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Thames (pronounced 'Temms') is a town at the southwestern end of the Coromandel Peninsulamarker in New Zealandmarker's North Islandmarker. It is located on the Firth of Thamesmarker close to the mouth of the Waihou River, at . The town is the seat of the Thames-Coromandel District Council.

The town was initially built during a gold rush, and its population peaked at about 18,000 in 1868. For a while it was thought it would replace Aucklandmarker as the major town in the area. A former local institution of learning was the Thames School of Mines.

Many people migrated to Thames at its peak, and it was soon the second-largest city in New Zealand (the largest being Dunedin then Auckland). However, as the gold began to diminish, so did the number of inhabitants, and although Thames never shrank, it has never grown much either. It is still the biggest town on the Coromandel. The population in the 2006 census was 6,756, an increase of 51 since 2001. Many residents work in tourism and locally owned businesses servicing the local farming community.

History

Poupou (wall post) from Hotunui


Thames was formed from two historic towns, Grahamstown and Shortland, of which many original buildings still stand. Shortland was in the south of Thames and was founded on the 27th of July 1867 when James Mackay, civil commissioner for the Hauraki District concluded an agreement with local Maori. This agreement secured the rights to local mineral deposits leading to the proclamation of the Thames Goldfield on 1 August.Grahamstown was founded the following year at the northern end of present Thames, approximately one mile from Shortland. The two towns merged in 1874 after it emerged the heart of the Goldfield was in Grahamstown. Shortland waned in importance until the turn of the century when the Hauraki Plains were developed for farming and the Shortland railway station was opened.

The land involved in goldmining in Thames was Māori owned; important parts of the goldfield were owned by the Taipari family. In 1878, when Wiremu Hōterene Taipari married a woman of the Ngāti Awa tribe of Whakatāne, Ngāti Awa carvers arrived at Thames and built a meeting house at Pārāwai as a wedding gift for the couple. The house, named Hotunui in honour of an important Ngāti Maru ancestor, now stands in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Thames Hospital is the oldest still operating in New Zealand, having been built in the 1860s. A new clinical centre and other improvements were completed in 2008, and a new maternity facility is due for completion in 2010.

Business

A major employer is the Toyota New Zealand plant, which assembled CKD cars until 1998, and now refurbishes imported used cars. Another is the precision engineering works and foundry of A & G Price, established 1868, who built 123 steam locomotives for New Zealand Railways Department. Now they make keels for large yachts.

The Kopu sawmill, a few km south of Thames, closed in 2008 with the loss of 145 jobs.

Junction Hotel


Education

Thames High Schoolmarker is a secondary (years 9-13) school with a decile rating of 6 and a roll of 647. The school was established in 1880 and is the second oldest secondary school in the Auckland Province.

Moanataiarimarker, Parawaimarker and Thames Southmarker are full primary (years 1-8) schools with decile ratings of 5, 6 and 3 and rolls of 114, 336 and 164, respectively.

St Francis Schoolmarker is a full primary (years 1-8) school with a decile rating of 7 and a roll of 86. It is a state integrated Catholic school

All these schools are coeducational.

Born in Thames



Notes

  1. The population is the sum of the statistical areas of Moanataiari ( ) and Parawai ( )


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