Friday, April 18, 2014

John and Jessie Barr in Auckland: Scots Wha Hae

As posted earlier on Heritage et AL (see the post on 14th April), John Barr (Chief Librarian at Auckland Public Library 1913-1952) and his wife Jessie came to live in Auckland in the early 20th century. Like many immigrants they remained attached to their home country, Scotland, while also becoming increasingly engaged with the history, life and culture of their new home in Auckland. They were very active members of the Auckland St Andrews Society.

As secretary of the St Andrews Society in 1919, John Barr took care of many of the arrangements for the installation of J.M. Mennie’s gift to Auckland of a Robert Burns statue (ref: Auckland Star, 03 May 1919, p.11). The statue was installed and unveiled in Auckland Domain in 1921 (ref: New Zealand Herald, 5 November 1921, p. 8).

Ref: Frederick George Radcliffe, statue of Burns, Auckland Domain, c. 1921, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R142
Jessie performed in the St Andrews Society production of “Bunty Pulls the Strings” in 1928. The play was written by a Scot - it depicted Scottish life 60 years previously, and had “humour and heart”. It was performed for 4 nights at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber (ref: Auckland Star, 21 July 1928, p.22;  Auckland Star, 13 July 1928, p.3).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


The horse has had a long history in NZ and were first introduced to NZ in the 19th century. European settlers relied heavily on horses to transport everything, not quite the kitchen sink but almost! Horses were essential for farming and were the main form of transport in both rural and city areas for European settlers and Māori..

The first iwi to have a horse was Ngā Puhi. They were given a mare, which was one of the first horses introduced into NZ. Horses were later traded with other iwi and used in the New Zealand Wars during the 1860s.

Whilst not native to NZ, the horse has adapted well to the environment. By the 1870s, there were feral herds in the central plateau in the North Island, which came to be referred to as the Kaimanawa horses.These 'wild' horses are associated with the Ngāti Tūwharetoa people, particularly the Ngāti Tama Whiti hapū.

Horses have remained popular and many people take still take part in horse riding and attend racing activities.

Keen to find out more? Browse the selection of heritage resources at Auckland Libraries and search for images of horses using the keyword horses in the search box of the Heritage Images, Local History Online and Footprints databases. Below is a small selection for you to enjoy, but there are plenty more online!

Carriages, traps and bugies:

Ref: Henry Winkelmann, Grand Hotel in Princes St with horses and carriages outside, Auckland Central, 1901, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W128