PIONEERS OF THAMES.
LARGE TOWN HALL GATHERING.
MEMORIES OF SIXTY YEARS AGO.
Memories of pioneering days were revived at a social function in the Town Hall concert chamber on Saturday afternoon, arranged by the Old Thames Girls Association, for the many old people who were unable to be present at the diamond jubilee celebrations at Thames last week. Mr; A. J. Entrican, deputy-mayor of Auckland, presided over an attendance of about 700. The large gathering, which filled every available seat and overflowed into the passages, was ample proof in itself that the passing of the years had but served to lend a brighter glow to the remembrance of strenuous but happy days of endeavour. There were young people present, but the gathering was not for them. It seemed as though the years had suddenly been rolled away, bridging the long gap between the brightness of the gaily decorated hall and the surroundings where 60 years ago so many of those present had toiled light-heartedly, in success and in hardship. Near the platform were seated about 100 of the oldest pioneers, both men and women, for whom the function bore a special significance. There were many among them who went to Thames when it was little more than an uninviting wilderness. They had gathered to revive old friendships, and to call to mind the heroic efforts of their follew-pioneers, and during the addresses not a few showed visibly the emotion born of poignttjt recollections.
Attractive Birthday Cake. Standing out from the decorations of bunting and fernery was a huge birthday cake of four tiers, which was placed in £ conspicuous position in front of the stage. This was the gift of Mrs. H. H. A clams, herself a pioneer of the Thames district. The cake was decorated with icing-sugar shovels and picks and a neat miner's cottage. On it were placed 60 candles, and the whole was surmounted by a diamond-shaped tier from which were suspended golden-coloured bells. The oldest pioneer present was Mrs. A. Dcwer, aged 93. Mrs. J. Stickley, who celebrated her 91st birthday yesterday, was presented with the top tier of the cake in honour of the occasion. Many others had passed four-score years, and many friendships were renewed which had been interrupted by the years. Two pioneers presej. %vho had com© out from England as girls with their parents met again after a lapse of almost 60 years. Among the very earliest to settle at Thames was Mr. A. E. Glover, who secured number 9 miner's right on the day these were first issued. Mr. Glover first went to Thames in 1863, four years before the discovery of golct. His parents were living at Coro'mandel, and with a brother he used to row to Thames in an boat. He made several visits to the district when there were no white persons at all there, and he was at Thames when the great rush for gold commenced. Debt Owed to Pioneers.
A tribute to the work of the pioneers was paid by Archbishop Averill. He said the present generation owed the early settlers a great deal for the work they had done, -often in the face of hardships, but always with a cheery endeavour. We had to realise that through their efforts had been laid the foundations upon which rested the present prosperity of the country. Many of those present had seen New Zealand pass through its early stages and emerge with a great future before it, and to them were due the thanks of presentday youth for the glorious heritage that had been presented to it. Short addresses were also given by Monsignor J. Cahill, the Rev. E. R. Harries and the Rev. J. Olphert, Brigadier H. P. Sharp, of the Salvation Army, and Mr. W. Bloomfield, who spoke on behalf of old Thames boys. Several telegrams were also received from old Thames girls living in other parts of the country. During the afternoon a special commemorative song, '"Hearts of Gold," written by Miss E- M. Wilcox, and composed by Miss L. Townson, was sung by Mr. Abel Rowe. The song was composed and sung specially for the jubilee celebrations at Thames last week, and Saturday's gathering fully appreciated the sentiment expressed. Songs were also given by Mrs. A- Keven and' Mr. Len Keven, and a recitation, "The Miner's Daughter," by Mrs. H. H. Adams. Presentation of Eose Bowls. Two handsome rose - bowls were received from Mrs. Grant, an old Thames girl, now living in Queensland. These were furnished with bouquets by Mrs. Priest and Mrs. Richards, members of the association, and were presented by the Mayoress, Mrs. A. D. Campbell, to Mrs. A. Oldham, president, and Mrs. W. R. Wooley, vicepresident. A beautiful bouquet was also presented to the president for her work on behalf of the association. In a concluding address the president said it. was hoped to have similar functions everv vear.
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