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Showing posts from 2013

Hydrographic heritage

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During the Auckland Tall Ships Festival  earlier this year the Auckland Libraries heritage and research collections  organised a popular display which included letters, maps, magazine covers and photographs. Of particular interest to many visitors were the hydrographic charts. These charts are fascinating examples of early mapping and are wonderfully detailed, with volcanic cones sometimes looking like puffs of smoke. They are accessible via the  Heritage Images  database and copies of the charts are available to be purchased from Sir George Grey Special Collections . Ref: NZ Map 3908a, Auckland Harbour, 1848-1855, Sir George Grey Special Collections Ref: NZ Map 2560, Kaipara Harbour, 1852, Sir George Grey Special Collections In 1848,  C aptain John Lort Stokes   commanded the paddle-steamer  Acheron, and began the first official hydrographic survey of the New Zealand coastline. Starting on Auckland's North Shore, the Acheron then traveled to Banks Peninsula, Otago, W

Christmas cheer

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Well that time of year is nearly upon us and what better way to celebrate than to look back at Christmases past, through the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries. The clothes and hairstyles and locations might have changed a bit but we are still enjoying the same things at Christmas such as picnics at the beach and taking family photographs. Heritage et AL will be taking a break over the festive period but will be back on 20th January with more heritage stories and taonga (treasures) from the Auckland Libraries collections. Enjoy your Christmas an New Year holiday! Christmas cards: Ref: Footprints 05550, 'The Season's Greetings', Otahuhu, 1906, Photograph reproduced courtesy of Otahuhu Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre You can see more heritage Christmas cards in the online exhibition from the Sir George Grey Special Collections . Getting ready for the holidays: Ref: AWNS-19140101-40-3, the Christmas rush at Auckland Station, 1914, Si

Boccaccio anniversary

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2013 is the 700th anniversary of the birth of the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) - poet, biographer, prose writer, lecturer, book collector, biographer of Dante and Petrarch, humanist.   Boccaccio’s best known work is the 'Decameron', written between 1348 and 1352. It is a collection of 100 tales told by a group of young noble men and women who flee to the countryside to escape the Plague. Over 10 days they tell each other stories to distract and amuse themselves. The 'Decameron'’s combination of “realism, cheer and disorderliness” and its reputation as a book banned for its erotic content have ensured that it has remained popular through the centuries. It has been translated into many languages, turned into verse, and inspired other books, films, and electronic media. Ref: 'Il decamerone Di M. Giovanni Boccaccio', Londra, 1757-[61], Sir George Grey Special Collections The copy in Italian (shown above) was printed in the 1750s. The second

Heady Heights and Haystacks

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Driving in the outskirts of Auckland at this time of year you are bound to notice those large rolls of hay perched on hillsides, or perhaps the smaller oblong bales dispatched along the length of a recently chopped field. In the past the making of haystacks was an activity which provided a way of connecting the local farming communities and local families with one another. Before the advent of hay-balers these giant piles of hay required far more labour, tenacity and skill to create. Ref. Footprints 20, Giant hay stack, Mangere, c. 1905, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Mangere Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre The stack in the photograph above was made up of hay from fields 10 acres in extent and was estimated at 60 tons in weight. Reg Wyman is on top of the stack and Geoff Mellsop on the ledge halfway down. Ref. Footprints 01307, Haystack at Flat Bush, 1956, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Mangere Historical Society, South Auckland Research C

Celebrating Flowers

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At this time of year, summer definitely feels like it is underway and so too are the beautiful array of plants in our gardens, parks and the landscapes that make up the Auckland region. With this blog post we celebrate the beauty of the natural world through the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries. You can search for images yourself by browsing through the heritage databases including Kura and  Heritage Images , by using keywords such as flowers and plants.  Portraits with flowers: Ref: 31-58309, portrait of Miss Lily Roberts wearing a gown with flowers, 1909, Sir George Grey Special Collections Ref: Footprints 01064, Nan Gilmour among the blossoms, Howick, c. 1910, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Howick Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre Ref: 31-57964, portrait of Miss C Donne, standing, who is wearing a large hat decorated with flowers, no date, Sir George Grey Special Collections

