Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sir George Grey & Kawau Island

Politician, linguist, collector, soldier and explorer, Sir George Grey is an important figure in New Zealand history. He was the most influential of New Zealand’s governors, serving in the role from1845 -1853 and again in1861 - 1868.

Grey started off as an army officer in Ireland before leading an exploring expedition in Western Australia in the late 1830s. His established himself as a very able colonial politician during his governorship of South Australia from 1840-1845. This helped him secure the position of Governor of New Zealand. Between his two terms in New Zealand he was also Governor of the Cape Colony in South Africa from 1854-1861.

Ref: 4-1341, portrait of Sir George Grey, c.1812-1898, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Despite his successes, he is seen by some as a controversial figure. Historian James Belich called him "a strange, complicated man, whose real charisma and genius almost matched his flaws”. He was however a great benefactor to the Auckland Free Public Library, gifting some 14,000 items to the library in 1887. This remarkable gift formed the core of the Sir George Grey Special Collection. Along with subsequent additions, this has made Auckland Libraries the location of 1 of the 3 major heritage collections in NZ.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Robert Burns

Three long lost Robert Burns (1759-1796) manuscripts including letters from the well loved Scottish poet and his friends were discovered earlier this year. Chris Rollie, a researcher discovered the manuscripts inside an Extra Illustrated W. Scott Douglas edition of 'The Works of Robert Burns', from 1877-79. This edition belonged to Burns's publisher, William Paterson.

Ref: 35-R1480, unveiling of the Robert Burns statue in Timaru Botanical Gardens, no date, Sir George Grey Special Collection
One of the discovered letters is from 'Clarinda' the pseudomny for Agnes McLehose. Burns was in love with Agnes and she was the subject of several of his poems including: 'Clarinda (Mistress of My Soul' and 'To Clarinda'. After Burns' death in 1796, Agnes had requested that the intimate letters she had written to Burns be returned to her by Burns' friend and doctor William Maxwell.

Friday, 25 October 2013

South Auckland's special constables

October 2013 is the centenary of the Great Strike, a wave of industrial unrest that affected the whole of New Zealand. The strike - or lockout - began on the Wellington wharves on 22 October 1913. By 28 October the trouble had spread to Auckland.

Ref: 7-A10659, showing rioters in Featherston Street, Wellington running for protection from Mounted Special Constables during the Waterside Strike, 1913, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The Reform government under Prime Minister William Ferguson Massey had proposed the use of the military to occupy the wharves, maintain essential services and protect strike-breakers, but ultimately decided to use civilian 'special constables' instead. In the Auckland area, enrolment of special constables began on 29 October. The New Zealand Farmers' Union - concerned with keeping the wharves free and export trade moving - actively sought out volunteers in rural districts.

Ref: AWNS-18991215-5-9, WF Massey, Parliamentary Representatives Auckland Provincial District, 1899, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Camps for gathering volunteers were set up at Hamilton, Helensville, Kawakawa, Dargaville, Whangarei and Matamata. On 5 November the first batch of mounted farmers arrived at a camp set up on the Otahuhu showgrounds, where they were formally enrolled as 'specials'.

The majority of Auckland's total of 1,902 mounted volunteers came from rural areas of the Northland or the Waikato, but there were also significant numbers from South Auckland localities. According to figures published in the semi-official volunteer-produced 'Camp Gazette', Waiuku with a total of 53 volunteers led the South Auckland contribution by far. Then came Buckland (23), Clevedon (17), East Tamaki (15), Patumahoe (15), Pukekohe (14), Tuakau (10), Mauku (9), Manurewa (8) and Bombay (4). There were three volunteers each from Glenbrook and Otahuhu; two from Aka Aka, Papatoetoe, Paparimu, Puni and Runciman; one each from Karaka, Pokeno and Waiau Pa.

Ref: Footprints 02388, A group of East Tamaki farmers who served as special constables, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Howick Historical Society, 1913, South Auckland Research Centre 
The special constables in the photo above included: Kennedy Ross (far left in the back row); Jim Ross (third from left) and Lou Gillard (far right). The 'Camp Gazette' for 27 November 1913 reported: "East Tamaki Troop of B. Squadron 2nd Regiment, under the popular Captain Scholefield, have erected a very neat flag of blue and white, being the Auckland representative colours. Congratulations to the men of Tamaki!”.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

'Our boys, our families' research guide

As part of the build up to the First World War centenary commemorations within NZ and around the world, Auckland Libraries, Auckland Council Heritage Unit and Auckland Council Archives have developed an A5 research guide. 'Our boys, our families' outlines the First World War resources available at Auckland Libraries and Auckland Council Archives. This includes: Rolls of Honour, cemetery records, memorials, books and photographs from the Schmidt Collection and supplement to the Auckland Weekly News.

