Showing posts from 2012

The Colenso Project

The Colenso Project is a collaboration between The Colenso Society, Victoria University of Wellington and Hawke’s Bay Museum & Art Gallery

The intent of the project is to ignite public and academic interest in William Colenso’s words - published, unpublished, private letters and journals – both in Māori and English, by sharing  them with the world in digital form.

Flowers, Fruit and Foliage exhibition

'Flowers, Fruit and Foliage', the latest exhibition from the Sir George Grey Special Collections has opened. The exhibition features botanical illustrations from the collections and runs from 29 November 2012 to 17 March 2013 at the Central City Library, 44 Lorne Street, Level 2.

While pictures of plants in books are often produced as a practical guide for identifying useful, or common, or newly discovered species, the resulting illustrations can be beautiful works of art in their own right. The books in this exhibition were all chosen for their illustrations and date from 1578 through the great age of botanical illustration in the 18th and 19th century, to the wood engravings of the 1930s.

The earliest book on display is a herbal printed in 1578, but there are many beautiful hand-coloured engravings from the 18th century, and very rich colour printed illustrations from the 19th.

International Tracing Service

The International Commission for the International Tracing Service (ICITS)  is handing over management of the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen to the German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv) after over 50 years. The ICITS will continue to give technical expertise, helping the ITS serve the victims of Nazi persecution and their families.

The archives cover civilians detained in Nazi concentration or labour camps and people who had to flee their homes because of World War II. They house over 50 million card files relating to more than 17.5 million civilians persecuted by the Nazis.

Take another look at community newsletters ...

If you're looking for information on events in your area in the recent past you'll probably turn to your local newspaper. Suburban newspapers such as the Howick & Pakuranga Times, Eastern Courier, Manukau Courier, Papakura Courier and Post (Waiuku) can be invaluable sources of local news. However, these newspapers each cover quite a wide area and may not have quite the level of detail you want. In some areas, community groups also publish monthly or quarterly newsletters, which include a different range of views.

One of the longest-lived examples of this type of newsletter is the Whitford Turanga Newsreel. This began publication as the Turanga Newsreel in 1947 and has come out unfailingly with 11 issues per year full of Whitford news ever since. A complete set is held at South Auckland Research Centre.

Similar titles include the Informer (Hunua), Kaiaua Compass, Karaka Chronicle, Peninsularama (Manukau Peninsula), and Weymouth News. Check the Auckland Libraries catalogue fo…

Christmas is coming!

Having trouble thinking of what to buy friends and loved ones? Starting to get a bit panicky about what to get? Beattie's Book Blog and the New Zealand Herald have some great books ideas including History, Biographies and Memoirs. And if you fancy getting crafty, you can create your own Family History book as gift for family members.

A Kiwi Christmas is something special and New Zealand History Online Nga korero a ipurangi o Aotearoa have put together some great resources about this festive time of year. This includes the history behind the day off on Christmas Day - did you know that it wasn't always a public holiday?

Children's Home & Orphanages in Hawkes Bay

A book about the children who lived in children's institutions in Hawkes Bay has been written by Dr Kay Morris Matthews, an acclaimed academic historian and author. It will be launched on 22 November by John McKinnon, a Hastings resident who grew up in France House, a home in the Esk Valley for teenage boys.

Entitled entitled 'Who Cared? Childhoods within Hawke’s Bay Children’s Homes and Orphanages 1892-1988', the books covers the experiences of thousands of youngsters who were orphaned, illegitimate, abandoned or destitute.

2nd Battle of El Alamein

Sixty years ago, the 2nd Battle of El Alamein, the battle that turned the war towards the allies' favour, was fought in North Africa. Recent commemorations saw New Zealand veterans invited to the El Alamein Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Egypt to remember New Zealand and allied forces; fortunately many of their stories now live on in the written and oral histories.

