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    Location of Saint Georges Church and Saint Johns Church

    Welcome to Saint Georges Thames. A remnant of the Goldfields of the Coromandel Peninsula, Saint Georges Thames stands as a witness to a time when Thames was bigger than Auckland, supplied the Auckland province with food! and had around 30,000 people living and working in the borough. Today the church is open Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm, and Saturday Mornings.One of the fifty volunteers from the spire groups (named after the fact that Saint Georges is the only church in Thames with a Spire) is on duty to welcome visitors and to explain the beauty and specific features of this 19th century wooden gothic building - probably the best wooden gothic church still in regular use as a parish church in New Zealand.The Thames Anglican Parish was established in 1865 as a Pakeha unit. For half a dozen decades before that a Maori Anglican Church, enabled by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) was active, established in the gold fields. In fact an early ordination to the diaconate of a local Maori leader was the first ordination in the district.The first Saint Georges church was built in Rolleston Street, on land gifted by Chief Taipari, in 1865. Quickly it proved too small a gathering place for three Sunday services and plans were underway to built the new Saint Georges which opened in 1872.The much larger Saint Georges, based on the Gothic stone European churches, has been a central feature of the town ever since. ~ the spire rising above the Central Business District and visible by land and sea for miles. In fact the only church spire in the town, Saint Georges has given that name to the daily hosting rota of women and men who as a group are on duty half a day a month each to ensure that there is a welcome for visitors, tourists and seekers alike.The Thames Anglican Parish holds an inclusive ministry of serving Christ in prayer, action and worship. Theologically moderate its leadership tends towards liberal in an otherwise Christian evangelical/fundamentalist faith expression in the religious community. Websites that feed and nourish the leadership and ministry support group are:So the focus of the church's practical life is to empower seekers, to encourage a questioning growth following the Anglican process where scripture, story and reason are all engaged in study workgroups and sharing opportunities in the exchange of faith.



Welcome to Saint Georges Thames. A remnant of the Goldfields of the Coromandel Peninsula, Saint Georges Thames stands as a witness to a time when Thames was bigger than Auckland, supplied the Auckland province with food! and had around 30,000 people living and working in the borough. Today the church is open Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm, and Saturday Mornings.

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    ANNUAL MEETING (finance)
    30 March 2014

    ·         Audited accounts for 2013

    ·         Budget for 2014

    See parish AGM web page for Minutes of AGM Pt 1 and last year's March Pt 2 meeting.

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    The Selwyn Centre
    05 March 2014

    Meeting Every Wednesday 9:30am - 12pm in the church hall. The Selwyn Foundation (Auckland Diocese) funds staffing of Selwyn Centres throughout the upper North Island so that over 65s can gather for friendship, exercise and contact on a regular basis. Thames' SELWYN CENTRE is assisted by the Thames Anglican Parish and is available to all members of the local community.]

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    The old girl's had a health check!
    26 June 2013

    Saint Georges, the parish church, has recently had an engineering survey done to ensure that she'll last another hundred years. Built during 1871, the first framing was blown down in a storm not unlike that of July 2007 when the building shifted a degree or two out of the vertical, only to settle back in a matter of days. [The only evidence being three doors that jammed].

    Bullied into the process by nath-sayers and a heritage engineer after evidence of dry rot and random leaks in the lean-to section roofs, Vestry applied for and gained Lotteries Commission support for 70% of the $90,000 survey by heritage trades-people and professionals.

    The outcome of some thirteen months of inspections and deliberations was three fold ~~ a need to re-roof the lean-tos leaving an air gap above the sarking; a need for rewiring to eliminate surface electrical wires and replace potentially unsafe installations; and to drive piles through the buttresses to hold the building rigid. Work has begun to secure quotes and then funding for the re-roofing job. The other aspects will be looked at as funding is at hand. As a Heritage Building Saint Georges has thirty years to comply with any issues around earthquake protection and engineering related to being a public place of assembly.

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    The 240plus group
    20 June 2013

     In an effort to increase the cash-flow since the 2011 significant deficit, Vestry has taken the advice of the May FORUM ON FINANCE to invite a group of locals and former parishioners to commit to a monthly AP to the Parish Account of at least $20 (or $240plus a year) over the next five years.

    That will significantly increase the regular cash flow and help make the parish viable as a full-staffed unit rather than with a part-time vicar or team of voluntary personnel working when available. The Vestry account is BNZ Thames 020-456-0024414-00. Further details are available from the Treasurer, PO Box 227, Thames 3540


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    Thames High School IT Projects

    Senior Students at Thames High School have the Vicar as a clients as they produce DVD and CDs about Saint Georges Church as part of their 2011 external examinations projects.

    Between 4000 and 6000 visitors enter Saint Georges every year (it's the only church in the town open during the day) and many come from overseas. To help those visitors gain some understanding of the churches story, both historic and current, the High School students are preparing 8-12 minute productions they will be able to watch before they move around this significant neo-Gothic Kauri (wooden) building.

    Visitors are surprised to find such a jewel in the provinces' with it's clean, light look and traditional furnishings in a modernized worship and performing arts venue! When the church was built Thames was a bigger town than Auckland and the district supplied the Auckland settlement with much of its food and other supplies!

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    ANNUAL MEETING (finance)

    ·         Audited accounts for 2013

    ·         Budget for 2014

    See parish AGM web page for Minutes of AGM Pt 1 and last year's March Pt 2 meeting.








In Saint George's Church & The Parish Hall

Present:          Vicar, and 37 Parishioners.

 Apologies:       received from 4 parishioners.

