The Official Thames Citizens’ Band History

WELCOME to "The Official Thames Citizens’ Band History." Our history starts from a scratch band on the dusty tracks at the start of the "Thames Goldfields" in 1867 through to the full sounding Concert Band that you can see and hear today… thats about 150 years of history!! The bands influences go back even further…

In order to research our history another history had to be researched first that was: ’Thames Marching and Concert Band History (2011) in-brief.’ This is the back bone to ’The Four Names of Thames Citizens’ Band History.’ You can select these histories below:

As the latter history covers nearly 200 years it was necessary to separate it into chapters and sub-chapters. You can read through this history using the Chapter list on the right hand side – the "TCB History Index" – to get where you want to go or just scroll down as you go… Or purchase a copy of the published version…

"Thames Citizens’ Band
Past Present Future"

The story of a land in the hand
of a band ’n Thames for over 100 years!

Available from:
Thames Historical Museum.
Cnr Cochrane & Pollen Streets, Thames.
Thames Citizens' Band
practices or performances.

See About Page



All References in [ ]

All References in these histories are shown on the right hand side in the "TCB History References" – for quick selection on this page. A COMPLETE LIST can also be seen on the References page

Newspaper References in highlighted regions.
All dated references are: Year.Month.Day,
T.Star = Thames Star,
T.E.Star = Thames Evening Star.
(you need the acrobat reader plugin to see these)

With special thanks to:

  • NZ National Library - Papers Past
  • Hauraki Herald (formerly Thames Star)
  • The St Georges’ Parish History 1868-1968
  • History of 6th Battalion (Hauraki) RNZIR 1898-1978. By L. H. Barber
  • The Treasury Thames - "Thames Bands" history. By A. Isdale
  • Thames Museum (Photos)
  • Lois & Don Holden (Photos)
  • Miriam Heberley (Grandfather: F.J. Causleys photos)





"The Four Names Of Thames Citizens’ Band"
Second Edition, August 2014. Designed, researched & compiled by Brian Greenslade (TCB). Edited and proofed by Carolyn Driver-Burgess (TCB), Lois & Don Holden (TCB), Melissa Day, Geraldine Dunwoodie and Russell Skeet (Thames Treasury)



Requiring some information on the history of the Thames Citizens’ Band the author, as the newly elected Band Co-ordinator (2011/12), asked the bands’ then committee members and a few Thames’ historians when the band began – no one could tell him! This led to 18 months of solid research and the writing of this publication on the history of the Thames Citizens’ Band, the first edition completed and published in time for the 2012 ’Thames Heritage Week’ Celebrations.

The author grew up in the Thames area and although he learnt to play brass instruments through the Kerepehi Brass Band on the Hauraki Plains and then the side drum and drum set as a teenager in Hauraki Plains College he played in Manukau City Christmas Parades, Thames Christmas parades and ANZAC day parades with the Thames Citizens’ Band. He also got to play drum set with the first Thames Citizens’ Band’s Combined Bavarian Band under then conductor Mr Len Edmonds followed closely by Mr Earl Williams. ’They were very exciting times musically to be a part of, the 1980’s in Thames,’ he says. Little did he realize how many secrets were hidden away in the Thames’ archives until he uncovered this history of the Thames Citizens’ Band. For instance: the Thames Citizens’ Band is as old as the town of Thames itself. And the founding of Thames township is like a ’mini replica’ of the founding of the nation of New Zealand!



1.a. The Brigade started it!

As bands have been a part of military organisations for as long as men have gone to war the world over, the New Zealand Colonial Volunteer corps (or ’Volunteers’ as they were known – New Zealand’s first settler army) was no exception. They may have been less organised and documented than the Imperial Regiments sent from England to fight alongside them for three decades during the NZ Land wars in the 1840s - 60’s but the Volunteers were clearly the beginnings of our NZ Army today [32]. The Volunteers were especially strong in Thames and one of the brightest amongst them was the Thames Naval Brigade. Although early records of the time are not clear the testimony of Mr Thomas Gavin (1907 – then chairman of the Piako County Council) a founding member of the “Thames Navals” (as they were known) stated they were a break off from the earlier formed Auckland Naval Brigade. The Auckland Naval Brigade was formed in 1866 based on the popular and gallant Royal Navy which served in the NZ Land Wars. [146, 147, 148] Mr Gavin recalled the Thames Navals did their early drill training in a customs shed on the Auckland waterfront with the Auckland Navals and their band (the band was formed in 1867 just prior to The opening of the Thames Goldfield). We can therefore say the Thames Naval Brigade was well established and probably had musical members from its beginnings as early as 1867. Whenever this Volunteer Corp first began marching with its own musicians on the early dirt tracks of the Thames Goldfield we now know that the Thames Citizens’ Band came from those musicians. [77, 78, 79, 80, 85]


1.b. The Missionaries kick-off

The Anglican missionaries arguably played a most important part in settling New Zealand as a nation and the Thames beginnings appear to mirror this same beginning. Samuel Marsden, New Zealands’ first documented missionary, landed at Rangihoua on Christmas day near Paihia, Northland, in 1814 and soon after a missionary station along with a school was established. After this, guided and armed with many muskets by a deluded ex-european missionary (Heatherington), Hongi Hika went out on his rampage from Northland decimating many North Island Maori populations. Due to this aggressive Maori problem it was not a good idea to travel inland for the New Zealand missionaries first ’kick-off’ south. So in 1833, by boat, the faithful missionaries: Rev. Henry Williams, A. N. Brown and Messrs Fairburn and Morgan along with a party of Maori, went southward to spread the word. On their travels they found no sign of life in many previous Maori settlements until they saw some smoke on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf. Following one of Captain Cooks maps they crossed over the gulf and sailed down “The Thames” river (the Waihou river) landing at Puriri with the tide. To their excitement the missionaries first evening hymns and catechism were known by heart by most of the 200 or so natives that crowded around them that night. Apparently 3 of the tribes’ boys had earlier been taught at the Paihia mission school and had spread the word (and music) ahead of the missionaries. This is where New Zealand’s first southward mission station was established at Puriri on the banks of the Waihou river on 11 November 1833, this was also “The Thames” first recorded performance of institutional music. This mission station was soon moved, away from muddy swamps for health reasons, to what would become Thames’ first permanent premises at Kauaeranga (now Parawai), beside the Herewaka Stream, in 1839. A year later in 1840 the treaty of Waitangi was signed and New Zealand officially became a British Colony. [01, 145]

1.c. New Zealand’s Auckland - Auckland’s Thames!

