Showing posts from February, 2013

Esplanade Hotel

The Esplanade Hotel is an imposing three storey plastered brick building. Its three-sided facade is aligned so that the Hotel entrance faces Victoria Road - Queens Parade junction. The hotel was built by the Great Northern Brewery Company Limited on the former site of Holmes Brothers 'Flagstaff Hotel', which had opened in August 1864.

The old hotel was moved to an adjacent site in Queens Parade, so that the new hotel could be built. The old wooden building was used as a staff residence and boarding-house until it was demolished in 1938.

Great Auckland Exhibitions

A world fair was held in 1898 in Auckland's Domain, in the heart of the city. The Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition opened on 1st December 1898. The industrial courts were a described in an Australian newspaper (the Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth, WA), Friday 9 December 1898, p.2) at the time as a 'credit to the colony, the exhibits of mineral and woollen goods being particularly fine'.

The buildings of the exhibition covered a large area of about 5 acres on  part of what was the Old Government House grounds. The main entrance to the building was in Princes Street. The exhibition was divided into six sections — industries, products, machinery, mining and minerals, art and music, athletic sports, and competitions.

Award for CEISMIC digital archive

CEISMIC, the digital archive from the University of Canterbury has won the category for best project for public audiences in the inaugural international Digital Humanities Award in the best project for public audiences. The awards are voted for by the public.

The digital archive was set up to record the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes. It contains, audio visual, images, text based documents relating to the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. This information has been gathered by leading New Zealand cultural and educational organisations including: Archives New Zealand, Christchurch City Libraries, Canterbury Museum, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH), National Library, New Zealand Film Archive, NZ on Screen, Ngāi Tahu Research Centre and Te Papa.

Rob Roy Hotel

A hotel has been on the site at 127-133 Franklin Road, Freemans Bay since 1865 when a wooden hotel, called the Rob Roy was built - making it one of Auckland's oldest pubs. Due to the long history of buildings on this site, it is considered by the New Zealand Archaeological Association (NZAA) to be an archaeological site (R11/2499).

Patrons could reach the hotel by road or water because it was so close to the Freemans Bay shoreline.  From 1912 onwards, the bay to the north was filled in and Victoria Park was created.

The existing Victorian hotel building was built in 1885-1886. In 1969, the east wing was extended and the hotel's name was changed to the 'Birdcage'.

The real story behind Stalin's first son?

It has emerged that Stalin's first son Yakov Dzhugashvili (1907-1943), a Red Army battery commander, was probably not captured by Germans forces near Minsk during WW2, as Kremlin propaganda has portrayed for decades. Instead, an article by the German magazine 'Der Spiegel' suggests that Yakov surrendered to Germans during the Nazis' 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union.

Stalin'a hatred for his son Yasha as he used to call him, is well known. Even when  Yakov to tried commit suicide, Stalin still showed no compassion for his son and complained that ‘He can’t even shoot straight’.

Civic Building

The Civic Building at 1 Greys Avenue at the corner of Aotea Square is probably something many Aucklanders pass each day without giving it much of a second look. But did you realise that it is one of the country's finest modernist buildings?

Described in a recent NZ Herald article as being 'rarity in a world of concrete and glass boxes' since the architect Tibor Donner (1907-1993) uniquely applied 'Le Corbusier's design principles dating from the 1920s'.

Chinese communities in Auckland

To celebrate Chinese New Year (also see the earlier post on 21 January 2013), we have been busy pinning up great heritage photos on Historypin. The images show locations and activities in Auckland associated with Chinese communities.

The collection of images on Historypin  has two parts. The first is Old Chinatown in the centre of Auckland, around Greys Avenue, Hobson and Cook Streets. The first shop and business in this area was recorded in 1895. Other shops and businesses as well as a mission hall, masonic lodge and housing were quickly established. The images chosen show key locations in Old Chinatown, a landscape which will be both familiar and unfamiliar to present day Aucklanders. In an attempt to 'clean up the area', by 1964 Old Chinatown had been demolished to make way for new developments such as Myers Park, council flats and Auckland Town Hall.

Anne Frank app

BeyondTheStory are a New Zealand developer company specialising in innovative multi media publishing, who are based in the UK. In late January, the company launched an interactive iPad app based on Anne Frank's diary using new digital technology.

65 years after the release of the original, this app creates a new new way to look at the words and life of this extraordinarily brave young girl, who hid in a warehouse in Amsterdam during WW2.

Happy anniversary Auckland Art Gallery

Happy 125th Anniversary Auckland Art Gallery! When the Auckland Art Gallery first opened on 17 February 1888, it was the first purpose-built public art gallery in New Zealand and described at the time as the first permanent Art Gallery in the Dominion.

The Waikato War

Discover New Zealand's past by travelling in the path of the Waikato War 1863-1864.

Hamilton and Waikato Tourism have teamed up with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) to create a interactive way for people to understand and 'experience' the Waikato War. As NZHPT archaeologist Nigel Prickett says, 'The best way of understanding what happened at these places is to go there".

The website is split into historical content and driving tour information including further information about key sites. The driving tour includes 13 major historical sites to visit along the way from Highwic in Auckland to Alexandra Redoubt in Pirongia.

Timbuktu manuscripts

Although reports have been confused it appears that only a small percentage of the precious manuscripts in Timbuktu were recently damaged or stolen. The perpetrators were Islamic extremist who have been in control of the city for around 10 months. People working a the libraries managed to remove the majority of manuscripts from harm.

Timbuktu in Mali, Africa was established in the 12th century and  is a city with a long history of scholarship and architectural beauty. This was recognised in 1990 when UNESCO declared the city a World Heritage Site.