 General Business:    Service Times At Saint Georges

                                                            Church Weatherboards - maintenance

 Minutes of The Annual General Meeting 25 November 2012

Minutes of The Annual General Meeting Part Two 10 March 2013

 Moved from the chair, that the minutes for the Annual General Meeting Part One and Part Two be confirmed after amendment of date for the adjournment of the AGM until Sunday March 20, 2013, and not 2011 -- as a true and accuraterecord.                                                                                                                                              Peter Philip/Agreed.

Question raised from the floor in regards to the insurance of our buildings.  The motion that was passed in the minutes of the AGM Part Two 2013, was never offered as an option, (ie) no option of reduced premiums - if this proves to be an issue in the future we will call a special general meeting of the parish.

 Vicar's Report:          The Vicar presented his report to the meeting during the Church service.

 Churchwarden's Report:     Kate Jones presented the churchwarden's report to the meeting in the parish hall.


The Vicar moved the Vicar and Churchwarden's reports for 2013 be received.                                                      Natalie Geary/Agreed

The Vicar moved the Vicar and Churchwarden's report for 2013 be adopted.                                                                     Peter Philip/Agreed


 Appointments and Elections of Wardens and Vestry Members

Vicar's Warden:         Kate Jones

 People's Warden:  Finlay Clements

 Vestry:                        Robin Meehan, Raewyn Grey, Sue Lewis O'Halloran, Natalie Geary, Margaret McKay

 Robin Plummer moved Vestry be given authority to fill vacancies of up to 10 members.      

 Des Herbert/Agreed

 General Business:    Service Times At Saint Georges

 David Cooper expressed concerns with the service times at Saint Georges.  Discussion from the floor with some in favour of a 9am start and others in favour of a 9.30am start. 

An amended motion put from the floor:

 David Cooper moved Sunday morning Services at Saint Georges be conducted at 9am during day light saving time, and 9.30am during the winter months, bringing the change over of service times in line with daylight saving.

For 17, Against 11, Abstention 5.                               Carried.


Church Maintenance

David Cooper reported major work will be required to theexterior of Saint Georges in the not too distant future importance is the West Window which is showing signs of major leaks.

Graham commented that repairing Saint Georges was made more expensive as there was always the need for scaffolding.

This also highlighted the importance of Saint Georges Heritage Trust role in taking over the funding for

Maintenance and upkeep of our heritage buildings.


The Vicar thanked Vivienne Baggaley for her work on producing plans/elevation drawings on the church to assist with the building consent application.

 Date AGM Part Two

The Audited accounts will be presented along with the 2014 Budget.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11.45am until Sunday March 30, 2014; with prayers of thanks.


Signed: ___________________________  Dated








 Present:                       Vicar and 41 parishioners.

 Apologies:                    Apologies received from 3 parishioners.

 Finlay Clements presented Sue Lewis-O'Halloran with a bouquet in recognition of her service to the Church

as Parish Secretary.


The Vicar welcomed everyone to the meeting, opened the meeting explained the

Agenda and introduced Mr Bob Cox (Parish Auditor) to present to the meeting the Audited

Accounts for January - December 2012.


Audited Accounts for 2012

Question from the floor if funds from the sale of St John's could be used for the link - Graham explained yes

but that would leave a shortfall on our yearly income normally obtained from the interest.

Graham reiterated the benefits and importance of claiming on tax rebates and 're-donating' the tax rebate to the church.


(1)        Raewyn Grey moved the accounts for the year be formally received.  Natalie Geary/Carried

 (2)        Finlay Clements  moved the 2012 audited accounts be adopted.   John Mounsey/Carried


Graham moved a vote of gratitude to Bob Cox for the work he has done and continues to do on our

Parish Accounts.  Thank you to Bob for being available to take us through the accounts with a full and clear explanation.  Bob Cox noted his extreme thanks to Fiona White, and Kelvin Jones for their work with the

parish accounts.   Fiona White - a special vote of thanks as Fiona has to balance work/family and the parish accounts. 

The Proposed 2013 Budget


The Vicar presented the proposed budget for 2013 to the meeting.

 (3)        Sue Lewis-O'Halloran  moved that the Budget for 2013 be received.           John Mounsey/Carried.

 Query on the drop in stipend levies.  Graham explained this reduction is due to pension levies.

 Natalie Geary queried the painting costs involved for the coming year, this still unknown may not have to pay until into 2014.


(4)        Winnie Sheehan  moved that the Budget for 2013 be adopted.                                                                                                                                                                               Margaret McKay/Carried.


Parish Insurance Cover 2013 -2014

The meeting had a discussion on the new costs of premiums for each of the four policies - what we could afford, and what we could expect under the new premiums.  As the insurance premiums are set to increase significantly, it was felt as a parish we would struggle to meet the new costs.  Therefore:

 Bob Cox moved that the Thames Annual General Meeting of the Thames Anglican Parish held on March 10, 2013; has agreed that the following level of insurance cover be purchased:

 (1)        Saint Georges Church building will be covered for functional replacement

(2)        Saint Georges Church Hall building will be covered for functional replacement.

 And it be noted that the meeting understood the terms and conditions of such cover as laid out in the letter from the Diocesan Council.                                                                            Finlay Clements/Carried unanimously.

For:  41

Against: Nil

Synods Representatives

 There were no nominations for a second representative for the remainder of the current three year term. 

Vestry therefore has the right to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the current term.


There being no further business, the meeting concluded at 11.15am with prayer.



Signed.......................................................                           Date.............................

