Showing posts from November, 2013

Auckland Botanic Gardens

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.

Pacific Islanders in the First World War

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 volunteers…

History of the Santa parade

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.

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 “an additional thrill”. He was blown towards the Winter Gardens by a strong south-west…

Pa Sites at the Gateway to Manukau

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.

 The photo below looks down at a branch of the Waokauri Creek from the pa entrenchment.

Reasons for Insane Asylum admissions in the Victorian era

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 walls, i…

Government gardens in South Auckland

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.

New additions to Footprints database

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.

A telegram from Mussolini

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.

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.

The cat's whiskers

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:

Indian newspapers in NZ

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.

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).

The Indian Times, published in Otahuhu monthly from September 2003 to June 2004, included mostly English content, with a small Hindi language section. It offered local, Indian, Fijian and world news as well as Bollywood and a sports sections.

Kuk Punjabi Samachar Punjabi (styled the “1st Indian community newspaper in Punjabi language”) has been produced fortnightly from a small of…

Halloween & fancy dress

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.

Fancy dress has a long tradition for a variety of different occasions, not just Halloween - such as birthdays, stag parties, New Year parties. Enjoy this stroll through the fancy dress outfits from yesteryear, drawn from the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries.

Individuals in fancy dress: