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Showing posts from September, 2019

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…