Annual Meeting Pt 2 

Sunday March 10, 2013 from 10am 

Parish Hall,

Receipt and Adoption of 2012 Account's and 2013 Budget. 

Election of 2nd Synods representative





In Saint George's Church & the Parish Hall                               


Present:  Vicar, and 28 Parishioners.

Apologies: received from 11 parishioners.

General Business:  Synods Representatives

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 13 November 2011

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting Part Two 18 March 2012


The Vicar moved that the minutes for the Annual General Meeting Part One and Part Two be confirmed as a true and record. Robin Plummer/Agreed.

Vicar's Report: The Vicar presented his report to the meeting during the Church service.

Churchwarden's Report:  Finlay Clements presented the churchwarden's report to the meeting.                          

The Vicar moved the Vicar and Churchwarden's reports for 2012 be adopted. Arthur Mead/Agreed                                                                             

The Vicar moved the Vicar and Churchwarden's report for 2012 be adopted. /Agreed

Bob Cox congratulated from the floor on the clarity and presentation of both reports.

Appointments and Elections of Wardens and Vestry Members

Vicar's Warden:  Kate Jones

People's Warden:  Finlay Clements

Vestry: Raewyn Grey, Sue Lewis O'Halloran, Natalie Geary, Margaret McKay

Winnie Sheehan moved Vestry be given authority to fill vacancies of up to 10 members.David Juby/Agreed

General Business: Synods Representatives

David Cooper expressed feeling that a nomination could come from the floor to fill the second vacancy. Winnie Sheehan is currently our only representative.  Vicar explained this is a vital role and an important link between our parish and

Synod level. Those interested need to talk to those ex Synods representatives prior to putting their name forward at the AGM Part 2.


Graham publicly acknowledged the retiring Vestry members for their contribution to the life of our parish.  Colleen Jones thanked for her dedication to Vestry and her years service as Churchwarden.  Robin thanked for his many years service on Vestry.

Date AGM Part Two

Part Two of the AGM will be held on Sunday 10 March 2013.

The Audited accounts will be presented along with the 2013 Budget.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at

11.10am until Sunday March 20, 2011; with prayers of thanks


Signed: ___________________________ Dated








Present: Vicar and 28 parishioners.

 Apologies:  Apologies received from 7 parishioners.

Finlay Clements presented Colleen Jones with a bouquet in recognition of her 12 years service to the Church

as People's Warden.

The Vicar welcomed everyone to the meeting, opened the meeting with prayer, explained the

Agenda and introduced Mr Bob Cox (Parish Auditor) to present to the meeting the Audited

Accounts for January to December 2011.

Audited Accounts for 2011

Finlay Clements queried the increase in insurance. Explained that all premiums had increased because of Christchurch Earthquakes. Rita Hamilton queried Selwyn Centre accounts. Vicar explained how the Selwyn Centre for St Georges is funded by the Selwyn Foundation.                                                            

(1)        Sue Lewis-O'Halloran moved the accounts for the year be formally received.  Natalie Geary/Carried

(2)        Judy Jones moved the 2011 audited accounts be adopted.   Max Baggaley/Carried

Graham moved a vote of gratitude to Bob Cox for the work he has done and continues to do on our Parish Accounts.  Thank you to Bob for being available to take us through the accounts with a full and clear explanation.  Bob Cox noted his extreme thanks to David Holmes, Kelvin Jones and Brenda Craig for their work with the parish accounts.   Fiona White - a special vote of thanks as Fiona has to balance work/family and the parish accounting.  Vestry receives full and regular financial reports each month from Fiona in a very easy to understand and transparent format.  Thank you to all involved.

It was noted that the deficit for 2011 would have been eliminated if all those who had contributed during the year had presented receipts and then applied for a rebate which was returned to the parish.

The Proposed 2012 Budget

The Vicar presented the proposed budget for 2012 to the meeting.





Since 1981

Foreword by the Venerable Graham Colley, Vicar .Soon after I came to Thames in 1981, I returned to the Bay of Islands to participate in the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of the Mission Station at Waimate North where I had been Vicar. We are a young country still, so commemorations of over a hundred years have significance in our nation's history. 125 years ago Saint George's Thames was completed and dedicated by the Bishop of Auckland. From January to the end of April 1997 we have been marking that event and the people who have made up the CHURCH over the years that have followed.Those 125 years have seen many changes; changes to the building and to the community it was built to serve. Change is a constant in all our lives. Saint Georges stands as a reminder of the accessibility of a God who loves, and who is involved in people's lives. For the thousands who have walked through the Church doors to mark some major event in their lives in ritual form, and the people who have found a point of connection week by week in worship, Saint George's stands as a point of significant reference in their lives.In the years that I have shared with the worshipping community here I have witnessed many changes. There have been significant developments in liturgy. This was one of 100 parishes in the country to use the experimental liturgy that resulted in the 1984 liturgical Revisions. The 1989 New Zealand Prayer Book brought a variety of new forms and styles of worship. There have been two ordinations of deacons there. We have had women celebrating the Eucharist.The sanctuary was centralised in 1984 to a plan recommended by the late Professor Richard Toy. The organ screen was relocated and made into a more welcoming storage unit in memory of Tom Hancock who had served this community in his retirement for 13 years. The depicting of the seven sacraments in batik was the work of Peninsula artist and parishioner Anne Carter Jones.The nave altar and sanctuary, while preserving the architectural integrity of the building, has created an intimacy in keeping with more contemporary service types and also provides a useful chapel space incorporating the high altar. That 1984 alteration is hailed as one of the best refurbishings of an older church in New Zealand.Saint George's, while it is the primary focus for regular worshippers, is also very much the property of the whole community. "Our Saint Georges" is as likely to be uttered by a devout Baptist as by those with no connection with the Christian Church at all. Preservation and maintenance, though the ongoing concern of a very small group of people, is both a privilege and a responsibility. It has been of significance in the faith journey of so many for a hundred and twenty five years. It will continue to be a lens through which others find God in the future.With this updating of the history, researched by Vicar's Warden and long time parishioner Jim Poulgrain and edited by Susan van Royan, my hope and prayer is that we will be drawn into that experience of God that the building focuses for us. Worship of a God who is interested in our lives and actions, urging us all to grow towards that full potential that we each deserve.Graham ColleyEaster, 1997.

