Showing posts from September, 2018

An influenza memorial in Manurewa

In old St Luke’s Anglican Church, Manurewa, is a poignant reminder of New Zealand’s 1918 influenza epidemic. Tucked away in one corner of the chancel is a carved and polished rimu lectern. This has a tiny brass plaque affixed which reads:

To the Glory of God
And in memory of
Dorice Whittingham
Sometime Organist of this Church
Who died for the sake of

Dorice (usually known as ‘Doris’) died on 8 December 1918 of influenza contracted while nursing patients at Papakura hospital. She had been married to local quarryman and ex-serviceman Alexander Whittingham for little more than a year.

A death notice was published in the NZ Herald the following day. A brief tribute was also published in a local newspaper:

“When the epidemic was rampant at Papakura both Mrs Whittingham and her mother volunteered assistance. The former had the advantage of having had considerable nursing experience at Te Aroha, and therefore was entrusted with some of the serious cases. About a week ago she herself …

2018 Auckland Family History Expo round-up with speakers' notes


The suffrage story of Mary Ann Gunson

Today is the 125th anniversary of the day the Electoral Act was passed into law, making Aotearoa the first self-governing nation where women could vote in parliamentary elections.

The 1893 women's suffrage petition was a huge part of the successful campaign for the vote. Over 30,000 women signed the petition - a small individual act that helped bring about a huge change for the wāhine of Aotearoa. In 2018 we celebrate the action they took by researching and telling their stories.

Below is the story of Mary Ann Gunson, who signed sheet 21 of the petition. Her signature is fourth from the top in the image below. Her biography was written and researched by Judith Corbelletto-Thompson, who attended one of our research workshops at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero Central City Library.

Mary Ann Gunson, sheet 21 Mary Ann Gunson (nee Bryne) was born in Glasgow about 1843. She arrived in New Zealand in 1874 aged 31 and the same year married James Gunson. She lived the rest of her life in Auckland and…

The suffrage story of Harriett Garland

As part of our Wāhine Take Action programme celebrating the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in Aotearoa, we recently held two suffrage story research workshops at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero Central City Library. The aim was to uncover stories of women who signed the 1893 women's suffrage petition -  many of whom we know little about. By researching and telling their stories we celebrate the action they took in signing the petition - an individual act that helped bring about a huge change for the wāhine of Aotearoa.

This is the story of Harriett Garland, written and researched by Donna Salmon, one of our workshop participants. Harriett's biography is also now part of the interactive display at the He Tohu exhibition and on the suffrage petition database at NZHistory.

Harriett Garland, sheet 390 Harriett Threader was born in 1854 in Brentwood, Essex, the daughter of Thomas Threader, hairdresser, and Harriett Threader (nee Girling). As a teenager, she worked as a shop assista…

The history of Chinese families and businesses in Auckland

After my father came to New Zealand in 1955 he worked in New Zealand Shipping Co Ltd’s Auckland office. Part of his job was overseeing the provisioning of the company’s ships after they had docked in Auckland. New Zealand Shipping’s fruit and vegetables were supplied by C. W. Wah Jang and Co. Ltd of 31 Queen Street. Strategically located near the wharves and just across from the Chief Post Office, Wah Jang’s did a prosperous trade in fruit and vegetables with most ships floating around the South Pacific. During the Second World War, Wah Jang’s apparently provisioned every United States Navy vessel passing through Auckland!

Helene Wong’s Heritage Talk at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero Central City Library earlier this year on the history of Chinese families in Auckland helped clear up some of the mysteries about Wah Jang’s. Her talk also highlighted the racism with which New Zealand’s Chinese have always had to struggle. The tendency for Pakeha New Zealanders’ to show Anglocentric superiority cr…