Saturday, 27 December 2014

Summer Holidays

The few weeks over Christmas and New Year are a popular time for many in New Zealand to take some time off from work and, weather permitting, enjoy some fun in the sun.

So whether you’re working through the summer holidays, at the bach or even in a different hemisphere we hope you enjoy this collection of images of New Zealand summer holidays.

Last week we wrote about the interesting story behind the Riverhead Dump photograph collection. All of the images in this post are also from that collection. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Angela Morton Collection

On Wednesday morning, the 17th of December, at Takapuna Library there was a small gathering of staff (past and present) and members of the public to celebrate the re-opening of the Angela Morton Art History Collection. This collection is housed in the Angela Morton Room on the first floor of the newly refurbished Takapuna Library.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Riverhead Dump Photograph Collection

We’re very pleased to announce that we've recently had a new collection of photographs from Sir George Grey Special Collections added to Heritage Images.

The intriguingly named ‘Riverhead Dump’ collection has a very interesting story behind it. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Dorothy Helen Facer’s silk postcard album

The origin of the cardboard album which holds Dorothy’s silk postcard collection is unknown. The date that it was made is not known either. Perhaps it was bought in the early 1900s, or perhaps at a later date when the owner wished to keep the cards protected from wear and tear. Dorothy may have purchased the album from a store, or maybe a family member bought it for her as a gift.

This object was originally made to house photographs as can be seen from the embossed title on the front cover. It is made of heavy brown cardboard, the spine is bound with brown thread to match the colour of the cover and the leaves of the album. The condition of the album is very good.

This sturdy photograph album has functioned very well as the object used to house these silk postcards which were sent to Dorothy Helen Facer.

Please do take a look inside: 

In August, Leanne blogged about some of the WW1 silks that we hold in the Ephemera Collections. Replicas of the silks in that post are still available to purchase at Sir George Grey Special Collections as well as the regional research centres.

For more information on what else is happening at the South Auckland Research Centre do check out the Manukau Library and Research Centre’s Facebook page.

Author: Sharon Smith, South Auckland Research Centre.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Old Colonists’ Museum Ephemera Collection

Over the next few months we’ll be running a series of posts featuring the digitised items in the Ephemera collections of Sir George Grey Special Collections, specifically focussing on the Old Colonists’ Museum (OCM) Ephemera Collection.

The Old Colonists’ Museum was opened by Mayor J.H. Gunson on the 22 March, 1916 and was located in the same building as the Auckland Public Library and the Auckland Art Gallery.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

An inside view of Freemasonry from Auckland’s United Masters Lodge No. 167

The history of freemasonry in New Zealand goes back to the 1830’s and includes members such as Sir George Grey, former Prime Minister William Ferguson Massey, Sir Peter Buck and Sir Mason Durie. Now 100 years of local and international Masonic history is available to view on a CD-ROM containing Auckland’s United Masters Lodge No. 167 Transactions periodical, 1909-2009, revealing a detailed picture of Freemasons’ ethics, ceremonies and symbols.

Several items document early Freemasons activities in Auckland including the first recorded meeting at which members were present - the laying of the foundation stone of St Paul’s Anglican Church, then in Emily Place, in 1841.

The first Lodge in Auckland to build its own meeting place, Ara Lodge, held their meetings in the Exchange Motel, Shortland Street, before moving in February 1844 to the Royal Hotel, where the Northern Club now stands. In 1845 they decided to build their own premises and bought a £150 section in Princes Street, building the Masonic Hotel. This was let to a hotelier - with one room being exclusively reserved for Lodge meetings.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

St. James Theatre

Queen Street’s St. James Theatre has been in the news recently, with the announcement by its new owner of plans for restoration, in conjunction with the development of an adjacent 39 story residential tower.

The Category 1 listed building was opened in July 1928, with a performance of the London Musical Comedy ‘Archie’. The images below are the cover and the centre pages of the programme from that evening: 

Ref: New Zealand Ephemera - 'Archie' - A Musical Comedy In Two Acts. Gala opening performance of the St James Theatre, July 5 1928. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 

Ref: New Zealand Ephemera - 'Archie' - A Musical Comedy In Two Acts. Gala opening performance of the St James Theatre, July 5 1928. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Contemporary Pacific Collecting

Kia ora, Talofa lava, Kia Orana, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Bula vinaka, Namaste, Malo ni, Halo ola keta, Mauri, Fakatalofa atu and warm Pacific greetings.

