Showing posts from 2021

Mere Newton and Mary Dreaver: different approaches to politics

Mere Newton, local Māori politician and social worker, and Mary Dreaver, a daughter of Scottish immigrants and a national politician, operated within vastly different spheres of influence in 1937. However, Newton and Dreaver’s isolated worlds merged on 12 June 1937 when Mere Newton invited Mary Dreaver to become a guest speaker to the ladies’ social committee of the Epsom-Oak branch of the Labour Party. As the local press explained, after ‘community singing’, Dreaver took her place as guest speaker and spoke about ‘New Zealand movements of interest to women for building a new social order’. ( ‘Labour party.’ Auckland Star , Volume LXVIII, Issue 140, 15 June 1937 ). This is an excellent example of both Newton and Dreaver’s style of politics, from Newton’s utilising social connections and organising events to further causes, to Dreaver using her oration skills to further her political agenda. Image: T. H. Ashe, Onehunga Borough Council portrait, with Mere Newton in the second row, 1941-1

Voyaging through time: an incomplete history of the replica ship 'City of Auckland'

“Things—beautiful or simply practical, expensive or everyday, fragile museum objects or robust items that have withstood years of use—things”, write the editors of 'The Lives of Colonial Objects' , “invite us into the past through their tangible, tactile and immediate presence”. Things can be fascinating not only for what they tell us about their own historical times, but also for how their ‘past-ness’ makes them objects of special value even when their origins are lost. It is no profound observation to remark how not everything from the past survives, but this means an old thing can be interesting because it survives at all. And sometimes the afterlives of these historical objects become a fascinating subject all their own, gaining new meaning by becoming old things. An historical “thing” happens to share space in the Central City Library amidst our shelves of books and records. On top of an index card cabinet in Research Central, inside a glass case, sits an ornament both pec

The uses of juices and C. E. Clinkard

In the 1930s, in California, author and raw food proponent Dr. Norman Walker invented the first juicing machine which enabled juicing to become more easily available in the home. Although the health benefits of drinking fruit juice are now being questioned by nutritionists , in the 1930s and 40s juicing was seen as an efficient way to encourage people to consume more fruit and vegetables. Image: Food and drink poster, date unknown. Ephemera Collection. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections. Helen Deem , born in Wellington in 1900, worked as a doctor, a Plunket medical adviser and a university lecturer. The poster above was perhaps the kind Deem was thinking about when she drew attention to the contrast between public health campaigns and popular habits during an Auckland Provincial Plunket Society Conference. Deem complained that ‘beautiful posters’ in railway refreshment rooms ‘urge the public to eat nutritious food, yet the meals inside consist to a great extent of pies, white brea

Rachael Naomi’s visual poetry exhibition Unity

Rachael Naomi’s exhibition Unity has opened in the Angela Morton Room. Rachael creates mesmerising combinations of poetry and images in works that need to be both seen and read. In some works, the lines of poetry are arranged in a way that transforms them into a picture; the text thus functions as a work of art and as a literary work, creating a unique intensity for viewers/readers. In other works, Rachael integrates poems and gouache imagery in what she also describes as painted poems or written paintings. Rachael Naomi. After Picasso's The Dream. Rachael will be hosting a poetry evening in the Angela Morton Room Te Pātaka Toi Art Library, Level 1, Takapuna Library, on Wednesday 17 February. All are welcome to attend this free event. Light refreshments served at 6.00 pm, readings from 6.30 – 7.30 pm. Please RSVP on Instagram or email In the following artist statement Rachael discusses her exhibition Unity, and her love

Wartime cooking and rationing in New Zealand

Times of crisis cause us to pay more attention to what we are cooking and eating. No matter what is going on in the world, meals are still a necessity. During the lockdown period of 2020, some of us were lucky and able to enjoy devoting more time to food preparation and returning to slower ways of cooking  - the luxury of making our own bread rather than buying it – while others were faced with the difficulties of putting food on the table while unable to work, or finding supermarket shelves stripped bare of necessities by panic shoppers. In past times of crisis, food has been equally central to people’s experience. During the First World War and the following decades, New Zealanders, like much of the world, faced a time of austerity. Cookbooks from this period underline the need for ‘economy,’ making food go further, and letting nothing go to waste. Elsie Gertrude Harvey. The “peace” recipe book : every recipe has been tested and is guaranteed economical. 3rd edition. Printed by N.Z.

Food for thought: nutrition

“ Many people pass through life with a closed mind and an open mouth; and when it comes to food it is never too late to start or restart learning ." (Corene Walker M.D., quoted in Vegetarian living NZ , vol.76: no.3, 2020.) One of the goals of our Food for Thought exhibition was to encourage critical thought around what and how we have eaten in Aotearoa and Tāmaki Makaurau.  " Very much to the fore in public thought today is the matter of healthy living ." (Elizabeth Gregory and Elizabeth C.G. Wilson, from Good nutrition , 1940.) This is just as true today as it was 80 years ago. We now live in a world where nutrition information panels are required by law to be on food labels. We think both about what is desirable to eat not only from a culinary point of view but from the nutritive properties of the food too.  Rather than trying to provide a history of nutrition in Aotearoa, I attempted to select a few items from our collections which reflected ideas of the time about n