Showing posts from December, 2013

Hydrographic heritage

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.

In 1848, Captain John Lort Stokescommanded 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, Wellington and Fiordland. In 1851, the Acheron was replaced by the smaller vessel Pandora under Commander Byron Drury. Over the next four years Drury and his officers diligently filled i…

Christmas cheer

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:

You can see more heritage Christmas cards in the online exhibition from the Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Getting ready for the holidays:

Boccaccio anniversary

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.
The copy in Italian (shown above) was printed in the 1750s. The second book (shown below) was published in America. The verse is translated into English from a French verse translation ma…

Heady Heights and Haystacks

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.

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.

Celebrating Flowers

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:

West Auckland history: family connections, Pt 3

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

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.

Marge’s mother, Ellen (Gardner) Miller died 11 months after Marge was born. Ellen’s parents were Louisa (Gan) and John Gardner. As a child, Marge received a limited education due to health …

Bicycling Auckland

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).
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 ride - men and women, and were more like what we ride today.

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

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.

The original Roadhouse restaurant partners were Trude Bethell, Iibbie Woodward/Wheeler, Marge Harré and Jim Wakeling. The family trees of the 3 women link to prominent fa…

Porky Pies

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 shipwrecked…