of the Highland Brigade. The band are to have smart French shakos, with plume. When the hats are received, the uniforms of the company will be an exact copy of the Highland Light Infantry regiment. The hats, though in appearance heavy, are really very much lighter and more comfortable than the ordinary volunteer Busby, and will immeasurably improve the appearance of the men.  All of which meant that appearance was becoming more important than function.


In September 1878 the Thames Scottish Volunteers changed over to spiked helmets. Someone in an office apparently wished to justify his existence. The volunteers were in all their glory at the turning of the first and of the Thames Valley Railway at Thames, by Sir George Grey, on 21st December 1878. There were 1,500 spectators, with the Scottish Volunteers band playing, and the navel brigade firing its cannon.  All the formations of Volunteers were on parade. They were possibly somewhat outnumbered by the school children, also in formation, numbering 500, singing the National Anthem and My Own New Zealand Home. The Thames Scottish band rendered the chorus accompaniment.


The number of Volunteers drawn up in review order to meet Sir George Grey when he arrived, was given as 500, the number as for September noted above was 345.


The Vounteers later formed a hollow square round the visitors (distinguished), with presentation of medals, and Sir George Grey afterwards took the march past.


This was the proudest four of the Volunteers at Thames, if not necessarily their nost useful. They also naturally turned out for such visits as of the Governor 1874 (Administrator) and 1875 (Governor) to 1879. He came at least twice to Thames, which was one of the most important centres in New Zealand at that time. In any case, during 1879 the Volunteers remained very much in the forefront, and F.W. Weston in his Thames Diamond Jubilee Souvinir of 1927 notes that in 1879 volunteering was about at its highest pitch, and a great deal of the information he gives realtes to this time. 

1879 - 1898 (pages 11-20)

Lieut Col Lyon, officer commanding the district generally, in his 1879 report notes company strengths as:- Hauraki Engineers, 160; No 1 Scottish Rifles, 130; No 2 Scottish, 102; No 3 Scottish,60; Thames Rifle Rangers 119; Thames Naval Brigade, 158; Native Volunteers 46; Thames Scottish Cadets, 44; St Georges Naval Cadets 67. Weston noted that earlier in the seventies, meaning after May 25, 1877, there had been three companies of Hauraki Rifle Volunteers, but these were disbanded, and their members mostly joined the second and third companies of the Scottish Rifles. The Engineers had obviously been reformed.


The total strength now was 777, plus 111 cadets, making 888.


It has been noted that the strength on May 25, 1877 was 345, and by 21 December 1878, this had risen to 500 in round figures, for Sir George Greys opening of the railway. Such ceremony doubtless helped recruiting. There was also in power a Government favourable to Thames and less penny pinching generally, with Sir George himself, member for Thames, in power as Premier with a Liberal Ministry from 15 Oct 1877 to 8 Oct 1879.


Lieut Colonel Lyon, in his 1879 report, remarked: The Thames Volunteers are particularly zealous, and take a great amount of interest and pride in Volunteers matters. I had heard much about them, especially the Scottish and Naval brigade, and my expectations were not disappointed. In efficiency I would place the several corps in the following order: Scottish Navals, Engineers, Rifle Rangers, and the Native Company.


F.W. Weston speaks of the pride of Thames in the Scottish Battalion, of whom local poet/songster Richard Wiseman wrote with reference to their discarded kilts:


Though the kilts they hae discardit,

And the trews the nee regardit,

Death or Glory is the motto

Of the Thames Scottish Corps.


Some undated details were added. Potts of the Navals was Trustworthy and redoubtable, the prince of markers, being Petty Officer W.H. Potts, then a commissioned officer and finally the captain of the Naval Brigade. Captain Willoughby Brassey, Captain Harry Dalton, and Captain E.T. Wildman were noted as early commanders of the Navals. Honarary colonel of the Thames Scottish, with 3 companies and a particularly fine band, was ex-Warden of the Thames Goldfield William Fraser. Direct command was by Major, then Colonel T.L. Murray, manager of the Bank of New Zealand. A later major was John Watson of A. & G. Price Ltd. (foundry), who had been in command of one of the companies. Commander of Hauraki Engineers was Capt J. Storment Small, afterwards truant officer to the Auckland Education Board, of the Rifle Rangers Capt Robt. Farrell now (possibly means 1927) in Auckland, with later Capt R.T. Douglas, and then Captain (Major) W.B. Lucas, still at Thames (1927, The Native Corps had Captain W.H. Taipari, with Chief Raika Whakarongotai as lieut. (The latter was a signatory of the Thames Goldfield agreement of July 27, 1867).


In 1879 Lieut Gordon won the Carbine Belt for New Zealand in Marksmanship competitions. The Naval Brigade, which had its drill shed on the harbour front at Grahamstown, halfway between the present School of Mines and Albert Street, also had a reputation in the handling of their big guns in firing at a target out in the firth, opposite the shed, and the company also mounted a smart cutter.


Marksmanship competitions at home and abroad, and visits and mock battles with other formations at different places, such as Auckland, did much to keep the Volunteers keen, in the absence of actual armed conflict.  During 1879 there were rumblings of trouble with the Maoris, particularly over stopping roads and surveys, and an affray in August, enough to cause excitement in Volunteering circles, but they fired no shots at anybody. Early in March Tukukino and others concerned with obstructing roads had a HauHau meeting at Komata. They objected to a bridge being built across the Ohinemuri at Paeroa and the raising and drilling of a body of Volunteers at Paeroa, which the Hauhaus considered a threat. The Europeans considered it a necessary safeguard.

 Tukukino by Lindauer (Wikicommons)

By Gottfried Lindauer. 


Tukukino, an old fighting chief of the Ngati Tamatera people of the Hauraki district, North Island, New Zealand, circa 1880. He is pictured wearing a pohoi ear ornament made from the skin of the huia, an ornament often worn by high-born chiefs in the years before the bird became extinct. Tukukino was famous for his determined opposition to the opening up of the Ohinemuri area for goldmining. From the 


On August 29, 1879, Daldy McWilliams, half-caste member of a survey party working between Mackaytown and Rotukohu, was brought into Mackaytown covered with blood and badly wounded, and carried to Paeroa and thence by steamer to the Thames hospital. He had been shot three times by a party of Ngati-Hako who had stealthily ambushed the survey party, and calling out, Kamate koo, (Death to you) had opened fire. As they had not arranged who they were to fire at, all the shots had been directed at Daldy, allowing the half-caste Tom Powdrell with H. Crump and the leader D.W. Bayldon to disperse in the scrub and escape. After one of the Maoris had cut off some of his hair and chewed it, Daldy was left for dead, the Maoris expressing disappointment that they had not got the rangatire,(the head surveyor but only the young fellow). He later moved away and was helped by Powdrell, who went to Mackaytown for a horse and galloped to Paeroa for assistance, while friends and relations of Daldy McWilliams at Mackaytown went and brought him in.


By this time there were Volunteers at Paeroa, and they were immediately up in arms, and messengers went out to warn the settlers at Rotukohu. On the night of the 29th there were strong armed guards standing to at Paeroa, Mackaytown and Rotukohu. But the Maoris, naturally fearing reprisals, had made off back home.


John Sheenan, at this time Native Minister, who was at Thames when the news came through, wanted to drop everything at once and go to the scene, in which case it was thought the attackers would have been readily apprehended. However, there was a muddling about the ships, and he did not get away to the evening of the next day, August 30, and finally on August 31 had a talk with a chief, Tukukino, with his 60 followers. Tukukino considered the Ngati-Hako, a tribe of only 25, men, women, and children, under his protection, and sympathised with them because they had got the wrong end of a land deal, being treated as a slave people with no rights to their own land by other tribes and the Europeans.


It was intended to send the volunteers to effect a capture, but after the talk with Mr Sheehan judged it wiser to send Mr Puckey the Native agent with an interpreter and some Maoris to see if the Ngati-Hako pa was still occupied. To their surprise, everybody was at the pa, looking cool and indifferent. They were willing to say who had done the shooting but the natives said they would not be taken.


The first reaction to that, when the news got back to Paeroa, was to send an armed force on September 1st to make a capture.


That evening at 9, all 23 Paeroa Volunteers gathered in the Public Hall. They were to assemble at midnight, go to the Puke junction in the Pearl, and then disembark on the further side of the Waihou River and march silently upriver to the Okahukura pa and surround it. At midnight they were ready, with a reinforcement of half a dozen settlers. There were also Sergeant Russell and four constables of the armed Armed Constabulary. They were fully trained. The Volunteers were not. There was also Mr Jones, the Hon Sheehans orderly.


With all the noise and bustle, the local Maoris were naturally astir. A Maori guide who had been engaged, one Watson, disappeared. Then Pepene of Te Aroha, who had his own small steamer the Riroriro, refused to pilot the Pearl in case of reprisals. After which came the news that a little slovenly native named Whitaker had taken news of the expedition to the Ngati-Hako.


So the expedition was postponed till the morning, when there would be less chance of an ambush in the dark, with the Volunteers ill-trained.


In the morning everyone was out early, and "Sergeants Russell and Collins put the men through so e rifle drill." That gave time for one of the Thorps to come through from the Puke river junction with the news that they had heard early in the night that a party from the Piako 10 miles away had ridden over to reinforce the Ngati-Hako.


There was a hurried consultation, and the men dismissed. Then a half-caste woman came to say she had been informed by a Ngati-Hako relative that not only had a large party from the Piako arrived, and set up ambushes since the night of August 31st, but also earthworks were being thrown up. Also that when Mr Puckey had gone up to the pa there had been many men concealed in the flax. Later news came through that pas were being fortified both at Okahukura by the river on the west bank of the Waihou, and at Awaiti three miles away over towards the Piako.


(A good deal later it was discovered there had been no earthworks, and the Piako people knew nothing about any reinforcements they were supposed to have sent. However, it was all what we would now call good psychological warfare).


Meanwhile, for a period there was great alarm all through the district.  The Paeroa Volunteers got drilled twice a day, which it was noted considerably improved their state of training. No mail steamer got through to Te Aroha, where by now there was a handful of settlers, mostly on the western bank of the Waihou, with a much greater number at Waitoa. Both the Te Aroha and Waitoa settlers were very alarmed, and called for arms. After a day or two these were got through to them by the Piako and Waitoa, no steamer caring to try passing Okahukura Pa by the Waihou. The Rotukohu settlers had been given arms in the first excitement, but the outlying settlers for five miles around started coming into Paeroa, where there were Volunteers. They were in no mood to consider whether their proceedings to date had been somewhat comic-opera.


Sheehan, who knew something about the Maoris, was quite happy if no body was disposed to force the issue and the Waihou River with its rumoured fortifications. He was happy to accept a Maori proposal of a trial by a jury of the offenders countrymen, with a view to them being handed over to pakeha justice.


All the alarms and rumours slowly died when the runanga of Hauraki began trying the case.  Nothing was better calculated to take the steam out of a tense situation than a long course of wordy Maori oratory. It was noted that only one Maori gave his evidence in a clear and concise manner.


Some weeks later there was a change of Government, and Sheehan was no longer I power as Native Minister. The Maoris were still talking. His successor could find little to get a grip on. Taihoa, or some day, was a powerful weapon for those in a military weak position. The Maoris had no wish to provoke real trouble with a powerful military machine of the white men. The latter had no wish to bring it into use because it was expensive. The Volunteers do not ado not appear to have entered much into official calculations. Talk went on.


At Thames, a good deal of standing to by the Volunteers, who were mainly young miners, did not help gold production, which went down for September.


A belated application for arms was from Mr Bagnell of the Turua Sawmill, which he thought needed protection in view of the Ngati-Hako scare. But the Thames Volunteers felt they had no more to spare after having supplied the Te Aroha and Waitoa settlers via the Piako River. They themselves had to be on a war footing, in case of trouble with the reports of building two (mythical) pas at Okahukura and Awaiti.


 However, at the end of September Mr Bagnell decided to organise his employees as a contingent of the Thames Scottish Volunteers, apparently irrespective of their racial origins, applying to Thames for arms and accoutrements.


On October 3, 1879, a Volunteers Ball to celebrate the anniversary of the Thames Scottish was the most brilliant and effective that has of late years been held on the Thames. There was no reference to the fall of the Grey Government, which lost a no-confidence motion on October 3. The absence of the old Grey uniforms was noticeable, in as much as all the Thames soldiers are now clothed in the national colour, (scarlet). It made a brave martial show. The Maoris went on talking.


Around Te Aroha, meaning mainly in the west band of the Waihou, people slept restlessly and wondered about the trustworthiness of the local Maoris. Some were looking at them differently, they thought, and recorded.  They were glad of the arms that had been sent from the store of the Volunteers at Thames. They would have been glad of an armed party as well.


Those Maoris who had not been too happy about the incursions of the white men into their dwindling lands had some reason for satisfaction.  A small body of Maoris, with not more than 15 fighting men and boys, was holding a large number of white men at bay. Even if they were only the remnants of a dispossessed tribe, a small body of former slaves, they were putting up a first class bluff.  The two entrenched past at Okahukura and Awaiti, and phantom large bodies of men hiding I ambush in the flax, might be such stuff as dreams are made on, but they were keeping quite a few people from rounding off there days with a good sleep.


On 7th October an excursion steamer went upriver, launches taking the visitors right to Te Aroha from the Puke junction. They were back on 8th October reporting people had got out at the Ngati-Nako settlement of Okahukura, and talked at length with the Maoris. Who had no fortifications, and were very anxious as to the course the new Government would pursue in their case. They would not give the two accused shooters up. Now the bluff of fortified pas could no longer be kept up, the Maoris explained the rumour about Awaiti had arisen because someone was building a new whare.


That sort of thing was calculated to remove the last remnants of an emergency atmosphere, and cause a general relaxation, thus removing the danger of some small incident precipitating an attack on the little tribe by some over-excited pakehas. The curious excursionists had proved a good deal more effective than the Volunteers.


They were certainly able to obtain much more reliable intelligence.


