Thursday, 26 June 2014

How I met your mother? Pt 1: Nightclubs and Dance Halls in the 1950s & 1960s

Dance halls and night clubs were a great way for young people to meet, enjoy music, dance and socialise in the 1950s and 1960s.

After World War II many Auckland teenagers had jobs, which meant they had the means and the time to enjoy the freedom of dance halls and night clubs playing pop, rock and roll music and jive. There were many inner city night club and dance venues that served soft drinks only.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (known as “St Septs”) dances in Khyber Pass were easy to attend as it was close to most tram and bus routes in Auckland.

Ref: Auckland Council, the Holy Sepulchre Church in Khyber Pass, Auckland, c. 1960-1979, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 435-C5-67A 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Musical inspiration

Ref: Auckland City Council, the Beatles at the civic reception in front of the Auckland Town Hall, 1964, Auckland Libraries, 580-10702
On Monday 23 June, Mike Chunn from the NZ band Split Enz spoke at the Central City Library about the influence that the Beatles had on him. Like many other Aucklanders, the 1964 concert at the Auckland Town Hall was highly memorable and a very exciting chance for NZers to see the Fab Four in the flesh. For Mike, the influence was even greater and inspired him to pursue a career in the music business.

Ref: Auckland City Council, the Beatles at the civic reception in front of the Auckland Town Hall, 1964, Auckland Libraries, 580-10701
The Beatles played two nights in Auckland on the 24 and 25 June as part of their tour around NZ, also playing gigs at Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Described as "the moment that young New Zealand plugged into an international youth culture", just like the rest of the world, Beatlemania hit NZ in a big way.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Horses in the First World War

Animals played a vital part during the First World. None more so that the horse. The conflict began with the cavalry forces but as the war progressed, horses were gradually replaced by the introduction of tanks. However, horses still played a vital part in the war. The use of horses varied but the United Kingdom used mounted infantry and cavalry charges throughout the war.

Shipping conditions for horses were not ideal and many arrived in poor condition. There was also no return journey for the remaining horses at the end of the war. Some were given to the British Army but the majority were sadly destroyed. One or two did make the journey home including Colonel C. G. Powles’ horse Bess and there is a memorial to her near Flock House in Manawatū.

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, the NZ Expeditionary Force who are now serving in Egypt, no location, 1914, Sir George Grey Special Collections, AWNS-19141210-47-1
Horses were used for a variety of jobs, moving heavy artillery, transportation and as pack animals along with mules. The harsh conditions, heavy work, injuries and poor rations including little water, took a heavy toll on the animals.

It was in the desert campaigns in Sinai, Palestine and Egypt that NZ horses were most frequently deployed and in general, horses were used more successfully in campaigns in the Middle East.

As well as fulfilling vital roles as part of the war campaign, the companionship and simple act of having another being to look after helped my soldiers deal with the horrors of war.

To find out more about horses and First World War, you can browse through our library resources and below is a selection of heritage images of horses who bravely served their country.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Ponsonby District Rugby Football Club – 140 Years

My nine year old son Thomas has recently started playing for the Ponsonby-Kelston junior division of the Ponsonby Rugby Club, colloquially known as the ‘Ponies’. The Club celebrated its 140th anniversary at the end of May, so I thought that provided a good opportunity to explore the club’s history.

Ref: Andre Elliot, Thomas in full flight for the try-line, by kind permission of the photographer, 2014
Founded in 1874, Ponsonby is one of the oldest rugby clubs in New Zealand, and is the last surviving founder member of the Auckland Rugby Union, which was formed in 1883.

Ponsonby is well known as a ‘feeder’ club, with hundreds of its players having gone on to represent Auckland, an impressive 53 players are on its Honours Board for wearing the All Black jersey, and 21 for representing NZ Māori.

Ref: Ephemera from Ponsonby Rugby Club, 140th Queen's Birthday weekend commemorative badge, 1874-2014
Early All Black legends from the Club include Dave Gallaher and George Nicholson, both members of the 1905 ‘Originals'. Gallaher captained the ‘Originals’, and went on to serve in First World War, losing his life at Passchendaele in 1917. The Gallaher Shield was created in his honour in 1922.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Remembering tūpuna who served in the First World War

During the First World War, over 2,000 Māori served under the Native Contingent and the Māori Pioneer Battalion. Conscription of Māori did not take place until 1917, prior to this date, Māori involvement was purely voluntary.