Although Christian services had been held in Thames district since 1833, when the early missionaries established a mission station at Puriri, on the banks of the Waihou River, it was not until January 1868, just a few short months after Thames had been declared a Goldfield1 that a meeting was held by a large number of local residents with an aim of either providing a hall or a Church as a place of worship. The Church of England (Thames) minute book has that meeting recorded as follows:

At a meeting held in Capt Butt's Hotel, Shortland, on the 20th or January 1868, The Ven Archdeacon Lloyd in the chair, resolved that a committee be appointed for the purpose of devising measures for the erection of a Church of England place or worship, and for carrying them into execution. The committee to consist of the following gentlemen with power to add to the number, Messrs J. Mackay, A. Baillie, Rev G. Mounsell, C.F. Mitchell, W. H. Taipari, D. Eyre, W. Goodall, Dr Hooper, H. Beere, J. Petschlie, W. Copeland, and R. Hunt. Resolved that Mr Mackay act as treasurer, and that the Rev G. Mounsell act as convenor to the committee.

Votes of thanks were then passed to W. H. Taipari for his gift of a site for the church, and to the Ven Archdeacon Lloyd, Chairman.

The meeting then adjourned until Wednesday the 29th inst. at 8 pm. at the store of Mr Morton Jones.

(Signed) G. Mounsell

It is interesting to note the minute of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of New Zealand, held at Auckland in February 1896 regarding the gift of a section of land at Shortland by the Maori Chief, Wiropi Hoterini Taipari:

That the Ven Archdeacon Lloyd reported that the Native chief Taipari had granted a site for a church at Thames, and that Mr Mackay had promised to get it passed through the Native Land Court. The Ven Archdeacon applied on behalf of the people of Thames for a grant towards a Church. The Standing Committee, on a motion of Mr R.B. Lusk, seconded by Mr S. W. Hill, granted the sum of £20 to be given when the site is secured and the building erected.

John McEnteer and Taimoana Turoa (1993: 17) state that Te Hoterini and Wirope Hoterini Taipari, as chiefs of Ngati Hape and Ngati Hauauru exercised their rangatiratanga over much land south of the Te Karaka Stream.

These lands were held on behalf of the hapu, as a trustee on behalf of the beneficiaries. Following instructions by the Maori Land Court, and in some cases before "official" ownership was established, various gifts of land were made to the Thames Community for public use (including the Anglican Church site).

At the meeting held at Mr Morton Jones' store on the 29th of January, 1868, the following names were added to the committee: Dr Sam, Dr Lethbridge, Messrs G. Gilhard, W. Wilkinson, E. Hewitt, J. Schultz, Capt Butt, J. Gibbons, A. Young, Capt. Best, H. Sheen, J. W. Hall, R. Menzies, J. Gwynne, C. Richards, T. Sands, G. Spencer and M. Jones. A. Hogg was appointed secretary, and each member of the committee was supplied with a subscription list, the list having been opened at the meeting when £62/8/- was subscribed. The first expenditure was also authorised at this meeting when the sum 2/6 was made available for the purchase of a minute book.

The donation from Bishop Selwyn and the grant from the Standing committee was also added to this amount. At a meeting on February 13, 1868, the following were appointed to a building committee: Messrs Mackay, Mitchell, Beere and Gilhard, with power to invite tenders prepared by Mr Beere. Nine tenders were received, and that of Mr Craig, of £165 (with Gothic windows)2 was one that was accepted. The Church was soon erected on a site in Rolleston Street and was opened on 5 May 1868.

It was in the minutes of a meeting on 8 June 1868 that the name Saint George's appeared. It is not really clear how the Church was given this name but it is thought by some to have been named after Bishop George Augustus Selwyn.

In August 1868, Bishop Selwyn visited Thames. This was to be the last time that the Bishop would be in Thames as he left New Zealand shortly afterwards to travel to England and become Bishop of Lichfield. He held two farewell services which were well attended despite bad weather which made the roads difficult to travel. Collections were made at the close of each service in aid of the organ fund, amounting in the morning to £8/2/9, and in the evening £8/7/1.

Bishop Selwyn left the next day and was accompanied to the wharf by the Committee of Management and a large number of personal friends and admirers. Prior to his departure, a farewell address was presented to him by Mr James Mackay, who expressed the pleasure he felt in carrying out the wishes of the Church management Committee and apologised for the hasty manner in which it had been put together. He remarked that although His Lordship was about to take his departure from amongst them, he was sure they would not be forgotten by him.