West Auckland history: family connections, Pt 3

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Marge Harre, as featured in book ' 'Roadhouse Days: an account of a family, a house and a restaurant' by Drew Harré and David Harré (2009) and covered in blog posts on the 4 and 9 December, is part of a network of families in West Auckland, linking the Gardner and Clark families. These connections are explained in the ' The Clark Family History: the descendants of Josiah Clark & Ann (nee Rose) Clark of Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England' by Athol Miller (1989) , which adds further background to Marge’s story. (Rice) Owen Clark I (1816-1896), Marge’s great grandfather, immigrated to New Zealand from England in 1841. In 1854 he bought some land in Hobsonville and “[i]n 1862 he established the field tile industry [used for drainage in agriculture], which under his guidance and that of his son R O Clark II and grandsons Thomas Edwin, and latterly under his great grandsons Malcolm and Thomas Edwin II, was to grown into the firm known as Ceramco" (p.20, &#

Family History, Local History: Marge Harré, the early years, Pt 2

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The blog post on the 4 December 2013 introduced Marge Harré and her family's involvement with the Roadhouse restaurant in Oratia. The Clark and Gardner families with whom Marge was related, played a leading role in the growth of West Auckland’s brick and clay industry. 'The sons of Louisa (Clark) and John Gardner made bricks in New Lynn. Between 1922 and1925 they made nearly 21 million' (p.15, ' Roadhouse Days '). Louisa (Gan) Clark/Gardner (Marge's grandmother) lived at the Gardner house at Glorit until some of the family moved down to New Lynn in 1898. The house, named Mataia Homestead ,  is located on the Kaipara Coast Highway . Gan moved down there a little later, probably around the early 1900s. The photo below is from the early 1930s, when Gan went back to visit the house. Ref: Gan in hat in front of House at Glorit, from the Harre Family Collection, c. 1930s, West Auckland Research Centre Marge’s mother, Ellen (Gardner) Miller died 11 months after

Bicycling Auckland

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In 1869, Mr Cousins of the carriage-makers Cousins and Atkin Ltd, rode the first bicycle in Auckland down Grey Street. Reportedly Mr Cousins wobbled down the road on a rattly sounding number with wooden wheels and iron tyres. No surprise then that the earliest bikes or 'velocipedes' were called 'boneshakers', and were perhaps not so easy to ride. "Messrs. Cousins and Atkin have offered a very handsome premium to any of their employees who could first bring it [the bicycle] safely along Queen-street without a 'spill'' (Daily Southern Cross, 26 Aug 1869, via Papers Past). Ref: 7-A4032, William Malcolm Services, a cycle shop on Karangahape Road, c. 1890, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries Bikes may have been tricky to ride, but the craze had begun. Velos morphed into high-wheeled penny farthings - popular for a few years among wealthy young men. Then came the 'safety bicycle' – much easier for everyone to r

Marge Harré: an enterprising woman, a restaurant & a West Auckland family, Pt 1

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Marge Harré’s story is one of an enterprising and, by all accounts she was an extremely engaging and unique character. She left behind a lasting legacy - one that connects, a house, a community, her wider family history, and the history of West Auckland. Her most enduring legacy has been provided in the book, 'Roadhouse Days: an account of a family, a house and a restaurant' by Drew Harré and David Harré (2009). 'Roadhouse Days' tells the story of Marge and her family’s involvement in the Town and Country Roadhouse Restaurant (1949 to c.1968) in Oratia, West Auckland. Written by Marge’s son, Dave Harré and Dave’s nephew, Drew Harré, this book contains entertaining anecdotes, recollections as well as accounts based on historical records. Many of Marge’s recipes are also included at the end of the book. Ref : JTD-13A-01995-1,  Oratia Bowling Club pavilion. (Parr Homestead in background), 1963, West Auckland Research Centre The original Roadhouse restaurant partner

Porky Pies

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Highly adaptive, intelligent and capable of eating pretty much anything, pigs are one of the real survivors of the animal kingdom. Pigs have long been domesticated by humans and this close relationship is evident in the number of sayings in the English language, which relate to pigs - most of which are not very flattering to the poor pig! These idioms, many of which are seen as clichés, include: 'fat as a pig', 'making a pig of oneself', 'pig in a poke', 'happy as a pig in mud', 'road hog', 'porky pies'. Expressions about pigs are also found in other countries around the world including Europe and Africa. In NZ, early explorers brought with them a range of new food sources including pigs. Pigs became an important food for Māori and were often gifted to other iwi. Pigs and baskets of potatoes were also used as a form of currency. Further, feral pigs along with seals, goats, shellfish and roots were an important food source for shipwrecke