Their methods were good. They had with them a very clever Maori linguist, the half caste daughter of a very old settler,  and brought Pineaha, who prayed for the Ngati-Hako and their good treatment at the hands of the new Government. The excursionists who landed immediately made a general distribution of plenty of fish, brought from the Thames, sugar, biscuits, etc.


The new Government, however, announced a tough policy re Maoris.  Various special favours in the way of money were to stop, also personal Government in native affairs. Which was found to mean in practice that instead of going to a Minister to get something decided, people had to go to a succession of newly-created Under-Secretaries to get nothing decided.


James Mackay, who had years of practice, was meanwhile continuing talks with the Ngati-Hako, and unravelling the tangled skein of rights and wrongs which had caused the trouble in the first place. However, he was soon recalled to Wellington.


During November, road blocking by Tukukino at Komata between Paeroa and Thames intensified. All European cattle were driven off, and a mob passing through scattered so that it took hours to re-muster them. This was done by 40 men, women and children and many mongrel dogs. Maoris also tried, unsuccessfully, to wrest the measuring claims off a survey party, there being quite a fight.


However, the quarrels were treated as local squabbles, and the parties brought before Magistrate Kenrick.  Tukukino appeared to welcome a proper legal settlement.  Other Maoris seemed of the same mind, and Mr Kenrick had parties shaking hands at his direction, when the day before there had been blows struck and firearms produceda very trifling thing have led to bloodshed.


All of which caused excitement which kept Volunteering very much alive, even if they saw no actual military action.


The authorities were glad of any relaxing of expensive tension. The Volunteers at Paeroa had stayed on duty for two months, September and October, following the McWilliams shooting. This was at 4 shillings per man per day, costing the Government several hundred pounds, as it was responsible for such outlays.


More parties of excursionists went by water to Te Aroha. As usual around the Thames, everything quietened down for the hot summer.


In February 1880 there were talks with Tukukino and other Maoris about opening roads and railway through Komata. Firth was busy completing the clearing of the Waihou River to give good navigation to Te Aroha and Matamata. But Tukukino continued to be obstructionist about the road.


Towards the end of March 1880 there was big excitement among the local Volunteers at Thames. Steamers were bringing the Waikato Cavalry, and the Auckland Artillery.  The Thames Volunteers turned out in all their splendour, with reviews, and a sham fight at Tauraru, also dinners and dances. By now there were quite a few settlers in the Walton-Te Aroha area. A steamer went up to the landing there to bring down 40 or 50 women to enjoy the Volunteers festivities.  With such an extra supply of partners, it was no wonder that the motto of the Thames and Auckland and Waikato Volunteers at the big dance was, We Wont Go Home Till Morning. The hotels were doing the kind of trade they did back in the big gold-rush days. After manoeuvres described as magnificent, advanced like a living wall, the officers and men felt they deserved some relaxation.


All this was more than mere surface froth. Such gatherings of colonial militia made very evident a strengthening network of European settlement in what were recently thinly penetrated frontier lands. It was more than mere coincidence that within a year one of the last remnants of independent Maori power around Mt Egmont would go with Te Whiti, and the Maoris of the long-inviolate King Country, the final stronghold, would come out of the mountains and [line unreadable] almost unrecognisable, and surrender their guns. Thames itself was reaching out more and more over roads and waterways into hinterland. She was no longer the island she had been in 1874, when there was not half a mile of road southward.


It was obviously hardly by accident that the Waikato cavalrymen went back home in martial cavalcade overland up the Thames Valley to Te Aroha and across the river home. They rode southward from Thames with the trumpeter sounding the advance while the band played Auld Land Syne, joined by many voices, with waving of hands, caps and handkerchiefs. Since 1877 there had been a bridge across the Kauneranga, opening the way south. They clattered over, after sampling a keg of beer paced there for them by the brewer Ehrenfried of Thames Brewery, and rode over a well made road to Puriri and along the track to Komata, where they had been warned to be careful. But nobody interfered with such a martial cavalcade, in their best uniforms, and fully armed.  Such a demonstration in force had its effect, and there was little heard of road obstruction by Tukukino and others at Komata till late 1880, when the Government, bent on spending as little as possible, avoided anything like pushing matters because of trouble about Te Whiti on the slopes of Mt Egmont.  Such matters meant expense.


For the rest of 1880, Volunteer events included Seaman A. Thomas winning the Carbine Belt for the colony of New Zealand, and the first nibbles of the new Governments retrenchment.  The interlude of genial climate under Grey was past.


In August 1880 there were moves to find gold around Te Aroha, to turn a small centre for a few settlers into a town. Captain Turner had a party surveying a road from there to Katikati, which was nearly finished by the end of September, when there were some reports of gold.


At the beginning of November, someone, possibly hoping a stingy Government would take notice, wrote that the Volunteers had been formed in New Zealand 12 to 14 years before, when the Imperial troops had left, and there was a tendency to panic at isolated outrages. Since the Volunteers there had been no widespread panic, and a general feeling of security.  Without these 1,000 in New Zealand they would be defenceless. (The Armed Constabulary were now a very small body).


The Government was meanwhile finding it difficult to implement both what we would call a get tough policy towards the Maoris and financial retrenchment. Toughness cost money. They had enough on their hands with Parihaka at Mt Egmont.

 Armed Constabulary and volunteers rest before moving against Parihaka c 1880

NZ Armed Constabulary at Parihaka. Cowan, James, 1870-1943 :Collection of photographs. Ref: 1/1-017952-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


When the Te Aroha goldfield was opened on November 25, 1880, there were no Armed Constabulary as at Mackaytown in 1875, only some police.


It was by now becoming very difficult for the last centres of Maori passive resistance in Hauraki to hold out against the white invaders, who were coming into the Thames Valley in ever increasing numbers, settling, forming centres of population especially where there was a little golden impetus, as at Te Aroha and outflanking with a growing network of communication in all directions. When Tukukino tried to stop cattle by one road at Komata, desperate men pushed them through the mud by another.


The Ngati-Hako were in effect left in a backwater, unnoticed as the tide flowed past them, to and from the new goldfield. Another was opening at Waihi. The steamer Blanche caused alarm when it stopped by their pa, but it had grounded on a sandbank, and when the Maoris found there was a lady passenger in board they decided the ship must be harmless, and lost their fear.


As for the Thames Volunteers, quite a number of the young miners were going to the new goldfields. The biggest parades were of Sunday School children, 1291 on January 31st, 1881.


In May Minister Rolleston, instead of arguing with Tukukino as so many had done, ordered the road operations at Komata to commence. Tukukino, who had said to so many, seemed paralysed. His people were now hemmed in by so many white men. Work started in June, without need of Armed Constabulary or any other kind of protection. The Maoris merely made a formal protest ever morning and went home again. Over in the King Country, Tawhaio and his Maoris were coming into Alexandra and surrendering their guns. The Maori irreconcilables in Hauraki had been leaning heavily on the support of the Maori King.


Local matters were now handled by legal means. Tukukino had a lawsuit with a European, and made the mistake of ignoring the proceedings. He got non-suited for non-appearance. Like the Ngati-Hako village, he was being forced into a back-water. Over at Parihaka, Te Whiti was speaking fierily, but everywhere the Maoris were having to come to terms with what was becoming a white mans world. A number at Waihi were coming to terms so well over timber-cutting for the new goldfield that they were making money. Some went off to the King Country, leaving a gap that was soon filled, which very much annoyed them when they came back. When they tried to stop timber cutting an official was sent to Waihi with a supply of summonses for the ringleader, and if the summonses were not obeyed they were to be arrested.


That was not a matter for Volunteers, but for police and the ordinary processes of law. The Maori causing the trouble were East Coast Maoris, who claimed rights to the timber so nobody could do the cutting.


The Thames Volunteers during October 1881 were occupied with something else. Thames was sending a contingent of them to the centre of Maori trouble at Parihaka, where the Native Minister, My Bryce, was on the spot with troops. Attempts at fencing across roads and stopping drays and coaches were being met with armed escorts, and those trying to make any trouble were arrested. On October 29, 1881, 150 Thames Volunteers, including 70 Navals, went off to the scene of possible action at Parihaka.


They arrived to find 2,000 or so troops milling around.  Te Whiti, who could be both unintentionally and intentionally funny in his mixed outpourings, spoke of the rifle as the Crown grant of the Pakeha to the land. That had a bearing both in the confiscated Waikato, and around Thames. He decided there were too many Pakehas gathered around him for it to be worth while to fight. The Thames Volunteers took a prominent part in the surrounding of Parihaka Pa and the peaceful arrest of Te Whiti and his chief lieutenants, on November 5. (Three or four days before, the Waihi obstructionists had come before the Court at Paeroa, where they admitted frankly they had hoped to make money out of the Waihi goldfield like the Maoris at Thames. They were told the piece of land they claimed was probably the wrong one, but they would get a hearing, and were meanwhile bound over to obstruct no more.)


Thames newspaper prediction about the bold stroke of November 5 1881 was that this meant the end of the flour and sugar policy, and buying off obstructionists for some indefinite period till they chose to offend again.  Arrests went on for some time. Among those arrests was Titokowaru. He and Te Kooti had carried out the last active Maori guerrilla resistance. The Thames Volunteers came home on November 18, to a big and prolonged reception. 


A few remaining at Parihaka to share in what might be called the mopping-up operations. All Maoris not belonging to Parihaka were dispersed, only bona fide residents being allowed to stay.  This was done at first by arrests, till the Maoris got the message as we would now say, and left when told. The very ground was devastated, all crops belonging to strangers being destroyed, to the extent of 500 acres. This was to remove sources of supply for the non-residents who had been concentrating there. During which action the Thames Volunteers suffered one casualty from sunstroke.


However, these proceedings were far from comic-opera. With the surrender of King Country guns and the neutralising of a centre of maintenance at Parihaka, there were now no rallying points or cities of refuge for dissident Maoris in the North Island.


They had a direct result in Hauraki, the beginning of 1882 seeing a telegraph line, long sought, at last in the course of construction between Thames and Paeroa. A Mr Bradley also established the first coach service between Thames and Paeroa. It was at first frequently interrupted, but by mud, not Maoris.


The Maoris were now confining their disputes for the most part to such places as the Land Courts. Parihaka had fallen. King Tawhaio was being taken around to banquets in Auckland and absorbing speeches and grapes and strawberries.  At Waihi the timber obstructionists, on promising not to obstruct anymore, had been left with Court sentences suspended over their heads. The road between Thames and Paeroa had been taken through the Komata, in spite of Tukukinos daily messengers of protest, and now coaches were passing through, floundering heavily in wet weather. There was only one thing left for the Hauraki Maoris, acceptance.


That included the Ngati-Hako of Okahukura, who were visited by Native Minister Bryce, fresh from clearing up Parihaka. He was willing to leave the shooting of Daldy McWilliams in abeyance (he had recovered), but they must have the river past their door cleared of snags for shipping. If necessary, the matter would be enforced by law. So 4 men were put to work by their settlement. The Maoris did not obstruct, but said they would have liked some payment. Firths operations were usually popular, because he paid.


In May 1882, the two shooters of Daldy McWilliams were rounded up by mounted police at Ngaruawahia, away from their own village, one as he was arrested giving an unearthly yell of terror. The law then went into its slow processes, witnesses having dispersed since 1879. The man who had the bad fright was acquitted, and the other got 5-years hard labour.


With Parihaka over, there was nothing for Volunteers, except parades and competitions. The Carbine Belt for New Zealand was won by Petty Officer Armstrong of the Thames Navals in 1881, and by Lieutenant Gordon in 1882. He was also to win it in 1883.


The heavy hand of an economy-minded Government was being felt more and more, particularly with the intensification of the Long Depression, from 1880 right into the early 1890s. The Volunteers found Government support dwindling, including niggling over their Parihaka allowances.


There came a real blow to Thames. Its pride and joy were going. The Thames Scottish Volunteers were winding up. The famous band played its last through the town on the night of August 28, 1832 (error?).  Bryce was blamed for the economy. He no longer considered the Maoris a real threat.


On September 17 Native Minister John Bryce was burned in effigy in Thames, after being paraded through the streets on a white horse, amid hooting.  One bitterly felt offence, in a time of economic depression and poor work prospects for men, was that he had paid the Thames Volunteers for only one month instead of a promised two for Parihaka, and had said unkind things about them when they protested. So he was escorted in effigy through the streets of Thames to the Dead Marsh in Saul played in ultra slow time on a tin whistle. Many of those who took part in the escorting were from the dissolved Thames Scottish, who naturally had no love for Bryce.

Portrait of Captain John Bryce of the Kai Iwi Cavalry Volunteers

John Bryce (1833-1913) Minister for Culture and Heritage

(He spoke of their mercenary spirit,when they had merely complained about not getting what had been promised them. Some had paid substantially more than the Army pay, to have their jobs in Thames kept open. Only to find on their return that the jobs had gone.)


In November, with retrenchment of the Volunteers, the Prince of Wales birthday celebrations in Thames were shorn of their famous glories. No longer were there big and colourful parades. All that was left was a 21-gun salute by the Naval Brigade. Meaning 21 discharges.


Tempers cooled somewhat late in 1882 with rich gold from the Prince Imperial helping Thames gold returns, which had been falling. Towards the end of November a big, more-than-six-footer of the disbanded Scottish provided something like a comic relief.


James Jobe, while in the Scottish Volunteers, being a drummer, had a fine uniform with a former bonnet and leopard skin apron. When the Scottish were disbanded he kept this regalia, the men being allowed to keep their uniforms. Legal action was brought to make Jobe give up his uniform, but as nobody had said everyone could keep their uniform but him, when matters were being decided at dissolution, he won the case and kept his fine uniform, leopard skins and all.  Some of the lately disbanded men were using their uniforms to work in the mines. Jobe was too proud of his for anything like that, though he was a miner too.


Early in December 1882 the disbanded Scottish Volunteers had a meeting and passed a resolution giving power to sue, and volunteers to keep only ordinary uniform, of coat, trousers and helmet. That was obviously directed against James Jobe, with his special headgear and leopard skin.


However, there were no further headlines, the legal status of a disbanded corps would be somewhat doubtful.