After the treaty of Waitangi was signed by Queen Victoria’s representative, Captain Hobson, and a majority of the Maori Chiefs he set up the Capital in Auckland with its near east and west harbors. This was governed by a “Legislative Council” as an extension of the government of New South Wales, Australia. But by 1864 the New Zealand ’South Islanders’ were unhappy to travel the distance and so this early New Zealand Government (still afraid of loosing the South Island to the French) under the then Governor, Sir George Grey, decided to move the capital to Wellington at the end of that year. This caused huge problems for all the Settlers who had set up their homes and businesses in Auckland around this original capital and by 1867 Unemployment had turned to Depression – in a brand new colony no less. This eventually succeeded in helping to make New Zealand self-governing. [149, 150, 151, 152] It was against this background that the “rumors” of “Thames Gold” in 1866 just over the Hauraki Gulf from Auckland were followed with intense interest. [152, 153]


1.d. Native discontent

As with the nation of New Zealand Thames’ beginnings are that of a Missionary station and school nestled amongst a local Maori population. Thames was little more than this before July 1867 when the official proclamation of the Thames Goldfield was made. This was largely because of failed negotiations to secure leases for gold mining with the native landowners, the Ngatimaru tribe, who were jealously guarding their land against wealth-seeking ’pakeha.’ And this was despite the enthusiastic efforts of the prominent chiefs’ son Hanauru Taipari to convince his tribe the benefits of allowing gold mining – which he had experienced himself in Collingwood some years prior. A number from the Ngatimaru tribe had joined the Kingite uprising only to surrender after the fall of Rangiriri in November 1863, this surrender was facilitated by Messr. James Mackay. [01, 147] Hanauru, who would later be known as Wirope Hoterene (Willoughby Shortland) Taipari – Captain of the Thames Native Volunteer Corps, was so enthusiastic he continued pursuing negotiations after attempts had failed to convince the Ngatimaru tribe. He, along with the help of 2 other Natives from neighboring tribes, successfully struck gold on his property, where Shortland was established, between the Karaka and Hape streams. This Gold find is credited with starting the gold rush after it was taken and shown to the Auckland Province’ Deputy-Superintendent Dr. Pollen and the new Thames Civil Commissioner Messr. James Mackay. Hanauru’s efforts and more negotiations from Messr. Mackay finally secured a lease from Ngatimaru and New Zealands’ biggest North Island Goldfield todate (2012) was opened 30 July 1867. [01]

1.e. A replica of the nation.

So it could be said New Zealand as a colony started with Anglican missionaries landing on its shores, establishing a mission station, there was discontent amidst the local Maori until a signing of an agreement to occupy nearly 3 decades later. The nation was established and in poured the pioneers to the original capital, Auckland, until that moved to Wellington and the town had to re-establish it self. 17 years after Samuel Marsden (Anglican) landed in New Zealand ’The Thames’ was also started with Anglican missionaries landing on its shores, establishing a mission station and after local Maori discontent an agreement to occupy was signed just over 3 decades later. The town of Thames was established and pioneers poured in until, like Auckland, the promise of wealth moved and the town had to re-establish itself. Thames: The nation in miniature.


1.f. Thames explodes with agreement.

Almost immediately the town of Thames grew from a handful of missionaries and around a dozen traders (not including the native land owners) to about 500 residents in the first month then to 5,000 by Christmas of that year. The authors’ first father to New Zealand was one of the many Cornish miners arriving in those first months of the Goldfield opening (he is now buried in the original Thames’ cemetery, “Shortland cemetery”). The first hotel in Thames, the Shortland Hotel, was built by Captain John Butt at Shortland in the first month of the Goldfield opening. It is worth noting the town was not expected to disappear anytime soon as Captain Butt made his hotel a permanent premises and built the first permanent Theatre next door, cordially named “Butt’s American Theatre,” at the start of 1868. This hotel is now a fruit shop and the Thames Information centre on Pollen Street (2012). [Pic 01] Thames’ first professional dramatic performances were sellout shows at that theatre in April of the same year – the shows included an “orchestra” of unknown size and origin. The Anglican missionaries followed suit when in January 1868 a committee meeting at Capt. Butt’s hotel started the ball rolling for the building of the original St. Georges Church hall. This church building was completed within a few months on Rolleston street in time for Bishop Selwyns’ (Bishop of New Zealand) visit in August that year. The Anglicans can rightly claim they brought the first institutional music to Thames in 1833 but they can not claim they were a music organisation like the Thames Naval Brigade Band was. [01, 78, 79]

PIC 01. Shortland Hotel (2013)

Since then many name changes, booms and busts, Celebrations and riots, promotions and court martials, musical organisations, military re-organisations and disbanding, wars, depressions/recessions and community uprisings have come and gone, but the Thames Citizens’ Band, along with the town itself, has made it through them all. [77] The Band started with the town perhaps it will finish with the town.



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