Bishop Selwyn expressed the pleasure he felt in accepting the address, which needed no apology on their part. It was a fact in natural history that the birds of the most colourful plumage did not always have the most melodious notes, and although the address might have been hastily put together, it was not the less acceptable on that account. Although he was leaving for England, he would continue to take a warm interest in the spiritual welfare of this country; he would never be backward in its interests, whether in procuring a clergyman, or in any other way he might be of service to them. As far as funds were concerned, however, he thought the place ought to be able to provide sufficient for the maintenance of a resident clergyman amongst them. After a few parting words the deputation withdrew.

The Bishop left for Auckland by the steamer Royal Alfred at 2 pm, and was conveyed on board in a whaleboat, rowed by the members of the Church Committee.3

In that same year:

4 Mr Power was the first organist and choirmaster at St George's and had been organist at St Paul's in Auckland before coming to Thames. It was Mr Power who introduced the first Choral service to Thames. (The full story of the row about the Church music was reported in The Advertiser and Miners' News on the 24 September 1968 and may be read in the 1868 - 1968 booklet.) Mr E. T. Wildman later presented an organ to the Church which cost £400, on condition that the congregation raised a similar sum towards the liquidation of the debt on the Church. The organ was built by T. P. Hewlett of Auckland and was presented in loving memory of Mr Wildman's mother and sister. This is essentially the same organ that we use today.

3 Details of this address may be read in the 1868 - 1968 booklet, page 36.

(June) Mr E. H. Power, the organist, was collecting money to buy a harmonium since the one in use was a borrowed one. It was decided to purchase a harmonium from Mr Webb by instalments.

(August) There were objections to the altar coverings on account of the Cross. After long discussion it was agreed that the cloth should remain, but not embellishments.

(September) There were complaints of too much music and Mr Power offered to resign. However he was persuaded to stay.4 Many people expressed a desire to get a resident Parson, as visiting clergy were costing over £100 per annum. There was still no lay reader.

(November) The Rev Vicesimus Lush was recommended as the resident minister at a salary of not less than £250, for one year. He was asked to come as soon as possible.


(February) Mrs Mackay was thanked for initiating the Sunday School. There were suggestions and ideas put forward for enlarging the Church, but was there was still the sum of £146 owing on the building, plans had to be dropped.

(June) Long discussions were held on the subject of the erection of a parsonage, and the rent of a house for the Vicar.5

By 1870, gold was being found in large quantities in many of the mines in Thames, with the result that people were flocking to the town in thousands, from all parts of the country, in fact from all parts of the world. With the increase of the population, it was found that a much larger Church was required. In fact, the plan to build the new Church had been formulated at a vestry meeting in April 1869. The chairman of the Vestry, the Rev Mr Lush, was authorised to write to a firm of architects seeking a plan for a suitable building. He wrote:

Sir, At a meeting of the vestry of Saint George's Church on the 27th inst., it was resolved that the chairman should write to the architects of Auckland and Shortland to invite them to send to the vestry a design for a Church capable of holding a thousand people. I therefore, in accordance with this resolution, write to you to enquire whether you would kindly take the trouble to prepare a design and estimate for a Church and submit the same to me. The intention of the vestry is to submit the design that may be forwarded to a general meeting of the congregation for their approval. The site is perfectly level, on the flat between Shortland and Grahamstown. It is proposed to build the Church of timber and the spend from £1000 to £1200 not including seats and other internal fittings.

Erection of the new Saint George's Church began in 1871 but a terrific storm on March 24, which flooded the goldfields and wreaked havoc in the town generally, blew down the skeleton of the new building. The newspaper at the time commented:

5 As far as can be ascertained, the Church did not possess a Vicarage until 1890, when Rev V. Lush first resided in Grey Street, afterwards building his own house, which is now the Thames Club, on a site opposite the Church.

This was a first attempt, an ugly and far too costly design. Probably no-one will be too much grieved.

The parishioners set about raising funds for the erection of a new Church. A subscription list was opened, concerts and other attractions were arranged, and soon a considerable amount of money was on hand. The Rev Mr Lush gave the following account in a journal with reference to the building fund:

A soiree and concert on April 13th, 1871, raised for the Building Fund about £90. A day after the soiree four men gave me unsolicited £52, so with my £50, and the proceeds of the entertainment, we have started with nearly £200. The soiree was a great success; a thousand persons sat down to tea at Smailes Building at Shortland, and the concert at Grahamstown afterwards was crowded. The price of admission to the double event was 2/6.

The Church in Rolleston street was over-crowded at every service. One Monday morning a woman met Mr Lush and said to him, "There were 40 persons turned away for want of room last night, and one gentleman says he will never go again, for it is the sixth time in succession that he has been unable to get a seat."

"Will you tell me his name?" said Mr Lush, "for I will call upon him and tell him that it is his own fault for always coming so late." She would not tell him this, so he asked her for a subscription towards the building of the new Church, which she willingly gave. By May 4, £232 had been banked. When the first contract was let for the building, the vestry had over £500 in hand. After two contractors had failed to carry out the work, Mr McCaul undertook to complete the building, and he started work on 9 September 1871.6

On the 25 September, a concert was held, which brought in the sum of £59, then a gift auction which resulted in a further £150 being added to the Fund. On Thursday, 14 December, the Messiah was a brilliant success, and the singers had such a happy time during their stay in Thames, that they used to ask for years afterwards, when they would be invited again.

6 On 21 August 1871, it was reported that materials for the new Church were being stolen from the site while waiting tender. The tender was also let at that meeting to Mr James Page who submitted the price of £960 omitting the spire and tower.

2 £160 without Gothic windows.

Picture: Thames pre-1900 showing the original Saint Georges in Rolleston Street in the foreground - Photograph from the late Johnny Williams collection supplied by Zelma Williams.

