Showing posts from January, 2013

QR codes offer a way to provide living legacies on grave stones

St Margaret’s Church, an important Welsh landmark in Bodelwyddan, is using QR code technology to help visitors understand the seemingly confusing presence of  80 Canadian soldiers graves.

The Marble Church as it is known, is using the HiPoints system (historical points), which has been created by, a community-based information project. This system uses smartphone mobile technology and QR (quick response) codes located on placards in the graveyard to provide easily digestible historical snippets about a physical location or building etc.

When I’m Sixty-Four

We had an interesting reference query at the North Auckland Research Centre the other day, about the old age pension (superannuation) in New Zealand. When did it start? Was it ever for 55 year olds? What dates were the changes to it made?

The original 1898 pension ....
It was a fascinating journey finding out the information. Old age pensions in New Zealand were first introduced in 1898 for people 65 and up. The new pension was subject to a means test, and the requirements were pretty stringent. The maximum amount someone could receive was set at 18 pounds per annum, which equates to about $36 in today’s currency. This scheme lasted for 40 years, and it shaped the subsequent Social Security Act of 1938.

Indexing 'Sons of the Soil'

Lily Lee and Ruth Lam, the authors of the book 'Sons of the Soil' have done a good job of pulling together what little 'original' documentation there was available about early Chinese market gardeners - such as newspaper articles, account books, photographs.

The families described in the book sometimes set up gardens in different parts of the country and moved around and frequently inter-married. So staff at the Central Auckland Research Centre decided that it would be very useful to index families mentioned in the book and add this information to Auckland Libraries heritage online database: Index Auckland. The goal was to help people track down the families mentioned in the book and set up useful connections.

Index Auckland is a rich resource of history, art, theatre, film and music references sourced from Auckland area newspapers and journal articles. Whilst the index predominantly covers Auckland, other regions are also covered, which means that the index adds to…

The Man and the Memorial

For over 40 years I have passed the WW1 Memorial in the Nell Fisher Reserve (originally known as Civic Park) and been aware of its changing condition.  At times it has looked neglected, the drinking fountain broken, its bowl filled with cement and the lighting disconnected and the glass globe shattered or non-existent.  Former North Shore mayor Paul Titchener noted in his article in 1982 on the monument that “the passing years have not been kind to it" (Titchener, Paul. Beginnings, vol 6, p.44).

When the new Birkenhead Library was built in 2010, the surrounding park was landscaped  and the memorial was expertly restored, creating a revitalised space. Some of this work is described in a Salmond Reed Architects Limited report. Although drinking from the fountain is no longer an option, the globe light has been replaced and it glows through the park trees, highlighted at night, that surround it.

Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

Hurstmere Green in the heart of Takapuna has been re-developed by Sills van Bohemen Architects. On Saturday 8 December 2012, the green was officially re-opened by Mayor Len Brown along with representatives from  local businesses and the Local Area Board and an appreciative crowd of locals looking on. The official ceremony in the afternoon began with a karakia, and followed a dawn ceremony earlier the same day.

Oral history workshops

Calling all budding oral historians, the next series of  The Essentials of Oral History Research and Abstracting Oral History workshops are due to kick off in March 2013. These workshops are suitable for people considering using oral history in their work, community or personal projects.

Places on these workshops in Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin are limited, so make sure you don't miss out.  A workshop may also be held in Nelson if demand is high enough.

Sarah Mathew reads 'Nicholas Nickleby'

During March 1840 Sarah Louise Mathew travelled by ship from Sydney to join her husband Felton Mathew in the Bay of Islands. He was acting Surveyor-General in Governor William Hobson’s party of officials and had just witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February.

Sarah (1805?-1890) had emigrated to Australia to marry her first cousin Felton in 1832. Her diary, begun on the voyage to New Zealand on March 2nd 1840, is held in the Sir George Grey Special Collections (NZMS 79). It is one of a number of interesting documents written by both Sarah and Felton in the early years of settlement, which Professor James Rutherford researched in England and negotiated to add to the Library’s collection in 1940.

Sarah’s journal is full of sharp observation, interesting speculation and some shrewd opinions on the people and places that were so new to her. However, one of her comments in the diary has always intrigued me. This is her entry for March 7th 1840:

“This day being a little be…

Year of the Snake & Pop up library at the Chinese New Year Festival & Market Day

Chinese New Year 2013 is coming up very soon, with this year’s celebrations starting on10 February. The new year marks the end of the Year of the Dragon and signifies the start of the Year of the Snake.

The Chinese zodiac consists of twelve animal signs, traditionally starting with the rat and ending with the pig. This zodiac is also used in several East Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

According to this system, a person's personality traits are shaped by the animal year that they were born in. For example, a person born in the Year of the Monkey is believed to be creative and intelligent yet opportunistic and mischievous. Some people also believe that the animal year also influences a person's romantic compatibility with others.

What you didn't know about Monopoly

Monopoly the board game originally from Leeds in England, may be a fun game that brings back fond childhood memories but it also has a more serious wartime past.

During WW2, a a plot was hatched between the government (including the top secret MI9 department) and John Waddington Ltd, who used to manufactured the boards. Waddingtons., was a printer and board game manufacturer and also happened to be the U.K. licensee for the Parker Bros. game Monopoly. As a result of this collaboration, top secret escape maps were produced by the company for Allied prisoners of war (POWs).