Auckland Botanic Gardens

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In May 1967 the Auckland Regional Authority (ARA which was succeeded by the Auckland Regional Council, ARC) and the Manukau City Council purchased land in Manurewa for the purpose of creating a regional botanic garden. Proposals for a garden had been discussed over many years, with Auckland sites having first been investigated as early as 1926. During the 1960s, sites were investigated at Cornwall Park, Tamaki and Cascades Park. The ARA was formed in 1963, and in 1964 was approached by a number of organisations to consider purchase of the 82 hectare Nathan Farm at Manurewa prior to it being subdivided. The ARA ended up purchasing 42 hectares, with the Manukau City Council purchasing the remaining 40 hectares, half of which was set aside for open space, and the other half for a planned housing development. The photograph below shows Nathan Farm (to the right of the motorway), before to the purchase. Ref: Footprints 02995, Southern motorway, Manurewa, ca 1964, photograph reproduced

Pacific Islanders in the First World War

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Updated 18 November 2016 On 23 April earlier this year members of the local Niuean community unveiled a unique war memorial in Mt Roskill’s War Memorial Park. This was the Niue Island World War I Roll of Honour : a polished black granite tablet listing the names of men from Niue Island who served in the New Zealand armed forces during the First World War: 150 men who served in the 3rd Māori Contingent and seven who served in other sections of the NZEF. Why did so many men from a tiny and remote Pacific island volunteer to serve in a war which overtly had little to do with them? Well, New Zealand had annexed both the Cook Islands and Niue in 1901. After war broke out in 1914, many local men from both protectorates were eager to enlist, some of them motivated by patriotism, most of them impelled by a sense of adventure, and the colonial administrators on the spot were keen to facilitate their recruitment. The New Zealand military authorities back home initially welcomed only volun

History of the Santa parade

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Christmas parades have been held in the main centres of New Zealand since the early 1900s, usually sponsored by department stores to promote the arrival of “in-store” Santas, which attracted customers into their stores. Santa made his first commercial appearance in Auckland in 1903 at the DSC store (later John Court Ltd). Farmers Department Store in Auckland first hosted the parade in 1934. The following year local competitor George Court paraded Santa. Farmers later became the main department store to host the Santa Parade in Auckland. Ref: AWNS-19081217-14-6, Santa Claus, 1908. Sir George Grey Special Collections On Saturday 20 November1937, Farmers had their Santa parachute into the Auckland Domain to distribute toys to waiting children. This stunt almost went wrong as well-known parachutist George Sellars narrowly escaped serious injury when he swung his parachute away from the glass roof of the Winter Gardens . Sellars jumped from only 1,000 feet up to give the children

Pa Sites at the Gateway to Manukau

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As you drive along Puhinui Road from the airport towards Papatoetoe and Manukau City Centre, you’ll pass some of Papatoetoe’s oldest historic places. These are pa sites that today guard this gateway to Manukau. The major site here is the Papatoetoe Pa (NZAA reference number: R11/59).  The pa was formed on a headland near the upper reaches of the Waokauri Creek, where it controlled the Papatoetoe portage. Papatoetoe Pa was protected on its landward side by a ditch and bank originally about 50 metres long. The pa was about 105 metres in length, 60 metres wide at its broadest point; reducing to 25 metres wide at its tip. Ref: Map showing the headland pa (R11/59), Cultural Heritage Iventory (CHI), Auckland Council GIS Viewer. Please note the data shown in the map provides a rough guide to the site only  The photo below looks down at a branch of the Waokauri Creek from the pa entrenchment. Ref: Footprints 01427, Papatoetoe Pa, 1948, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Papatoeto

Reasons for Insane Asylum admissions in the Victorian era

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Imaginary female trouble, nymphomania and bad whiskey are three reasons patients gave when being admitted to an American insane asylum in the late 19th Century. Reading the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane’s log book reveals many surprising conditions such as menstrual deranged, female disease, venereal excesses and even novel reading. The parameters around insanity, and how to treat it, changed considerably in the United States of America thanks to social reformer Dorothea Dix - described as one of the rare cases in history where a social movement of such proportions can be attributed to the work of a single individual. Up until then, treatment for an insane person often meant being hidden by family in attics or sheds or even holes in the ground. Those without family or friends to support them were kept in prison. Dorothea Dix’s commitment to improving care for mentally ill people began when she visited a jail in 1841 and saw mentally ill inmates chained naked to stone wa