Apart from Lieutenant Gordon winning the N.Z. Carbine Belt again, the Thames Volunteers were out of the news during 1883.


1884 opened with deepening commercial depression causing doubt and fear, and stormy atmosphere. There were strike, and unemployment.


The big parade in Thames on January 29 1884, for the 43rd anniversary of the colony was composed mainly of hundreds of Sunday School children. There were not the Volunteer bands of yore, civilian bands having to take their place, but the Tararu group did have the Naval Artillery band.


All that was left of the Volunteers at Thames were the Thames Naval Artillery Volunteers and the Thames Rifle Rangers. There was a Court case about the disposition of assets of the dissolved Hauraki Engineers, formerly Hauraki Rifles. Money was scarce. Unemployment worsened during 1884.


The Volunteers were more in the news in 1885. Lieut. (afterwards Major) W.H. Lucas won the Rifle Belt for New Zealand, and Cpl W. Parson won the Carbine Belt, ending the last record of such wins with a double.


In February 1885, a number of former volunteers in Thames were offering to join any New Zealand contingent that might be formed to go against the Mahdi in the Sudan.


There was some lightning of the local sky during the Long Depression, with a change of Government beginning to take effect.  The Stout-Vogel Ministry of Sept 1884 to 8 Oct 1887 was Liberal and favourable to mining and Thames.


In addition to the Sudan, a Russian scare blew up, over their pushing towards Merv in the direction of Afghanistan, with Mervoussers in England. In Auckland, contractors stripped their works of 100 men to work at harbour defences, on which 240 men are to be employed. The very bank clerks of Auckland talked of forming a volunteer force.


This was favourable climate for the Volunteers at Thames, left in some disarray following Mr Bryces economies, and a mere remnant.  Of said remnant, the Naval Artillery had two guns which could not be fired, and had been trying to get the Government to give it at least one which could. The Rifle Rangers had not been able to muster even a minimum attendance at parades. With regard to both, it was hoped that the warlike spirit now abroad would secure larger attendances.


Russia was a feared foe. There was talk of her threatening the Suez canal, and it was thought quite possible she might take it into her mysterious head to attack New Zealand.  The wanderings of a Russian naval squadron which called at Cape Town cause wild questioning.


A meeting at Paeroa sent a message to Wellington offering volunteers, and 25 men gave their names for the formation of a local corps.  (The previous one had lapsed). Cavalry was suggested, as unlike Thames, in that widely scattered district everybody had horses.


On April 22 1885, official steps were taken.  The police started enrolling the first-class militia of the Thames District. Constable Herbert was listing those liable between the northern boundary of Thames and the Karaka Creek, and Constable Stapleton from there to the Kauaeranga. Detective Doolan was attending to the country districts from Hikutaia to Waikauau. Instruction have been forwarded to the Te Aroha, Paeroa and Tairua police to prepare similar lists for their respective districts.


Both the Rifle Rangers and Naval Artillery were now having well-attended parades and more recruits that they could provide for. There was talk of forming a new company.


To add to the war excitement, on April 25 there came news that in effect diplomatic relations had been broken off between Britain and Russia. British troops were leaving Sudan. It was stated that the New Zealand militia would probably be called out, and that the Volunteer units in being were to be called out and have a sham fight and other exercises. Guns were being placed in position for the defence of Wellington Harbour. What object the Russians expected to achieve by attacking Wellington was not mentioned. 

Ohinemuri Rifle Volunteers 1898 11-013

Acknowledgement Tauranga City Libraries. Ohinemuri Rifle Volunteers 1898 11-013


1900 (pages 21 - 30)

On March 13 1900, it was noted: At present time the patriotic feeling is running very high in Waihi, and among the young miners there is a growing desire to serve their country on the field of battle. On Saturday Privates Banks and Clark, of the Waihi Rifles, and Messrs Meyer, Potter, Reid and McMullen, proceeded to Auckland in order to offer themselves as members of the Fifth Contingent. It was intended to give preference to New Zealand-born men for the Fifth Contingent. In New Zealand the proportion of New Zealand-born was still low. In the older generation represented in Parliament, only 16 out of 70 were New Zealand born.

 The Hauraki goldfield, however, 53 years after 1867, now had quite a number of young men born in the district. Thames showed little signs of being in a stir about this in next days news. The football season had opened.  Football was becoming important at this period.


On May 1 shooting opened for important game and the Thames Naval Artillery were asked to have 10 men ready to send to Auckland for torpedo training. The Russians continued to be more interested in Cape Town, as big British reinforcements for India and the sensitive Afghan borderlands were going that way.


Later in May someone suggested in a Thames newspaper that with the war scares dying down they could get back to the depression again.  However, 1885, the year of the scramble for Africa, continued full of warlike movement, which helped trade.  Thus just before the Sudan campaign even the USA had been feeling the blast cruelly, and on its outbreak British Army War contractors immediately bought up all the piled up corned beef from the meat packers of Chicago.


Meanwhile, by the end of May 1885, with the dying away of war scares for the time being, depression increased again, and volunteering was damped down.


In June, Te Kooti and a retinue of 50 followers passed through Te Aroha and went on to Miranda, while the Europeans mostly pretended he was not there, taking very little notice.

 TeKooti by Gudgeon

An image from "Reminiscences of the war in New Zealand" purporting (most likely incorrectly) to be Te Kooti. Vincent Brooks, Day & Co. lith. Plate from: Reminiscences of the war in New Zealand, London : Sampson Low & Co., 1879. Author Thomas W. Gudgeon (1816-1890).

From August 1885 there was mounting excitement in the district over wealth to come from La Monte furnaces, with a revival of prospecting all over the peninsula with Government subsidies too, culminating at the end of the year with enthusiastic scenes and the formation of schools of mines as the result of a visit by professor Black, sponsored by a mine-oriented Government, with Larnach an enthusiastic Minister of Mines.


By November Thames was feeling quite prosperous, and ready for some Volunteer activity.  The two remnant companies of the once strong Thames Volunteers, the Naval Artillery and the Rifle Rangers, went to take part in a big sham fight in Auckland on November 10.  Among the dense crowds that gathered to watch were many Thames people who had come by excursion steamers for the day. There was plenty to see. A steamer flying the Russian flag, but bearing the name Hinemoa, exchanged hot fire with the shore batteries, and a raft representing another Russian warship was loudly sunk by torpedoes.  Troops swarmed towards the city, at one place overwhelming and passing beyond the defenders. They pulled down the British flag and hoisted that of Imperial Russia in the City Park, and seized the custodian of the Bank of New Zealand. Being 56 Navals, they immediately began to make arrangements to ship their booty away. Then it rained.


Capture of Auckland and City Taken By The Enemy, went the headlines.


During 1886 Thames was doing quite well with mining, while the rest of New Zealand was passing through the very worst of the Long Depression. Naturally the main interest in Thames was mining.


The Maoris were now completely engulfed. Tukukinos lieutenant, Tini Poaka, was unable to pay an £8 fine, and thrown in prison.  The indignity unhinged his mind, and he was committed to a lunatic asylum, where he died.  The Ngati-Hako tried to stop some surveyors. Their backwater mattered so little now that the surveyors merely shifted to another section.


The Kaskowiski hoax at Auckland rather took the steam out of Russian scares, and 1887 continued quiet for volunteering, if busy and rather prosperous for mining.


(The Kaskowiski was a Russian ship Aucklanders woke up one morning to find supposedly to have taken Auckland. This caused quite a panic for a while, till the brighter ones got the sleep and panic out of their eyes and began to analyse the names.)


In May 1887 McDonnells Defenders of New Zealand was being advertised in Thames. The Maori War was back in history now, and a matter of curious interest. The defenders were not supposed to be the Maoris. The book enjoyed quite a modest success, even if its advertising was over-shadowed by that for a shilling book on conjuring. Then Gudgeon brought out Heroes of New Zealand (Pakehas and friendly Maori) and History of the Maori War.  The friendly Maoris had shared in quelling the rebellion against British authority. Josiah Firth thought there were heroes on the Maori side, but being a wealthy and respected man he was allowed his little eccentricities.


In any case, conflict with the Maoris was now a matter of historical interest.  It was now twenty years after 1867 and the start of the Thames goldfield, and the local newspapers had reminiscences of more stirring times.


So not much had been done for the volunteers when the Liberal Government was replaced on 8 October 1887 by a severely retrenching one, which did its best to prolong the effects of the Long Depression in New Zealand. There was soon a newspaper cry, What shall we do? There is no money. People left Thames and there was a search for a good gold find.


In 1888 there was a little more news about the curtailed Volunteers still carrying on in Thames. In February, when Captain Wildman died at Thames a ship brought a large party of Auckland Volunteers, the ship causing a stir at Thames with the strange siren. Thames was still maintaining its connections with other centres, and sending men to shooting competitions. There was something of a commercial revival in the area at this time.


Dr Martin Henry Payne, who had been Honorary Surgeon to the Thames Naval Brigade was promoted to Surgeon-Major.


By the end of May 1888 it was noted that another sufferer from retrenchment in New Zealand was the Volunteers movement, and the Thames Rifle Rangers were considering disbanding unless they got more support. There was also talk, immediately denied, of the Thames Navals thinking of disbanding on account of retrenchment.


By 1889 the chief mention of the Thames Navals was the use of their band in the Columbia skating rink, in August.


1890 saw the Long Depression beginning to lose its grip a little, with the Thames Stock Exchange becoming more animated. Investment money was beginning to circulate a little in the mining world. The Thames Volunteers dragged on. By this time music for skating was being provided by a small orchestral organ, not by the Thames Navals. Towards the end of 1890 there was a great revival in gold mining around Thames. This went on into 1891, which opened with a new Liberal Government, which was to continue till 1912. Balance had his new Ministry sworn in on January 25.  On January 29 Thames had its usual big procession of pupils of the different Sunday Schools for the Anniversary of the Colony and Auckland Provincial District.


The Liberals were always favourable to miners and mining, and the new Minister of Mines. Richard Seddon, was around Thames surrounding districts before the end of April, 1891, and in August the miners got a true 8-hour day.  Seddon noted that at this time an eighth of the population of New Zealand was engaged in mining out of 626,830.


In 1892 the Waihi mine began to use cyanide, which put it on the road to becoming one of the great mines of the world.  Up to this time it had been rather struggling. Things were also moving at Te Aroha, on account of increased mining activity at Waiorongomai.


On May 19, 1892, it was reported that Te Aroha was thinking of raising its own Volunteer Company, expecting to raise 40 or 50 men with the help of Waiorongomai, Te Aroha West over the river, Waihou and Walton. A survey of a proper township at Waihi was completed.


On May 1, 1893, Seddon became Premier in the death of Balance.  Meanwhile at Te Aroha the Waiorongomai was wilting and fading.  And Seddon meant a certain loss of Balances momentum.


Seddon was economy-minded and had an enquiry made into the Volunteers in New Zealand, as a target for economy, the general situation being peaceful.


By June 1893 a report came out placing 41 corps under threat of disbandment, as doing little to justify their existence. But Thames did not come under the threat, and the Thames Navals got one of the most complimentary references in the report, being well drilled. The main newspaper references to the existence of Volunteers in Thames continued to be long lists of miners in shooting competitions, no matter how small.


On September 6, 1893, Alfred Jerome Codman, who came from Hauraki, became Minister of Mines being noted as one favourable to mining. Late in the year it was announced a proper cyanide plant was being put in at Waihi.  Construction started immediately.  Waihi continued to grow.


In 1894 some Maoris near Paeroa started up a dispute over quarry rights, with armed sentries, and Maoris coming in from as far as Coromandel on horseback and armed with rifles. When it began to look too much for the local police an armed party of 40 of the permanent artillery under Lieut Hume came down from Auckland, and confiscated over a thousand rounds of ball ammunition. That had a marked quietening effect. It was not a matter for local Volunteers. 


In May 1894 there was the first news of a strike of gold at Coromandel which was to trigger off the Big Boom lasting several years, which decidedly ended the Long Depression.


The turn of the tide was being felt by the beginning of 1895.  Karangahake was growing apace, as well as Waihi, both thanks to cyanide. This year 1895 will always be memorable for the almost unprecedented boom that took place in connection with the mining industry. It was a quiet year for the Volunteers.


1895 began with news of the Jamieson raid in South Africa, and events began to move towards the South African War, the first war of real consequence for Britain since the Crimean War of the mid 1850s. Te Aroha and Paeroa had building booms, especially Paeroa. Thames gained population.


After the Jamieson Raid, things quietened for a period. During August 1896, there were complaints, in those unmartial times, that the Te Aroha Volunteers were dying for lack of attendance at parades, and even their band no longer enlivened Sunday church parades.


By 1897, the Big Boom was at its height. It was also the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, with an upsurge of patriotic sentiment. The main celebration at Thames was done by the schools, and they failed to make it a grand effort owing to uncordination. It did not take Thames long to get its interest for the moment back to the gold boom. But there were also curls of smoke beginning to rise from the South African volcano. There was also the first news of the golden Klondyke.


Rhodes and Rhodesia were taking rather an interesting stand. Of Rhodesia it was written : "The inhabitants are chiefly English and are thoroughly British in their sentiments , and their ambition is to develop their country and become a self-governing country. For Downing-Street government they have a perfect abhorrence."


By August 1897 Waihi was forming a Volunteer corps, the Ohinemuri Rifle Volunteer Corps No.3. With Paeroa and Karangahake bodies, one coming into existence in the latter place, it could form a battalion. Further south, activity was also reviving at Te Puke, with the formation of a third company.

 1 Ohinemuri Shooting Team 1897

1 Ohinemuri Shooting Team.  1897

6 RNZIR Collection

In September it was noted that the Paeroa Volunteers, evidently a resuscitated body, in deciding one uniform, preferred "kharkee" to blue, with maroon facings and brown belts. Volunteer formation had also been successful at Waihi.


On October 20 1897 it was noted that Thames was to form a Rifle Corps, making two corps, meaning it had slipped to one, the Navals. Thames was considered to have the population for two or three corps. By October 28 the new Volunteer corps in Thames, the Hauraki Rifles, had got off to a good start, with enrolments above the minimum required.


