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Fun & games exhibition

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Fun & games is a free exhibition of games, books, photos, manuscripts, and more drawn from Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections around the region. It opens on 11 December and runs to 1 March 2020 at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library.


What games did your great-great-grandparents play? What are your favourite games to play today? Children of every time, place, and culture have loved to play. Some games endure across the generations and are handed down through families, while others emerge and transform, or are forgotten as technology, society, and childhood change. They in turn help shape our culture and communities and the stories of Tāmaki Makaurau.






Come into the gallery on Level 2, remember some old games and learn about some new ones. Use the blackboard to leave us a note about games you like. Read the colourful quotes on the walls and an instruction book for board games from 1786, see some 19th century knights on horseback with a royal connection, learn about the h…

Urban renewal and town planning in Auckland and Wellington – then and now

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During the late nineteenth century, uncontrolled urban development in Auckland resulted in cramped inner-city houses built along narrow streets and lanes. These small houses were usually serviced by cesspits or insanitary drains and sewers, and often had backyard middens. Even in the early twentieth century, large blocks of such substandard housing remained in the central city not far from Queen Street.

However, since the 1870s, city officials had been urging that modern cities needed to be planned and developed in a more orderly, tidy, sanitary and visually attractive way. Responding to current town planning ideas, in 1911, the New Zealand Graphic began a new social crusade. It informed its shocked middle-class readers that working-class housing fit only for demolition festered as close at hand as mid-city Federal and Cook Streets, and in upper-city Alexandra Street. And there were other poor housing areas at the western ends of Victoria and Wellesley Streets too. Below are some of t…

Robinson Crusoe: legacies that must be displaced

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2019 marks 300 years since the publication of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, or, to use the full title: The life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner: who lived eight and twenty years all alone in an un-inhabited island on the coast of America, near the mouth of the great river of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With an Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by himself.


Robinson Crusoe was a great commercial success for its publisher William Taylor, who published three subsequent editions of the book by hitherto political journalist and pamphleteer Defoe, as well as The farther adventures, a sequel, in the same year of 1719. Michael Schmidt, in The Novel : a biography(2014), outlines Robinson Crusoe’s success: “released on April 25, it was reprinted seventeen days later, again after twenty-five more days, then again on August 8.” Claiming to be autobiograph…

John Barningham: Local stories on stage and screen 1960s - 1980s

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John Barningham was a successful producer-director in the formative years of New Zealand’s television and stage industries. Highly motivated, with enormous creative energy and a touch of irreverence, talented young New Zealanders, like Barningham, embraced the explosion of 1960s youth culture, giving it a local accent.


Born in Te Kuiti in 1943, Barningham grew up and went to school in Avondale where he was active in amateur stage productions. He sang in local boy scout Gang Shows and started the Avondale Theatre, which soon merged with the Mt Eden Community Players.

The first public television broadcast in New Zealand was limited to Auckland in 1960, with broadcasts to Christchurch and Wellington beginning in 1961. In 1962, Barningham began working as floor manager for Auckland’s AKTV2 channel. This was part of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (NZBC). Known to many as “Barney” he rose quickly through the television ranks to produce and direct many successful light entertain…

Stepping back into the shed: Westfield Freezing Works, 1916-1989

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"Westfield workers turned a place which was often physically strenuous, monotonous, hot, cold, bloody and smelly work, into a workplace of whānau, camaraderie and whanaungatanga."
- Ross Webb, “Your Livelihood is on the Line” Freezing workers in Aotearoa New Zealand, 1973-1994. University of Auckland, 2015.

For many workers in the meatworks industry one of the main things they enjoyed is the sense of working as part of a large family. This was very much the case at the four large meatworks in the Westfield area of Auckland, R. & W. Hellaby, AFFCO (Southdown), Auckland City Abattoirs and Westfield Freezing Company. Eunice Te Rangiuaia refers to this in her interview about her time working in the cannery at Westfield Freezing Company.
Eunice Te Rangiuaia – Games and the cannery
Listen to the track here

The ‘Stepping back into the shed’ exhibition celebrates the people, place and community of Westfield. It acknowledges the closure of the Westfield Freezing Company 30 years a…

Toilets for all: a brief history

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November 19 is officially the United Nations World Toilet Day, a day about ‘inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis’. 4.6 billion people worldwide live without access to a safe toilet which has been proven to ‘impact upon public health, living and working conditions, nutrition, education and economic productivity across the world.’

In Auckland today, it can sometimes be a bit of a nuisance to find a public loo, but for the most part we rest easy knowing that if nature made her call, we would be able to find suitable facilities. However, this hasn’t always been the case.

Auckland has been New Zealand’s largest city since 1891. Before this it had seen a steady increase in population since the 1840s and soon became a bustling hub of trade, debate and development. Reports detailing the unsanitary conditions rife in the city streets demonstrated a clear need for the implementation of drainage and sewage systems both by property owners and government to, quite literally, cle…