Government gardens in South Auckland

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70 years ago the Patumahoe State Gardens were established in the Franklin District. Bountiful supplies of vegetables were to be grown there for the remainder of the war years. From the early to mid 1940s parts of the NZ countryside were acquisitioned by the Department of Agriculture and used for the purpose of increasing large scale vegetable production. The department implemented its Services Vegetable Production Scheme in 1942. These farms were established to address the need to feed US troops stationed here during WW2. The gardens became known as 'State Farms' or 'Government Gardens'. Within six months the NZ government had established 7 state farms totalling 663 acres; the total later grew to 27 farms covering 5,200 acres. A significant number of these were based in the South Auckland region from Mangere to Pukekohe and Waiuku. By the end of 1945 all of state farms had closed down. Ref: AWNS-19431222-15-1, American and NZ soldiers at the wedding and harvesting

New additions to Footprints database

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South Auckland Research Centre has recently added almost 500 photographs and descriptions to its image database Footprints . The database already contains a selection 5000 of historical photographs and other images relating to South Auckland. The latest additions include a collection of black & white images from Southmall in Manurewa. The images cover the 1950s through to April 1972 and have been supplied courtesy of the Manurewa Historical Society. They include aerial shots of the shopping mall, but the bulk of the collection shows the variety of competitions and performances held at the newly opened Southmall centre during the late 1960s and early 70s, such as beauty pageants and baby competitions. Large crowds attended the jazz, pop-folk and other performance after the opening of the Southmall centre. In the photo below, well-known organist Reg Morgan demonstrates his skill to an admiring crowd on 24 February 1970. Ref: Footprints 05389, Reg Morgan on the organ, Southma

A telegram from Mussolini

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Cataloguing and preservation tasks can lead librarians working in heritage collections to come across items which may not have been accessed for some time. These encounters provide an opportunity to explore the lives of historical figures, both locally and internationally, who are connected to the objects. Ref: AWNS-19381005-50-2, portrait of Signor Mussolini, dictator of Italy, 1938, Sir George Grey Special Collections A recent 'rediscovery', which sparked a conversation in the  Sir George Grey Special Collections  workroom, was a telegram sent in 1933 under instructions from the Italian leader, Mussolini. Ref: AWNS-19350925-41-2, king of Italy with Signor Mussolini during the Bolzano maneuvers, 1935, Sir George Grey Special Collections

The cat's whiskers

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Agile, regal, playful and revered as sacred animals in ancient Egypt, cats are different from man's best friend. They are inclined to be more aloof and independent and are skilled hunters. But they still make great pets. Stroll through the selection of cat photographs below from from the Sir George Grey Special Collections at Auckland Libraries and enjoy a feline stroll back in time. Cats as companions: Ref: 2-V90, unidentified men on a bench with a cat, c. 1900-1909, Sir George Grey Special Collections Ref: 7-A9916, Seaman Kehoe and the Wiltshire's cat, 1922, Sir George Grey Special Collections Ref: 4-9053, three young boys with a kitten, c. 1920-1929, Sir George Grey Special Collections Ref: 1142-D3, portrait of Bill Bowering at Motukaraka, seated in a doorway with two cats, 1908, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Indian newspapers in NZ

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In recent years, the rapidly growing Indian community in New Zealand has established its own newspaper titles. The earliest such home-grown title I’ve traced so far is the New Zealand Indian Times published in Mangere from September 1993 to October 1994. This included content in four languages: English, Hindi, Gujurati and Urdu. Ref: AWNS-19010215-4-6, a group of officers from the Indian Army, 1901, Sir George Grey Special Collections The Christchurch based Kiwi Indian , began publication in November 2001, but also lasted little more than a year. By contrast, the Auckland based Indian Newslink was established in November 1999, and is New Zealand’s longest-lasting Indian newspaper (issue 461 came out on 1 July 2020). Ref: AWNS-19010222-7-2, Indian troops viewing Auckland from the summit of Mt Eden, 1901, Sir George Grey Special Collections The Indian Times , published in Otahuhu monthly from September 2003 to June 2004, included mostly English content, with a small Hindi l