The sittings in the new Church were allotted on Tuesday, 14 November 1871. The following note of the allotment is taken from Mr Lush's journal:

A considerable number of ladies and gentlemen applied for sittings in the new Church, and paid one-half year's rent in advance. Their names having been written on pieces of cardboard, placed in a bag and tossed up, a lad began to draw. He handed each card to Mr Fitzgibbon, who gave me the name, which I called out, the person so called name to where I was standing with a large map of the new Church in my hands, and then and there chose his or her on seat. This system of allotting the seats gave, I believe, general satisfaction. Mr Honiss was fully occupied in recording in the Church Warden's book, the number of the seats taken, and their respective occupants, with the four front rows and every fourth seat right across the church free, and those allotted, it left very little accommodation left for selection.

Picture: This reproduction of an early etching shows the Lush Parsonage in the background and highlights the butresses on the sanctury that have since been removed.

The New Church
1872 - 1916

The opening service in the New Church took place in Septuagesima Sunday, 28 January 1872, under the directorship of Bishop Cowie. His Lordship arrived by the steamer Royal Alfred, and was met by the Committee of Management of the Church, he said that he was well satisfied with the outside and the inside of the new building, and considered it to be the foremost church in the Diocese.

Sunday was a very hot day, and the whole town turned out for the service. The Volunteers, including the Naval Brigade, the Engineers, and the kilted Scottish Regiments, with the bank, marched in full force to the 11 o'clock service. Hundreds of the Volunteers and over 200 civilians were unable to secure seats. The evening service was also very well attended; the offertories amounted to £41/13/6, and everyone was very pleased with the new building.

In that same year

(March) The Vestry decided that the old Church should be let to Mr D. Schofield, a qualified teacher, at the rental of £20 per annum.7

December) The need for a second clergyman was discussed. The decision was to be made by the Bishop. The Bishop had already stated that one should be appointed and become resident at Parawai.


Mr Power was no longer the organist, and Mr R. A. Owen was appointed to take his place.

(October) The stained glass windows arrived. This was recorded in The Thames Journals of Vicesimus Lush as follows:

28. Edward and Anne and Edith were thrown into a state of pleasurable excitement by the arrival of the case containing the stained glass windows. I was sent round to Kennan8 to ask him to bring a man with him tomorrow to open it. I determined not to touch it without him being present.

29. Soon after breakfast Kennan and his man came and the case ... was carefully opened and I am most thankful to report the window came in perfect order, uninjured in the slightest degree. The group of figures in the centre window I consider remarkably good and much larger than I had expected. Kennan was delighted and at once sent two men to clean the glass of the chancel windows to serve as a guard (instead of wire) to the stained glass. The plain glass already in is in one huge plate, very thick. Tomorrow we begin the task of putting up the stained glass within the present one.

30. The central window was safely placed today. Everybody who has seen it - and many came into the Church during the afternoon - expresses great satisfaction at the improved appearance of the chancel apse. The sheet of thick glass on the outside just softens the colours without throwing any shadow, as there must be more or less with wire.

Picture: Detail of the side windows in St Georges sanctuary from a photograph by Robyn Smith.

6 November. Kennan's men cleared out of the Church this morning, leaving the three windows ... in their places in the Chancel of Saint George's, where I hope they remain for many years uninjured, a monument to Kennan's liberality. I expect the great improvement they have made will keep down a "row" which my Church Wardens feared the Orangemen (would) try to get up on account of the Crucifixion staring them in the face right over the Altar.


(December) The following are excerpts from the same journals concerning the Altar and Altar cloth:

9. Wrote to the Bishop and thanked him for granting me the privilege of being custodian of the Cathedral Altar Cloth. Further I expressed a hope that I might use it for Xmas day. As the Cathedral is not yet begun - yea, nor thought of as I know - this committing the Cathedral Altar cloth to my care is practically making a present of it to Saint George's .....

20. Came today from the Bishop a parcel containing the Altar cloth .... We took it at once to the Church and tried it on the old Table which proved too short and too narrow. So I went for one of my choir men, a Cabinet maker and he took the dimensions and promised to have the new Table on my Verandah by Saturday night, so that we may smuggle it into the Church on Xmas Eve, in order that the new Altar cloth may be first seen on Xmas morning ....


The Reverend Vicesimus Lush, who had been Vicar of Thames since 1868, left Saint George's to take up an appointment at Archdeacon of Waikato. He died in 1882.

- Archdeacon Lush was educated for the Church at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England, where he gained his MA degree.  Soon after coming to New Zealand, he was appointed as the first incumbent of Saint George's. He was a man of many parts - all good, it is faithfully recorded.

The following interesting anecdote is found in The Auckland Journals of Vicesimus Lush (1850 - 1863) regarding the origin of his Christian name:

Charles Lush of Charles Square, London, was at a dinner party on 17 August 1817 when a message was brought to him announcing the birth of his twentieth child, "whereupon," writes his grandson Edward Lush, "the assembled guests drank to the babe's health, the father's health and the mother's." So Vicesimus Lush owed his unusual Christian name to his position in the family. Many years later, in New Zealand, he was to christen a child Decimus with the subsequent comment that "the tenth" had been baptised by "the twentieth".

A memorial window was donated by Captain E. T. Wildman, depicting the appearance of St George among sleeping soldiers, whose imminent defeat changed to victory the next day.

Archdeacon W. Calder became the new Vicar at Saint George's.


(February) Sunday school started at St John's with 40 pupils. Miss Lush also started Bible classes with the assistance of Archdeacon Calder.