Changes put in place in late 1915/early 1916 led to the disestablishment of the Native Contingent and the incorporation of Māori soldiers into the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, which is more commonly known as the Māori Pioneer Battalion.

Ref: Herman John Schmidt, three privates including Pitama probably of the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion, no location, c. 1915/1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-P917

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Dogs in the First World War

The contributions of animals during war is often not acknowledged. Dogs as well as carrier pigeons, horses and mules all played their part during the First World War. Britain had an estimated 20,000 dogs by 1918.

Dogs played a variety of roles during the war depending on their breed, intelligence and the training they had received. This included as:

  • sentries - quietly letting their masters know if the enemy was approaching 
  • scouts - patrolling ahead and detecting the enemies' scent and alerting their masters by 'pointing' in the direction of the approaching enemy
  • casualty - finding the wounded or dying on battlefield and carrying medical supplies to the wounded who were able to tend to their own wounds
  • messengers - carrying messages, particularly in the trenches where communication was difficult
  • mascots - these were often the officer's dog in a military unit and were intended to boost morale amongst the soldiers.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Maori in the First World War: How the Māori Pioneer Battalion was formed

Following on from an earlier blog post this week, which discussed the establishment of the First Māori Contingent, this post looks at the involvement of these troops during the First World War.

Following severe New Zealand losses the Māori Contingent were sent to Gallipoli in July 1915. They landed at ANZAC Cove on 3 July and were attached to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade.  They were employed as pioneers, digging trenches and clearing mine-spoil at Quinn’s Post and dragging water-tanks up onto Plugge’s Plateau.  They dug the Great Sap, which was an eight-foot deep communication trench wide enough to carry two stretchers side-by-side.  This ran along the beach connecting Walker’s Ridge with the northerly outposts of the ANZAC perimeter.

However Māori soldiers were soon fighting in a combat role.  Second Lieutenant Thomas Grace led a team of marksmen and scouts who cleared Turkish snipers from Monash Gully. The Māori Contingent pushed the Turks off Table Top Hill with a bayonet charge. Then in August 1915 the contingent was divided into platoons among the New Zealand Mounted Rifles regiments for the attack on Chunuk Bair. Later in August the weakened Māori Contingent was again committed as part of the Mounted Rifles when they seized Hill 60.  This destroyed the Māori as a fighting force. When they were evacuated from the peninsula there were only two officers and 132 men left of the 477 who had originally landed at Malta.

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, Māori soldiers practising at the butts, no location, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19160413-46-8
On 20 February 1916 the Māori Contingent and its reinforcements, the shattered remnants of the Otago Mounted Rifles and other New Zealand Mounted Riflemen were reorganised as the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion.  Both Māori and pakeha resented becoming pioneers, whom they thought were second class soldiers. However pioneers were important in modern warfare; they dug trenches, built bridges and laid railway lines. The pioneers were the first troops onto any battlefield. They worked and died alongside the infantry and were the last to leave it.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Maori in the First World War: The First Māori Contingent

Māori support for New Zealand’s recruitment effort during the First World War varied. Some tribes volunteered in large numbers but from others there was no response at all. This unevenness reflects the varying impacts of colonialism experienced by different iwi/tribes. Iwi who had suffered land confiscations often rejected calls to participate in the war. Recruitment was greatest among iwi traditionally allied with the British Crown in the various NZ wars fought during the 19th century. These tribes included Ngāpuhi and other far northern tribes, Ngāti Kahungungu, Te Aitanga-a-Mahāki, Te Aitanga-ā-Hauiti and Ngāti Porou from the east coast and Te Arawa from the Bay of Plenty. Kaumatua/elders from these iwi encouraged their youth to volunteer and honour their obligations to citizenship and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ref: AE Watkinson for Auckland Weekly News, Māori troops from Wangauni, 1914,Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19141029-36-4
Young Māori Party politicians also supported Māori participation in the war. Te Rangi Hīroa (Peter Buck) (1877-1951) served as a medical officer with the first Māori contingent. He believed that wider patriotism would break down tribal rivalries which hampered Māori development. Buck’s colleagues Maui Pomare (1875/6-1930) and Apirana Ngata (1874-1950) believed Māori must adapt to survive and advance in the modern pakeha/white European world.