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Showing posts from September, 2020

Doctor’s Houses, 25-29 Symonds Street, Auckland Central

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It’s Auckland Heritage Festival from 26 September to 11 October 2020. During the Festival we will share some hidden histories about Auckland places written by Auckland Council Heritage Unit staff.

Marguerite Hill is the Heritage Researcher in council’s Heritage Unit and has an interest in health history.

There are about 2500 places in the Auckland region which are scheduled as historic heritage places. Quite a few of these places are associated with medicine and health and several of those places are on Symonds Street. Symonds Street was a popular spot with medical practitioners due to its proximity to Auckland Hospital.

You might walk past this building every morning or pop in there for your lunch, but did you know the history of the Doctors’ Houses at 25-29 Symonds Street?

Ellen and John had two daughters and four sons. Their eldest son, John, known as Jack, took over running the Waitemata Hotel from John senior. Arthur died during the First World War, while Frederick Charles was a d…

The many lives of E. Mervyn Taylor’s mural Te Ika-a-Maui

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The NZ Post Office commissioned Te Ika-a-Maui in 1961 as part of a nationwide celebration of the new Commonwealth Pacific Telephone Cable (COMPAC) - which was going to triple the country’s capacity for international calls. A cable terminal was built in Akoranga Drive, Northcote. Te Ika-a-Maui was installed in the foyer and open for the public to view. A COMPAC press release stated “Being in ceramic tile, the mural which is one of Mervyn Taylor’s outstanding works, will be assured of the permanency it undoubtedly deserves.” The mural appeared in newspapers around the country, and in the souvenir booklet Voices Through The Deep, which noted it was the focal point of the terminal’s entrance vestibule. E. Mervyn Taylor felt there was an analogy between the ‘fishing up’ of the North Island by Māui, and its modern counterpart, this new cable that would draw New Zealand out of the Pacific into the telephone systems of the world. However, the permanency forecast in the press release did not e…

The hula-hoop – coming full circle

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Who would have thought something like a simple plastic hoop could provide so much fun and have such an interesting history?

Did you know that the ancient Greeks were known to have used grapevine hoops as exercise equipment to tone up the waist? And as far back as 3000 BC, Egyptians commonly used materials such as reeds and rattan to work into circular shapes or hoops. They would roll the hoop along the ground with a stick, or throw it up in the air or rotate it around the waist - just as we do now.

The hoop was used not only for fun, exercise and education, but also for religious and artistic purposes. The Lakota people added extra religious significance to the hoop by viewing it as representing the circle of life. Out of this they developed the hoop dance, a sort of story-telling dance incorporating as many as thirty hoops used as props to embody different elements from the story.

The hoop’s popularity continued through time and across continents. We can see from the well known Breug…