Vojtěch Kubašta - pop-up book creator

An important designer and illustrator of pop-up books in the twentieth century was Vojtěch Kubašta, whose pop-up versions of 'Snow White' and 'Cinderella' are displayed in the first case of the Playful pop-up books exhibition, alongside the nativity scene from his 'A Christmas Tale'.

Kubašta was born in Vienna in 1914, but he lived in Prague for most of his life. He wanted to become an artist from a young age. To please his father, he studied architecture and civil engineering at university instead. However, he only worked as an architect for a short time, and from the early 1940s worked instead as a commercial artist and book designer.

The publishing industry in Czechoslovakia was nationalised by the communist government in 1948; censorship became much tighter, and more than 370 publishing houses were closed down. Kubašta had to find new kinds of work. He designed advertisements to market Czech products internationally, and created three-dimensional cards to…

Kura Heritage Collections Online is live!

Auckland Libraries is proud to share our new heritage discovery tool: Kura Heritage Collections Online.

Kura is the new home for our images, audio, collection records and indexes, providing free and easy access to our world-renowned heritage collections. Right now Kura contains over 650,000 records, and will grow over the next year as more records and digitised collections are migrated to the new platform.

Kura has been designed for both casual browsers and researchers. You can use an advanced search or simply browse our diverse photographic collections, with an improved image viewer, image download, and share options making it much easier to see what your neighbourhood looked like in past decades.

The photographic collections already on Kura include historic images of the North Shore, West Auckland, and the significant documentary heritage of the South formerly found in Footprints.

Alongside these photographic riches, our Heritage Images website remains a important source of historic…

Kauri logging in Waitākere Ranges

Long ago the Waitākere Ranges were covered in ancient forests of huge kauri trees. Māori valued kauri because of its size and for its gum.

Kauri are tall and straight and the giant trees were perfect for building waka, boats and settlers’ homes. The work involved in the logging of the kauri forests was documented by photographers, both professional and amateur. By 1900 most of the kauri forests had been cut down. Only a few patches remained.

In more recent times, the incurable and fatal kauri dieback disease has severly impacted kauri forests. Te Kawerau ā Maki, the tangata whenua (people of the land) of Waitākere in Auckland, have placed a rāhui over the entire Waitākere forest (Te Wao Nui o Tiriwa). For the health of the forest, they are asking people to stay away from the bush. The rāhui gives scientists time to develop a solution, and time for the forest to heal.

A large part of Jack Diamond’s extensive research on all things West was focused on the logging industry in the Ranges…

The Baxter Collection and the C1 Men of Tauherenikau Camp

Raymond Leslie Baxter's photograph album came to Auckland Libraries as the result of a donation to the old Waitakere City Council. This donation might have been made after the tragic death of the album's owner, Miss Beverley Price, in the 1979 Air New Zealand crash at Mt Erebus in Antarctica.

The photographs were taken by Beverley Price’s uncle, Raymond Leslie Baxter. They document his brief military career at Featherston Camp between July and December 1917. The details of this can be traced by consulting his army personnel file on Archway, Archives New Zealand’s system for government records. Baxter was a 28-year-old clerk from Newton who worked for the Auckland Education Board. In early 1917 he was called up and, along with his fellow recruits, transported by train to Featherston Camp in the South Wairarapa. His album includes three images of the troop train winding its way along the Wairarapa line across the Rimutaka Range.

Featherston Camp had been opened in January 1916. …

Hiding in plain sight

The Auckland Library Heritage Trust has completed long overdue restoration work on two tables in Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library. The tables were presented to the Auckland Free Library which opened on 26 March 1887. Auckland was library mad in the 1880s with the gift of former Governor Sir George Grey’s extraordinary library in 1882 and the promise of a building to house the collection. To mark the historic library opening in 1887 the New Zealand Insurance Company presented:

“... two chess tables, with full sets, and two draughts boards and men." 
(CITY COUNCIL., New Zealand Herald, Volume XXIV, Issue 7947, 13 May 1887).

The chessmen are long gone but one chess table survives after 131 years, along with one of the draughts boards now inset into a twentieth century table. The Auckland Library Heritage Trust recognised the significance of the furniture in the history of Auckland Libraries. Chair Colin Davis notes that the original chess table is significant as part of th…

'But I Changed All That'

Finding photos for my book on New Zealand’s ‘first’ women, But I Changed All That, I did not expect to choose the photos of our first two female prime ministers from Auckland Libraries collection.

Jenny Shipley planting trees with Auckland children on Arbour Day was a winner for my book, which covers 1893 to 2018 – Kate Sheppard to Jacinda Ardern. Jenny Shipley became New Zealand’s first female prime minister in 1997, having won enough support to oust Jim Bolger. She started her working life as a primary school teacher. You can tell that she and the children are enjoying themselves. The 1999 election saw her go head to head with Helen Clark – who became our first elected female prime minister as leader of the parliamentary Labour Party.

Here too, Auckland Libraries came up trumps, with a really nice photo of Helen Clark on election night. She is wearing a smart bob haircut and a sharp suit – all the better for an appearance on television. But this photo was taken later in the night: s…