Monday, 18 September 2017

Presbyterianism on the peninsula

On the last Sunday in September the Awhitu Central Church will celebrate its 140th anniversary. Travellers who pass through Awhitu Central on their way to the Manukau Heads lighthouse will be familiar with this iconic building.
 
Ref: Bruce Ringer, Awhitu Central Church, 20 August 2017.
The Awhitu Central Church was opened as the Awhitu Presbyterian Church on 23 September 1877 (in accordance with the wishes of the donor of the land, George Garland, it also accommodated both Anglican and Methodist congregations). It is today the last active church of four Presbyterian churches which were opened on the Manukau Peninsula during the 19th century, although two other equally picturesque buildings survive.

When the Awhitu church opened there were already two Presbyterian churches in the nearby Pollok settlement. One had been opened by members of the Scotch Presbyterian Church on 22 May 1870, the other by members of the Church of Scotland on 14 June 1870. The former building burnt down in 1882. The latter can still be seen on the southern approaches to Pollok village, although it is no longer a church. The last formal service in the Pollok Presbyterian Church was held on 30 October 2011. It has since been sold and is being sensitively converted into a private residence.

Brian Campbell, Pollok Presbyterian Church, ca 1996. Auckland Libraries, Footprints 01047, courtesy of Mrs Melita Campbell.
Bruce Ringer, former Pollok Presbyterian Church, 28 August 2017.

Further south is the Kohekohe Presbyterian Church, opened on 14 November 1886. Because of improved roads, this became superfluous to parish needs during the 1960s. The final service was held there in May 1975 and the building was sold to a private buyer. Because of its location on a windswept ridge high above Lake Pokorua, the church has long been a favourite subject for photographers and artists. It has been restored to use for weddings and other functions and is currently on the market again.

Ref: Bruce Ringer, 'For sale': the former Kohekohe Presbyterian Church, 20 August 2017.
Awhitu Central Church remains in use with weekly services and activities and is part of the Waiuku & Districts Combined Churches parish, based in St Andrew’s Centre, Waiuku. Perhaps the Awhitu church can no longer command the numbers in its congregations seen in the photograph below, taken when the local manse was opened in 1915, but it remains a vital and integral part of the Awhitu community.

Ref: William Beattie, At the opening of the new manse, Awhitu, May 4th 1915. Auckland Libraries, Footprints 04710, reproduced courtesy of Waiuku Museum Society.
The building itself is part of a small but perfectly formed historic precinct that also includes the cemetery, the Awhitu war memorial cenotaph and, across the road, the old Awhitu School, now used as a community centre.

The Awhitu Central Church’s 140th anniversary service will be held at 2.00 pm on Sunday 24 September 2017. Instead of a sermon there will be brief talk on the history of the church and its place in the community.

Author: Bruce Ringer, South Auckland Research Centre

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Gatherings on the Manukau exhibition

The Manukau Harbour is the second largest in Aotearoa. Loved and enjoyed by many, Te Manukanuka o Houturoa has always been a source for food gathering and has long provided the means for navigating the expansive coastline.

Photographs from the Auckland Libraries heritage collections form the basis of this exhibition which is on now at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi, Auckland.

Ref: John Thomas Diamond, The shoreline on the Cornwallis Peninsula with John Diamond rod fishing, 1957. West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-08E-00513-2
This exhibition will travel around the edges of the Manukau Harbour as if spread by Te Hau a Uru, the wind that blows from the west, from Titirangi to Waiuku.

7-28 September: Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi.
30 September-14 October: Nathan Homestead, Manurewa.
17 October-4 November: Waiuku Library, Waiuku.

Ref: James Richardson, Stereograph of the Nihotupu Creek, 14 April 1923.
West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, TAB-P-0243
The images serve to illustrate the rich bounty of the harbour in former times and present recorded journeys made across the breadth and length of this waterway.


Monday, 4 September 2017

The Going West archive - Out of the box


In looking back over 22 years at the creation of the Going West Books & Writers Festival archive, it would be great to be able to say that it was a well-planned exercise, deliberately designed to create a record of the best, and sometimes eccentric, voices of our writers and thinkers. This is unfortunately not the case. The very existence of the archive was more, in the first year, a matter of serendipity and happenstance.

The very notion of a New Zealand writers festival out west, referencing Maurice Gee's novel Going West, was the brainchild of book seller and history lover, Murray Gray – with some substantial support from Mayor Bob Harvey. For 10 years it included a steam train adventure replicating the voyage captured by Maurice in his book and starring luminaries of the literary world. Just once we enticed Maurice up to the west and he read from Going West on the Henderson Rail Platform. What a moment that was!
Maurice Gee reads at the Henderson Railway Station 1997. Photographer Gil Hanley, Going West Festival Collection, GOW-003, Auckland Libraries.

