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Showing posts from June, 2019

Who was the mysterious Mrs Diamond?

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Jack Diamond is quite famous in the world of New Zealand history, especially West Auckland history. His extensive archive, gifted to Auckland Libraries, is inscribed onto the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register.

But few people know about his wife Melville who often accompanied him on explorations and site visits. She features in a number of his photos, lovingly portrayed and often as a useful element to give perspective to a scene.

We thought it would be polite to introduce her to you.
Married in the 1930s, Jack was already a passionate historian, out and about researching the historic places, industries and settlement of Auckland from the Manukau to the Kaipara. I wonder if Melville guessed what she was in for!
One of the earliest images in the Diamond archive which shows the Diamond children. John (junior) and Judith with their mum enjoying the warm water in a place now known as The Gap, at Piha.
Melville and children on what is clearly a warm summer…

Uncovering the Central City Library

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The Auckland Public library emerged in 1880, born out of the book stock of the Mechanics Institute and a substantial donation by Sir George Grey who made it a condition of his gift that a public library be established. The somewhat modest Institute however was not up to housing Grey’s extensive collection and in 1887 the present Art Gallery building was opened which until 1971 housed both the library and the gallery.

It is the present library building with which most people will be familiar and which serves as the focus of Research Central’s current display on level two of the Central City Library.


The current central library building was designed by Ewen Martin Wainscott as part of his long serving role as City Architect under the former Auckland City Council. Described as “short, thick-set with an unruly mop of silvery hair, a blunt rough-edged voice and a taste for surprisingly vivid bow ties”, Wainscott designed many well-known Auckland buildings including the Aotea Centre. His ex…

Eid Mubarak! Blessed Eid!

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During June in the Sir George Grey Special Collections Reading Room, there are two items from the Eastern Manuscript collections on display. EASTMS S294 and EASTMS S297 were selected to celebrate Eid al-Fitr or Eid, as it is commonly known. Meaning the "festival of breaking the fast", this joyous celebration is held over a three-day period and marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The exact date of Eid varies each year depending on the rising of the Shawwāl or new crescent moon during the tenth month of the Islamic or lunar calendar. Each Islamic country has its own traditions and ways of celebrating Eid, but generally Muslim communities come together to pray, spend time with relatives and friends, visit graveyards to pay their respects to loved ones who have passed, give gifts and share food.



Both manuscripts were collected by bibliophile Henry Shaw (1850-1928) whose interests included items displaying fine calligraphy and illustration. Shaw’s collection contains …