Posts

Wartime cooking and rationing in New Zealand

Image
Times of crisis cause us to pay more attention to what we are cooking and eating. No matter what is going on in the world, meals are still a necessity. During the lockdown period of 2020, some of us were lucky and able to enjoy devoting more time to food preparation and returning to slower ways of cooking  - the luxury of making our own bread rather than buying it – while others were faced with the difficulties of putting food on the table while unable to work, or finding supermarket shelves stripped bare of necessities by panic shoppers. In past times of crisis, food has been equally central to people’s experience. During the First World War and the following decades, New Zealanders, like much of the world, faced a time of austerity. Cookbooks from this period underline the need for ‘economy,’ making food go further, and letting nothing go to waste. Elsie Gertrude Harvey. The “peace” recipe book : every recipe has been tested and is guaranteed economical. 3rd edition. Printed by N.Z.

Food for thought: nutrition

Image
“ Many people pass through life with a closed mind and an open mouth; and when it comes to food it is never too late to start or restart learning ." (Corene Walker M.D., quoted in Vegetarian living NZ , vol.76: no.3, 2020.) One of the goals of our Food for Thought exhibition was to encourage critical thought around how we have eaten in Aotearoa and Tāmaki Makaurau.  " Very much to the fore in public thought today is the matter of healthy living ." (Elizabeth Gregory and Elizabeth C.G. Wilson, from Good nutrition , 1940.) This is just as true today as it was 80 years ago. We now live in a world where nutrition information panels are required by law to be on food labels. We think both about what is desirable to eat not only from a culinary point of view but from the nutritive properties of the food too.  Rather than trying to provide a history of nutrition in Aotearoa, I attempted to select a few items from our collections which reflected ideas of the time about nutrition.

Flour, bread and bakeries

Image
Bread was a staple for British settlers to New Zealand and, at first, flour and bread were imported from Australia. In the early 1800s, Ngāpuhi chief Ruatara was among the first to plant wheat in New Zealand. To begin with wheat was ground with a steel hand-mill. The first flour mill in New Zealand began operation in 1834 at the Church Missionary Society’s farm at Waimate, built of timber, it was powered by a water wheel set in a small stream. Image: Frank Denton. A view of an old flour mill, Waimate North, Bay of Islands, with the water wheel visible, about 1898. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, 877-ALBUM-138-28. From the mid-1840s Māori invested in water-powered mills to process the wheat they grew. Between 1846 and 1860, 37 flour mills were built for Māori owners in the Auckland province alone. Image: Letter to Governor Grey at Wellington, written at Manawatū by Hōri, possibly Hōri Takerei. The letter requests a plough to prepare land for wheat for a mill. Signed by Takerei,

Hotere’s Hauhake (Harvest)

Image
Image: Detail of illustration by Ralph Hotere, Sap-wood & Milk (1972). A visit to the A ngela Morton Room Te Pataka Toi Art Library inspired contemporary Māori artist Jade Townsend ’s upcoming Hotere’s Hauhake (Harvest) residency at Objectspace. This opens on 1 December in an architecturally designed campervan on Objectspace’s forecourt. All are welcome to visit the space which will function as both a studio for Jade, and a gallery space for objects made by a range of artists responding to the kaupapa, too. The residency was sparked by the Art Library’s collection of books illustrated by Hotere, and by Hone Tuwhare’s poem “Hotere” - poet and artist were friends, and Hotere’s work features in several of Tuwhare’s collections. Image: by Ralph Hotere, from Sap-Wood & Milk (1972), poems by Hone Tuwhare. Image: by Ralph Hotere, from Mihi (1987), poems by Hone Tuwhare. Hotere also illustrated collections by writers including James K. Baxter, Bill Manhire and O.E. Middleton. He used

A tale of three kete and a puhi ariki

Image
Image: Three kete, 2020. Three beautiful kete by kairaranga Muna Lee (Te Ati Awa, Taranaki Tuturu) have been welcomed into the Angela Morton Room Te Pātaka Toi Art Library. These taonga, inspired by early Māori association with Takapuna, grew from an earlier commission where Muna wove a replacement puhi ariki for the two metre long waka taua which rests in the Room. Image: Paul Estcourt. Courtesy of New Zealand Herald archive, 3 August 2010, New Zealand Herald. The waka taua (war canoe) was carved by four inmates of Auckland Prison at Paremoremo as part of an exhibition and charity auction held at Mairangi Arts Centre in 2010. It was made from 30,000 year old kauri and tōtara wood recovered from a swamp during the building of Ngawha Prison. The auction of prisoner’s work raised $7495 for their nominated charity Victim Support. Over 80 items were shown including paintings and carved patu, wall panels and walking sticks. The North Shore City Council bought the waka taua for display in l

Songs in the parlour: Victorian illustrated sheet music covers from the Bellingham papers

Image
Over the past year I have revelled in exploring an extraordinary collection of illustrated sheet music donated in 1990 to Auckland Libraries by Mr John Bellingham, an enthusiastic life-long collector. The sheet music lies within the context of his larger collection focussing on theatre, ballet and music in New Zealand, from the late 1800s till the early 2000s. The Bellingham collection includes programmes, scrapbooks, photographs, publicity postcards from visiting artists, books, theatre journals and even a few recordings. Listen to a conversation about some items from the collection here :  Victorian illustrated sheet music covers provide a surprising window into a by-gone era. They document experiments in typography and lithography that were bold and creative. New technologies at the time enabled sheet music to be used as a means of mass communication for a growing middle class. The songs themselves can also be interpreted as a social comment of the times. What surprised and del