During 1897 the Waihi Coy was building a big new battery at Waikino, calling into being a new village. The battery was opened early in 1898, the great year of the Klondyke.


Volunteer bodies mentioned on March 4 1898, were the new Hauraki Rifles at Thames, the Thames Navals, and Ohinemuri No.1 Rifles, meaning at Paeroa. Volunteers were back in the news. On March 28 the Thames Naval Artillery or "Thames Navals" were noted as a strong body. Kruger of South Africa was noted as being on what we would now call a collision course with British Sovereignty, making inflammatory utterances. The British were also taking a pro-American stand re the current Spanish-American war.


By June 1898 there was mounting unemployment at Thames and other parts of Hauraki, the Big Boom having lost momentum. In South Africa the Transvaal volcano was rumbling. Meanwhile employment was found for some men, while others left for greener and certainly hotter or colder fields in West Australia and the Klondyke.


The Volunteers went out of the news again, during a long hard winter, till news from the burgeoning Klondyke brought back some activity to mining finance. Things got a little better, if not exactly flourishing.


On August 10 1898, it was noted that the Thames Navals were under Captain Potts (who had just been beaten by O'Keeffe and a narrow margin for presidency of the Thames Miners Union) and Lieut Leese. W.H. Potts had been president of the Thames Miners Union for quite a few years.


At the end of August there was a complaint that the Paeroa Fire Brigade was getting more public support for fund raising than the Thames Volunteer Brigade. For years now the volunteers had been relying for continuing their existence on what they could raise from the public. Shooting competitions and suchlike were helpful in keeping them in the public eye - which was helpful for funds. On November 7 1898, it was noted that the No. 1 N.Z. Natives were to have paid their first visit to Thames to have a shooting competition with the Thames Navals, but "on account of the unaccountable action of the authorities in Auckland in refusing to give the Native team the requisite ammunition the trip had to be abandoned at the last moment." A reception had been prepared, with the Naval Hall all decorated with nikaus and ferns, "while the companys colours, which had been presented to the Navals in 1870 by the ladies of Thames, and had never been out in public since the expedition to Pariheka (1881) until yesterday's Church parade, were displayed, alongside the Queen's own colours." As all arrangements for supper had been made, Capt Potts and Lieui Somerville had presided over a convivial evening with the Navals and their Band and some friends.


At Waihi the population was now up to 3,000. Thames had 4,000 odd.


Britain was at this time confronting France at Fashoda to the south of Egypt and the Sudan, where two Empire drives met head on. It all helped to make a warlike atmosphere, even if Kitchener made Marchand back down.


On November 11 1898, there came through an explanation that the lack of ammunition for the Natives was tied up with some Maori trouble to the north of Auckland, causing stringent regulations about supplying arms and ammunition to Maoris.


On November 30 there was mention of a local Rifle Association, Which did target shooting. This was not militia, but showed growing interest in shooting practice.


On December 19 1898, the "Thames-Auckland railway" was officially opened at Thames, connection having been made Paeroa the month before.

 Opening of the Thames-Auckland Railway, December 19. The breaking of the Ribbon on the entrance of the train into the station - Mrs Dunlop and Miss Isabella Scott holding the ribbon.Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 30 December 1898, p004

Opening of the Thames-Auckland Railway, December 19. The breaking of the Ribbon on the entrance of the train into the station - Mrs Dunlop and Miss Isabella Scott holding the ribbon.Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 30 December 1898, p004 

"The Thames Naval Volunteers, with their band, under command of Captain Potts, and -the Hauraki Rifles, under Lieutenant Radford, paraded at the Naval Hall, and marched to the Railway Station, and by noon there was a very large concourse of spectators. The police, under Sergeant Gillies, together with the Volunteers, under Captain Grant, assisted to keep people off the line."


Among the notabilities named was Major Murray, formerly of Thames Scottish. 'Ihi_stime there were 2,000 children to sing My Own New Zealand Home", and have a free train ride to Matatoki and back, but the Volunteers were much fewer than on December 21, 1878. It was not long since Grey had died.


Some complained that they could not hear the children singing properly the number actually rehearsed a couple of days before had been 100 - so a repeat performance was arranged on the Waiokaraka (Central) school grounds, with the Thames Navals band. The real trouble at the ceremony was that the conflict of many voices, unavoidable in such circumstances, rather neutralised the effect."


Meanwhile, on the actual day the Thames Navals band went with an excursion train from Themes to Te Aroha, and, under Bandmaster Smith "discoursed splendid music, both en route and at Te Aroha, where it played on the Domain.


This band also enlivened a big train excursion to Te Aroha on January 2 1899, joining its return to Themes on way back from Rotorua, where "the brilliancy of their playing astonished the natives."


Waihi was continuing to grow apace, with the population around 4,000, and moving to become a Borough.


On March 28 1899, there was a report that at Te Aroha, which also continued to grow, there was talk of forming a Rifle Association "in connection with the volunteer corps in this and the Ohinemuri district". It was suggested that a Rifle Association be formed taking in all volunteers of the Thames, Te Aroha and Ohinemuri district. The Governor, Lord Ranfurly, was visiting the district at the time, heightening patriotic fervour.


At Thames he was met by school children singing "My Own New Zealand Home", this time a carefully selected 250 who were good singers, accompanied by the Thames Naval Band, which was instructed not to drown them out. To make a good crowd; there were also children who were not to sing, making up 1,000. The numbers of Volunteers were not given, being very much fewer.


Over Easter (Good Friday was March 31) the Thames Navals visited their confreres in Auckland and had manoeuvres and big gun and Maxim gun drill and so on at the forts. It was also noted a few days later that the strong body of Waiotahi cadets had disbanded at the end of 1898 with the departure of instructor Way.


There was still trouble at Thames with unemployment among the miners and men leaving the district. However, there was a firming of the mining sharemarket, and during 1899 interest in volunteering was definitely growing with the rising temperature in South Africa. By mid October the U.S.A. was talking of "one of the greatest waves of speculative excitement ever known." That kind of thing benefitted mining, and was therefore likely to stop further draining away of the most enterprising types from Thames. Meanwhile the news came to Thames that the Boers were stocking up with smokeless powder.


On May 6 it was noted that Paeroa was prospering as the entrance to the Ohinemuri goldfield, and was to hold on the Queen's Birthday 51 grand military carnival and sports meeting. This was duly held on or around May 24, while a few days later Thames had a visit per paddle steamer Wakatere from Auckland of the Ponsonby Navals and Native Corps, welcomed at the Burke St Wharf by the Thames Naval Band, and by the Thames Navals and Hauraki Rifles.


War clouds were now black over South Africa, with matters moving towards the ultimatum stage.


However, on June 3 it was noted that at Karangahake the Volunteer Corps was to be disbanded on account of poor attendances, "the main causes being football and shifts at the mines." There was a great rise in popularity of football during the '80s. As for the mines, both production and pressure were increasing. The mines and batteries were going night and day. A factor not mentioned was that many men had been trapped into a contract system which resulted in them being very poorly paid.


An interesting sidelight on the value of Volunteer training in Thames over past years was that an ex Thames man was serving with the American Army fighting insurgents in the Philippines. His comment to Thames could possibly have been echoed by New Zealanders now in Vietnam. "The American soldiers have done wonderful work, and are always winning victories, but the forces have not been large enough to permit the permanent occupation of the territory captured. The American's had quite big forces, but Aguinaldo was a master of the guerilla strategy which the British were about to find so troublesome in South Africa. By June British women and children were evacuating Johannesburg, and the British were sending war supplies to Kimberley. In New Zealand, mining was starting to boom. The Transvaal was a big producer of gold.


On July 7 1899, it was reported that already 700 Australians had volunteered for the impending war in South Africa. In Thames there was some argument between proBoers and anti-Boers. There was no volunteering. What the miners considered unjust exploitation by the bosses was causing something of what we would call an anti Establishment current. Near Waihi, the growth of Waikino was "very remarkable".


By September, both sides were mobilizing massively in South Africa, but Hauraki miners were still more concerned with working conditions disputes. During 1899 a new era was quietly starting with the first creameries. However, the big numbers of miners in the various mining towns, the backbone of Hauraki volunteering, were to remain for a good many years yet.


On September 20 1899, a call was going out for a volunteer contingent for South Africa, 200 from each of the Australian states and from New Zealand, with preference for mounted rifles. At Mackaytown a large and enthusiastic meeting decided to form a Gun Club.


A week later there were objections from Paeroa to a proposal to shift the Headquarters of No 2 Battalion from Paeroa to Thames. Thames was too far away, and Paeroa was central for the Volunteers of Waihi and Te Aroha. Going to Thames would mean considerable expense for the 3 companies, Ohinemuri 1 and 3 (meaning Paeroa and Waihi, No 2 having gone with Karangahakes volunteers) and Te Aroha. There was only one rifle company at Thames, and if it were made headquarters, it would mean the drill instructor who was being sent out from England would go there instead of the more central Paeroa. From the way volunteers were muttering about the rumour, if true it could cause the dismemberment of the Ohinemuri-Te Aroha companies, "a thing especially to be deplored in these troublesome times."


At the end of September, while the Thames Gun Club was holding shoots in Dodd's paddock at Parawai, the Boers fired a couple of shots at a British column. The New Zealand Government was giving advice about the requirements expected of mounted riflemen for the New Zealand contingent, including shooting qualifications. Hence the sudden growth of gun clubs. Volunteer organisations long in decay had become unelastic.


(In mid June 1899, Thames had received a body blow with the shutting down of her biggest mining enterprize, the Thames Hauraki. Waihi and the Ohinemuri mines continued to thrive, together with Paeroa and Te Aroha. So there was little more heard about transferring battalion headquarters.)


On September 30 there also came the following report at Thames: "Captain Harper has received the following wire from Lieut Col Banks 'In case men are required for Transvaal will any of your good shots volunteer? The men must be unmarried and between 23 and 40 years of age. Wire number and if horses are required. With reference to the above Captain Harper has asked us to state that the names of those willing to volunteer will be received at the Orderly Room tonight between 7.30 and 8 o'clock by Lieut Swindley or Corporal Newdick."


On Oct 2 1899, it was noted that the following names had been received on Saturday night, Sept 30: Lieut J. Swindley, Privates J. Boyle, Murray, A. Newdick, W. Dudley, Longman, Rosawarne, R. Murdock, T. Finlayson and Corporal P. Newdick, making 10. The ranks were those held in Thames Volunteers. The structure might have become a little inelastic for quick expansion, such as the gun clubs catered for, but it was recognised in military circles. The British were meanwhile running in troops and supplies while the lines were still open to such places as Kimberley, Ladysmith and Mafeking.


On October 3, Captain Harper advised that out of the 60 in the Hauraki Rifle Volunteers, "no less than 50 are ineligible for service under the conditions required by the Government, some 35 members being under 23 and 15 of the remainder being married men." In other words, among those eligible, volunteering was 100 per cent.


"In common with other corps of the Auckland Battalion, the Ohinemuri Rifles No 1 has received a wire asking for volunteers for the Transvaal, and so far four men, including Sergeant-Major Bradford, have sent in their names." Paeroa, like Thames, was not likely to have too many volunteers, as the majority were "young fellows under 23, there being no fewer than 40 on the roll under the age required. Then, the corps being an infantry one, some who perhaps would be willing to serve cannot afford to supply a horse suitable for warfare."


On October 7 news came through that two of the 10 Thames volunteers had been chosen for the New Zealand contingent for South Africa, Captain Harper receiving a telegram from Auckland ordering Privates F. Murray and A. Newdick to report there at once. They were going by the steamer "Waimarie, which leaves Kopu at 11 o'clock tonight. They will attend the Orderly Room for the purpose of getting their accoutrements at 7.30 this evening, so that their comrades will have an opportunity of wishing them farewell.


Paeroa also sent men at the same time. "The Paeroa contingent for the Transvaal , under Sergeant-Major Bradford; Corporal Avery, Sergeant Hubbard and Privates F. Shaw, J. Tetley and W. McPherson, left by train this morning for Auckland to join the contingent for Wellington. They left for Auckland today. A band escorted them to the station. The whole township assembled at the station to wish them good luck. The names of the contingent are as follows:- Sergeant Mshood and Haynes, Privates Gaudin, Pope, Mawhinney and Steele. There seems to be something missing here, possibly "Waihi" in front of contingent."


Thames then naturally had to have a longer article recapitulating and amplifying the departure of Privates H. Murray and A. Newdick from Kopu by steamer. It was noted that the loud cheering soon brought a large crowd to Kopu wharf. There followed about a third of a column of patriotic sentiments.


Leaving Auckland for Wellington by train, the combined contingents had an enthusiastic send-off there, thousands gathering, with a repeat performance at Onehunga.

 Soldier parade departing for Boer War 1900

Acknowledgement Kete Tararua. Troops parading prior to their departure. Site: Cnr Millers Rd and Stanley St

A report dated October 7 came in later from Coromandel, "The Coromandel volunteers for the New Zealand contingent left here this morning. A large number of ladies and gentlemen were on the wharf, also the Revs Harrison and Mitchell . . . . Captain Kenrick gave a short address to the men, expressing the hope that they would do their duty, and be an honour to their district and colony. Two of the men are natives of Coromandel. (At this time there were bodies of miners over the range at Opitonui and Kuaetungu).


A Boer ultimatum expired at 5pm on October 11 1899, and the Boer War started before some vacillating bungler in the British high command could get an order put into effect to remove all arms, ammunition and military stores from Mafeking.


The New Zealand contingent, including the men from Hauraki, left Wellington on October 21. Forty to fifty thousand Wellingtonians lined the shores cheering, with another ten thousand in a swarm of steamers.


Thames continued with patriotic sentiments and song fests, and the fortnightly promenade concert of the Thames Navals band.


In November, Kopu, a port and sawmilling place south of Thames, decided to form a Gun Club and affiliate with Thames.


Also in November 1899, it was noted that with Boer War enthusiasm, Paeroa corps had more volunteers and reached full strength.


