Showing posts from 2016

Auckland’s 1960s American-style shopping malls

New Zealand’s first American-style shopping centre LynnMall opened on 30 October 1963. A 110 foot tower with a flashing red beacon marked the site which had previously been a swampy, seven-acre scrub-covered paddock. LynnMall offered a relaxed, traffic-free arrangement of shops around a weather-proof courtyard with a fountain, flowers and trees. There was plenty of seating, a free children’s play area and 500 free car parks. Three of the city’s largest retailers anchored the centre - Farmers, Milne & Choyce and Woolworths - and were complemented by 43 specialty shops such as La Gonda Fashion, Kean’s, Starforme Foundations, Masco and Curtaincraft.

Ref: J. T. Diamond, LynnMall from Farmers end, November 1963, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, JTD-11A-02070-2
In 1965 the corner-stone was laid for a second Auckland shopping mall developed by the same company – Southmall. Farmers and Woolworths were already signed up and soon joined by a Four Square supermarket. Specialty shops in…

The great war for New Zealand, Waikato 1800-2000 / Vincent O’Malley

Ref: Vincent O'Malley. The great war for New Zealand, Waikato 1800-2000,  Bridget Williams Books, 2016, Auckland Libraries, 993.3 OMAL.
On 12 July 1863 British Imperial Army troops crossed the Mangatāwhiri River which marked the boundary between British occupied territory and land under the authority of the Kingitanga (the Māori King movement). The crossing of this boundary by military troops, just south of the city of Auckland, was a declaration of war. The invasion of the Waikato had begun.

Ref: Sketch map of the North Island of New Zealand, shewing approximately the loyal and rebel districts, 1869, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, Map 2563a. Vincent O’Malley’s latest work The great war for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000 provides a vast repository of research to support his view that the Waikato war, the epicentre of the New Zealand land wars, was the defining conflict in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. He believes that the war had a greater impact on this country tha…

The life and times of the Farmers Santa

The team who built the giant Farmers Santa in 1960 would be amazed at the icon’s fluctuating fortunes. The statue enjoyed a 30 year run until the store’s Hobson Street site was sold (now the Heritage Hotel). He relocated to the Manukau Shopping Centre and was sacked for being too tatty, then taken apart and left in a rigger’s yard. Santa was later sold for $1; renovated for $40,000; restored again for $100,000; and had his winking eye and beckoning finger removed. He was the world’s largest fibreglass Santa in 1960; and crowned the world’s creepiest Christmas ornament in 2011.
Ref: Coloured postcard of the Farmers Trading Company, 1970s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 9-1.

Quaker collection

The Society of Friends or Quaker Collection makes up a part of our rare books collection. It was initially accepted on deposit in 1973 and then gifted to Auckland Libraries in 1995 for safe keeping for posterity. The collection came from the library of the Society of Friends in Auckland, and consists of some 300 books including a copy of the Breeches Bible printed in 1608 and another Bible printed in 1653. Other rare and significant works form part of this collection including 43 books printed before 1801.

As one would expect, most items in the Quaker Collection are concerned either with the history, principles and precepts of the Society of Friends or with the lives of outstanding Quaker personalities.

These include a well-worn copy of George Fox’s Journal printed in London in 1694. George Fox was a founder of the Society of Friends and his journal is a central document in Quakerism.
Ref: George Fox, A journal or historical account of the life, travels, sufferings etc., 1694, Sir Georg…

A gold mine not to be overlooked

When sorting through some books that had been donated to us, a while back, I came across a copy of NZ Pioneers’ & Descendants’ Club Inc. Silver Jubilee 1939-1964 booklet of which there are several copies in the libraries’ collection. This small publication runs to 63 pages and probably would not attract the attention of many if seen on the library's catalogue or a shelf somewhere.