Ref: 7-A14534, a family receiving the result of the ballot for Class B reservists under the NZ Military Service Act, 1918, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The research guide is intended to assist you with your own research into family members or people who took part in the war. This could be a soldier on the front line, a nurse on a hospital ship or a person on the home front including conscientious objectors. There are a selection of handy research prompts tucked into the back pocket of the guide and a page dedicated to good research practices to help you get started with your research.

Ref: 31-L688, portrait of the Leith brothers, Sapper David Alexander Leith, Reg No 4/1661, and Sapper James Charles Leith, Reg No 4/1290, both with the New Zealand Tunnelling Company, 1915, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Revised versions of the research guide, including a focus on different community case studies, are planned to be released during the commemoration period to create a collection of research guides.

Ref: 31-F3350, Private Flanton of the Māori Contingent, New Zealand Māori Pioneer Battalion, wearing a New Zealand Returned Soldiers Association Badge, 1917, Sir George Grey Special Collections
One of the case studies in this first version  is focused on Niuean soldiers. We are keen to expand our knowledge about the Niuean soldiers who took part in the First World War. Can you help? 150 Niuean men went off to war as part of the Māori Pioneer Battalion and we would like to honour their sacrifice by telling their stories. We also want to identify the soldiers in the photographs held in Auckland Libraries' heritage collections. You can search for these photos by entering the keywords Niue soldiers into the search box on the Heritage Images database. Please contact us if you have any information that you would like to contribute.

Ref: 31-WP8025, the Nurse Nobbs soldiers group including 22 Niuean soldiers in World War 1 military uniform, 1916, Sir George Grey Special Collections
We are also investigating the option of developing an online resource, which will allow you to digitally submit and work on your  research, so that it can be recorded and accessible to others. Stay tuned to this blog, where we will let you know how this project develops.

Ref: AWNS-19250430-47-6, Poppy Day in Auckland, 19125, Sir George Grey Special Collections
For more information you can read the story on the library website and see the listing for this guide on the WW100 website. You can also access an online version of the research guide.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Hobsonville Point competition

Unitec students were recently involved in a Landscape Design competition and the winners were announced during the Auckland Heritage Festival 2013 earlier this month.

Ref: AWNS-19290314-44-1, the seaplane landing being constructed at the Hobsonville Air Base, 1929, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The competition challenged students to come up with a design for Sunderland Avenue, Hobsonville Point, a heritage street which used to be to be part of the Hobsonville Air Force base. A garden designs for the Hobsonville Point Primary School and individual houses on Sunderland Avenue were other categories also included in the competition.

Ref: AWNS-19360506-46-1, Royal NZ Air Force activities at Hobsonville Air Base, 1936, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The winning designs incorporated an approach towards a  'sustainable coastal community' and 'celebrated the heritage value of the area'.

Ref: AWNS-19300806-35-1, work at the new Hobsonville Air Force base, 1930, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Friday, 18 October 2013

The art of Private Press books.

In one part of the printed book collection of Sir George Grey Special Collections there is a section of books grouped by Private Press publisher name. Private Press books can be defined as books printed by hand, in limited editions, with as much emphasis on making an object of beauty as on reproducing a text. Private Press books are excellent sources of inspiration for artists and can be appreciated by anyone who admires carefully crafted things.

Examples of books from some of the many Private Press publishers featured in the collection include exquisite first editions from Arts and Crafts era printers the Doves Press and Kelmscott Press, intricate book art from Flying Fish Press and The Whittington Press, and a wide range of lovely books from New Zealand printers like The Holloway Press, Otakou PressPuriri Press and The Pear Tree Press.

Alongside these fine books are journals that promote, review and critique the work of Private Presses and related individuals, like illustrators or typographers. Two examples of journals in Sir George Grey Special Collections which focus on books as objects of art and beauty, are Parenthesis and Matrix.

Ref: Fine Press Book Association website, Parenthesis journal page

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Niuean Language Week

Fakaalofa lahi atu. Niue Language Week runs this year from 13 to 19 October. The theme is 'Leveki mo e fakaaoga e Vagahau Niue – Treasure and use the Niue Language'. Did you know that Niueans represent our fourth-largest Pacific group in New Zealand? So it seems highly appropriate to celebrate the Niuean culture and language during this week.

The language week has been organised largely by the Vagahau Niue Trust and Matakau Pulefakamotu Niue Okalana, with support from the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. Check out the ministry's Facebook page for more information and the programme to find out what is happening near you.

Enjoy the selection of  heritage photos below, which are drawn from the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries, to celebrate Niue Language Week.

Niuean royalty:

Ref: AWNS-19001005-3-3, the King and Queen of Niue with the NZ Premier and Mrs Seddon, Niue, 1900, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Tree planting as a form of commemoration

Plaques, benches, statues, arches, stained glass window panes and many other things are commonly used to commemorate events (e.g. coronation of King Edward VIII), celebrate certain days (e.g. Arbour Day) or to remember people who have passed away (e.g. soldiers who fell during a war).

