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Showing posts from March, 2013

Former Synagogue on Princes Street

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The first Hebrew congregation began worship in Auckland in 1843. Their first formal place of worship was located in Nathan & Joseph's Warehouse in Shortland Street. By 1853 the congregation had grown to 100 and worship was held in a small building in Emily Place. By the 1860s this building had become too small for the rapidly increasing Jewish population and funds were raised for the construction of a synagogue.

In 1884, the Jewish Community purchased a section on the corner of Princes Street and Bowen Street. At that time the site was occupied by the former Albert Barracks Guard House, which overlooked a vegetable garden, which had formerly been used by soldiers.

Henry Winkelmann

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Henry Winkelmann (1860-1931) was one of the most talented photographers operating in New Zealand at the beginning of the twentieth century. Henry tried several occupations before deciding, at the age of forty to earn a living from his camera.

In 1878 he sailed to New Zealand following his elder brother, Charles, who had emigrated three years earlier. Winkelmann lived initially in Dunedin, before moving to Auckland in the early 1880s. Times were hard though and in 1881, unemployed and desperate for money, he embarked with a companion on an expedition to remote, uninhabited Jarvis Island (midway between Hawaii and the Cook Islands). The purpose was to claim the island for the merchant shipping company Henderson and Macfarlane, who were keen to exploit the commercial possibilities of guano (the phosphate-rich excrement of seabirds, prized as a fertilizer).

The two men were supposed to stay on the island for three months in order to validate the claim. However, the rescue ship was very l…

Charles Heaphy

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It is hardly surprising that Charles Heaphy (1820-81) excelled from an early age at painting and cartography, since he came from an artistic, well-connected, London family. His father was a professional watercolour painter and miniaturist attached to the staff of the Duke of Wellington.

At 15, Charles began his working life as a draughtsman for the London and Birmingham Railway Company. Two years later, he joined Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s New Zealand Company as an assistant surveyor. He was part of the company’s first exploratory team, arriving in Marlborough Sound, aboard the Tory, in August 1839. He travelled around a lot during his early years in New Zealand, including gruelling expeditions across the South Island wilderness into regions never before seen by Europeans. During his travels, Heaphy painted a series of watercolour scenes that rank among the finest art from New Zealand’s early colonial period. The Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park is also named in his honour and a…

Captain Cook journal comes back to NZ

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When the the Ocean liner Queen Mary 2 docked at Auckland Harbour on Monday 11 March, on board was a VIP in the form of Captain Cook's draft journal. Letters by Cook detailing the first voyage and his personal tea caddy and spoon were also on board the ship.

The brief return of this journal marks the first time it has been in the country since it was written by Cook. Complete with scribblings and crossing outs, the handwritten account describes Cook's first circumnavigation of New Zealand during 1769-1770 and the infamous encounter with Māori at Poverty Bay.

Captain James Cook was the first European to explore and map the coastline of New Zealand extensively. On each of his three voyages to the Pacific he was accompanied by artists and scientists. Accounts of each voyage were published both by Cook and others on the expeditions.

Military mileposts reach a milestone

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Read all about it, military mileposts are 150 years old!

In March 1863, a series of mileposts were installed at one mile intervals along a 22 mile stretch between Auckland’s CBD and the British Army Commissariat in Drury, mostly along Great South Road. They were placed to help Army contract drivers record their daily mileage and each triangular, totara post had the mile number chiseled into its two shorter faces. Automobile Association signs were added to many mileposts or their former locations in the 1960s and these have become popular features in their own right.

Pinning cows - now on Historypin!

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You may remember a post called 'Pinning cows' from last month (Thursday 7 February). Well we have gone and done it and now have a shiny new Historypin collection dedicated to cows and the dairy industry in New Zealand! Don't worry no real cows or packs of butter were harmed in this process ....

Pacific newspapers in Auckland

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In recent years, a number of Auckland-based newspapers have sprung up to cater for local Pacific Island communities. The majority of these publications have been produced for the Samoan community.

The first such title was Samoana, a Samoan-language weekly tabloid which was established in Mangere in 1979. This initially offered mostly Samoan news, but over the years included an increasing amount of news about the New Zealand-based Samoaon community. It ceased publication in 2006.

In 1997 the rival Otahuhu-based Weekly Samoa Post also began publication. This lasted until 2005, being succeeded by Le Samoa Post until 2007. Like Samoana, the Post included mostly Samoan language material.

It's all about the maps

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Known also as ‘panoramic’ or ‘perspective’ maps, bird's-eye views of cities became popular in many parts of the world during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The idea was to depict street patterns, prominent buildings and other landscape features as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. Sometimes the artists had recourse to hot-air balloons. More often, as was probably the case with this rendition of Auckland, they were reliant on observations made while trudging the city streets and the vistas available from taller buildings.


The inscription on the lower left corner reads: ‘This view is compiled and drawn as from a point one thousand feet above and one hundred feet to the rear of the hospital during the year 1885 and part of 1886, by George Treacy Stevens'. Little is known about the artist. He might be the ‘George Stevens’ buried in Karori Cemetery, Wellington, in 1916. Another copy of this map (G9084.A8, Maps Collection) is also held by the Auckland War Memori…

Western Park

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Originally known as City Park, Western Park in Freeman's Bay is one of Auckland's oldest civic amenities. When Governor William Hobson selected Auckland as the capital of the new colony in 1840, he set aside 75 hectares around an extinct volcano cone as the Auckland Domain. The seat of government moved to Wellington in 1865, but Auckland continued to grow steadily.


In 1873, having decided that the burgeoning populace required another reserve on the western side of town, the city councillors organised a contest with a prize of ten guineas for the best design transforming an eight-hectare site off Ponsonby Road, formerly used as a rubbish dump, into parkland. There were eleven entries. The winning design came from architect and surveyor William Francis Hammond and orchardist and gardener J. C. Blackmore, which can be seen above.

In the spotlight: Albert Park's band rotunda

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Strike up the band for Albert Park. The band stand was built in 1901 and is the oldest surviving band stand or rotunda in the Auckland region. It was designed by James Slater, who also planned the layout of Albert Park. One of most interesting features of the band stand is its onion-shaped, domed roof. It is made of sheet metal and topped by a pointed finial.


The band stand is a registered category II historic place under the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. But it is just one of a number of structures, monuments, artworks, trees and gardens that make this the region’s finest Victorian public park. This is reflected in Albert Park’s category A status as a protected heritage place in the legacy Auckland City District Plan (Central Area Section) (see pp.4-6).