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Showing posts from January, 2013

QR codes offer a way to provide living legacies on grave stones

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St Margaret’s Church, an important Welsh landmark in Bodelwyddan, is using QR code technology to help visitors understand the seemingly confusing presence of  80 Canadian soldiers graves.

The Marble Church as it is known, is using the HiPoints system (historical points), which has been created by historypoints.org, a community-based information project. This system uses smartphone mobile technology and QR (quick response) codes located on placards in the graveyard to provide easily digestible historical snippets about a physical location or building etc.

When I’m Sixty-Four

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We had an interesting reference query at the North Auckland Research Centre the other day, about the old age pension (superannuation) in New Zealand. When did it start? Was it ever for 55 year olds? What dates were the changes to it made?

The original 1898 pension ....
It was a fascinating journey finding out the information. Old age pensions in New Zealand were first introduced in 1898 for people 65 and up. The new pension was subject to a means test, and the requirements were pretty stringent. The maximum amount someone could receive was set at 18 pounds per annum, which equates to about $36 in today’s currency. This scheme lasted for 40 years, and it shaped the subsequent Social Security Act of 1938.

Indexing 'Sons of the Soil'

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Lily Lee and Ruth Lam, the authors of the book 'Sons of the Soil' have done a good job of pulling together what little 'original' documentation there was available about early Chinese market gardeners - such as newspaper articles, account books, photographs.

The families described in the book sometimes set up gardens in different parts of the country and moved around and frequently inter-married. So staff at the Central Auckland Research Centre decided that it would be very useful to index families mentioned in the book and add this information to Auckland Libraries heritage online database: Index Auckland. The goal was to help people track down the families mentioned in the book and set up useful connections.

Index Auckland is a rich resource of history, art, theatre, film and music references sourced from Auckland area newspapers and journal articles. Whilst the index predominantly covers Auckland, other regions are also covered, which means that the index adds to…

The Man and the Memorial

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For over 40 years I have passed the WW1 Memorial in the Nell Fisher Reserve (originally known as Civic Park) and been aware of its changing condition.  At times it has looked neglected, the drinking fountain broken, its bowl filled with cement and the lighting disconnected and the glass globe shattered or non-existent.  Former North Shore mayor Paul Titchener noted in his article in 1982 on the monument that “the passing years have not been kind to it" (Titchener, Paul. Beginnings, vol 6, p.44).

When the new Birkenhead Library was built in 2010, the surrounding park was landscaped  and the memorial was expertly restored, creating a revitalised space. Some of this work is described in a Salmond Reed Architects Limited report. Although drinking from the fountain is no longer an option, the globe light has been replaced and it glows through the park trees, highlighted at night, that surround it.

Sarah Mathew reads 'Nicholas Nickleby'

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During March 1840 Sarah Louise Mathew travelled by ship from Sydney to join her husband Felton Mathew in the Bay of Islands. He was acting Surveyor-General in Governor William Hobson’s party of officials and had just witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February.

Sarah (1805?-1890) had emigrated to Australia to marry her first cousin Felton in 1832. Her diary, begun on the voyage to New Zealand on March 2nd 1840, is held in the Sir George Grey Special Collections (NZMS 79). It is one of a number of interesting documents written by both Sarah and Felton in the early years of settlement, which Professor James Rutherford researched in England and negotiated to add to the Library’s collection in 1940.

Sarah’s journal is full of sharp observation, interesting speculation and some shrewd opinions on the people and places that were so new to her. However, one of her comments in the diary has always intrigued me. This is her entry for March 7th 1840:

“This day being a little be…

Tsunami bomb?

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Kiwi author and film-maker Ray Waru claims in his latest book 'Secrets and Treasures', that New Zealand and the US carried out secret tests to create a so called "tsunami bomb" during WW2.

During the operation "Project Seal", apparently around 3,700 bombs were exploded off Whangaparaoa Peninsula in Auckland and in New Caledonia. At the time, this destructive device was seen as a possible alternative to the nuclear bomb.

Waka and Augustus Hamilton

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The University of Waikato Library has recently added 'The Canoes of the Māori'  to its range of digital collections.

 'The art workmanship of the Māori race in New Zealand' (1901) by Augustus Hamilton (1853-1913) contains a sizeable section dedicated to Māori waka. This includes lithographic plates showing parts of the waka, scale plans and diagrams. Also included is a a chart of information about the landing locations of the first waka to arrive in Aotearoa New Zealand, the kaumatua (chiefs) who were on board and the iwi (tribes) claiming descent.

Local historical socities in the South go online

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Thanks to a grant from the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board, the South Auckland Research Centre has begun working with the Mangere and Otahuhu Historical Societies to provide digital access to their records. As the first stage in this process, both societies now have their own pages on the New Zealand Federation of Historical Societies website.

A selection of photographs from the Otahuhu Historical Society's rich and varied heritage collections can already be seen both on the Auckland Libraries Footprints database and on Digital New Zealand. In the early part of this year, other historical treasures held by both societies will also be reported on the Community Archive and NZ Museums websites. It is hoped this project will serve as a model for other similar initiatives in the future.

Author: Bruce Ringer, South Auckland Research Centre

New addition to the names of those buried in St Stephens Cemetery, Parnell

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Here at the Central Auckland Research Centre, every so often I am able to add one or two more names to the records we have of those buried in Symonds Street Cemetery, in Grafton. However, it is very rare to be able to add a new name to those buried in the St Stephens Cemetery, in Parnell.

The last survey, a photographic one of all the remaining headstones, was carried out in May 1995 and  so I was most surprised to hear about a 1977 burial.