How wrong we would be to disregard this little gem! It gives a brief history of the club and why it was set up: "To create the spirit of friendship; To get memories of the early days published in detail…"

The rest of the booklet offers much for those whose forebears either belonged to the club or are the subjects of the histories included.  There is a list of present and past officers, list of current members and date when forebear arrived, ships date of arrival and member’s name, alphabetical list of surnames mentioned in articles followed by many brief details about (mainly grandparent) …

A zoological atlas: Voyage autour du monde, sur la Bonite

The great exploring expeditions of the 19th century often published accounts of their voyages in a series of large illustrated atlases. This particular atlas is part of the account of a French expedition, published as Voyage autour du monde : exécuté pendant les années 1836 et 1837 sur la Bonite commandée par m. Vaillant. It was acquired recently by Auckland Libraries and is currently on display in the exhibition Old & New: recent additions to Sir George Grey Special Collections together with another recent atlas purchase: An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse.
Ref: Auguste Nicolas Vaillant. Voyage autour du monde : exécuté pendant les années 1836 et 1837 surla Bonite commandée par m. Vaillant. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, Printed 910 V13.
In 1836 French naval officer Auguste-Nicolas Vaillant was given instructions for a voyage through the Pacific on the former troopship La Bonite. The main aim of the voyage was political – Vaillant was to maint…

The little church that wouldn’t die

Later this year The church on the corner: a history of Selwyn Church Māngere East, 1863-2012 will be published. Selwyn Church started life 153 years ago in Ōtāhuhu when local Anglicans built a new wooden church in Victoria Street (now Mason Avenue). It was dedicated as the Church of the Holy, Blessed and Undivided Trinity on St John the Evangelist’s Day, 27 December 1863 by Bishops George Augustus Selwyn and John Coleridge Patteson.

Ref: James D Richardson, Old Holy Trinity Church, Ōtāhuhu, c 1900-1919, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-8789.

The ‘Devonport Gazette and Greater North Shore Advocate, Who’s Who Directory, Ratepayer’s Chronicle’

The first issue of this weekly suburban newspaper came out on Thursday 3rd November 1921. 2,500 copies were delivered free of charge to “each house in the Borough of Devonport” and also made available to patrons of the Victoria Picture Theatre in Devonport. It was published and printed by James William Henry Martin and family, who managed the Devonport Printing Works at 56 Victoria Road, Devonport.

Ref: The Devonport Gazette and Greater North Shore Advocate, 19 August 1922. 
On the front page, the middle two columns carried movie advertisements and stills for screenings at the Victoria Theatre, while other parts of the newspaper also included movie news. The ‘Who’s Who’ columns were for advertising local businesses and trades, while the editorial on page two addressed local issues. Pages two and three also included reports from Devonport Borough Council and other local public meetings. Later this was extended to cover reports of the Takapuna Borough Council and other Takapuna area publ…

Records for the poor

The Otago Benevolent Institution Casebooks During their research, most family historians will find a family who were not only poor but required the assistance of the parish or government in order to make ends meet.  Many of you reading this will be familiar with records available for such circumstances in the UK- but what about New Zealand?
Unfortunately, there aren't many records available in New Zealand relating to those who needed help for short or longer periods.  However, all is not lost.  Archives NZ is the first place to look for such records – the hospital, police and charity record series should be of use, as well as Department of Education, Social Security, Child Welfare and District/Magistrates Courts.  The Appendices of the Journal of the House of Representatives (AJHRs or A to Js) can also be fruitful and these are available on-line, up until 1954 and name searchable.
One of the earlier charitable agencies were the Benevolent Societies. The Auckland Benevolent Societ…

Medical marijuana in colonial New Zealand

There was a time when New Zealanders could buy marijuana over the counter for ailments ranging from asthma to corn removal. In the 1880s cannabis or hemp, as it was known then, only cost a shilling an ounce. Mother Aubert used cannabis as a tea for nun’s menstrual cramps at her mission in Jerusalem on the Whanganui River. Brett’s Colonists’ Guide endorsed Indian hemp as a treatment for painful menstruation, too - in a concoction including camphor and opium.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic, In the dispensary, 22 September 1906, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19060922-6-2.


