Showing posts from November, 2022

What’s in a building? Chelsea Sugar Refinery and Estate’s journey to heritage recognition

Nestled on the Northern bank of the Waitematā Harbour is one of Auckland’s most iconic landmarks. Protruding loudly from the native bush and regenerating forest of the surrounding Chelsea Heritage Park, the large, questionably-coloured buildings which make up the Chelsea Sugar Refinery in Birkenhead are hard to miss from its seaward side. Everyday, they serve as a stark reminder to the thousands of commuters and day-trippers who cross the Harbour and residents of the adjacent beaches of Herne Bay that the North Shore, known for its ever-expanding low-rise suburbs and idyllic East Coast bays, is also responsible for producing one of New Zealand’s most-loved commodities: Chelsea Sugar. Indeed, today, the sugar works produces and distributes more than 160,000 tonnes of sugar per year to kitchens throughout New Zealand. Image: Chelsea Sugar Refinery, Birkenhead, as viewed from the Waitematā Harbour. 1980s. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, B0116 .   Image: Chelsea Sugar Refinery fro

Douglas MacDiarmid: Coming full circle

A sense of place is important to most of us and particularly so for expatriates such as painter Douglas MacDiarmid who lived most of his life in France but never lost touch with his ‘New Zealandness’. On the eve of his centenary, Takapuna Library’s specialist Angela Morton art history collection has drawn from its substantial trove of MacDiarmid materials and memorabilia to profile this remarkable expressionist painter’s connections to his homeland, and especially to the Auckland North Shore and Piha communities, through his art, writings, photographs, significant friendships and other personal memorabilia.  Image: Douglas MacDiarmid with Bathers, early 1960s. Private collection.  Douglas Kerr MacDiarmid was born in Taihape on 14 November 1922, the younger son of Dr Gordon and Mary MacDiarmid. He read prolifically, drew and painted from a young age, enthralled by sensuality and the beauty of landscapes and the human form, and had a fervour for the ancient world as the source of our civ