Halloween & fancy dress

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Ref: 31-57673, six people from the Sixes and Sevens Opera Company in Halloween style dress, 1909, Sir George Grey Special Collections Halloween is a time of ghosts, witches and ghouls; of dressing up and trick or treating and pranks. It is one of the most popular costume or fancy dress events of the year in western society. Whilst the contemporary celebration of Halloween is often seen to have its roots in American culture, the origins of this festival actually go back to Celtic times. The Celts believed that 31 October represented a liminal time when the line between the living and the dead became distorted. Condemned souls were thought to come back on this night and cause havoc. To protect themselves, the Celts would dress up in scary costumes to frighten the evil spirits away. Ref: AWNS-19100512-10-2, ghost scaring a young boy, 1910, Sir George Grey Special Collections    Fancy dress has a long tradition for a variety of different occasions, not just Halloween - such as b

Sir George Grey & Kawau Island

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Politician, linguist, collector, soldier and explorer, Sir George Grey is an important figure in New Zealand history. He was the most influential of New Zealand’s governors, serving in the role from1845 -1853 and again in1861 - 1868. Grey started off as an army officer in Ireland before leading an exploring expedition in Western Australia in the late 1830s. His established himself as a very able colonial politician during his governorship of South Australia from 1840-1845. This helped him secure the position of Governor of New Zealand. Between his two terms in New Zealand he was also Governor of the Cape Colony in South Africa from 1854-1861. Ref: 4-1341, portrait of Sir George Grey, c.1812-1898, Sir George Grey Special Collections Despite his successes, he is seen by some as a controversial figure. Historian James Belich called him "a strange, complicated man, whose real charisma and genius almost matched his flaws”. He was however a great benefactor to the Auckland Fr

Robert Burns

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Three long lost Robert Burns (1759-1796) manuscripts including letters from the well loved Scottish poet and his friends were discovered earlier this year. Chris Rollie, a researcher discovered the manuscripts inside an Extra Illustrated W. Scott Douglas edition of 'The Works of Robert Burns', from 1877-79. This edition belonged to Burns's publisher, William Paterson. Ref: 35-R1480, unveiling of the Robert Burns statue in Timaru Botanical Gardens, no date, Sir George Grey Special Collection One of the discovered letters is from 'Clarinda' the pseudomny for Agnes McLehose. Burns was in love with Agnes and she was the subject of several of his poems including: ' Clarinda (Mistress of My Soul ' and ' To Clarinda '. After Burns' death in 1796, Agnes had requested that the intimate letters she had written to Burns be returned to her by Burns' friend and doctor William Maxwell.

South Auckland's special constables

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October 2013 is the centenary of the Great Strike, a wave of industrial unrest that affected the whole of New Zealand. The strike - or lockout - began on the Wellington wharves on 22 October 1913. By 28 October the trouble had spread to Auckland. Ref: 7-A10659, showing rioters in Featherston Street, Wellington running for protection from Mounted Special Constables during the Waterside Strike, 1913, Sir George Grey Special Collection s The Reform government under Prime Minister William Ferguson Massey had proposed the use of the military to occupy the wharves, maintain essential services and protect strike-breakers, but ultimately decided to use civilian 'special constables' instead. In the Auckland area, enrolment of special constables began on 29 October. The New Zealand Farmers' Union - concerned with keeping the wharves free and export trade moving - actively sought out volunteers in rural districts. Ref: AWNS-18991215-5-9, WF Massey, Parliamentary Representati

'Our boys, our families' research guide

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As part of the build up to the First World War centenary commemorations within NZ and around the world, Auckland Libraries, Auckland Council Heritage Unit and Auckland Council Archives have developed an A5 research guide. 'Our boys, our families' outlines the First World War resources available at Auckland Libraries and Auckland Council Archives . This includes: Rolls of Honour, cemetery records, memorials, books and photographs from the Schmidt Collection and supplement to the Auckland Weekly News. Ref: 7-A14534, a family receiving the result of the ballot for Class B reservists under the NZ Military Service Act, 1918, Sir George Grey Special Collections The research guide is intended to assist you with your own research into family members or people who took part in the war. This could be a soldier on the front line, a nurse on a hospital ship or a person on the home front including conscientious objectors. There are a selection of handy research prompts tucked into t