The THOMAS family & New Zealand Brass Bands

A hundred years of brass banding

John THOMAS John GGF Thomas wife Susannah , & 2 children arrived at Timaru on the "Merope" in 1875.
Son William was 19 months old. Whether any ancestors in Wales were interested in music is unknown.
William's future wife Elizabeth NECKLEN (2.7 y.o.) was also on the Merope.  The NECKLEN family was into music.
Timaru Salvation Army Band, c.1900
After marrying Elizabeth NECKLEN in 1899, William Thomas was a member of the Timaru Salvation Army Band. (left) with the bass drum. c.1900 

A Timaru Orchestra, c. 1927
William & Elizabeth were also members of a Timaru orchestra (William at right rear, Elizabeth with Mandolin front seated). Also present is son Victor (second from left standing in middle row, with wife Gert) and Elizabeth's sister Rose (middle seated on floor)  c.1927


Timaru Regimental BandElizabeth's eldest brother Henry Joseph (Harry) NECKLEN a member of the Timaru Garrison Band, won the Euphonium Solo at the 1894 Invercargill Contest, age 25.
The South Canterbury Regiment Timaru Garrison competed at the 1920 Ballarat (Australia) contest, and Harry won the Australasian Euphonium championship, winning 2 Alabaster vases (now in the South Canterbury Museum).
Harry Necklen



Tenuka Brass Band 1937

William & Elizabeth's two eldest sons were both brass band enthusiasts. Victor (Vic) was conductor of the Temuka Brass Band in 1937-50.


Vic conducting the Auckland Battalion Band

In 1960 Hon. Lt. Vic L Thomas conducted the Band of the 3rd Battalion Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly's Own Regiment (territorials).


Timaru Municipal Band 1933

Roland (Roly) was a member of the Timaru Municipa Band from 1925. In 1933 the band won the B Grade Contest. Roly is third from left, back row. Charlie NECKLEN (Harry's son) was also a member


In 1940 Roly won the Eb Soprano Cornet Competition at the Centennial Contest, with a score of 98%. described by chief judge Frank Wright "as probably not only the best player of that instrument in New Zealand, but one of the best soprano players in any part of the world."


Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles 1941

In 1941 Roly was appointed Lieut. Bandmaster the Queen Alexandra's Own Band (1st WellingtonWest Coast Regiment) in camp at Wanganui Racecourse.


 Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles 1942

 By 1942 the band developed into this


Wanganui Tech band 1945
Wanganui Technical College Band 1945, Merv on trombone, Roly conductor.
Queen Alexandra's Own 1947
At the 1947 Christchurch contest, the Queen Alex are  still in military uniform.   
Roly's elder son Mervyn aged 15 is third from left, middle row, on Euphonium.
Roly soon retired as conductor due to failing health.

Wanganui Garrison 1951
In 1951: Roly (top right), Mervyn & Neville all played in the Wanganui Garrison.   They won the A Grade Quickstep at the Wellington contest, and were asked to repeat the performance,        Roly died in 1952.


Band of 10th Intake CMT Linton19531953 Neville played in the band of the CMT intake at Linton Military Camp. (front left), and continued at annual CMT camps.



Wanganui Garrison 1957

Neville continued playing in the Wanganui Garrison until 1957, then moved to Auckland.

In Auckland, Neville played in the Auckland Battalion band under conductor Uncle Vic. Thomas
Mervyn in Pem Shepherd's band at the Mount
Mervyn left the Brass Band genre to become a jazz musician. Photo of Pem Shepherd's band at Mount Maunganui. Merv. eventually became a dance band leader.

44 years pass ........
 Devonport Citozensa Band

In 2004, Neville joined the Devonport Citizens Silver Band on Eb tuba.  Mervyn on trombone helped the band from time to time.

The Devonport Band "folded" and Neville joined Kumeu Brass in 2006

Kueu Brass 2007
Kumeu Brass 2007.  Neville front right on tuba.
Kumeu Brass 2011
Kumeu Brass after competing in the 2011 ABA Regional contest.

In 2006 Kumeu Vintage Brass was formed under the Kumeu Brass umberella, comprising mostly retired bandsmen, who rehearse Thursday afternoons.
KVB at Couldrey House
The Kumeu Vintage Brass at Couldrey House, Wenderholme in 2008
KVB at Art Deco 2017
The Kumeu Vintage Brass in 2017 Napier Art Deco Festival concert
By 2017 the Kumeu Vintage Brass had grown to over 40 players and performed numerous concerts.

Neville's granddaughter Isabella Thomas commenced playing the cornet at Campbells Bay Primary School.
Isabell 2011
2011  Isabella busking with friends
Isabella 2012
2012  Isabella on trumpet at Murrays Bay Intermediate School.     Neville Grenfell is tutor.
Isabella 2013
2013  North Shore Brass Academy solo comp.
Isabella 2014
2014  North Shore Brass Academy
Isabella NSYB 2015
2015 North Shore Youth Brass at ABA contest

Isabella 2016
2016 North Shore Brass ANZAC parade
NZ School of Music Jazz Festival
2016 Rangitoto College Big Band at NZ School of Music Jazz Festival. Award: Trumpet: Bella Thomas.
Isabella 2017
On Flugel 2017 NSB quartet rehearsal fof BBANZ Contest (placed 3rd against allcomers)

NZ Youth Jazz Orchestra
NZ Youth Jazz Orchestra 2017.
NZYJO trumpets
NZYJO 2017 trumpet section, Isabella on lead.
ABA 2017 slow melody <19
Winner of ABA slow melody under 19.
North Sea Combo
Rangitoto's North Sea Jazz Combo, winner Best Jazz  Combo 2017 KBB.

Ryan 2015
Although primarily a pianist, Isabella's cousin Ryan plays tuba at Westlake Boys College.   Proms 2015
Westlake tubas
Westlake Concert Band at KBB Festival 2017.    Ryan (left) on tuba.

Compiled by Neville