After the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 the European population of Aotearoa New Zealand began to increase rapidly. Settlers wanted land. From early on, the area around Mt Taranaki had been identified as ideal land for British settlement. The New Zealand Company, an organisation which focused on colonisation and land sales, was involved in the settlement of New Plymouth and several extremely dubious land purchases in Taranaki in the late 1830s and early 1840s. New Zealand Company artist Charles Heaphy produced an enticing, idealised painting of Mt Egmont / Mt Taranaki to attract potential migrants. However, there was nothing to indicate that this was the ancestral tribal land of Te Ātiawa and other Taranaki Māori. When the new Colonial government was established, land purchase officers were officially appointed to purchase Māori land for the Crown, as outlined in the Treaty.
Ref: Heaphy, Charles, 1820-1881. Heaphy, Charles,…

Researching Chinese laundries in New Zealand

The Chinese have a rich history in New Zealand and are amongst our earliest settlers - with large numbers arriving in the 1850s for the gold rush.

There have been some awesome books written about early Chinese. In our Family History research guide on our website, we highlight the famous books Windows on a Chinese Past written by James Ng and Unfolding history, evolving identity, the Chinese in New Zealand by Manying Ip.

However, we also have several books in our collection written by other authors and researchers such as Helen Wong's In the mountain's shadow : a century of Chinese in Taranaki 1870 to 1970 = Zai shan de yin ying : yi ge shi ji han ren Taranaki 1870 dao 1970 and To be Jungseng in New Zealand : descendants of Jungseng villagers who migrated to New Zealand from 1890.

Search in our catalogue using keywords "Chinese" and "New Zealand" for many other titles.

At the Auckland Family History Expo in August 2016, the Chinese community of researchers h…

Obstetric tables: a 19th century flap book

In 1845 George Spratt published the fourth edition of his highly successful Obstetric tables : comprising graphic illustrations, with descriptions and practical remarks; exhibiting on dissected plates, many important subjects in midwifery. This illustrated anatomical ‘flap book’ is a recent addition to the Sir George Grey Special Collections printed collection. You can view a digitised version of the 1835 edition through the Internet Archive, or come visit us on Level 2 of the Central City Library to turn the pages (and lift the flaps) yourself.

Obstetric tables was published as a training aid at a time when it was becoming difficult for medical students to gain clinical experience. It contains a large number of layered illustrations that can be lifted to provide ‘dissected’ views of the female body in pregnancy. Some of the plates contain as many as four or five layers, showing for example the different stages of pregnancy, the position of a baby during birth, and use of forceps in an…

Beauty pageant photographic collection

The South Auckland Research Centre has recently added 1142 photographs to our image database Footprints. To date this database now includes a selection of over 8000 photographs and other images relating to South Auckland, and adjoining areas.

A sample of thirty-two photographs from the Beauty Pageant Photographic Collection, donated by beauty pageant organiser Val Lott, has been added covering the years 1990 – 2003.

Ref: Val Lott, Beauty pageant, Māngere, 6 May 1990, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07210.
Ref: Val Lott, Beauty pageant, Māngere, 6 May 1990, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07209.
Ref: Beauty pageant, Pukekohe, 24 May 1992, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07223.

Milan Mrkusich’s public art

One of New Zealand’s most highly respected abstract artists, Milan Mrkusich, designed several largepublic artworks in Auckland in the 1950s-1960s. The most well-known existing ones include the mosaic mural on the B. J. Ball Building overlooking Fanshawe Street, and the stained glass windows at Grey Lynn’s St Joseph’s Catholic Church - the largest abstract work in the country at that time.
Ref: Patrick Clearwater, BJ Ball mural, 31 May 2010.
B. J. Ball (NZ) Ltd was a paper manufacturing company and Mrkusich’s mural for them highlights the paper-making process from the raw material of trees to the end product of stacks of reams. This mural is 7.6m high and 3.9m wide (25ft x13 ft.) and is made from thousands of glass and ceramic tiles. As Julian Dashper recounts in a 1995 article, Mrkusich made full size plan drawings “which he rolled up and posted to Italy, where a master tile maker made a complete mural on the floor, turned it upside down into hundreds of little boxes and sent it back t…

House and home: entertainment

Now on in our exhibition space on the second floor of the Central Library is House and home: domestic life in New Zealand. This nostalgic exhibition, which will run until 30 October, explores the domestic side of New Zealand life before the 1980s. It looks at what made a house a home in New Zealand. Today we’re looking at entertainment in the home.

Ref: James D Richardson, Jean Richardson sitting on cushion on chair, playing the piano, 1915?, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-8902.

Lower Queen Street

As the City Rail Link (CRL) project begins and Lower Queen Street has become predominantly closed to traffic, we take a look back at the varying ways that the space has been used.