On December 20 the first war loss for Hauraki was reported with the death of Trooper Bradbury of Paeroa in a skirmish at Arundel, South Africa. This was later amended to Sergeant Major George Bradford of the Ohinemuri Rifles No 1, who had been living in Paeroa. (Sergeant-Major was his Volunteers rank, Trooper his South African.) He was one of 6 from Paeroa, and outstanding. On December 22 there was news he had merely been wounded and taken prisoner.


More volunteers were called for, and Captain Harper received the names and Privates R.H. Rosewarne and F. Longham, and Lieut J.T. Swindley, of the Hauraki Rifles, with some others who were not eligible.


British reverses excited patriotic feelings in Coromandel where a number of young fellows wished to follow the original 6, while 6 more volunteered from Waihi.


The New Year 1900 opened with the report that Sergeant Major Bradford of Paeroa had finally died in Boer imprisonment. New Zealand was sending a second contingent. It included Sergeant Clewes, of No 3 Ohinemuri Rifles (Waihi). The Colonials were already showing the British how to beat the Boers. After a series of costly British reverses, a force of Canadians and Australians defeated a large body of well-entrenched Boers. They knew how to use cover.


It was noted that one who went with the First Contingent from Coromandel was a half-caste, Trooper Calaway. Alfred Newdick began sending home to Thames descriptive letters of his experiences in South Africa, where he met a man who had been in the Thames Navels years before, named Floyd."


On January 25 1900, it was reported that Surgeon-Major Payne M.D. was to attend his last Naval Volunteers shoot for some time to come." The Naval Volunteers were still under Captain Potts. Captain Harper of the Hauraki Rifles was endeavouring to arrange a special train from Thames to Paeroa for local volunteers to go to the special church service for the late Trooper Bradford of Paeroa.


On January 29 it was reported that the memorial service for Trooper Bradford at Paeroa had a big crowd, with 220 Volunteers marching in formation, including from Thames, Waihi and Te Aroha, with pipers and the Waihi band.


On February 6 Paeroa reported sending another volunteer to Auckland for the rough riders information, being Walter Hubbard. His brother in the First Contingent, had alrady been mentioned for bravery. Shortly afterwards, in the Coromandel area, Charles Phair and Walter Gibson of Opitonui volunteered for South Africa. Walter Hubbard came back to Paeroa and bought a good horse for 20 pounds, but a subscription was get up so he would not have to "pay for the horse he will fight on" There was a good deal of patriotic fund raising at this time.


On February 15, 1900, it was reported that the Hauraki Rifles were having an encampment at Tararu, with more zest than usual on account of the war. At Coromandel Captain Kenrick, of the Coromandel Rifle Corps, was in touch with a number of Opitonui men who wanted to join the Rough Riders or the Fourth Contingent.


The first Waihi volunteer, Charles Clewes, was writing home about South Africa, Sergeant Ferrard and Privates Asquith, Tahey and Broderick of the Waihi Volunteers presented themselves in Auckland as candidates for the Fourth Contingent, and would probably get in if they got horses.


On 26 February 1900, it was again noted that Paeroa was finding the war increased interest in the Volunteer movement. "In Paeroa a number of young men are joining the local corps, which is now about at its full strength, and in Waihi the No. 3 company is up to its full strength, and has about 20 applicants waiting for a vacancy." "It is reported that active steps are about to be taken to organise a second company in that particular district, and that a Rifle Club is to be formed at Karangahake."


The defeat of the Cranjie at Phardberg caused much jubilation all over Hauraki, as meaning the end of was near.  That was to mean of regular warfare, not guerrilla.  There was also the relief of Ladysmith to celebrate. By March 2 Captain Potter in Thames was arranging for 6 more local men to go to Auckland for medical examination. Their only fear was that they would not reach South Africa in time. The Thames procession for the relief of Ladysmith included the Volunteers. Five of the six candidates passed the medical examinations at Auckland.


1900 - 1905 (pages 31- 40 )

There was a report from Waihi re forming a new corps there on March 21 l900. Captain Walmsley, "of the present Waihi company", said that "the headquarters of the battalion, to which the new company would be added would be in Paeroa, but when the railway came to Waihi the headquarters of the battalion would likely be at Waihi. The war in the Transvaal had to some extent drained the companies in the district, "and had caused a great access of patriotism among our young men, whether trained or not." He believed that the main reason why so many Waihi men had been refused was because they had not been trained, "and the object of the new company was to enable them to get the necessary training,"


In April 1900 it was reported that at Doernspruit, where the New Zealanders had covered the retreat of the British, 17 of them had been captured, including Coromandel's Trooper Tarrant, aged 26 and a first-class shot. He later turned out to have been 29 and in Coromandel only 3 years, as a miner, but his shooting was not impugned.


Te Aroha at this time had Naval Cadets.


Full length group portrait of the Thames Naval volunteers and band. Thames Coromandel Region (N.Z.).  Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-18980923-1-1 

On May 19 1900, Thames had a procession at 7 in the evening to celebrate the relief of Mafeking. Represented were the Thames Navel Volunteers, Hauraki Rifles (both with their hands), James Jobe in his magnificent uniform of the one-time Scottish Volunteers, the Fire Brigade, and so on. The crowds on the street were estimated at 5,000. The Volunteers also paraded and fired volleys. Paeroa and Waihi also had volunteers out, and Te Arroha, with firing of volleys. At Waihi the miners helped out with plugs of gelignite, and the volunteers went up to fire their volleys from the hill overlooking the town. In all the towns there were flags everywhere, and fireworks.


Trooper R. Farquhar, son of Captain Farquhar of the paddle steamer Wakatere, wrote back from South Africa of an action where the Boers loosed 400 cattle on the New Zealanders, but they "commandeered them". There were plenty of New Zealanders accustomed to rounding up cattle. Thames had a meeting of people interested in Gun Clubs. With the break-up of organised Boer structures and the beginning of the real war, Hauraki had more victories to celebrate. Hard fighting followed the final defeat of the Boers. It was meanwhile anticipated that some of the 11 captured Boer small arms and artillery would be sent to New Zealand "The misfortunes of the Boers seem to afford our one chance of getting New Zealand quickly and thoroughly armed." A collection of Boer rifles accordingly ended up in the Thames Public Library, being transferred in the 1900s to the Thames Mineralogical Museum.


More troopers wrote back home, James Mathieson from Coromandel and R. Braithwaite from Thames.


Local schools began to acquire flags, with much ceremony. Waihi hoisted theirs with a ceremony at which "a tremendous number of people were present", with 500 children, band and volunteers. Tararu school at Thames decided to follow suit.


One of the travelling moving picture shows beginning to come round had pictures of the Thames boys fighting South Africa:- "The two Newdicks, Cordon, Taylor and Braithwaite." Paeroa had some thing to something to cater for local sentiment there: "The appearance of the portrait of the late Sergeant Major Bradford on the screen caused a great demonstration amongst the audience."


Driver Taylor of Thames, in the NZ Rough Field Artillery, joined those writing back home about conditions in South Africa, and Walter Gallaway wrote of the engagement where 17 New Zealanders were taken prisoner, and Alf Newdick of Thames got away with difficulty. Newdick was now being invalided home, and Themes decided on a half holiday when he arrived. John Francis Strange of Te Aroha came back with him. His welcome at Te Aroha was so warm that Newdick had difficulty detaching himself to come on by train to Thames. Coromandel meanwhile lost H.L. Billing, who had earlier taken part in the Jamieson raid. This was early in August 1900.


When he arrived at Thames, Trooper Newdick was received by a "Concourse from far and near that congregated at the Bank corner" whi1e thousands lined the main thoroughfare during the procession of Volunteers and Fire Brigades. The only other occasion there were so many people was for the relief of Mafeking. On August 21, ten days on so later, it was noted that one of the Newdick welcome speakers had said that when Trooper Newdick left for South Africa the local Volunteers were "despised and looked down upon." South Africa had shown "that a small body of men armed and knowing the country could hold their own against vast numbers of disciplined troops." The Volunteers were now looked upon as New Zealand's first line of defence.


Trooper Chas Clews of Waihi wrote back that "some of the Boer prisoners say that the Boers are more afraid of the New Zealanders than they are of the Gordon Highlanders, they don't like the way we attack them in open order each man as he likes."


In September the death was reported in South Africa of Joe Scott, brother of J. Scott of the Thames Naval Band.


Around Sept 28 1900, Lieut Col Banks, commanding the Auckland district, wrote asking Lieut and Adjutant Sommerville to see if the men who offered their services for a third rifle volunteer corps at Thames were still willing to serve, and wanted a reply urgently. This was considered a very commendable move.


Driver J.A. Wilson, of the N.Z. Battery in South Africa, wrote home to Thames. There was talk of Lance Corporal J Strange being well enough to back to South Africa. With the Boer Government beaten and in exile, the war was beginning to really get under way. Bombardier A. Braithwaite of Thames wrote home of fierce engagements. Trooper James Farrell of Thames wrote likewise. He said the Boer marksmanship was good up to 300 yards, beyond that theirs was better. News came in November that he had been dangerously wounded, in fighting the elusive De Wet.


In December the Thames Volunteers presented Trooper Newdick with a "gold albert", while their Trooper Braithwaite was still in South Africa, it was noted.


On January 22 1901, it was noted that Hauraki Rifles were under Captain Adams and Lieuts Lucas and Swindley. The Volunteers came into the picture with the death of Queen Victoria at this time.


At the end of February Paeroa welcomed back home Troopers R. Hubbard and W. MacPherson, of the First Contingent.  Trooper Wigmore of Thames was killed.


On April 27 it was noted that local recruits to the volunteers now signed on for 3 years instead of 1.


On May 8 1901, arrangements were being made to take a good representation of local Volunteers by steamer to Auckland for the reception of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary).  These included Volunteers from Thames and Ohinemuri and the Thames Naval band. Meanwhile Wm Deakin of Thames fell in South Africa. The war dragged on. There had been so many false alarms of peace that someone suggested the war might end before peace was declared.


On June 26 1901, it was noted that it had been decided to form a Thames Rifle Club. Meanwhile Trooper Jack Gatland was being entertained at Coromandel before going back to South Africa. On July 20 Troopers Gordon and Douglas were back at Thames, the latter ti go on to Waihi. For Ohinemuri, to get off the train at Paeroa, were Troopers Marsant, McGruer, Fahey, Douglas, Stitchbury, Copeland and some from the Forth Contingent. Troopers Hector Campbell and C. Hinton were welcomed back to Coromandel. Trooper J.A. Wilson of Thames was made a Corporal in South Africa. Then Thames had Trooper Taylor to welcome back. All this kept soldiering in the public eye, on a local level, particularly the welcomes back.  Te Aroha had the return of Troopers Wild, Mikkleson and McKee.


Meanwhile Daldy McWilliams was petitioning the Governmet for compensation for his injuries 22 years before. It was a long time.  The best friends of the Volunteers now were the Boers. Trooper Morris Davis returned to Waikino and was feted.


On October 4 1901, it was noted that the old colours of the Thames Navals were being deposited at St Georges Church. The Russians were better friends to the Navals than the Boers, who had no fleet.


For On October 7 it was stated that the full-dress scarlet uniform for the No. 2 (Hauraki) Battalion will be sanctioned as soon as the companies are uniformed alike in the undress khaki drill uniform (as laid down for the colony) so that all the companies can appear on parade in drill order in the one uniform. The Paeroa corps has now adopted the undress uniform and it will probably be brought up for consideration by the other companies of the battilion.


Waihi Rifle Range was opened on 12th October, with 300 present. About 1+1/2 miles from the town, now said to be of 5,000, and provided with a good background of sloping hills (the range). On 14 October it was noted that the Kauneranga school cadets at Thames had made their first appearance in their smart new khaki uniforms.


A school cadet movement (voluntary) was growing at this time.


A number of people came from as far as Coromandel to see the depositing of the Colours of the No.1 Thames Rifles in St Georges Church, Thames. There was even talk of reviving the Thames Rowing Club, which had had some sort of connection in the public mind with the Thames Navals. It soon had 5 crews.


One of the Thames boys in South Africa, son of Captain Grant was now a Lieut. Thames decided in December 1901 to hold a military fete and bazaar to help Hospital funds. It meant plenty of Volunteer uniforms around.


Mr Grigg, of  My Own New Zealand Home, wrote a song, We are the Hauraki boys marching on, to the roll of the drum, for the school children to sing. 50 young men presented themselves at Thames for the Eighth Contingent.


On 24 December 1901, the Thames Star noted that 24 of the 50 who volunteered for South Africa passed their tests, including riding. Fewer were finally selected. Meanwhile Sergeant Major Callaway was returning to Coromandel after a second tour of duty in South Africa.


With the School Cadets growing rapidly in numbers in New Zealand, it was announced on Jan 13, 1902 : It has been decided that the control of the public school (cadet) corps shall be transferred  from the Defence Department to the Education Department. This could have been an effect on the Volunteers in the future, by depriving them of organic connection they had previously enjoyed with the cadet bodies, as an automatic source of supply, y succession of age.


On March 6 1902, there was reference to the Thames Naval Band having had a long history. It had now become Battalion Band. The Hauraki Band had been established 3 years before, and was doing well in competitions. If the local authorities provided a band rotunda in Victoria Reserve and arranged to have open air concerts every alternative Thursday, general satisfaction would be expressed.


On March 20 it was noted that the indefatigable Sergeant Major Callaway of Coromandel was making a third trip to South Africa, with the Ninth Contingent. It was noted on March 25 that with so many men away in South Africa, and the local Volunteer corps throughout the Hauraki Peninsula somewhat disorganised in consequence, there was no battalion camp being held that season, but that Ohinemuri No. 1 Rifles was trying to arrange a camp at Thames. In shooting, Sergeant Crosbie won the district belt.


The general climate was favourable to an upsurge in volunteers once the South African war was over.