George Mackay from Westport fought at Tripoli and in The Desert Rd  recounts the thoughts that go through one’s mind leading up to battle. “You don’t know what to expect.. . It’s an uncanny moment, zero hour. Everything’s going through your mind, whether you’ll survive, whether you’re going to get killed, blown up or shot at, or anything like that. What’s going to happen? What’s it going to be like? You don’t know. All those things are going through your mind and then finally its zero hour and the shelling starts. Then you’re waiting for the Germans to retaliate with their shells.  That’s what it’s all about. You…

Virtual village

In May 2012 the work of students from Bruce McLaren Intermediate School brought local life to the walls of the West Auckland Research Centre through the 'It takes a village: photo voice' exhibition (see post on 25 May 2012 if you want to read more about the exhibition).

Today it is back in a new form as avirtual experience of the original physical exhibition. This gives it the potential for reaching a regional, national and even international audience!

Village residents and students are pleased that then are now able to send friends and family a link to the exhibition which highlights the work of the students.

Each village link includes stunning portraits and narratives reflections of the conversations captured between students and older residents. Read more about the project. 

There is already a link in place from the Chinese Digital Community website and in the future there are plans to add oral history sound extracts from interviews with the Chinese residents of Wilsh…

Waikumete Cemetery

It’s dead good Waikumete Cemetery in Glen Eden is one of the most significant heritage places managed by Auckland Council. At 108 ha, it is New Zealand’s largest cemetery, the second largest in the southern hemisphere, and the resting place of over 60,000 people, some of whom played an important role in our history. The cemetery is just one of the many heritage assets owned or managed by Auckland Council on behalf of the community.

The cemetery opened in 1886 as a replacement for the overcrowded Symonds Street Cemetery. It was laid out by denomination and contains many historic graves and memorials of heritage significance. It includes a children’s section, soldiers’ cemetery, large lawn cemetery, Māori urupa, mass grave of over 1000 flu victims from 1918, and a memorial to the 1979 Mt. Erebus Air Disaster. The cemetery also contains a notable group of mausoleums and the historic Faith-in-the-Oaks Chapel (1886), Sexton’s House (1886) and crematorium.

Molasses, Alas, The Sideways Platypus

Recently a customer was searching through old letterbooks in the Chelsea Archives at Birkenhead Library. Tissue thin pages, eye-watering  italic script, crumbling pages, circa 1889 – that sort of thing.

He was hoping to find reference to his grandfather. Instead he found curious little notes. Which would be fine, except they seem to be nonsense:

The Golden Age of Purgation

Constipation was an obsession in the early 20th century. It was thought to pollute the blood and in turn cause everything from bad breath to liver failure, madness or syphilis.

In books such as “The Conquest of Constipation” doctors warned that the contents of the colon created “sewer-like blood” leading to 90 percent of disease.

“How can I emphasise enough the importance of bowels in those days?” wrote New Zealand author Ruth Park. As a child in Te Kuiti she was forced to drink castor oil every day. “It was given to me in orange juice on the top of which it floated in a viscid greenish layer. I wanted to throw up before I drank it.”

Sir Ernest Rutherford

It was sixty-six years ago this month that Nobel prize winner Ernest (Ern) Rutherford (1871-1937), the "father of nucelar physics" passed away. He was interred in Westminster Abbey, surrounded by the ashes of scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton. Rutherford was 66 when he died.  Following his death an obituary in the New York Times said, "It is given to but few men to achieve immortality, still less to achieve Olympian rank, during their own lifetime. Lord Rutherford achieved both.”

Despite his intellectual achievements, Rutherford, or Ern as he was called, was said to be a humble man. Physically, he was large, and quite the talker. He had a tendency to spill his tea on his waistcoat, to which wife, Mary, would proclaim, “Ern, you’re dribbling.” Mary had marched with the suffragettes in London and not surprisingly, Ern was a huge supporter of women studying the sciences.  His very first research assistant, Harriet Brookes, assisted him in the discovery of radon while at …

"Fairness to all"

We all love a stirring milestone, and this one is up there with the best of them. The 30th September marked fifty years since New Zealand set up its own office of the Ombudsman – the first country outside of Scandinavia to do so.

Loosely translated, the word Ombudsman means “grievance person”. That's just what they are - the “go to” people if you’ve got a gripe with your school’s board of trustees, the EQC, IRD, the ACC or any government department. 

