Showing posts from October, 2016


Background After the signing of  Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 the European population of Aotearoa New Zealand began to increase rapidly. Settlers wanted land. From early on, the area around Mt Taranaki had been identified as ideal land for British settlement. The New Zealand Company , an organisation which focused on colonisation and land sales, was involved in the settlement of New Plymouth and several extremely dubious land purchases in Taranaki in the late 1830s and early 1840s. New Zealand Company artist Charles Heaphy produced an enticing, idealised painting of Mt Egmont / Mt Taranaki to attract potential migrants. However, there was nothing to indicate that this was the ancestral tribal land of Te Ātiawa and other Taranaki Māori. When the new Colonial government was established, land purchase officers were officially appointed to purchase Māori land for the Crown, as outlined in the Treaty. Ref:  Heaphy, Charles, 1820-1881. Hea

Researching Chinese laundries in New Zealand

The Chinese have a rich history in New Zealand and are amongst our earliest settlers - with large numbers arriving in the 1850s for the gold rush. There have been some awesome books written about early Chinese. In our Family History research guide on our website , we highlight the famous books Windows on a Chinese Past written by James Ng and Unfolding history, evolving identity, the Chinese in New Zealand by Manying Ip. However, we also have several books in our collection written by other authors and researchers such as Helen Wong's In the mountain's shadow : a century of Chinese in Taranaki 1870 to 1970 = Zai shan de yin ying : yi ge shi ji han ren Taranaki 1870 dao 1970 and To be Jungseng in New Zealand : descendants of Jungseng villagers who migrated to New Zealand from 1890 . Search in our catalogue using keywords "Chinese" and "New Zealand" for many other titles. At the Auckland Family History Expo in August 2016, the Chinese communit

Obstetric tables: a 19th century flap book

In 1845 George Spratt published the fourth edition of his highly successful Obstetric tables : comprising graphic illustrations, with descriptions and practical remarks; exhibiting on dissected plates, many important subjects in midwifery . This illustrated anatomical ‘flap book’ is a recent addition to the Sir George Grey Special Collections printed collection. You can view a digitised version of the 1835 edition through the Internet Archive, or come visit us on Level 2 of the Central City Library to turn the pages (and lift the flaps) yourself. Obstetric tables was published as a training aid at a time when it was becoming difficult for medical students to gain clinical experience. It contains a large number of layered illustrations that can be lifted to provide ‘dissected’ views of the female body in pregnancy. Some of the plates contain as many as four or five layers, showing for example the different stages of pregnancy, the position of a baby during birth, and use of forceps

Beauty pageant photographic collection

The South Auckland Research Centre has recently added 1142 photographs to our image database Footprints . To date this database now includes a selection of over 8000 photographs and other images relating to South Auckland, and adjoining areas. A sample of thirty-two photographs from the Beauty Pageant Photographic Collection , donated by beauty pageant organiser Val Lott , has been added covering the years 1990 – 2003. Ref: Val Lott, Beauty pageant, Māngere, 6 May 1990, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07210. Ref: Val Lott, Beauty pageant, Māngere, 6 May 1990, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07209. Ref: Beauty pageant, Pukekohe, 24 May 1992, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07223.

Milan Mrkusich’s public art

One of New Zealand’s most highly respected abstract artists, Milan Mrkusich , designed several large public artworks in Auckland in the 1950s-1960s. The most well-known existing ones include the mosaic mural on the B. J. Ball Building overlooking Fanshawe Street, and the stained glass windows at Grey Lynn’s St Joseph’s Catholic Church - the largest abstract work in the country at that time. Ref: Patrick Clearwater, BJ Ball mural, 31 May 2010. B. J. Ball (NZ) Ltd was a paper manufacturing company and Mrkusich’s mural for them highlights the paper-making process from the raw material of trees to the end product of stacks of reams. This mural is 7.6m high and 3.9m wide (25ft x13 ft.) and is made from thousands of glass and ceramic tiles. As Julian Dashper recounts in a 1995 article, Mrkusich made full size plan drawings “which he rolled up and posted to Italy, where a master tile maker made a complete mural on the floor, turned it upside down into hundreds of little boxes and

House and home: entertainment

Now on in our exhibition space on the second floor of the Central Library is House and home: domestic life in New Zealand . This nostalgic exhibition, which will run until 30 October, explores the domestic side of New Zealand life before the 1980s. It looks at what made a house a home in New Zealand. Today we’re looking at entertainment in the home. Piano Ref: James D Richardson,  Jean Richardson sitting on cushion on chair, playing the piano, 1915?, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-8902.