On 27th July 1867 James Mackay, civil commissioner for the Hauraki district, concluded an agreement with Te Hoterini Taipari, Raiki Whakarongatai and Rapana Maunganoa. This agreement secured the mineral rights leading to the proclamation of the Thames Goldfield on August 1st.
That same month, close to Kauaeranga Pa at the mouth of the Kauaeranga River, Mackay selected the site to establish the British settlement of Shortland. This was named indirectly after Sir Willoughby Shortland R.N., Acting Governor of New Zealand from September 1842 to December 1843, and directly from the use by the Taipari family of this name, given in Maori as Hoterini.
It was to here that Mackay bought a party of miners and officials to fulfil part of the agreement for the opening of the goldfield.
The local Maori landowners leased land for businesses and residencs at 6/- (shillings) a foot, or 12/- for corner sections. The first buildings were raupo whares and tents, which were soon replaced by wooden buildings. Shortland quickly became a compact town with government buildings, cottages, shops, six or seven pubs and a wharf.
It soon emerged that the heart of the Thames goldfield was over a mile away to the north, around Grahamstown. By 1874 Shortland had merged with the burgeoning Grahamstown, established a year after Shortland, and the Borough of Thames was formally constituted. This merger saw the decline of Shortland, re-emerging in importance after the Shortland Railway Station was opened on 9th February 1899 and the Hauraki Plains were developed for farming.