The general climate was favourable to an upsurge in volunteers once the South African war was over.  On March 25 and 26, the hon. James McGowan MP for Thames and Minister of Mines, was quoted and commented on, with reference to the rise of New Zealand nationhood, in a prominent position as part and parcel of a mighty empire advancing for  New Zealand will make a prominent part in the nation making epoch of then being suggested-New Zealand could look after herself-and reference to the defence of New Zealand. 

It was mentioned that the Boer war record had shown they came in overwhelming numbers. Which was as good as a recruiting speech for Volunteers. On 10 April, 1902, the Volunteer Hall at Paeroa was opened with full military carnival.  Thames wanted one too and talked of organizing. 

It complained that Paeroa with one company and no band could boast a splendid drill hall, while Thames with two strong companies and two bands had no decent drill hall at all. On April 19, with interest high in Volunteers, the following information was given: the Hauraki Battalion was constituted on 9 July, 1898, under the name of the Second Battalion Auckland Rifle Volunteers. On 1 October, 1901, the designation was changed to Second Battalion Auckland (Hauraki) Infantry Volunteers. Thus  giving the battalion the distinctive name of the district from which the majority of the corps was raised. The battalion Comprised the following companies in order of seniority, viz, Thames Rifle Volunteers (Thames), Late Navels; No. 1  Company Ohinemuri rifle volunteers (Paeroa); Hauraki Rifle Volunteers (Thames); Coromandel volunteers (Coromandel); No. 3 Company Ohinemuri Rifle Volunteers (Waihi); Coromandel Rifle Volunteers (Coromandel); Onehunga Rifle Volunteers (Onehunga) and and Huntly Rifle Volunteers (Huntly). The Thames Rifles (Late Navals) were originally formed on 8th of October, 1869, and havent spite of adverse circumstances continued an existence to the present eight.  It is the senior Company-the of the Battalion. It was noted that the first commanding officer of the battalion was Acting Major Kenny, late of 73rd Highlanders (Black Watch) and 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  He resigned 23 May, 1899, and was succeeded by Acting Major Porritt on 9 February, 1900. 

He was promoted to Major on 8 June, 1900, and Lieutenant Colonel a few days back. Captain A.T. Kenrick of Waihi was second in command and Acting Major. The Battalions Maori war cry was: Whakatangata, kia kaha. (Quit ye like men, be strong.) Captain Lucas had recently been gazetted Captain of the Hauraki Rifles by promotion.  He was one of the few officers with long service medal and volunteer officers Imperial decoration.  By May 8, 1902, Thames was trying to get the Defence Department interested in providing its Volunteers with the better rifle range.  Thames also thought to an idea which had been mooted of more departmental participation with the provision of drill halls and rifle ranges a very good one, saying they were deficient in both.

What should not make itself apparent at the time was that greater defence department participation, in the way of providing things costing money, would be a demand for and growth of Departmental control, leaving the way wide open for a transformation from voluntary to compulsory military service. In spite of the growth of school formations, they were still room for Volunteers to form bodies of cadets. On May 28, 1902, a meeting was held in the Thames at number one rifles drill hall for the purpose of forming a cadet corps.  There was a good attendance, and about 40 signified their intention of becoming members, and the names of a number of others were also he didnt.  After the business in connection with the meeting, those present were put through a number of movements, and judging by the manner in which they executed all orders, bid fair to become a smart company of cadets.

There was mention of Waiokaraka school cadets taking part in the coronation celebrations of Thames. News of peace with the Boers came in a message declined June 1, 1902. On June 2 in the evening, there was a big deep peace demonstration in Thames, the Fire Brigade leading the procession.  Following came the Battalion Band under the band master J. Gordon, the Hauraki Band under Booth, the Thames No. Rifles and their Cadets under Captain Shand, the Hauraki Rifles under Captain Lucas, and Tararu school cadets under Captain WH Newton.  He had been captain of such a formation for a long time, and also headmaster of Tararu school.  Coromandel and Waihi sent in reports of similar enthusiastic demonstrations.  Less officially, Thames had a boys band of unmusical kerosene tins, while Waihi had a tin can brigade of 200 schoolboys.  There were rockets, crackers, colored lights, and a number of business premises in Thames had gaslight illuminations. With slight change of title, all the formations having various versions of their names, lieutenant Colonel Porritt was noted as being in command of the No. 2 (Hauraki) Battalion.

In mid June Lieutenant Blenkhorn was back from South Africa in Coromandel, which was preparing for a big celebration and procession on Coronation Day. Thames was very busy with preparations too. A Maori wahines band was to come from Kerepehi, but for obvious reasons an officer by the local Volunteers to provide an escort was not entertained by the committee. I there were more returnees, like Trooper Sullivan to Thames.  But like a lieutenant Blenkhorn at Coromandel, there were no longer great welcomes, but no banquet, no flag waving, no guard of honor, no mayoral and municipal speeches. In other words, of the war was over. 

However, Thames was able to collect money for a South African War Memorial. On July 30 it was noted that the bodies participating in the Coronation celebrations in Thames would include school cadets from Waiokaraka, Tararu, Parawai, the Kauneranga in Baillie St, and the Kauneranga in Sandes St.  The advance guard was to be of returned troopers on horseback, then local party members and the Hauraki band.  After Lodges etc would come Volunteers and Cadets; ex Volunteer officers and men; Thames No. 1 Rifles; Hauraki Rifles; the various school cadets; Fire Brigade; Maori wahine band and Maoris. With all this stir working up, several Thames troopers returned last night, and met with a hearty reception. The celebrations were duly held on August 9, 1902, and reported at great length. 

The Thames returnees included trooper Ensor, Cottie, Carthey and Walton, with Sergeant Taylor of Thames and Sergeant-Major Houghton of Waihi. With the war over, there was a reference on August 26, 1902, of the disbandment of the Thames Goldfields cadets owing to the small amount of capitation available, meaning from the department. The Naval cutter was still extant, it being noted on September 1 that it would resume regular excursions in the summer and arrange picnic parties and was already taking preliminary excursions.  Troopers continued to return to Thames without particular notice, and to other centres.  Te Aroha had sent 50 men to South Africa, and lost only one, Trooper Rudolph Manning, who died of sickness when returning in a troop ship. Paeroa was to erect a memorial to Trooper George Roland Bradford, as being the first New Zealander to succumb to injuries in South Africa.

It was noted he had been a Sergeant-Major of number two battalion (Hauraki) Infantry Volunteers. At Tapu, north of Thames, veteran Captain Newby reckoned that with 50 men he could hold the district against 500 by using De Wit methods. However, the volunteers for some time work out of the news, and the Naval Cutter ISA Darling conveyed picnic parties. On November 8 the hon. McGowan laid the foundation stone for the Troopers Memorial in Thames, with one of the biggest crowds in Thames for some time, with the volunteers and cadets forming a hollow square, facing the platform, while the band master went up on a pedestal to conduct the massed bands.  It was called the Troopers Memorial now, in memory of those who had died from Thames, being three, Troopers Dekin, Forbes and Farqqhar.  The actual memorial was later put in at different places, in Victoria Park, the stone 19 had to the corner of Mary and Pollen streets in the centre of the town.


There was another ceremony in which the local volunteers took part, the unveiling of the memorial in what proved to be a temporary site on December 18.  The local veterans were led by a sergeant Janes Donnelly, who managed a large flag in the teeth of a westerly gale.  Commemorated were Trooper Robert Farquhar, Gunner Fred W.D. Forbes and Trooper William Denkin.


The Thames rifle range at this time was noted as a temporary one near Kopu.


There was something of a business depression after the South African or Boer war, and the Volunteers were out of the news till August 27, 1903, with:-


"It is the intention of the commandant officers to take steps to form cadets corps in all towns where volunteer corps exist, as it is recognised that cadet corps form splendid feeders of the senior corps." The direct link had already been broken by putting the school bodies under the Education Department, and the attempt in Thames to form cadets outside the school system had been shortlived.  This move at least showed the problem was recognized, whether or not it would provide a solution.  At this time football was extremely popular.  The Governor was Lord Ranfurly.


On September 16 1903, it was noted that Coromandel had its own Town Band, and a Volunteer company.


On September 24, 1903, it was noted that the Waihi Rifles elected H.E. Mayer captain and sergeant R. McMillan second Lieutenant.  The methods were democratic.


On October 13, 1903, it was noted that the officer commanding No. 1 Thames rifles was Lieutenant Battson.  The Coromandel celebration Committee was unveiling a memorial on the King's birthday, November 9.  " the Thames volunteers and bands are to be invited to attend, and arrangements are being made to entertain them if they accept." The memorial was both of Queen Victoria and the Coronation of King Edward.


Coromandel duly had a gala holiday, with Fire Brigade, the Town Band and Fife band, Friendly Societies, and little while before, when a town band was formed or reformed.  That is form bands.  There was mention on November 13 of the "newly formed Paeroa Town Band." So Paero still had a fine new drill hall and volunteers without a band.


Volunteers generally now almost the patriotic fervor of the Boer War, even if it had been causing some disorganization, and slipped out of the news except for the usual accounts of valuers of rifle competitions.


On July 8, 1904 it was noted that Sergeant Major Chester, " well and favourably known at Thames, drill instructor for the Auckland District, and recently for the Hauraki Battalion, who had come out from England with five other instructors five years before, was to be retired on July 31, and probably the other five as well.  His place would be taken " by a man selected from the Permanent Force." This was obviously the thin edge of a takeover by the permanent force.


The next day it was noted that there was a body of Thames Imperial Veterans which extended a welcome to the new Governor, Lord Plunkett.  It was also noted on July 11 that volunteering being at a low ebb made it hard for local companies to keep good musters.  But when the Thames footballers were defeated by Auckland it was noted that  "a solemn and impressive hush fell over the town." Business continued "dull", and even in Waihi with its big mind there was unemployment.  The Japanese were dealing with any residues of Russian menace, and were very popular with local newspapers in consequence.


The volunteers continued in a quiet way at Te Aroha.  On August 8, 1904, it was announced that the Piako Mounted Rifles CEOs were holding a grand military ball at Te Aroha.  At Thames for Skating Club was gliding to the music of the Hauraki band.  The population of Thames was 5300, or 4800 with suburbs, while Waihi was estimated at around 5000.  Over a 10th of the population of Thames, 500, went to Auckland to see a football match.


The volunteer struggled on, with occasional complaints.


On September 6, 1904, it was noted that Thames was wanting a proper rifle range.  "For years the Thames volunteers were allowed to use the rifle range at Shortland, despite the fact that a determined opponent of the range protested and protested to the Government.  At least the gentleman in question took legal advice, and the result...  was a demand for compensation made on the Government through the Defence Department...  he claimed something into four figures.  The Defence Department had no desire to get involved in a litigation that might have proved costly, the range was closed as dangerous.  One was found at Parawai, giving about 1200 yards; it was surveyed, flags marked the various distances, and the hopes of the volunteers were raised accordingly.


" To enable the service regulations to be carried out, a temporary range was found near Kopu, and by individual effort and assistance from the local companies, arrange was made so that class and volley firing might be carried out and capitation earned.  Under these adverse conditions the companies have struggled...  it is hoped that the necessary grant will be made for this session." It was noted that the last time Josef Ward was in Thames he had said the Government would do something about the rifle range.


On September 18, a representative muster for a church parade had the Battalion Band, under band master A.  Clarke, Thames Public School Cadet Battalion, the Cadet Battalion (Hauraki) Band, with band master T.B. Booth, No 1 Thames Rifles were under lieutenant H. Pearse accompanied by lieutenant Spraggon, Hauraki Rifles under Captain Ferguson, the Tararu Cadets under Lieutenant Floyd.


"Captain Newton (Tararu) was in command of the Cadet Battalion." The cadets were school cadets under the Education Board, but in a liaison with the volunteers which did not include the volunteers getting capitation allowances for them.  The whole parade was under Captain B. Lefevre.  It included the Thames Volunteer Fire Brigade which worked fairly closely with the volunteers for such occasions, under Supt. Arch. Burns, with Captains Gibbons and Addison.


So Thames Mining was beginning to pick up to this time, and by the end of the year were starting to boom with the Waiotahi, the last great bonanza.


On September 20 it was noted: "the Thames Public School Battalion is now an accomplished fact.  The necessary details will be forwarded to the government.  The New Zealand Cadet uniform is blue knickers, blue jerseys, white Eton collars and Glengarmry caps with check borders.  But the local Volunteers were badly needing a new drill hall.  At a meeting of the Thames No. 1 Rifles, Lieutenant H. Pearse was "unanimously elected captain amid loud applause", the method being democratic, following the lead of Waihi, this being recorded for Thames as being a new departure.


On 8th of October, 1904 the Battalion Band, under conductor Clarke, played on the spacious veranda of the new Brian Boru hotel to a very large gathering. F.  Hetherington had been made a Lieutenant of Volunteers.


Early in 1905, on January 9, there was mention of Germany preparing for war on England, judging from the fleet race been starting up.


On the weekend of January 21-22, 1905, the Auckland Battalion Band visited Thames and played in the rotunda at Victoria Park.  Meanwhile the local Volunteers,being No. 1 Thames rifles and Hauraki rifles, were in camp at Deebies paddock.


On February 8, 1905, it was noted that prosperous Waihi was having a camp of 70 volunteers, or 100 with the band.  Thames was looking up with the Waiotahi.  However Waihi by April had 300 unemployed and parading non volunteers ending in riot.


On May 18 and 1905, it was noted that Thames number one rifles now had new uniforms, part of a general turn to khaki.


On June 2, 1905, it was noted that the battalion band was giving a series of promenade concerts in Thames Miners Union Hall.  That helped funds. Even the school cadets were complaining on July 28 that they wanted increased capitation, with complaints that in some cases school committees took their money.  Seddon talked self reliance.  Which meant no increase.  The school cadet system was showing signs of being less popular than in the times of "Jingoes" and the Boer War.


On September 28, 1905 it was noted that the cadets of the different Thames schools formed the Thames School Cadet Battalion under Major Lucas V.D., with the Adjutant Captain Marsden and the Quartermaster Captain Fisher.  Schools were Kauaeranga Boys', Captain Hammond and Lieut Shepherd and Findlay; Paramai, Capt Fewett; Waio-Karaka, Captain Ferguson and Lieutenant Freeman; Tararu, Captain Newton and Lieutenants Floyd and Thornton.  Popular or otherwise, they were becoming well organized.

