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Showing posts from July, 2020

The saga of Boyd’s Zoo

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Boyd’s Zoological Gardens was a commercial enterprise established by John James Boyd in Upper Aramoho, Whanganui in 1909 after he had imported a lion and lioness, a tigress, and breeding pairs of bears and black buck antelopes, together with four macaws, two vultures and two demoiselle cranes from a zoo in Hamburg, Germany. The New Zealand Graphic published the following photo of some of his animals in the recently opened zoo in their issue on 9 February 1910:


Soon he must have expanded his menagerie because a photo published by the Graphic of 13 July 1910 includes an emu. This photo also shows his vultures:


However Upper Aramoho did not prove to be a good location, with poor attendances at Boyd’s zoo. Early next year he decided to move to Auckland. On 17 May 1911 the New Zealand Graphic published the following photo of the animals, including a forlorn-looking bear, about to be moved to Auckland:


At this time there was no other zoo in Auckland, so naturally the local journals were a…

Snow in Northland

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On 30 July 1849, Richard Davis, an Anglican missionary in the Bay of Islands, made this surprising entry in his daily weather diary: “Hail storms. This morning the southern hills and Poutahi covered with snow.” The next day, he noted that the hills were “again covered with snow.”

The Davis family - Richard and Mary and their children - lived at the Church Missionary Society’s station at Waimate North, inland from Paihia, and the snow he referred to had just fallen on the hills behind the small mission settlement. It wasn’t the only extreme weather he would record in the nine years he documented Northland’s climate, but it was probably the most unexpected.
There are two weather registers by Richard Davis in Special Collections at the Central City Library, and together they cover the period from 1839-44 and 1848-51. The volumes are foolscap-sized notebooks, and in them he recorded the temperature at 9am and again at midday at Waimate North and later at Kaikohe after he and his family move…

Tactile Verse: Aotearoa Letterpress Poetry Books

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The three-dimensional bite of metal type into paper gives text a sculptural depth that brings new life to poetry. Who can resist the urge to run their finger along rows of impressed text - engaging with the words both physically, and as a reader? This union of 15th century printing technology and contemporary Aotearoa poetry and visual art has resulted in a range of beautiful hand crafted books, key examples of which can be viewed in the Angela Morton Room | Te Pātaka Toi Art Library.


Typographer Tara McLeod has said the printer’s challenge is to find the letterforms that are right for a given message. He and poet Riemke Ensing have collaborated on many collections, and Ensing has noted that “Not only is there an absolute commitment to retain the integrity of the work [by McLeod] and convey the feeling inherent in the poem, there is that sensitivity to the use of colour, light, space and form to capture the essence of the poems in these new and startling environments.”


The tactile let…

McCallum’s chip

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While walking in the city, I scan my environment like I do while walking on the beach. I actively look for interesting patterns and curiosities. One day my eye tuned into a ‘red stone’, I saw it everywhere: as loose stone chip, in concrete foundations, floors and small ready-mix concrete applications; The council uses it on road islands, in concrete for raised pedestrian crossings and down the shoulders of the motorway. Albert Park is completely paved in this loose red chip. The more I looked the more I saw it.


This red stone, I would argue, is as iconic as the Mt Eden basalt kerbstones seen around the city, and as easily identifiable. This ubiquitous stone has become part of the aesthetic of the Auckland streetscape, yet somehow it remains purely as a material commodity, and unlike the kerbstones, it has not yet transformed into a cultural object.

Commonly known as ‘McCallum’s chip’, this red chert gets its name from the McCallum family who have been mining and distributing this st…