A special code was used by the manufactures to inform MI9 which map was concealed inside a particular game, so that it was sent to the corresponding POW camp in the appropriate area. Hall says: 'A full stop after Marylebone Station, for instance, meant Italy; a stop after Mayfair meant Norway, Sweden and Germany, and one after Free Parking meant Northern France, Germany and its frontiers. "Straight" b…

Tsunami bomb?

Kiwi author and film-maker Ray Waru claims in his latest book 'Secrets and Treasures', that New Zealand and the US carried out secret tests to create a so called "tsunami bomb" during WW2.

During the operation "Project Seal", apparently around 3,700 bombs were exploded off Whangaparaoa Peninsula in Auckland and in New Caledonia. At the time, this destructive device was seen as a possible alternative to the nuclear bomb.

Waka and Augustus Hamilton

The University of Waikato Library has recently added 'The Canoes of the Māori'  to its range of digital collections.

 'The art workmanship of the Māori race in New Zealand' (1901) by Augustus Hamilton (1853-1913) contains a sizeable section dedicated to Māori waka. This includes lithographic plates showing parts of the waka, scale plans and diagrams. Also included is a a chart of information about the landing locations of the first waka to arrive in Aotearoa New Zealand, the kaumatua (chiefs) who were on board and the iwi (tribes) claiming descent.

Rare image of Lady Diana Spencer unearthed

A new photograph of Lady Diana Spencer in her late teens has recently emerged. The intimate picture shows Diana lying on a bed with a male friend (there is a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky on the window ledge), whilst on a skiing holiday in Switzerland and was taken around 1970 or 1980.

Both the identity of the male friend and the photographer are unknown. It is however known that the black and white 8 x 10 image was sold to the Daily Mirror on 26 February 1981, just before Diana's engagement to the Prince Wales was announced by the palace.

Butler's travels around the world

St John’s College Library, Cambridge have a project underway scanning the photographs in their collection taken by the Victorian polymath Samuel Butler (1835-1902). The library holds five albums of Butler's photographic prints and about 1600 of his original glass plate negatives. The titles of the photographs are all taken from Butler's own labels.

The library have been vigorously added these photographic gems to their Historypin page. Butler's ‘snap-shots’ as he referred to them, depict everyday life in the 1880s and 1890s and show both both formal and unposed images. He also photographed tourist destinations which have remained popular including Pompeii, the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

NZ history award winners for 2013 funding

The New Zealand History Research Trust Fund, which is administered by Manatū Taonga the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, has announced the award winners for 2013. The work of the winners this year covers a diverse range of topics including military action in the 19th century and the story of everyone's favourite, fish and chips.

 The major award this year went to historian Ron Crosby, who will use the money to research and write about the significant and extended Māori support of Crown military during the 19th century.

Local historical socities in the South go online

Thanks to a grant from the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board, the South Auckland Research Centre has begun working with the Mangere and Otahuhu Historical Societies to provide digital access to their records. As the first stage in this process, both societies now have their own pages on the New Zealand Federation of Historical Societies website.

A selection of photographs from the Otahuhu Historical Society's rich and varied heritage collections can already be seen both on the Auckland Libraries Footprints database and on Digital New Zealand. In the early part of this year, other historical treasures held by both societies will also be reported on the Community Archive and NZ Museums websites. It is hoped this project will serve as a model for other similar initiatives in the future.

Author: Bruce Ringer, South Auckland Research Centre

New addition to the names of those buried in St Stephens Cemetery, Parnell

Here at the Central Auckland Research Centre, every so often I am able to add one or two more names to the records we have of those buried in Symonds Street Cemetery, in Grafton. However, it is very rare to be able to add a new name to those buried in the St Stephens Cemetery, in Parnell.

The last survey, a photographic one of all the remaining headstones, was carried out in May 1995 and  so I was most surprised to hear about a 1977 burial.

Baches .. kiwi as ..

Heritage Asset of the Week - Baches are as kiwi as... But did you know that Auckland Council owns some holiday homes, many of which are heritage buildings?

Puhoi Cottage was built in 1926 by the Schischka family as a holiday home, replacing an earlier house known as Christmas Cottage. The Auckland Regional Authority bought the cottage and adjacent land in 1967 but the Schischka family continued to holiday here until 1990.

It is an excellent example of a simplified, bungalow-style bach popular in the 1920s-30s. Recently repaired for use as a publicly bookable bach, Puhoi Cottage has been relatively little altered over time. Located on the north side of Puhoi River, Puhoi Cottage is best viewed from Wenderholm spit. Just one of the many heritage assets owned by Auckland Council on behalf of the community.

Read more about Wenderholm Regional Park in the brochure and remember that you can stay at Puhoi Cottage and many of the other council baches around the region.

Author: Rebecca Harfie…

New book on Samuel Marsden

Andrew Sharp is the new writer in residence for 2013 at the University of Waikato.

Professor Sharp is currently the Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Auckland although he has lived in the UK since 2006. His work has often centred on the use of law and religion in political argument, especially in 17th century England and 20th century New Zealand.

During the residency, Professor Sharp intends to continue researching and writing about about Samuel Marsden (1765-1838). Yorkshire born, evangelical educated Marsden is described by the Te Ara website as 'chaplain, magistrate, agriculturalist, missionary'. He arrived in New Zealand on Christmas Day 1814 and was the first to set up the first Christian mission over here.