 Te Puke Shield winners 1905 11-016

Te Puke Shield Winners 1905


1905 - 1910 (pages 41-55) 

On October 18, 1905, it was noted the Battalion Band was carrying on with promenade concerts.  The Minister of Defence (Seddon) decided to increase the capitations for school cadets from 5s. to 7s6d per annum.  That matter was Defence Department in the Premier's Portfolio.


October 20 was official Trafalgar Day and centenary.  The Thames Star thought it was a pity the schools could not have combined for a joint celebration, "in which volunteers, veterans, bands and cadets could have taken part." But each school celebrated well, and in Thames all public offices and banks closed, and some of the businesses for a couple of hours in the afternoon, " to enable employees and others to attend the celebrations at the Kauaeranga School.  "On all the public offices, on the majority of business premises, and on many private dwellings, flags are flying in honor of the day." (there had been many flagpoles erected during the Boer war, with much patriotism.) The biggest function was at the Kauaeranga School, with the cooperation of the Volunteers, veterans, Hauraki Band and Tararu cadets.  There was a new flagpole, and much speechifying by important people.  Songs included, " twas in Trafalgar Bay", "Hearts of Oak", "the Red, White and Blue", "Rule Britannia" and, to show there was now no hard feelings against King Edward's Entente capital Cardiale, the "Marseillaise".  The famous flag message was runner up, by Kauaeranga cadets, by veterans and volunteers, and by the Tararu cadets, in succession, of three lots of flags.  Parawai had its cadets and scholars, likewise Waiokaraka.  Only pupils were mentioned for Waiotahi.  Tararu was with Kauernaga.


Meanwhile the German Press was conducting an anti English campaign.


The Hauraki Rifles were to attend Divine Service on Sunday, the 22nd of October in view of Trafalgar day, whereupon it was noted that six years before the first contingent of 212 had left New Zealand for the Boer War.


Waihi was arranging for the opening of the railway a procession with friendly societies, local bands, fire brigade, a volunteers, and school children.


Mr. Marston was headmaster of Kauaeranga School, and "energetic".  The celebration were at the street  Baillie School.  There were No. 1 Thames and Hauraki Rifles, Thames Veterans, Hauraki Band, Kauaeranga and Tararu Cadets.  Over always Major Lucas, V.D.  Officer commanding the Thames Cadet Battalion.


There were also Captain Pearce, No. 1 Thames Rifles, Honorary Lieutenant Battson, Lieutenant Hetherington (Hauraki Rifles), Sergeant Donnelly in charge of the veterans, Hauraki Band under band master Booth, Kauaeranga cadets under Captain William Hammond and Lieutenant Shepherd, and that Tararu Cadets under Captain Newton (headmaster) and Lieutenant Floyd.  There was also a French visitor who enjoyed the Marseillaise.


At Saint George's Church on Sunday, the 22nd of October, No.1 Thames Rifles had Captain H. Pearce Lieutenants Spraggon and Syms and Honorary Lieutenant Battson.  Hauraki Rifles had Lieutenant Hetherington in command, with Surgeon Captain Lapraik,


Parawai ditto had Capt Newton . Waiokaraka ditto had Capt Ferguson. Tararu ditto had Capt Newton.  Major Lucas V.D.  was in command of Thames Cadet Battalion and Captain Adjutant Somerville in command of the Volunteers.


On October 28 it was noted No. 1 Thames rifles was having a drawing room entertainment in aid of drill hall funds.  One was still desired.


November 2, 1905 recorded Auckland stock exchange members presented a handsome silver cup for a shooting competition trophy to No. 1 Thames Rifles Company.


November 6 noted Thames battalion band was unable to accept an invitation to the opening of the Paeoa- Waihi railway at Waihi on November 9 owing two " being engaged in the military sports at Parawai that day." November 9 was the King's birthday, and they were to muster at Mary Street in the morning for a daylight parade.


November 9, 1905 it was noted that the volunteer and cadets ports prompted by a Thames rifles were being held in Paeroa that afternoon, while Colonel Porritt arrived in Thames from Paeroa to take charge of Thames celebrations.


A large number of Thames railway excursionists went to the official opening of the Paeroa Waihi railway at Waihi, and not so many but a large number at Te Aroha as a favourite holiday resort.  At Thames the attraction included a "feu de joie" by the Volunteers at the morning parade, in honor of the King.


The Second Battalion wanted the Thames Borough Council to put up canvas screens for the Band Rotunda, having been unable to keep their music stands up there on a windy day.


At Parawai military sports there were two bodies of Thames volunteers; Thames No. 1 Rifles under Captain Pearce and Hauraki rifles under Lieutenant W. Clark; Battalion Band under Band Master Clarke; a contingent of the Ohinemuri rifles, with the Tararu and some of the Paeroa cadets.  They were also fireman's competitions for the Fire Brigade, which normally worked in with the Volunteers.  The drawing room entertainment put on by a No. 1 Rifles and the Miners Union Hall at the evening helped hall funds.


"At the Waihi station the volunteers and cadets were drawn up, and on the arrival of the Premier presented arms, the band playing".  The Mayor, T. Gilmour, was waiting with B.F Herries and prominent citizens on the platform.  It was noted on November 25 the Volunteers and their band in Thames continued to take part in various functions, some for the hall funds.


On December 16 the No. 1 Thames Rifles were preparing to form a guard of honor for the Governor.  (The Rt Hon.  William Lee, Baron Plunket KCMG KCVO 20/5/04-8/6/10).


Lord Plunket boarding Rehutai 1905

Acknowledgement Winkelmann, Henry. Lord Plunket boarding the steam launch 'Rehutai' at the Man-of-War Steps at the opening of the yachting season.  November 1905

On December 19 it was noted that turn out for the Governor consisted of No. 1 Thames Rifles under Captain Pearce, Hauraki Rifles under Lieutenant W. Clarke, Battalion Band under Band Master A. Clarke, and veterans under Sergeant J. Donnelly.  Cadets were Kauaeranga under Captain Hammond, Parawai under Captain Hewitt, Waiokaraka under Captain Ferguson, Tararu under Captain Newton.  Captain Adjutant Somerville was in charge of the Volunteers with Major Lucas as a Marshal over the whole. January 9, 1906.  "Tenders have been called for the erection of the Waihi Volunteer Hall, which for a considerable time has been badly needed.  An excellent site was granted some time ago by the Hon. James McGowan, Minister for Mines, at the back of the Borough Chambers and Magistrates' Court."


January 25, 1906.  "the volunteer camp at Parawai"   was inspected by Colonel Davies CB, officer commanding the Auckland District and Lieutenant Colonel Porritt, officer commanding the Hauraki Battalion.  "There was a good muster, 113 being on parade.  A little attack and defence maneuver was carried out, after which the Battalion returned to camp in were then put through Battalion drill." The Colonel praised them and hoped to see them at Easter.


January 30, 1906.  The South Auckland Rifle Association was having its annual meeting at Paeroa, with both the Thames corps represented, in shooting results for the first day including also men from No. 1 Ohinemui Rifles, Waihi Rifles, Piako Mounted Rifles, with Waikato and Auckland units.  Those from Thames where the No. 1 Thames and Hauraki rifles, Piako Mounted Rifles, with Waikato and Auckland units .  Those from Thames where the No. 1 Thames and Hauraki rifles.   Superintending the Rifle Association shooting were Lieutenant Colonel Porritt, Captain and Adjutant Somersville and Captain Hubbard, assisted by Staff Instructor Sergeant-Major MacDonnell.


February 5, No. 1. Thames Rifles were under Captain Pearce, Battalion Band still Clarke. (6) Thames Volunteer Companies and the Battalion Band were running an excursion to Auckland on Saturday, February 17, presumably in aid of funds.


February 14, Captain Adjutant Somerville of No. 2 (Hauraki) Battalion had passed his examinations for Major.


February 16.  All existing defence regulations have been revoked and new ones gazetted, including the personal payment to officers and volunteers attending daylight parades the sum of 2/6 for each such parade, with a limit of six each year.  Cadets and bands were not entitled to payment for these daylight parades, which must be held in the open air within defined hours, and be devoted to practical field manoeuvres.  Other payments were also provided for, such as guards of honour and ceremonial parades, in which case bandsmen might be paid.  There was also provision for allowances for targets and marking, travelling, camps and ammunition.  In cases of a member of the Volunteer force being seized or injured, the minister might, if the Board of Inquiry so recommended, grant payment of medical attendants and a sum equal to half ordinary earnings.  Efficiency badges, with the personal payment of £1.00 to the four most efficient in each company, were provided for, and every volunteer who earned such personal payment for three consecutive years would receive a further payment of £1.00, and every volunteer who had earned the efficiency badge for three years became entitled to a distinguished badge, which could be worn for the remainder of the volunteer service.  These allowances and badges are in accordance with the scheme outlined by Mr. Seddon some time ago.


21 February, 1906.  Captain Adjutant Somerville had been advised that the next Volunteer Encampment at Easter would be at Motuihihi Island, where the conditions are expected to be somewhat easier and more enjoyable than those of the previous camp. an Auckland correspondent writes that the striking good discipline in appearance of the Thames Volunteers and Band on the occasion of the visit created a very good impression.


22 February, 1906.  The Premier (Seddon) said nothing had done more to further the Volunteer Spirit than the establishment of the Cadet System.  As soon as the Mother Country took up the Cadet Movement, conscription be not to mentioned again. (Five years would tell another story). 28 February, 1906.  The erection of the Volunteer Drill Hall at Waihi has been commenced.


(The war with Germany was a long time coming, and volunteer interest slowly sagged.  The school cadets were possibly proving what we now call counterproductive, many of those who passed through having had all the drill they wanted, and not on a voluntary basis, in effect.)


12 April, 1906 . One of the local Volunteer Companies will not be represented at the Easter encampment at this year.  Some dissatisfaction is expressed at the manner in which the men were fed last year, and the local volunteers apparently are not anxious to undergo a similar experience this year.


24 April, 1906 The Auckland Headmasters Association Opined (1) instruction in shooting should be a necessary part of the training of Cadets Corps.  But that (2) compulsory class firing should not be a necessary condition for earning the capitation for cadets Corps. They strongly objected to a Cadet Camp as unnecessary, too great a responsibility on teachers of the was sickness; capitation ground not sufficient to supply officers and cadets with suitable food, having it within school hours would seriously disorganise schools, and during vacation was unsuitable, also that many parents would object on moral grounds. Kauaeranga householders endorsed this, and Parawai also, with the exception of Clause 2.  (Which must have seemed somewhat contradictory to clause (1).) For the


17 December, 1906.  The Thames Volunteers had a visit from the Auckland Engineers and Battalion Band. 


18 January, 1907.  No. 1 Thames Rifles and Hauraki Rifles were to go to Parawai for their annual camp of instruction. Paeroa Volunteers were to attack their defendant camp.


24 January, 1907.  Hauraki Rifles, Captain Somersville; No. 1 Thames rifles Captain Pearce.  Battalion staff drill instructor Sergeant-Major MacDonnell.  Ohinemuri came, even if it was too wet for an attack, and Colonel Porritt put the Volunteers through some Battalion drill.


16 February, 1907.  Waihi reported the Volunteer Camp at Tauranga had been washed out by heavy rain and flooding.  Colonel Wolfe inspected the local Volunteer companies at Waihi, Colonel Porritt and Lieutenant Carpenter also being present.


18 February, 1907.  The local Volunteers and Cadet Battalion received mention now and then. 


23 February, 1907.  Bugler Sparke, of the Tararu school, was the first to win the handsome challenge belt recently presented to the cadets by the citizens of Thames.


16 March, 1907.  Corporal George Newman won the district belt for shooting.


16 April, 1907.  Reference Waiokaraka School Cadets and Hauraki band.


1 May, 8 1907.  At a Volunteer social at Te Aroha, Thomas Gavin, an old Thames man, said he joined the Naval Brigade 1868, used to train in a Customs shed at Auckland under Captain Grant, drill instructor.  He was with the Brigade till it went to Parihaka - 1250 to take one man.  There were two months away, all being engaged for three months, but in spite of that engagement they only received two months pay.  This piece of financial maneuvering was the means of breaking up volunteering at Thames.


His company was only allowed to be 100 strong, but they had to 50 over the number, for which the (Coy?) bought the uniforms.  (Apparently started with Auckland Navals, then shortly to Thames, whose Navals were formed in October 1869).


So strong was the feeling against the Defence Department that Mr. John Brice (sic = Bryce), the Minister for Defence at that time, was burnt in effigy at the Thames.


It was the wind up of volunteering and it had never looked up since.  He remembered two men coming over the mountain track to Te Aroha-there was no other road those days-asking him to go to Thames ready to proceed to Parihaka.  Major Murray sent word that the men wanted him to go with them.  He went to Thames, and announced of the Corps what the situation was, and ordered all those men who would go to Parihaka two steep two paces forward, to which every man responded.


There were two young men who used to come into town from the bush to drink at nights for want of something better to do. They begged to go into the Volunteers, and they finely made two excellent Volunteers.


25 May, 1907.  Battalion Band had collected over £6000 for charitable and distressed cases and now was making a collection for its own funds for the first time in 15 years.


6 July, 8 1907. When Messrs Porrit, Nepean Kenny and S.J. Loughlin the were in Thames with the petition to present in Wellington on the unmilitary manner of Ohinemuri silting the first named was given as Colonel Porritt, being generally thought of more as a Colonel than a Solicitor.  The personalas S.J. L, E.W. Porritt and Courtenay Kenny.


27 July, 8 1907.  There was a Volunteer ball at Paeroa. 9 August 1907.  Thames Volunteers were to visit Coromandel. 13th of August, 1907.  Should the Volunteer force not be maintained, or are brought up to an efficient state, volunteering had had its last chance, says the first report of the Council of Defence, submitted to Parliament.  The alternative is a system of universal or compulsory training, where by the burden of servers in the Defence Forces will be more evenly distributed.