Owing to Mrs Calder's bad health at Thames, Archdeacon Calder was reluctantly compelled to leave Thames.

He went to All Saints', Ponsonby, where he remained for many years, and was appointed Archdeacon some years before his death.

About this time, Mr Stewart of the Queen of Beauty mine, presented to the Church a large and richly illumined text round the chancel arch. Mr Barker, another shareholder in the same mine, gave The Lord's Prayer and Creed painted on plates of zinc, 7 ft long and 2 1/2 ft broad. These were placed on either side of the central east window and were illuminated by Mr Slator.

Archdeacon F. G. Evans became the new minister. The following is an account by the Archdeacon of the difficulties he experienced as Vicar from March 1884 to July 1889:

I received two invitations to become incumbent at Thames early in 1884. For many reasons, which I need not mention here, I refused the first, but, on the advice of Bishop Cowie and my native tutor, Dr Kidd, I agreed to accept the second. When I arrived at Thames, I found a population of about 8,000 people, and several of the mines, the Alburnia, Waiotahi and others were producing a good amount of gold. Prospecting was going on in various parts of the field.

Unfortunately, Saint George's was in a bad state. A storm had blown it out of the perpendicular and the roof was badly strained. Its piles were mostly rotten and it groaned for paint. There was no house, except a rented one, for the Minister. The schoolroom in Rolleston Street was in a serious state and when we had meetings there, the audience had to bring umbrellas in case of rain. A great deal of furniture was rotting in the room at the back. In addition to all this, there was an overdraft at the Bank of New Zealand of many hundreds of pounds, and a debt to the Diocesan Office of about £600.

All this was enough to daunt a young man, especially as I had not been informed about the debts before I arrived. My predecessor, The Rev William Calder, had begun a fine system of week by week collections and, following his example, I put my strength into carrying on the good work. The Church people rallied round me in a wonderful manner and we began to pay all our income from this source towards the overdraft, which bore a higher rate of interest than the Diocesan debt. By means of £1 cards and other inducements, we were able after a year or two to pay in full this grievous overdraft and, as far as I can remember, we never received from the Bank any note of gratitude for liquidating a debt that must have been hopeless for many years.

Picture: Archdeacon F. G. Evans (reproduced from the Jubilee Booklet)

We then went on with collecting for the other debt, and slowly reduced it month by month. Unfortunately, all this collecting made it impossible to do anything towards repairing the Church and school. But I think it must have been in 1887, the idea of holding a monster fete was mooted and was very enthusiastically taken up. A splendid committee was elected, with Mr Horatio Phillips as chairman and Mr W. Coath as secretary, and the people everywhere became interested. It was held on Easter Monday and was a triumphal success. There was a great procession to Parawai with contingents of sailors, huzzars, athletes, notables, Maoris on horseback, etc., led by St George himself, glittering in silver armour and helmet, and carrying the pennant of red cross on white ground. All marched out to the strains of the Naval Band to the grounds of Mr & Mrs Spencer, where bands of lady workers had erected stalls covered with beautiful fancy and other work; where refreshments counters groaned with good things. Races for boys and girls and sports of all kinds took place. Before 12 o'clock the Church Wardens came to me with the splendid news that the remainder of the debt was paid off and money enough was left to repair the Church and school.

As soon as possible the Church was jacked up on to the level brick piles inserted underneath, and the whole woodwork painted.  The schoolroom was moved about 40 feet, reroofed and enlarged.

The congregations in these days were excellent and the spacious Church was generally crowded on Sunday evenings. The musical services were much appreciated, the choir being composed of talented choristers, who put their hearts, as well as their beautiful voices, into what they did. The organ was the gift of Mr E. T. Wildman, and was a sweet-toned instrument; the efficient organist was Mr Treweela. Bishop Cowie told me, after one of his visits, that I had one of the most intelligent congregations in the Diocese. Mr H. C. Lawlor was the lay reader during my stay at the Thames, and even after so many years my heart swells at the recollection of his loving and loyal friendship.

Among the many great services held in Saint George's during that period were: a Maori thanksgiving, at which were 11 Maori clergy, and 300 Maori laymen and women; the Queen Victoria Jubilee thanksgiving; the Codrington and Mason Missions; the visit of the Rev Joseph Hill, afterwards Bishop Hill, of Nigeria. Many wonderful confirmations took place.9

9 In 1886, Bishop Cowie visited the district and held confirmations services at St George's and St John's

The main  Sunday School was, of course, in Rolleston Street,10 and there were branch school at Tararu, Parawai and Waiotahi. The total number of scholars on the rolls was about 700; the average attendance at the main school was 400. Having a missionary spirit, I held services down the coast at Whakatete and Tapu, and in the other direction at Parawai, Hikutaia and Paeroa.

An unfortunate German was the immediate cause of my leaving the Thames. He was drowned at Turua and a fortnight later his body was found and brought for burial. Unhappily the road to the Shortland Cemetery in those days was very rough, and the hearse turned over on the hill. The coffin broke open and it can be imagined what the effluvium was like. I thought, like a young soldier, that I must boldly face the enemy, and took the service at the gravesite. In a few days blood poisoning attacked me and my life hung in the balance. But by divine mercy I was spared, and, finding that I should be delicate for some time, decided against the Bishop's wish, to resign.

When Te Aroha parish was offered to me a little after, I accepted, for health reasons, and stayed there over seven years. I have before me a I write the farewell address presented to me before leaving Saint George's. As I read once more the loving messages it sends me, I must, with deep thankfulness, believe that my brief Vicarate of the Thames parish was not in vain in the Lord.