Lower Queen Street, between Customs Street and Quay Street, currently sits on reclaimed land that used to be part of Commercial Bay. Reclamation works in the area occurred between 1875 and 1886.

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, Lower Queen Street Auckland near the wharf and Railway station, 7 December 1900, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19001207-7-2.

An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse

An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse: undertaken by order of the Constituent Assembly of France, and performed in the years 1791, 1792, and 1793 in the Recherche and Esperance, ships of war, under the command of Rear-Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux.
Ref: An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse, title page, M. Labillardiere,1800, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1800 LABI Atlas.
This three volume set was published in 1800. The first two volumes were acquired by the Leys Institute Library Ponsonby in 1905 and some decades later transferred to Sir George Grey Special Collections. Volume three, an atlas including many beautiful engraved illustrations, was recently purchased, thus completing the set over a century later.

Online magazine goodness

The joy of going online to read, is the instant access to so many great publications via Auckland Libraries such as Press Reader. Press Reader, link available on our website (but also on your own device if you’re a library member) is a way to look through not only hundreds of local and international current newspapers, but dozens of magazines.

For those of you keen on family history, there are several of interest.

If you're all about things Scots, take a look at Scots Heritage. It's a quarterly publication, the 'official magazine of the Standing Council of Scottish Clan Chiefs,' and it runs regular features on the clans, genealogy, Scottish history, and culture. The current issue has a feature on the reformer, John Knox, and a fascinating true life story about a Scots girl, shipwrecked off the Queensland coast, who was found living with an Aboriginal tribe.

Then there's Canada’s History (formerly titled The Beaver) which has a history just of itself.  Back in the 1…

In the West, Much News

In late January 1929, Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war novel Im Westen, Nichts Neues (In the west, nothing new) was published by Propyläen Verlag. In England the book was quickly translated by the Australian librarian Arthur Wesley Wheen and republished under the title All Quiet on the Western Front.

Ref: Two original 1929 editions that finally made it into the Library, the one on the left is from the Quaker Collection.

Art for the people

Sculptures, murals and statues are dotted around Auckland with information about many of these public artworks available on Auckland Council’s Art and Heritage Database. A display on level 2 at the Central Library showcases some of these items, from Fatu Feu’u’s Aotea Centre mural to Greer Twiss’s Pigeon Park sculpture.

Statues and monuments from the Auckland Domain are featured including the Pukekaroa Palisade where Princess Te Puea planted a tōtara tree during the city’s 1940 centennial celebrations in order to reaffirm the mana of the Tainui people in the area, and the connection between her family and the Domain. Her great-grandfather Te Wherowhero had lived in two houses on the Domain site between 1847-1858 before returning to the Waikato as the Māori King.

Ref: Pukekaroa Palisade, 2016.

Whites Aviation hand coloured photographs

Whites Aviation produced hand coloured photographs of New Zealand for around fifty years. When they began in 1945 colour photography wasn’t accessible as it was only in its infancy so the hand coloured photographs they sold were very popular. These now iconic images can be found in cafés like Replete in Taupō orVudu in Queenstown.

This very large photograph that was recently donated to the library is 1100 x 2520 millimetres and formerly hung in the Auckland Star building.
Ref: Whites Aviation, Auckland, c1965, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1411-1.

Dalmatians out west: transport, horticulture, viticulture and sport

Now on in the J.T. Diamond Room, Waitakere Central Library is our Dalmatians out westexhibition. The exhibition features images from Auckland’s Dalmatian community and will run until 30 August 2016.

This is the third and final blog post based on the themes in the exhibition.

Transport, Horticulture and Viticulture
A number of Dalmatian families specialised in transport or earthmoving companies. The Lendich family were by far the largest, followed by Vuksich & Borich and then Bogoslav Sokolich. 
Marinovich and Sons also owned a fleet of transport trucks which plied the route between Dargaville and Auckland.
Ref: Marinovich & Sons’ truck for the Auckland-Dargaville Service. West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries. DGHS Collection.
Ref: Tony and Ivan Yukich standing in front of their new truck, c1998, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries. DGHS Collection.