23 August, 1907.  The weakness of the Volunteer system was noted by Parliament.


26 August, 1907.  Volunteer Rifle Range was noted as an urgent want for Thames, following the closing of the Parawai range in consequence of the complaints of residents regarding danger to human beings and livestock, the district was practically without a range.  A suggestion was up the Waikiekie valley at Parawai-the native owners were willing to sell at a reasonable figure, but the Department took no further action.  In the meantime some of the more enthusiastic shots had prepared a temporary range at Totara Point, had considerable inconvenience and labour and expenditure of money and shooting competitions were carried on, to the advantage of the companies for capitation-and to the Department has it was apparently relieved of any further responsibility.  Nothing further had been done.  (Thames at this time was in depression with the Waitahi down).


4 September, 1907.  Volunteer troubles were noted as due to need for better financial allowances for needs.


12 September, 1907.  At Paeroa the Ohinemuri Rifle Volunteers were now the strongest infantry company in Auckland Province, and if it had 12 more would be the strongest in the Colony.  With 85 on the strength had needed only 17 men and one officer more to bring it to a war footing of 100 men and three officers, and then would keep capitation for the whole 103 Captain J Nathan was trying to that.


18 September, 1907.  Thames Rifles were having their annual excursion to Coromandel on Saturday, 21 September.  Noted as local School Cadet Corps in Thames were Waiokaraka (now central school-closed at end 1971), Kauaeranga (South), Parawai and Tararu (North).


23 September, 1907.  No. 1 Thames Rifles and Battalion Band have their annual excursion to Coromandel.  (21st)


25 September, 1907.  Local Volunteers were to parade next day for Dominion Day (first).


1 July, 8 1908.  A branch of the National Defence League was formed at Thames.  A Mr. Murdoch, one of the delegates, said, unless you want to be digging potatoes for Chinamen in a few years, you had better join the defence league and help on a deserving cause. Aims included universal training of all boys and young men.


4 July, 1908.  A branch of the National Defence League was formed at Waihi.


7 October, 1908.  There were movements for compulsory military service.  China was mentioned as a possible threat.


15 August, 1908.  An anonymous imaginer a published a brochure in which the Japanese sank the American Fleet in a surprise attack.


4 September 1908.  War scares about Germany were growing.  A German ship that looked in on fleet manoeuvres was no longer a welcome guest but an impudent interloper.


5 September, 1908.  Apprehensions of German zeppelins were being mentioned.  (In mid August there had been to visit to Auckland of the great White Fleet U.S.)


8 October, 1908.  Further schemes were mooted for compulsory military training.  At Thames had the Battalion Band gave a concert, and then went to the band contest at Hamilton.


14 October, 1908.  The boy scout movement inaugurated by lieutenant general Baden-Powell had already been taken up in Dunedin.


23 October, 1908.  It was noted the boys at Dunedin (20) had started entirely on their own initiative.  (Verbal testimony by one of those concerned same happened at Thames).


25 November, 1908.  Major Lucas retired and after long service resigned command of the local Primary School Cadet Battalion.


In 1908 there had been mentions of economic trouble, starting in the U.S.A.


26 January, 1909.  America was recovering from a financial collapse.


28 January, 1909.  Waihi was retrenching by £750 per month.  At the same time financial stringency, which had remained easiest in the dairying areas, was now becoming easier among the sheep farmers.


24 February, 1909.  The annual cadet camp at Omahu had 395 under canvas.  Thames: Staff: Major WH Newton.  Adjutant Captain WHP WHP Marsden.  Quartermaster Captain J Fisher.  Assistant Quartermaster Captain G. Johnston. No. 1 Coy (Kauaeranga Cadets) : Captain TWG Hammond, Lieutenants McGowan and Hudson, 36 rank and file. No. 2 Coy (Parawai Cadets): Captain JH Trimmer and Lieutenant White, 19 rank and file. No. 3 Coy (Waiokaraka No. 1 Cadets): captain SH Ferguson and Lieutenant Downs.  33. No. 4 Coy (Tararu Cadets): Captain D. Russell and Lieutenant Voss, 11 rank and file. No. 5 Coy (Waiokaraka No.2 Cadets) Lieutenant Stuart, 24 rank and file.


Ohinemuri Staff: Major DAF Campbell.  Quartermaster Captain W. Moore. No. 1 Coy (Waihi District High School No. 1 Cadets): Captain HG Wooler, 46. No. 2 Coy (Waihi do. No. 2): Captain W More (& QM) 34 rank and file. No. 3 Coy (Paeroa District High School) Captain GH Pocock, 42 rank and file. No. 4 Coy (Te Aroha, Morrinsville, Waihou Cadets): Lieutenants Scott and Brennan, 44. No. 5 Coy ( Karangahake and Waihi East): Lieutenants Corbett, 42 rank and file.


Lieutenant Colonel LW Loveday, O.C. New Zealand Primary School Cadets, supervised, with drill instructor Staff Sergeant-Major Cheater.  Dr. Lapraik and local health officer Mr. Franklin, also Dr. Walshe looked in, but health was very good.


2 April, 1909.  The Thames Star editorial headlined whether England would have war with Germany now or in three years time. 


3 April, 1909.  The District Officer Commanding for Volunteers was Colonel Woolfe.  Easter manoeuvres were to be held at Morrinsville.  Troops from Waihi, Paeroa and Thames number 130 officers and men, with three horses presumably for the leading officers.


12 May, 8 1909.  Mr. Robert McNab, who had charge of the Defence Department for two years (for Ward who was titular Minister of Defence) when he was a Minister, had been converted to compulsory military training and will shortly address the people of Thames on the subject. He had a thought out plan.


14 May, 8 1909.-Ohinemuri Silting Commission Met in Paeroa EW Porritt presiding.


20 May, 1909 Robert McNab, and an address in Thames on compulsory military service, said the cost would be very little greater and they would turn out 10,000 trained men a year instead of 3000.  He spoke of famous marksmen in the past of Thames: JW Walker, J. Gordon, Arch. And Jas Thomas, F.Sykes, P. Ware, F. Stone, H. Hill, J. Griffin, Bull, Londson, Baxter, G. Downey, J. Brownlee, J. Parslow and later W.H. Lucas and J.Inglis.


21 May, 1909.  Both Cadets drilling and basketball players were not being allowed to use Victoria Park in its present state (wet), owing to likelihood of damage. Hauraki Rifles were visiting Coromandel per Chelmsford steamer, the Band to follow in an oil launch. Major Newton, of the Primary School Cadet Battalion, received notice of his appointment as Chief Scoutmaster of the Thames District.  (four patrols and more forming).


17 June, 1909.  A meeting to form a Defence Cadet Corps at Thames resulted in 40 enrolling, out of an establishment fixed at 63.


24 June, 1909.  Ohinemuri County Council was retrenching.


12 July, 1909.  Thames Defence Cadet Corps still required a few more names to be made an official corps.


20 July, 1909.  A young American naval designer expected the most terrific war and the worlds history within the next five years (1914).


28 August, 1909.  Regarding Government retrenchment, the Hon.  JA Millar said the period of depression was passing.


30 September, 1909.  Mr. EW Porritt, the well known solicitor of the firm of Messrs Porritt and Mueller, of Paeroa, has received the appointment of Stipendiary Magistrate and Warden at Dunedin. He had lengthy experience of mining law.  For some years he was Clerk of the Court at Thames, but owing to the mining boom he resigned that position to practice the law, coming to Paeroa for that purpose, and being four years in partnership with the late Mr. J A Miller.  Subsequently the partnership with Mr. FH Mueller, the business being carried on under the name of Porritt and Mueller. He was in command of the Hauraki Battalion of Volunteers.


14 October, 1909.  The Thames Defence Cadets were now up to 41 and it was intended to go to the full strength of 60.


19 October, 1909.  The National Defence League were circulating a petition to ask Parliament for universal and compulsory military training of youths.


Colonel Porritt had been appointed a Magistrate and was being fear welled from Paeroa by Volunteers.  A special train is being run from Thames.


20 October, 1909.  Thames Defence Cadet Corps had grown to 43. A new floor had been put in Thames at No. 1 Rifles Drill Hall, Albert Street.  It was hoped to have the Defence Cadets and naval uniform by Christmas.


25 October, 1909.  Colonel Porritt was going to Alexandra as Magistrate and Warden.  The district Volunteers, those from Thames being No. 1 Thames Rifles and Hauraki Rifles and the Battalion Band, presented him with an illuminated address.


28 October, 1909.  Thames Defence Cadets were doing well. No. 3 Coy Ohinemuri Rifle Volunteers, had Lieutenant WM Gardner appointed Acting Captain; John Glenn Cornes appointed Acting Lieutenant, as was also William Shettock Jones. No. 1 Thames Rifles and the Battalion Band were to pay their annual visit to Auckland and be made by band and so on there.


4 November, 1909.  Thames Borough voted for compulsory military training by 5 to 4.


5 November, 1909.  A petition was being largely signed in Thames calling for universal compulsory military service, voluntary being considered inadequate, not providing that general training for home defence which had been made imperative by the military and naval developments of modern times in both Europe and Asia. The official acceptance of the Thames Defence Cadets was approved by the governor, and they were accordingly to be sworn in.


17 November, 1909.  Coromandel still had its Coromandel rifles, Rev. Charles    Albert Vaughan being made their honorary chaplain.


18 November, 1909.  The new Thames Rifle Cadet Volunteers had the first instruction nights at the drill hall and Albert street, with a very good keen muster. The members of the Thames Rifles under the popular offices (Captain Pearce and Lieutenants Spraggon and Syms) have made a wonderful improvement to the drill hall in Albert street and with the commodious space for drilling, well appointed rooms, a boxing and athletics department, the company now possesses a valuable and most useful property.


25 November, 1909.  40 boys were sworn in for the Thames Defence Cadet Company, with 10 more applicants.  Aim was an establishment of 63.


3 December, 1909.  Thames defence cadets, with only 12 vacancies left, were measured for the naval uniforms at the first full formal parade.  Mr. JA Shand was unanimously elected captain of the company, EJ Watts lieutenant. Meanwhile the Thames volunteer companies, No. 1 and Hauraki Rifles, were having a mock battle on the Una Hill, with an open formation and taking cover attack by Captain Clark against Captain Pearces defenders.


20 December, 1909.  Mr. AH Gatland was Captain of the Coromandel Rifles.


1 July, 1910.  An effort is being made to induce the defence department to erect the drill halls at the Thames. The land available would give 87 by 120 feet.  District MP Mr. EH Taylor and other representatives had promised their support.


2 July, 1910.  The new Defence Act provided for Junior Cadets 12 to 14, or leaving school, whichever was the latter; Senior Cadets 14 to 18 or continuing beyond move at secondary school; General Training Section - 18 or when leaving secondary school to 21 (propose to increase to 26); 21 to 30 in Reserve.


3 August, 1910.  Captain HJ Pearce, commanding No.1 Thames Rifles, got a long service medal (12 years).


10 August 1910.  No. 1 Thames Rifles had been steadily improving its position.


18 August, 1910.  Hauraki Rifles and Thames Defence Cadets paraded together under Sergeant-Major MacDonnell.


19 August, 1910.  There was mention of Government retrenchment going on.


20 August, 1910.  "Rinking has 'caught on'to match the Thames and the Dominion Rink is proving  a veritable gold mine...  The volunteers had to hoe a hard row, and they have not spared themselves.  The end of the season should see them in a much improved financial position." (The Battalion Band provided music.)


2 September, 1910.  The Annual Military Ball under the auspices of the Coromandel Territorials was held the previous week.


6 September, 1910.  An editorial noted slow implementing of the " New Defence Bill."


21 September, 1910.  Surgeon Captain Walshe was instructing the Thames Senior Cadet Corps in first aid.


18 September, 1910.  Thames Catholic Young Men's Club were allowing the Thames Defence Cadets the use of their miniature rifle range.


3 November, 1910.  Te Aroha Rifle Club started in 1893,  "and of the original members not many are left.  There seems to be a revival of interest this year quite unprecedented." An inspection was carried out by inspecting officer Sergeant-Major McDonnell.


7 November, 1910.  On Sundays sixth the Auckland artillery and band left Thames in the evening by steamer Wakatere.  The local Salvation Army objected to "making a gala day of Sunday." It was noted it was "practically impossible for the Auckland men had to get away from business during the week, and the the only time that the members of the various companies can hope to visit Thames or any other place. It is contended that for the visitors that which church service on Sunday morning and the band playing a programme of music in the afternoon for the benefit of the hospital patients, the visits to the seaside on Sunday afternoon and the procession to the steamer are merely courteous acts that are reciprocated when the Thames volunteers and band visit Auckland." Local companies meeting the Aucklanders were Thames Rifles (Captain H. Pearce), Hauraki Rifles (Captain Clark), and Battalion Band (Bandmaster Clarke), all marched to drill hall in Albert Street.


22 November, 1910.  "The local Territorials and Battalion Band go into camp at Tararu on Saturday and under staff Drill Instructor Sergeant-Major MacDonnell, will put in a week's useful drill, the camp being occupied morning and evening.


25 November 1910.  "For Hauraki Thames No. 1 Rifles and the Battalion Band (about 100 in all) go into camp at Tararu tomorrow afternoon." Under command of Captain Pearce, with Staff Sergeant MacDonnell instructor.  Mister W. Taylor was caterer, "companies will provide their own cooks".  Break-up morning Saturday, December 3. 

Haurakis in camp c 1910s 11-015

Haurakis at camp in the Paeroa Domain,  some time prior to World War I. Tom McCune, middle rank, extreme left travelled by horse from his Whitianga home to Coromandel and then by boat to Paeroa to attend this camp. Original photograph donated to Hauraki Regiment by Tom W. McCune (62088 Private WWII). 6/6 Kenneth Ave,  Whitianga in June 1998 via Ken Dalzell and Russell Skeet of Thames.2011-003 HAU Hauraki Regiment Collection.


This article archived at Perma CC in August of 2016:

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The Volunteers - early military history in the Hauraki plains by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License