Final visit to the district of Bishop Cowie prior to his departure to England.11

11 Full details of these may be read in the 1868 - 1968 booklet, pages 39 to 45.


Archdeacon Evans retired and the Rev T. O'Callaghan was appointed to replace him. A scheme was approved to build a parsonage next to the Church, and a loan was raised for £350; work to start immediately. This does not appear to have gone ahead.12 Parawai Sunday School closed owing to a leaky roof. the repairs to this were to cost £8, and as the people of the district could not afford this amount, Sunday School lapsed. The roll at the time was 66.


The Sunday School at Tararu closed down, presumably on account of lack of numbers. Dr O'Callaghan called this a scandal and said that he would not take any more afternoon services until it was resumed. This prompted Mr Poulgrain to write to the Bishop on Vestry's behalf enquiring whether it was incumbent on Dr O'Callaghan to continue services there as before.13


13 The full text of this letter may be read in the 1868 - 1968 booklet, pages 52-53.

(March) A special meeting was called at Tararu. Dr O'Callaghan agreed to return and try and re-start Sunday School


Meetings were being held regularly at Kopu, Tararu and Puriri, and at Tapu on 5th Sundays.


26/4/- was paid on the first instalment to the purchase of the old Maori Church at Parawai.

Picture: Interior of St Georges before the turn of the century. Note the original placings of the pipe organ, the zinc scrolls in the sanctuary, the gas lighting. Supplied by Zelma Williams from the late Johnny Williams Photographic collection of Early Thames.


The Sunday School at Parawai gained the use of the old Maori Church. It is not recorded where they met before this.


The Ladies' Guild was formed. Church property in Rolleston Street was offered for sale.


Three gas heaters were installed in Saint George's Church. There were also suggestions about re-roofing the Sunday School building. The decision was delayed owing to the building possibly being removed to the Church site.


Tenders were received for the removal and re-erection of the Sunday School to the Mary Street site. Potterton and Black's tender was successful; £297/5/-.


The motion was proposed and carried that it be an instruction to representative of the Parish in the Synod, to move and support a motion granting lady members of the congregation, to vote and take part in the meetings of the Church of England.

There were instructions not to sell the Rolleston Street site for less than £140.

Mr Poulgrain asked that the affairs of St John's Tararu, be taken over. He was told that the matter would be considered once a statement of accounts since its foundations had been submitted.

A letter was sent to Mr Treweela (organist for the past 30 years), pointing out that the Vestry were not too pleased with the musical part of the services, and that if he did not do something to improve it, they would have no alternative but to seek a new organist. (Mr Wildman, who presented the organ on the condition that the congregation raised £400, was still owed most of the money when he left the district, but he waived all claims, on the condition that his good friend Mr Treweela remained organist for life.) This could have been the reason why it was hard to keep musical directors.


The Vestry retired Mr Treweela with two months salary in advance. Mr Midgley was then appointed organist at a salary of £50, but he refused to fulfil his acceptance. The position was then given to Mr Webb of Timaru.

The organ was taken to pieces and turned round, and a hydraulic motor installed. This was the gift of A. G. Price.


The Rolleston Street property sold for £105.


The Rev A. J. Beck became the Vicar on the retirement of Dr O'Callaghan.


A registered Charity #  2437850, the Saint Georges Heritage Trust was formed in 2010 to create a body of Invested funds to ensure that the Historic (1868/1871) Churches would continue to be their important part of Thames cultural heritage.

Architect  Edward Mahoney  designed the "new" (1871) church in the period that Thames was one of the busy gold-mining areas of New Zealand with a population that exceeded Auckland (soon to become Capital) to cope with the 30,000 local population and three service for 500 people each Sunday.  The first church, designed by Auckland Architect John Currie [Grey Lynn Fire Station, Rob Roy Tavern Auckland], built in 1868 soon proved too small and fundraising was well in hand by 1870 for the "new" Saint Georges that was started [after the first framing blew down in a storm] in September 1871 and opened on February 28, 1872 at a cost of 1250 pounds. The Auckland Choral Society had sung Handel's Messiah in the uncompleted building the previous December. In the 21st Century the population of this provincial town remains fairly stable around 8000. Largely a retirement centre, locals cannot maintain two historic buildings, especially the large neo- gothic kauri church currently in use as the parish church.

The Independent Charitable Trust has two trustees appointed by the parish church, the remainder of the Trustees are people who have a Thames connection and wish to see this historic and multi-use building kept in good condition and available to all who wish to use it into the future. The title of the buildings remains with the Auckland Diocese and the local Vestry  will continue to control the day to day life and work of the church and hall (first church) and long term development.

Gifts, estates and donations will come primarily from people with connections with the Town and the parish, mainly as beneficiary of wills. A decade in the planning, Vestry looked at Professional Fundraisers and found that a high proportion of the income became the professionals' fee; so with assistance from local law firm Miller and Poulgrain and the National Charitable Trusts Law Firm Chapman Tripp, the Trust Deed was approved and registered early in 2010 and the Trust launched in September that year.

Donations can be made direct to the Trust through

The National Bank, Thames Branch. 06 0457 0134607 00.


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Contact us

Parish Office +64 7 868 6266

email info@thamesanglicanchurch.co.nz

Open Friday Mornings 9.30am - 2pm

Baptism, Marriages, Funerals

Vicar Graham Colley - + 64 7 868 6267

email grahamc@thamesanglicanchurch.co.nz

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(Regular rates by negotiation)