Go local – southern style: Franklin newspapers then and now

The Auckland Heritage Festival 2012 might be over and the 'Black and White and Read All Over' newspaper tool kit published but we still have interesting heritage newspaper related stories to tell ....

In the early years of the last century, almost every New Zealand town supported its own newspapers, each with a strong local flavour and full of local information. The small towns of Franklin, to the south of the Auckland urban area, were no exception.

Franklin’s oldest newspaper was founded in Pukekohe in 1912. It was known as the Pukekohe & Waiuku Times until 1919, the Franklin & Pukekohe Times until 1921, and then simply as the Franklin Times until 1971, when it was absorbed into the South Auckland Courier family (the title was later briefly resurrected).

Further to the west, Waiuku’s first newspaper, the Waiuku Advocate was founded in 1914. This became the Waiuku News in 1915, which continued publication locally until 1964.

A number of other Franklin titles have sinc…

God defend New Zealand

The poet Thomas Bracken (1841-98) was born in Ireland and orphaned at a young age. He was sent to Australia to live with an uncle, near Melbourne. He was initially apprenticed to a pharmacist but later worked as a station hand and shearer. His first volume of verse appeared in 1867, and there was a steady output from his pen until his final years.

Listen to the Real Gold podcast on Auckland Libraries Soundcloud.

Bracken moved to Dunedin in 1869, and concentrated on journalism, working at the SaturdayAdvertiser. In the edition of 1 July 1876, he published a five-stanza poem of his own composition entitled ‘National Hymn’ and announced a contest with a prize of ten guineas for the person who composed the best musical setting to accompany his words. The judges were trio of reputable Melbourne-based German-born musicians: Herr Zelman, Herr Siede and Herr Zeplin. They unanimously chose an entry submitted by John Joseph Woods, head teacher at St Patrick’s Catholic School in the town of Lawre…

WW100 centenary commemorations

Plans are already underway for the World War I centenary commemorations, which will run from 2014-2018.
The New Zealand WW100 website, a hub for the commemorations, includes a wealth of information about the formal projects and activities planned by the New Zealand Government, such as the National War Memorial Park in Wellington. It also includes details on how the public and institutions can get involved. 

'New' fangled machine at Birkenhead Library


Birkenhead Library's new 'photocopier' has been installed just in time for the Heritage Festival.
Birkenhead Library has got ye olde Albion press (made in c1863) up & running and invites people to come and have a go.

Typeset your name!

Indent paper!

 Make a bookmark!

All welcome. Sessions times at Birkenhead Library are as follows:
Sunday 7th October from 2pm-3pmWednesday 10th October from 3pm-4pmSunday 14th October from 2pm-3pm.
With many thanks to Graham Judd of GTO Printers, Birkenhead, who has lent the press to the library.  You can find out more about letterpress by visiting his blog.
For those interested, Andy English's blog is also well worth a read. The blog gives fascinating insight into the life and work of a professional wood engraver & bookplate creator using an Albion press for his creative endeavours.

Anniversary of opera in NZ

One hundred and fifty years ago, New Zealand enjoyed its first professional opera performance at Dunedin’s Royal Princess Theatre – the country’s first purpose-built theatre. Dunedin had become home to the newly rich who were in need of some 'refined' culture, a sentiment echoed by those tired of the “limited sources of entertainment” offered by grog-shops and other equally seedy places on the Otago goldfields.

When sugar was good for you ...


Once upon a time, sugar was good for you .... and Chelsea Archives at Birkenhead Library has the marketing-advertising-promo material to prove it!

It’s embedded in the many small publications contained in the archives - such as company newsletters, industry-related periodicals, series, centenary celebrations and that sort of thing. Today they might be considered corporate zines. 
Examples include: 'Chelsea News', 'Sugar for New Zealand', 'New Zealand Sugar', 'CSR Newsletter', 'Australian Sugar', 'Sugar: Nature’s Bounty', 'Notes on Sugar in New Zealand' and the 'World'. 
These publications contain splendours galore. Such as the many attempts to explain the triumph of sugar refinement and its industrial production using copious graphs, maps, diagrams .. the more the merrier! What I particularly like is the advertising. Perhaps it’s the colours, they did them differently back then. Or that the message …

Search for tapa cloth books from Captain Cook's voyages

Dr. Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian at the University of Otago has taken on the task of tracking down all known copies of the tapa cloth books from Captain Cook's three voyages. Some of you may remember the post on 1 June 2012, which discussed this book and the specimen in the Sir George Grey Special Collections at Central City Library.