Julia Thorne George's wedding

In today’s property market most young couples can only dream of such a wedding gift, but when Julia Thorne George married up-and-coming lawyer Wilfred Colbeck in June 1895 her parents presented her with a house in St Stephens Avenue, Parnell. What’s more, Sir George Grey sent her a generous cheque that enabled her to furnish the dining room in style.

She was nevertheless miffed at Sir George for failing to attend the wedding. Technically, he was her great-uncle, but she regarded him more as a grandfather. She had lived in the same house as him most of her life. Her mother, Annie, was the daughter of Grey’s half-brother Godfrey Thomas, who died young. Grey not only took Annie in but continued to provide a home for her and her growing family after she married Seymour Thorne George in 1872.

Ref: Daniel Mundy, Interior of Mansion House, Kawau Island, c1870, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A3034.

Our favourite photographs: South Auckland edition

Inspired by a recent post on the New York Public Library's blog the team at the South Auckland Research Centre have chosen a selection of their favourite photographs from the collections there. Their choices span a century, from the 1890s through to the 1990s, and show a variety of places around South Auckland and the Counties Manukau area.

Bruce Ringer

The Auckland Libraries Footprints database includes a wide range of captivating and illuminating photographs. It’s difficult to make a choice of favourites, but here are three that stand out in my memory.

Ref: Racing boy, Pakuranga, c1905, photograph reproduced courtesy of Howick Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 39.
This photograph looks straightforward but has an element of mystery. It’s a rare example from the time of a shot that captures a person in motion. But it leaves a few questions hanging in the air. Who is this boy? Why is he running? The obvious assumption is that he’s run…

Military Service Act of 1916

One hundred years ago today, 1 August 1916, conscription was introduced to New Zealand through the Military Service Act. The first names were drawn under the Act on 15 November 1916, and monthly ballots were repeated for the remainder of the war. As you can see from the poster, there were serious consequences for those who did not enrol.

Ref: Flyer. Military Service Act, 1916. From: Lusty family. Collection of newspapers and ephemera, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZMS 1387.

Norsewood - a special settlement

A few months back, on a day trip around the Hawke's Bay, I happened upon Norsewood, just north of Dannevirke. Norsewood was famous for that line of outdoor clothing Norsewear and appropriately the day I passed through, I could have done with some Norsewear. Wild weather was bashing the North Island, and by the time we left Norsewood it had begun to get dark and the passengers were starting to get a little nervous. We were about to head through the Manawatu Gorge. At night.

Secretly, I thought the advantage of driving through the Manawatu Gorge in the dark was that you couldn't see how far down you'd fall if the car went off the road. It's quite a drop. The other plus was that we were on the side farthest from potential doom, although with the tendency for the gorge to suffer slips, I would never be bold enough to assume I'd get through in one piece, even in daylight.

We had stopped at Norsewood in the freezing, violent wind, to take photos, but  not of anything Nor…

Dalmatians out west: music, dance, social occasions and weddings

Now on in the J.T. Diamond Room, Waitakere Central Library is our Dalmatians out west exhibition. The exhibition features images from Auckland’s Dalmatian community and will run until 30 August 2016.

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on the themes in the exhibition.

Music, dance, social occasions and weddings
Music and dance were mostly the domain of the two Yugoslav organisations, the Yugoslav Club Inc., and the Yugoslav Benevolent Society (The Croatian Benevolent Society).  Annual Ballroom competitions were conducted and cups were given out to the best foxtrot, waltz and tango dancers. 
Ref: Sisters Danica and Fleur Martinovich dressed for the ball in dresses they made themselves, 1946. West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries. DGHS Collection.

Women’s Suffrage Centenary Memorial

The Women’s Suffrage mural in Khartoum Place celebrates suffragettes who fought for women’s franchise in New Zealand – which they won in 1893, and women in this country became the first in the world to gain the vote. Artists Claudia Pond Eyley and Jan Morrison designed the 2,000 bright tiles of the mural marking the centenary of this achievement. A Navy band led over 300 guests down Queen Street for the 1993 opening, and the Air Force hung a cargo parachute across Khartoum Place which dropped at the exact dramatic moment for the unveiling by Irish President Mary Robinson and Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard.

Ref: Auckland Council, Khartoum Place pre-1993.