As many previous posts in this blog and our History Pin site have shown Auckland Libraries is very active documenting Pacific history.

A key role in documenting history is contemporary collecting. We have an active and targeted collecting program around Pacific events like the Pacifica Living Arts Festival. If you attended you would have seen our librarians walking around, taking photographs and talking to people. This content then gets added to Local History Online, which is a combined collection of local history indexes to images, community newspapers and oral histories. We are in the process of adding audio visual content as well as images, which we’re really excited about.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Eleven maps

Below are eleven of my favourite digitised maps from Sir George Grey Special Collections. There are over 8000 maps in Sir George Grey Special Collections and about 1600 have been digitised. 

Ref: New Zealand lighthouse chart, 1900, Sir George Grey Special Collections, 
Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 516
A pictorial map showing where lighthouses are situated around the New Zealand coast.

Ref: Campbell's beach estate, 1908, Sir George Grey Special Collections, 
Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 6564
This map can be classified as real estate advertising. It shows allotments 
for sale in Campbell's Bay on Auckland's North Shore. 

Ref: 15 freehold allotments, 1865, Sir George Grey Special Collections,
Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 4475-5
The map above, with careful illustrations of trees and houses, is from the nineteenth
century and shows allotments for sale off Queen Street, Auckland.

Ref: George Treacy Stevens, Auckland, 1886,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 374
A bird's-eye-view map of Auckland, showing the wharves, Parnell, 
Symonds Street cemetery and Herne Bay.

Ref: Plan of Kawiti's pā at Ruapekapeka by Mr Nops, assisted by Mr Groves, 1846,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 4626 
A primary document from the New Zealand Wars, this is one of several hand drawn plans of the complex defensive pā at Ruapekapeka, built by Ngāpuhi leader Te Ruki Kawiti.
The pā had underground shelters protected by fortifications.

Ref; Otago Harbour surveyed by Captain J L Stokes... 1855,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 861
The map above is a nineteenth century hydrographic chart of Otago harbour. 
As recently as 1969 one or two charts created by Stokes and his officers were still in use.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Mount Tongariro erupts

New Zealand History’s website has a wonderful timeline which informs us that on this day, November the thirteenth, in 1896 Mount Tongariro ‘erupted spectacularly’. This initial eruption started a series which continued on for almost a year and it makes fascinating reading browsing the contemporary accounts on Papers Past. Te Ara have a picture of Tongariro erupting that they have dated as likely from this time.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Remembrance on Armistice Day

Today, November the eleventh, is the anniversary of Armistice Day, which commemorates the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allies to end fighting on the Western Front of World War One.

The Auckland Weekly News Photographic Supplement contains many images relating to Armistice Day beginning with the singing of the armistice in 1918. The selection of photographs below show how Armistice Day was remembered by earlier generations around New Zealand and the Pacific:

Friday, 7 November 2014

Hippie architecture: geomantic ideas and vibes

                    “I was astonished by the inventive beauty of the hippie architecture,” film-maker Dan Salmon said, to the New Zealand herald, after researching New Zealand’s back-to-landers for his documentary Dirty bloody hippies.

 “Some of the houses, pulled together from hand-milled timber and demolition materials were absolutely mad, others were sensibly warm and cozy, with steep-pitched roofing and attic bedrooms echoing our early pioneer cottages.”

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The Pigeon Post of Great Barrier Island

The Great Barrier Island Pigeon Post was the first in the world to use pigeons to deliver mail using postage stamps, although they were “unofficial” stamps. The Great Barrier Island pigeon post service was started after the sinking of the SS Wairarapa in October 1894.  This ship ran aground on the remote north side of Great Barrier Island.

About 121 lives were lost. News of the disaster didn't reach Auckland until two or three days later. It highlighted the need for better communication with the island. The first message of the pigeongram service was carried by one of Mr Parkin’s pigeons, on May 14th 1897. You can read the full page article in the Auckland Weekly News here.

Te Ara has neat colour images of some of the pigeongram postage stamps.

In Tales from Great Barrier Island, Helen Jordan Luff states that the pigeongrams were written on fine, light paper called “flimsies”. Most pigeongrams were asking for supplies. Some personal notes were sent by this means, and miners on the island staked their gold claims through the service.