The full title of the book is as follows: 'A catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook, to the Southern Hemisphere: with a particular account of the manner of the manufacturing the same in various Islands of the South Seas; partly extracted from Mr. Anderson and Reinhold Forster's observations, and the verbal account of some of the most knowing of the navigators: with some anecdotes that happened to them among the natives'. London: Arranged and printed for Alexander Shaw, 1787.

The beginnings of state housing in NZ

This September celebrates the 75th anniversary of New Zealand’s first state house – number 12 Fife Lane, Mirimar, Wellington.

The decision to build government-owned housing developed after the decline in construction following the Depression. That decline, combined with a belief that a decent home was a fundamental right of all Kiwis, set in motion the state housing project by the then Labour Government.

The opening of the first house in 1937 was attended by Prime Minister Michael Savage, along with hundreds of curious folk who traipsed through the brand new home for a look. The tenants were the family of council tram conductor, David McGregor, who had 'won' the home via a ballot system. That system did not, however, last. It was the subject of claims that it was unfair, and was later dropped in favour of a merit system. 
The McGregor family eventually purchased the house and following Mr McGregor’s death, sold it back to the government. It was recognised by The New Zealan…

The Jennings Family Tree found on Waiheke

Just a wee while ago, Di and Fiona, librarians from Waiheke Library rang to ask me if I was interested in a family tree that a customer of theirs had found in their attic. They thought we might be able to find the family it belonged to, and if not, maybe it would be of interest to keep in our Sir George Grey Special Collections manuscript collection at Central City Library.

When I received it here in the Central Auckland Research Centre, it was rolled up in a tube - and had obviously been rolled up for some time. The photos attached were curled up, and a couple fell off when I removed it from its tube.

As a family historian, this tree excited me. It is A2 in size, and the first date on the tree was 1620, so the research had gone back for more than 500 years. It has been meticulously drawn out - and was beautiful in its own right. The family had taken care to record its genealogy in 1894 - courtesy of Mary Adelaide, Lady Jennings.

A branch of the Jennings had emigrated to New Zealand i…

Protest exhibition

'Protest! a cry for freedom', is an exhibition about revolution and reform and runs from 1 August to 11 November at the Sir George Grey Special Collections, 2nd floor, Auckland Central Library.

The exhibition looks at universal themes of race, religion, power, land, peace, work, gender and the environment, which over the centuries have brought the ordinary man to react against the status quo in both peaceful and violent ways.

Examples through history and from around the world are given in the exhibition using rare books, letters, photographs, posters and memorabilia drawn from the Sir George Grey Collections. Examples include: the 1863 Waikato land confiscations in New Zealand, suffragette movement in the UK and environmental issues & organisations in New Zealand.

Highlights from the exhibition are also available online.

The Jennings Family Tree - owner found!

Some of you may have followed the happenings of the Jennings Family Tree in the media or via this blog.

Early July, a family tree was handed into the Waiheke Library. It was beautifully drawn out on A2 draughtsman’s paper, and the Librarians on Waiheke sent it to me, so that we could trace the owner.

The tree dated back 500 years, and was annotated that the original research had been taken from the records of the Drapers’ Company of London from the 15th Century – earliest date marked on it was 1589, although it showed the Jennings line going back some four generations more than that.

It was also annotated that the tree had then been further updated by Mary Adelaide, Lady Jennings, in 1894 and published privately in "A Kentish Country House."

The tree had again been updated by an F. Keiller in 1969, and showed the Jennings branch of David and Maria Faint (nee TURNER) coming to New Zealand, and settling in Nelson with their 12 children (11 surviving).

Intriguingly, the tree st…