Showing posts from March, 2014

Sounds historical

The heritage music collections at Auckland Libraries include a range of material, including cassettes, LPs, CDs, music scores and manuscript sheet music. The music collections cover a large range of genres and are continually expanding.

Auckland Libraries' music collections are of historic interest and relate to the development of New Zealand music. In November last year, the original manuscripts of God Defend New Zealand, held at Sir George Grey Special Collections, received national recognition with inscription on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register of documentary heritage.
Older forms of media, sometimes out-dated, hard to track down, unpopular or difficult to purchase, are also part of the collection. Since many of the resources as are on older formats, equipment for listening to or watching material is made available. The Sir George Grey Special Collections recently upgraded the audio-visual equipment in the reading room, including the facilities to watch DVD…

Pasifika Churches in South Auckland

The church forms an important part of the life of many Pasifika communities. Over recent decades the streetscapes in many parts of South Auckland have been enhanced by the addition of large new churches serving Pacific Island congregations.

Some of these churches make striking architectural statements. For instance, in the Ormiston Road Tongan Methodist Church, architect George Moala used both traditional Tongan forms and traditional materials such as coconut fibre. Expert Tongan craftsmen were brought in to help with the work. The church was opened in June 1990.

Almost all of the mainstream and many of the smaller denominations are represented by thriving Pacific Island congregations. Some South Auckland churches hold their Sunday services in 3 or 4 different languages.

Some people may find the names of some denominations unfamiliar, as exemplified by the photograph below:

At least two national churches run their affairs in full partnership with their Pacific Island members. Since 19…

Views of the Pacific

Pasifika at Auckland Libraries is well underway and there is lots you can take part in. To get you in the mood, listen to the Pacific Islands music playlist that has been specially created for this festival.

You can also check out the Pacific resources at Auckland Libraries. This includes a range of heritage collections: online resources, Pacific Island family history resources (Central Auckland Research Centre), Pacific newspapers (South Auckland Research Centre) and reference materials at the research centres .

There are also significant collections in the Sir George Grey Special Collections, including a tapa cloth book collected during Cooks' three voyages to the southern hemisphere. This has now been digitised and can be accessed online and you can read about the project to track down the other Cook tapa cloth books known to exist.
To further celebrate and honour the contribution that Pacific Islands communities make to the cultural mix of peoples in Auckland and New Zealand i…

Romantics exhibition and Story of the Three Bears

A new exhibition from the Sir George Grey Special Collections entitled 'The Romantics: Jane Austen meets Frankenstein' has recently opened at the Central Library (Level 2) and runs until 22 June. The exhibition of rare books and manuscripts from late 18th to early 19th century covers a time when there was a revolutionary mood in art and literature, and a new emphasis on the imagination and the emotions. Jane Austen and Mary Shelley are some of the well known authors included. Find out more.

Another author from this time, although he is not included in the exhibition is Robert Southey (1774-1843). He was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called "Lake Poets", and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843. "The Story of the Three Bears" (sometimes known as "The Three Bears", "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" or, simply, "Goldilocks") is a fairy tale first recorded by Southey, and published anon…

From small beginnings: the ASB Polyfest

On 20 October 1976 Hillary College, Otara - now Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate - hosted the first Auckland Secondary Schools’ Māori and Pacific Islands Cultural Festival. Just 6 groups and 40 performers from 4 schools took part (Aorere College, Mangere College, Seddon High School and Hillary College itself).

The annual event was then held at a variety of schools. From 1996 it found a permanent home at the Manukau Sports Bowl in Clover Park. This offered the space to establish stage areas for different cultures: Māori, Cook Island, Niue, Samoa, Tonga. By this time a ‘Diversity’ stage for other cultures had also been added.

The 25th Festival held at the Sports Bowl in March 2001 involved 13,000 performers and 162 groups from 52 schools.

The festival is gathering strength even today. This year’s festival, which is now known in short as the ASB Polyfest, attracted 223 groups from 62 schools.

See below for a small selection of images taken at various festivals over the years  (all images by…

Celebrating Samoa

Today marks the start of the Pasifika festival. 'My pride, my treasure, my Samoa / O lo'u mitamitaga, o a'u measina, o lau Samoa' is the title of the new collection of Samoan photos on Historypin. This collection covers both Samoa and American Samoa and was created from the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries. The images are mainly from the late 19th and early 20th century with a selection from the late 1980s and 1990s giving a more contemporary focus.

These photos capture the timeless essence of what is most important to Samoa; her land and her people and are a good way to mark the start of the Pasifika Festival. They bring together key places and events in Samoa and NZ - from the sliding rocks of Papasea, to the procession of Malietoa’s men on Coronation Day in the late 1800s, to the Bairds Intermediate Samoan group performance at the Otara Festival.

To access the 'My pride, my treasure, my Samoa' collection, go to the Auckland Libraries, Heritage and …

Upper Greys Avenue flats

The Housing NZ flats at 115-139 Grey Avenue (known as the Upper Greys Ave flats) are going to undergo a much needed makeover. The land behind the flats, which is currently being used as a car park, will  be sold off. The other state housing flats nearby at 95-113 Grey Ave (known as the Lower Greys Ave Flats) were upgraded 5 years ago and will also remain in state hands.

Prior to the building of both of these blocks of flats, the area around Greys Avenue or Grey Street as it was known them, was home to a Chinese community. It was regarded by some (including the government) as a ‘slum' and  in 1941, the Labour government, with financial backing from the council, started to clear the area, which  made way for the building of both sets of flats.

Round the Bays

The waterfront has changed much over the years and some parts more so than others. The selection of heritage images below shows you the views you would have experienced throughout the early 1900s

Mechanics Bay and Hobson Bay:

Spectacles - all the better to see you with

Spectacles, specs, glasses, bin, gegs or gigs, goggles or whatever you call them, are worn by so many people that they are a common sight, if you'll excuse the pun ... Not always worn to aid sight but also as a fashion statement or for other purposes. such as sunglasses or shades to protect the eyes against the sun (a must have with NZ's strong sun) and lorgnettes for viewing the opera.

Other forms of eye wear that are less commonly seen nowadays but were popular in the past include: monocles and pince-nez (glasses worn with a nose clip instead of earpieces).

Glasses can change the way people look, giving them a distinguished air and can accentuate features like hairdos, facial hair and other accessories. Have fun looking through the spectacle of the past that is glasses wearers (that really is the last pun now ... !).

A distinguished air:


To accentuate hairdos, accessories and facial hair (obviously the latter is for the men only!):


Since Monday's post was all about keeping fit, it seemed a good idea to keep those motivation levels high and devote Friday's post to bowling. A gentle way of keeping fit but with benefits of all the socialising that goes along with it! Bowling can also have a heritage component too.

Now for a look back in time at the large number of bowling clubs, which sprung up in the Auckland region over the years, particularly in the first decade of the 20th century. Check out the wonderful array of clothing worn by the Mount Eden and Ponsonby bowlers in 1900. It must have been pretty hard to bowl in those formal outfits!

Grafton/The Domain:

Mount Eden:

The "human dynamo": Looking inside the Phil Warren manuscript

Chris Bourke has written a great profile on the AudioCulture website about Auckland entertainment industry entrepreneur and local government politician Phil Warren. Many of the images included in the article are from the Phil Warren manuscript (Click here and type "NZMS 1214" into the search field), donated to Sir George Grey Special Collections after Warren's death in 2002.

Born in 1938, Warren came from a family in which music and politics were important - his parents were performers and his grandfather's wife's family were political figures in Auckland. As a teenager, Warren worked for the music retailer Beggs and through a contact at this job he was hired as a travelling salesman.

When he was 18 years old, Warren met with an Australian agent of Clef Records in an attempt to establish a New Zealand branch of the company. The agent was surprised to be met by such a young man but was happy to discover he knew Warren's parents from their light opera days. Soo…

Keeping fit

Whatever you do to keep fit, it should be fun. There are so many activities to choose from - gymnastics, basketball, lawn bowls, tennis, horse riding and much more!

How about a vintage look at exercise, drawn from the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries, to get you motivated? If glamour is your thing, then tennis seems to be the winner - check out the tennis court by the sea at Piha and the stylish look of the Milne and Choyce model in her tennis outfit. Surely that is inspiration enough to pick up a racket?