Although originally founded by the Imagharen Tuareg, throughout its history, the population of Timbuktu has always been diverse. Books and scholarship have also been an important and core part of the culture, with the peak of prolific intellectual activity taking place during the Songhai Empire (1468 – 1591). The city was also a centre for book trade during the 16th century.

Sir Alec Guinness

Sir Alec Guinness' (1914-2000) archives have been purchased by the British Library from his family for £320,000. Funding from the Friends of the British Library was sought for this acquisition of 100 volumes of diaries and approximately 1,000 letters (many of which include cartoon style illustrations) to family and friends.

One of the great English actors of 20th century, Sir Alec was famous for his roles in 'Lawrence of Arabia', 'A Passage to India', 'Oliver Twist' and in the 'Star Wars' trilogy. Both the diaries and letters offer insights into Sir Alec's character - his superstitions, outlook on life, health, finances and relationships with his friends and family including his parents (he had never known his father and got on poorly with his mother).

The wreck of HMS Orpheus

If you ever fancy a nice weekend drive in Auckland the perfect place to go would be the Awhitu Peninsula, north of Waiuku. You can pack a picnic, take a dip in the sea, go camping at the Awhitu Regional Park, or just enjoy a drive.

Any trip to Awhitu, however, just has to include a visit to the restored lighthouse on top of the Manukau Heads over looking the entrance to the harbour.  It is there that one can walk out on to the balcony and look across to the Waitakere Ranges on the northern side, and imagine what it must have been like on a particular day 150 years ago  for an 18-year old signalman by the name of Edward Wing as he guided in the British warship HMS Orpheus, only to see it crash on to the infamous sandbar. Of the 259 assumed to be on board that day, 189 seamen perished, some as young as 14 years old, many of them not able to swim. This is still New Zealand's worst maritime disaster.

Rare Māori portraits on display

22 rare watercolour portraits of Māori will be on display at the National Library’s Turnbull Gallery in Wellington from January 21 to March 16. Entrance to this exhibition is free.

The exquisitely detailed portraits were painted by Isaac Coates (1808-1878), a Quaker from the North of England. He moved to New Zealand in around 1843, arriving in the New Zealand Company settlement of Nelson. Coates spent only a few years in New Zealand before moving to Adelaide, Australia where he later chaired the New Zealand Club. Ten years later he returned to England.

Signing the Treaty of Waitangi in the Auckland area

On 6 February 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in the Bay of Islands. Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson afterwards circulated copies of the treaty for signature by other chiefs throughout New Zealand. Over the next few months five or six treaty meetings were held in the Waitemata and Manukau areas.

The first of these was held during Hobson’s first visit to the Waitemata, on 4 March 1840. The exact location is uncertain, but was probably Karaka Bay, and if not Karaka Bay then certainly somewhere along the shoreline between the Tamaki River and Maraetai. Sixteen Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Tamaterā – and perhaps also Ngai Tai – chiefs signed a copy on this occasion, with Captain Joseph Nias and the missionaries Henry Williams and William Fairburn acting as witnesses.

Pinning cows!

A Historypin Pin of the Day image showing Henry Thomas and his children seated on and standing beside a cow, recently caught my eye. The image is originally from the Wairarapa Spydus Archive and was pinned by the DairyNZ Time Capsule Project. The project is a nationwide initiative for NZ Year 5-8 students. The project aim is to create an online time capsule of the NZ Dairy Industry.

Auckland Libraries holds collections of  heritage photographs depicting cows and the dairy industry, including a similar image of a child sitting on a cow (see below). Many of these images can be accessed through Auckland Libraries' online heritage databases: Heritage Images, Footprints and Local History Online. Images depict locations from around the Auckland Region and further afield, such as Kaitaia and the Waikato.

Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Memorial Hall

Many are surprised to learn that modern architecture can be ‘heritage’ too! It is important to preserve a range of building types and styles to hand on to future generations – not just the obviously old and pretty.

The Pioneer Women’s and Ellen Melville Memorial Hall in Freyberg Square in Auckland’s CBD was completed in 1962 and designed by Tibor Donner (1907-1993). Donner was the Chief Architect of Auckland City Council from 1946-67 and designed many well-known public buildings, including our Civic Administration Building and Parnell Baths.

Discover the Family History Club at Auckland Libraries

I'm excited to announce the launch of a family history club at Central City Library, Auckland. It will be held quarterly on a Sunday, starting with February 10 - 10.30am to 3.30pm.

Curious about your family history?Want to know where to start?Brick wall?Lack of time?Has your research been gathering dust and you want to restart? Then the Family History Club is for you!

Join experts from Auckland Libraries and the New Zealand Society of Genealogists for a day of research.

For further queries, please contact the Central Auckland Research Centre or phone 09 307 7771.

You can also  find out more through the Auckland Libraries Events page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Author: Seonaid Lewis, Central Auckland Research Centre

Mutukaroa/Hamlins Hill - the non-volcanic cone!

Visitors to Mutukaroa or Hamlins Hill often assume that this prominent geological feature in Auckland City’s backyard is a volcanic cone. Not so! Located in Mt Wellington, Mutukaroa is the largest non-volcanic hill on the Auckland Isthmus.

Auckland Council’s heritage assets include archaeological sites and places of significance to mana whenua like Mutukaroa. Believed to be one of the region’s largest undefended settlements (c.1400-1700 AD), it provided a strategic position across the Otahuhu portage on a narrow part of the isthmus separating the Mangere Inlet and Waitemata Harbours.