Tree planting is another way of marking and creating significance at these occasions and beyond. From digging the hole, the planting event itself to the ceremony, these stages can be viewed through the photographs drawn from the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries.

Digging the hole:

Ref: AWNS-19360527-50-5, tree planting ceremony, 1936, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Digging the tree in:

Ref: AWNS-19370519-55-3, tree planting ceremony in Invercargill, 1937, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Monday, 14 October 2013

Auckland's Supreme Court Building

One of the grandest buildings in Auckland is the striking Supreme Courthouse on the corner of Waterloo Quadrant and Anzac Avenue. A Hstoric Place Category 1 listed building, it has been described by the Historic Places Trust as a 'powerful example of Gothic Revival architecture'.

Ref: 4-2587, showing the corner of Queen St Victoria St West and ( from left) the Courthouse, Guardroom, stocks, gaol, gallows and bridge over the Ligar Canal, 1850s, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Built in 1868, it was not the first courthouse to serve Auckland’s growing population. There were in fact two earlier buildings. In 1842, the first was constructed on the land bordered by Victoria, Elliott and Darby Streets. Besides the courthouse there was a gaol, gallows, exercise yard, even stocks. From the outset, though, the site was condemned as sub standard. The New Zealand Southern Cross expressed its distaste in its June 8th 1852 issue, saying, 'It is really too bad to pen up a judge, jury and Bar in such a wretched barn as our present Courthouse'.

Ref: NZ Map 2658, allotments for lease on the old Supreme Court site in Queen St, Auckland Central, 1870s, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Friday, 11 October 2013

The School Journal

The School Journal (known prior to 1949 as the The New Zealand School Journal) has provided New Zealand material for New Zealand’s children since 1907 and is thought to be the longest-running children’s serial publication in the world. It publishes articles, plays, poems and stories - as well as photographs and illustrations.

Ref: School Journal Display, Central Auckland Research Centre
Many New Zealand artists have had their work in The School Journal and the Central Auckland Research Centra is currently  displaying journal covers from Colin McCahon, John Drawbridge, Evelyn Clouston, Roger Duvoisin, Michael Cox and Terence Taylor.

Ref: School Journal Display, Central Auckland Research Centre

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Te Henga

For Māori, Te Henga or Bethells as it is also known, is a very important location. During pre-European times the Waitakeres including Te Henga, was one of the most densely populated areas because food was easy to catch from the sea and grow on the land.

Ref: JTD-02E-01755-G, view south showing O'Neill Bay, Erangi Point, Ihumoana Island, Bethells Beach, Pukekowhai Point and headlands beyond, c.1930s, West Auckland Research Centre
The long occupation of this area by the tangata whenua (people of the land), Te Kawerau a Maki can be seen in the large number of archaeological sites scattered along the coast, including 18 pa (fortification sites) and at least 10 kainga (village sites). It is also reflected in the name Te Henga, which means 'the food for a work party'.

Ref: AWNS-19381207-50-3, west coast seascape: A view at Bethells (Te Henga), 1938, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Monday, 7 October 2013

Friday, 4 October 2013

Parnell Baths - seafront bathing

Public baths were constructed in Auckland during the 1880s and this led to a growing interest by adults in swimming. Baths such as Point Erin in Herne Bay, the Tepid Baths in town and Parnell Baths used salt water and this in turn led to sea swimming becoming a popular activity.

Ref: NZ Map 4675, Plans and sections for the Parnell Baths, 1913, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Parnell Baths were Auckland's first salt water baths. Constructed at Judge's Bay in 1914 by the council, the baths have become an iconic and well loved location for swimmers of all ages. At 60m it is the largest salt water pool in New Zealand (although the salt now comes from a bag & not the sea) and tops Newmarket's Olympic pool by 10m. That is a very long length to swim!

Ref: 4-8628, stereoscopic view of the Parnell Baths, no date, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The baths opened during the summer season of 1914-1915. Since the pool is unheated, the baths are closed for part of the year year and when they reopen in around November time, people eagerly await the first dip in the icy waters. The water heats up somewhat during the season but still provides a nice cool down during our hot Kiwi summers.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Vulcan Lane

Ref: 4-377, looking west towards Queen St, Auckland Central showing the south side of Vulcan Lane, 1880s, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Vulcan Lane. Just the name has nifty ring to it although interestingly, the city never actually did come up with the name intentionally – it was simply a nickname that stuck. According to the Auckland City Street Names Index, it was “Previously Victoria Lane. Named after the Vulcan Foundry, High Street” (see p.31)

Ref: 4-1776, looking west from O'Connell St showing Vulcan Lane, 1919, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The lane has an interesting history - a fire destroyed much of the area in 1850, and two prominent hotels (still standing today) opened in the decades following - the Queen's Ferry Hotel in the 1860s (pp. 31, 54) and the Occidental Hotel in the 1870s (pp. 31, 53). By the 1890s the lane was overcrowded and getting rather a bad reputation, although there were still professional offices in the street.