In September 1900, on Great Barrier Island, Charles Osborne’s arm was shattered in an accident with a rifle. A pigeongram was sent from Charles Werner’s Pigeongram Agency at Okupu, asking for help. A doctor and nurse arrived on the island in time to save Osborne’s life. This is a copy of that pigeongram: 

In 1908 the service was ended when an undersea cable from Port Charles on Coromandel to Port Fitzroy, began to be used to transmit telegraph messages.

See more of the Auckland Weekly News article on the laying of the cable here.

The service was revived briefly in the 1990s. A special release of pigeons from Great Barrier Island was planned for the 1997 centennial commemoration of the pigeon post service.  New Zealand Post also produced a commemorative miniature sheet of  Pigeon Post stamps the same year.

Read more about the wreck of the SS Wairarapa, and the unique stories about the Great Barrier Island pigeon post service, in the following sources:

Author: Carolyn Skelton, North Auckland & West Auckland Research Centres

Friday, 24 October 2014

Auckland's Town Hall

The Heritage Images database has a marvelous feature called ‘Through the decades’ that shows how a building and its surroundings change over time. Some of the significant places featured include Albert Park, the Ferry Building and in its prominent Queen Street location, the Auckland Town Hall -- a building of cultural significance noted for its unusual shape. It has been described as “a wedge of cheese or a decrepit flat iron.”

The dozen photographs in the 'Through the decades' section document significant aspects of the Hall's history from its construction in 1910, to the creation of Aotea Square in the 1970s.

Ref: Hubert Vaile, The Auckland Town Hall under construction,
1910, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 2-V1409
Ref: Henry Winkelmann, Auckland Town Hall from the corner of Wakefield Street, with
the Grey statue, 28 January 1921, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1746

Monday, 20 October 2014

For the love of books

'For the love of books: an exhibition of contemporary fine press and artists' books' is now open at Sir George Grey Special Collections. The 25 books on show are a selection of the best international and national examples of fine book making held by this collection.

A short film showing seven of the books exhibited with their pages turning or unfolding is showing in the exhibition and online. The exhibition coincides with the Association of Book Crafts International Conference in Auckland from 24-26 October.

Below are a selection of views of some of the exhibited books.

Ref: Julie Chen. A guide to higher learning. California: Flying Fish Press, 2009.

Ref: Ronald King and Roy Fisher. Anansi Company: a collection of thirteen
hand-made wire and card rod-puppets.
London: Circle Press, 1992.

Ref: Joseph Guy Lubbock. From the snows to the seas: original prints and text. London, Bertram Rota Limited; Cambridge: Rampant Lions Press, 1986.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Point Chevalier's Liverpool Estate

A few months back we took a look at the Victory Estate in Mt Roskill, an area named in commemoration of First World War military men. A few years earlier, just across the way in Point Chevalier, there was an equally interesting parcel of lots known as the Liverpool Estate. This piece of land is bordered at one end by Great North and Point Chevalier Roads. Besides housing, it now contains a supermarket, assorted shops and the Point Chevalier Community Library.

Ref: A map of allotments for sale in Point Chevalier, about 1915,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 1298
The estate was created in 1913 by a group known as the Liverpool Estate Syndicate and was marketed as a “last opportunity” to acquire main road frontage close to the city. It was only a fifteen minute walk to the Arch Hill terminus and a significant selling point was that a motorbus passed by. The Point Chevalier Motor Bus Company ran from 1915-1920 and was owned by prominent locals, including a member of the Dignan family. Following the First World War with the rising price of oil, it went in to voluntary liquidation. Estate land was also connected to sewerage and drainage, gas and water were available on the boundary and a school was nearby. Another factor was that it was not far from the “beautiful Point Chevalier beach.” 

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, On the beach at Point Chevalier, 30 January 1919,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19190130-32-1 

Thursday, 2 October 2014


The item in the image below belongs to a group of books collectively referred to as incunabula -- items which were printed (not handwritten) before the year 1501 in Europe.

There are 106 incunabula in Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Ref: Saint Birgitta. Revelationes. Nuremberg: Printed by Anton Koberger, 1500.
Sir George Grey  Special Collections.
Revelationes was printed in 1500 in Nuremberg. Auckland Libraries' copy was a donation from Sir George Grey. Iain Sharp in Real Gold describes Revelationes as 'a blend of theological meditation, biblical lore and spiritual autobiography'. Revelationes was dictated to the confessors of Saint Birgitta, a Swedish mystic, over a period of twenty years. It is generally accepted that Albrecht Dürer designed the woodcuts, even if someone else did the physical cutting of the blocks.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Our girls, our boys

For the past few months, the heritage floor, on the second floor of the Central City Library, has hosted a display titled Our Girls -- a tribute to the role of women in the First World War. The content covers the following topics: prohibition and making-do, cartoon depictions of women, the anti-militarists, the fundraising effort, working girls, nurses abroad, and the absence of men.

