The 1932 Queen Street unemployment riot

In 1932 unemployment riots swept through the country as the Great Depression intensified. The worst occurred in Auckland on 14 April, over 200 people were injured and 250 shop windows were smashed along Queen Street. Broken glass covered footpaths and looters grabbed whatever they could: shoes, jewellery, clothing, cigars. There were 45 arrests.

Earlier in the day, Postal and Telegraph Employees Association workers had marched to the town hall to protest a second 10% wage cut. All pensions had also been reduced and the family allowance terminated. Marching columns of jobless men and women joined the protest and the crowd grew to 15,000. Around 2,000 people were allowed into the town hall before police barred further entry. Scuffles broke out between police and those left outside.

Unemployed workers leader Jim Edwards rose to speak, a policeman struck him down with a baton and the crowd erupted. Police batoned protestors who armed themselves with fence palings from the Methodist Centra…

The 1984 Queen Street riot

In 1984 an end-of-school-year rock concert in Aotea Square turned into a youth riot that caused over $1 million worth of damage. Starring DD Smash and billed as “Thank God It’s Over,” the Friday night concert soured after riot police tried to arrest youths urinating off the Wellesley Street post office verandah. Spectators resisted and police closed down the concert because they couldn’t hear radio signals from their control room while the band performed. DD Smash singer Dave Dobbyn was charged with inciting the riot and was eventually cleared of all charges.

Around 10,000 people and 20 police were present in the Square at the time; then around 3000 young people swarmed down Queen Street merging with late night shoppers and traffic. The riot lasted for two hours and by the end of the evening 400 police were involved. Sixty three shop windows were smashed, cars overturned and set alight. Acting district police commander Graham Perry said “at one stage a police van containing 18 prisone…

A new way to mine for “real gold”

We invite visitors to Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library to call in to the Sir George Grey Special Collections Reading Room on Level 2 to view our treasure – no mining picks required.

In 2007 the book Real Gold: treasures of Auckland City Libraries was published by AUP and the library with support from the Auckland Library Heritage Trust. The treasure book with insightful text by Iain Sharp and luscious photographs by Haru Sameshima keeps on giving.

Not only can you buy the book ($20) here but you can see the essays online through our website.

To continue developing the gold nuggets in the book we have begun a display programme in the Reading Room where items from the book and the Sir George Grey Special Collections will always be on display. We invite you to visit the Reading Room to sample Real Gold originals. The display will change every month for your delight and to minimise the exposure to light levels for these valuable works.

July starts with letters to Grey from Char…

The story of an Auckland Tramping Club map

In May 2018, Auckland Tramping Club donated a fascinating map of the Northern Slopes of Mount Ruapehu to Auckland Libraries. Notes on the map indicate the survey was done by C.W. Stewart and J.C.McComish, and it was McComish himself who compiled and hand drew the map, and signed it with the date of October ’57.
Further handwritten notes on the map note that it was restored in June 1972 by D.B.F. Brown, which is possibly when the map was laminated.

The map covers the area from the Upper Scoria Flat to the Crater Lake and it really is a work of art – mainly black and white, it has roads, streams, huts, ski patrol bases, chair lifts and power lines in colour, although very faded after sixty years of use. As well the map, there is information on safety, distances and the locations of the three telephones on the mountain - essential information in the days before mobile phones.
It is easy to see why the map was so useful to the tramping club, and why, according to Auckland Tramping Club…

Cars, Cars, Cars!

Jack Diamond was a thorough collector of everything West. He not only took his own photographs and acquired gifts of photos, but he also took photos of photos, before there were scanners or copiers, from both personal collections and collections belonging to institutions.

In each image in this small sample there is a car, the photos dating from 1919 to 1974. A number of the photographs here were taken by Jack himself, as a record of events and scenes in the time in which he lived.

Photograph dating is an interesting study, clothing and hairstyles are frequently quite reliable indicators of the season and decade, or even year, in which a photograph was taken. However vehicles were often a big investment and we Kiwis tend to keep them until they fall to pieces perhaps making them an unreliable indicator of photograph dates, but still very interesting!

Please let us know if you are able to clarify details of the make and model of any cars which are unidentified.

There are a surprising nu…

Saving history: An Auckland landmark

In the days prior to the Auckland City amalgamation of 1989, the Borough Council building held a significant place in the community. One went in to pay the rates, pick up rat bait (issued free upon request), and maybe even caught a glimpse of the mayoral robes. This month, one of those buildings returns to new life after a controversial few years. The Mt Roskill Borough Council Municipal Building at Three Kings – the Metrowater building to locals – is back in use after the discovery of toxic black mould saw it in limbo. With rumours of a push to demolish, the local historical society petitioned for it to be saved and now, renovated in all its pink-peach glory, it is once again the home of the Local Board.

Built in 1956, the complex was considered by then MP John Rae, a ‘dream home’ for the council. He had called the previous Roads Board offices down the road a ramshackle collection of corrugated iron sheds. They had been in use since 1903.

A new municipal centre had been on the drawin…

British Newspapers Archive - a real gem!

Among the databases available for FREE at Auckland Libraries is the British Newspaper Archive. This is the British Library’s version of PapersPast. If you subscribe to Findmypast you may have access to this already as part of your subscription. Otherwise you can use the British Newspapers Archive at any Auckland Council Library. all you have to do is register – provide an e-mail address and password and "Bob’s your Uncle!"

The site includes newspapers from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and the articles can be something of national interest and much better, of local interest.

A quirky example you may find are the results of ploughing contests that may name the person and their employer. The best of course, are those articles that are a little scurrilous. I have incidents that have caused me to sit down and research who the parties involved are and how they are related.

However, all articles have added insight into how my families lived, property owned and what their ch…