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Showing posts from 2019

Louis Chevrolet, car designer and racing driver

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Louis Chevrolet was born on 25 December 1878 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He began his working life making bicycles but soon became fascinated by the fledgling automobile industry. In 1900 he emigrated to Montreal in Canada, where he worked as a chauffeur and mechanic. Then in 1901 he moved to New York and began working for the Brooklyn agency of the French car manufacturer, De Dion-Bouton.

Chevrolet was soon driving in auto races; and thus began his career as a racing driver. His enduring international racing car legacy is shown in a series of colour photographs taken at Pukekohe racetrack during the 1973, 1974 and 1975 New Zealand Grand Prix by motor-racing enthusiast, auto-journalist/photographer (and mobile librarian) Gerard Richards. Gerard remembers that ‘the main race at these meetings was for Chevrolet V8 powered single seaters for the coveted New Zealand Grand Prix title’, featuring F5000 cars like Chris Amon’s Talon Chevrolet single seater, although there were also support rac…

Industry in the West: Jack Diamond’s photographic record

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Jack Diamond was a great explorer of the Waitākere Ranges, recording and reporting on historic sites for the Auckland Regional Authority, Auckland University and Waitematā City Council. Among the wonderful collection of images he took of archaeological remains in and around the Ranges is this one of the timber remains of a kauri dam on the south branch of the Piha Stream, showing the cill, main stringer and gate planks. You can see a model of this kind of dam in action at the West Auckland Historical Society’s premises in Henderson.


Jack Diamond often explored the West in the company of his wife and children. The J. T. Diamond Collection contains some delightful images of his patient wife Melville Diamond, here standing on an abandoned locomotive on the beach at Karekare. The remains of the train tracks were once visible, poking up through the sand.

There is some information about this locomotive in John T. Diamond and Bruce W. Hayward's book, Waitakere Kauri

"This loco was…

Eureka discoveries and infinite possibilities

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Over 10,000 Aotearoa New Zealand art books, journals and artist files are held in the Angela Morton Art History Collection at Takapuna Library. This is one of the most comprehensive publicly accessible reference collections of art books in the country. It’s free to browse seven days a week in the Angela Morton Room on Level 1, where the celebrated E. Mervyn Taylor ceramic mural Te Ika-a-Māui is on display, and where visits to the Frank Sargeson House literary museum can be arranged.


Founded in 1985 with a bequest from the family of the late Angela Morton, a North Shore resident devoted to Aotearoa NZ art, the collection has grown into a well-resourced art library for students, researchers and hobbyists. There are around 1800 items on painting, plus a vast range of specialist books on fine and applied arts including photography, film, sculpture, weaving, carving, pottery, printmaking and jewellery.

Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections Manager, Jane Wild, said “I’m often finding item…

Sir George Grey’s contribution to women’s suffrage in New Zealand

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Sir George Grey is famous as a governor, premier and benefactor, particularly for his donation to Auckland Libraries – but not famous enough for his contribution to women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

Grey appears in a cameo role in a new book, You Daughters of Freedom, on how women got the vote in Australia, in 1902. At a conference considering federation (the joining of the Australian states into one country) a decade earlier, he had advised Dora Montefiore to make sure women got the vote when this happened; she became committed to that aim.

Grey gets little credit on this side of the Tasman for playing a role in our campaign for about two decades, including becoming a founding (honorary) member of the Auckland Women’s Franchise League in 1892, about the same time as he inspired Montefiore in Australia.

The New Zealand campaign started in 1869 when Mary Müller, using the penname Fémmina, wrote a pamphlet titled An Appeal to the Men of New Zealand. She sent a copy to ‘Sir Geo. Grey – fr…

Sir Edmund Hillary’s connections with West Auckland

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In July 2019, New Zealand commemorated 100 years since the birth of Sir Edmund Hillary. Sir Edmund and Tenzing Norgay are recognized internationally as the first people to summit Mount Everest in 1953. Lesser known are the stories about Sir Edmund's long term family connections to west Auckland and his determination to protect the Waitākere ranges and its coastline.


The Hillary family has had a long association with the west coast of Auckland since 1925, when Sir Edmund’s father-in-law, Jim Rose, built a bach at Anawhata. Since then five generations have come to the west coast to walk and explore, to dream and refresh their spirits.


In the early 1970s Sir Edmund built a bach on the cliffs above White’s Beach, a beach north of Piha. In 2008 Waitākere Mayor Bob Harvey called it Hillary's place of solace, where he could escape media attention.


Peter Hillary said that Sir Edmund would go to Piha and Anawhata to dream up expeditions and prepare for them. When Sir Edmund scaled …

A musical trinity: Mr Chipp, Mr Bennett and Mr Mendelssohn

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To fossick in the basement of the Central City Library amongst the music collection is like being a child in a sweet shop – there is so much to explore it can be overwhelming and it is difficult to know where to start. One of the delights though, is discovering the stories behind some of our lesser known treasures. The music score of “Twenty four sketches for the organ” by Edmund Thomas Chipp and donated to Auckland Libraries by John F. Bennett, presented such an opportunity to do a little research into this little known composer and uncover his unique story. What was revealed was a deeper connection between Mr Chipp and Mr Bennett than one might have first imagined.

Mr Chipp was not a prolific composer, in fact he only composed eight works plus his Twenty four sketches for the Organ op. 11. Auckland Libraries is fortunate enough to have two of these in its collection: The Harmonious Blacksmith for the organ and God preserve the Emperor: variations on Haydn’s Austrian hymn composed fo…

Curtain Up! Acting women talk about their lives

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Curtain Up! is a visual snapshot of the Auckland theatre scene from the 1950s to the 1980s. The exhibition explores the rise of professional drama in Auckland from its grassroots in community and youth theatre.


The exhibition is on at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library from 28 August until 24 November. This playlist compliments the exhibition, drawing on the recollections of those active in Auckland theatre development during these decades. Recordings are from an oral history collection featuring women in Auckland who worked in the acting profession, with interviews by Jean Hyland.



In this track we feature Georgia Prince from Auckland Libraries, life time actor Elizabeth McRae, esteemed playwright Roger Hall and the woman who has played every role in theatre... the irrepressible Jocelyn McQuaid! Georgia Prince provides us with an overview and background to the exhibition while Elizabeth, Roger and Jocelyn all offer their response to seeing the exhibition and discuss the import…