It has been an interesting exercise to find images to cover such a variety of topics. Women were not always portrayed favourably, especially in the political cartoons of the day. Publications like Freelance and Truth condemned the ‘wowser’ prohibitionists as out to spoil a boy’s fun (men did not escape the condemnation, either) or they depicted women as vain and ignorant. 

Ref: Cartoon from the New Zealand Freelance, 6 March 1915, p.11. 
The caption for the cartoon above reads: 

Shopman: “Yes, Miss, all face powders have gone up in price on account of the war.”

Young lady: “Oh, isn’t war terrible!”

Yet, while women did not fight in the First World War, they did step up. They took over the jobs vacated by the men, and while some agitated against the war itself, others were desperate to serve, for example, the nurses who enrolled in the newly formed New Zealand Army Nursing Service. Women raised funds however they could -- from street appeals to social events -- doing whatever it took to raise money for the war effort.

Ref: A E Watkinson, Women's patriotic work... 8 November 1917,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19171108-35-1
But it was, of course, the men and the boys who saw and endured the action on the battlefields. To commemorate the men, Auckland Libraries launches the website Our Boys, Your Stories at the Auckland Heritage Festival. Our Boys recalls the men and boys who served in the First World War and their lasting legacies.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Ron Clark's colour slides

Sir George Grey Special Collections recently acquired a wonderful collection of colour slides taken by Ron Clark mostly in the nineteen-fifties, sixties and seventies. They are accessible via the Heritage Images database.

Ref: Ron Clark, Oakura Bay, 1950s,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1207-1227
Ref: Ron Clark, Muriel Clark at the wheel of a Humber Hawk, about 1956,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1207-12
Photographs from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are a strong part of the Sir George Grey Special Collections image collection.

The Ron Clark slides span the mid-twentieth century, filling a time period gap in Auckland Libraries' photograph collections. Life in New Zealand is captured in wide-ranging ways. There are scenes showing urban and rural activities, family gatherings and outings, interior shots of homes, churches and hospital wards, beach visits, overseas holidays, public events and building construction sites.

Ref: Ron Clark, Auckland's last tram, December 1956,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1207-881
Ref: Ron Clark, Flooded fields at Twinings, October 1971,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1207-740
Ref: Ron Clark, House at Alton Avenue, Hillcrest, 1960s,
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1207-356

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Radcliffe's scenes

Sir George Grey Special Collections has a large collection of glass plate negatives of scenic views of New Zealand taken by Frederick George Radcliffe.

Ref: F G Radcliffe, Lake Kaniere, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R644
Radcliffe came to New Zealand from England in the early 1890s. Soon afterwards his wife, Kate, and their two daughters, Harriette and Olive, joined him at his farm 'Utopia' near Paparoa, on an inlet of the Kaipara Harbour.

Radcliffe's interest in photography grew and he quickly acquired a reputation as an exceptional scenic photographer. For twenty years he traveled the country taking photographs of small rural towns, large cities, rivers, gardens, buildings, beaches, wharves, forests, lakes and streets. From 1909, with the help of Kate and Olive, he operated a successful postcard business from his home in Whangarei. Radcliffe played the oboe, conducted local orchestras and was an active member of various music-related clubs in his community. He died at Onerahi, Whangarei, in 1923.

Ref: F G Radcliffe, Queen Street, Auckland, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R14
Below are some examples of Radcliffe's photography. These images are accessible via the Auckland Libraries' database Heritage Images. You can purchase copies of prints or digital files of the images from the website or by contacting the photograph collection librarians.

Ref: F G Radcliffe, Picton, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R1110
Ref: F G Radcliffe, Ruamanga Falls, Whangarei, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R1990
Ref: F G Radcliffe, Ohakune East, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R1214
Ref: F G Radcliffe, St Clair's beach, Dunedin, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R455
Ref: F G Radcliffe, New Brighton, Christchurch, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R341
Ref: F G Radcliffe, Waiwera wharf, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R1639