The archive also includes audio, so you can listen to a short extract from Maurice’s speech.

But in 1996 when Going West staggered into life with a one-day writers festival in a freezing Corban Estate concrete warehouse and a trip by railcar, called prophetically 'Raising Steam', from Auckland to Helensville, with stop-offs for writers' readings and performance, there was not a skerrick of mental or emotional energy left for any thought of recording the voices for posterity. However, we did need good amplification and fell into the hands of one Dave Hodge who was a professional in sound production, mostly in the world of music concerts. At some point on that hectic first day he said to me in passing, 'Oh, by the way, I'm recording this on broadcast quality tape' – to which I replied, 'OK, that sounds good'.

Sound engineer Dave Hodge (centre) with his sound crew 1996, Going West Festival Collection, GOW-003, Auckland Libraries.
And so the archive was born to include a full audio record. Even in that first year, some iconic words were spoken; not the least being the opening words in Te Reo from Ngahuia Te Awekotuku. Later, Maurice Shadbolt, Dick Scott and Kevin Ireland on stage together doing a very good 'grumpy old men' act - each within grasp of a glass of whisky. And, by contrast, a trio of new women writers, at that point largely unknown; Stephanie Johnson, Deborah Daley and Emily Perkins. The contrast was delightful.
The Literary Process - Debra Daley, Emily Perkins, Stephanie Johnson, 1996. Going West Festival Collection, GOW-003, Auckland Libraries.
Writing About Our Town, Kevin Ireland, Maurice Shadbolt, Dick Scott, 1996. Going West Festival Collection,  GOW-003, Auckland Libraries.


For the second year of the festival it was a no-brainer that we wanted the redoubtable Dave Hodge back, and so began a partnership that has lasted 21 years. Each year he recorded every word on broadcast quality tape; then CDs and latterly a whole festival on a memory stick! Each year he painstakingly cleaned and edited and gave me a perfect record of Going West.

So what was I to do with them? In a frantic work life as the Arts Manager for Waitakere City, I did the obvious; kept them in a cardboard box under my desk! Enter Robyn Mason. Someone tipped her off that I had a box of stuff that she would be interested in. I still recall the look of surprise and shock on her face when she saw my treasure trove and the casual conditions in which it was being kept. The relief for me of finding a home for what by then I realised was a national treasure, was enormous. The collection was originally gifted to Waitakere Library and Information Heritage services, known to many now as The West Auckland Research Centre in the super citified  Auckland Libraries - and the rest is – well, history.

Subsequent years of recording have been made possible by the generous support of Auckland Libraries who effectively have enabled Dave Hodge to keep recording at broadcast preservation standards. Auckland Libraries now hold 21 consecutive years of recordings and archives which are described through the Local History Online database.

The contents of the Going West archive are beyond description here. Just one aspect of it is that it holds the voices of some of our most honoured and prolific writers, now dead.

Maurice Shadbolt reading from One of Ben's; probably his last public appearance. Allen Curnow reading The Bells of St Babel just six days before he died. Michael King, rewriting and presenting  his keynote address four days after 9/11 – a stunning exposition on tolerance and forgiveness. Nigel Cox, entrancing us with his response to New Zealand on returning from Berlin. The marvellous Margaret Mahy tickling the audience with her delightful reading from The Illustrated Travellers Tale in 2000. This is but a fraction of what is there.

Auckland Libraries has done an enormous amount of work to make the archive accessible and available. There is, of course, always more to do. There are conversations underway as to how that might happen. In the fast speeding world of online and digital technology, the possibilities are mind-bending. But with all this, what remains at the heart of the matter is a collection of precious words that express the best of us as human beings.

This year's Going West Books & Writers Festival takes place on the 8th, 9th and 10th September. Go to www.goingwestfest.co.nz to see the programme and book tickets.

Auckland Libraries has compiled an easy to access Going West e-reading list for your literary pleasure - https://auckland.overdrive.com/

Written by: Going West Festival Trustee Naomi McCleary, with support from
Auckland Libraries Principal Oral History and Sound Sue Berman


Monday, 28 August 2017

John Masefield's watercolour of the HMS Endeavour

Nowadays English author John Masefield is chiefly remembered for two short poems with nautical themes: “Sea Fever” (“I must down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky”) and “Cargoes”  (with its strikingly exotic opening line, “Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir”).

John Masefield, portrait. From: Nelly Scott's Masefield Collection. NZMS 1139.

In the first half of the 20th century, however, he was popular throughout the Commonwealth not just as a poet but also as a novelist, children’s writer, playwright and memoirist. Appointed poet laureate by George V in April 1930, he remained in that post until his death in May 1967, making him the longest-serving British laureate after Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Auckland Libraries has a fine collection of signed books and letters by Masefield, gifted to us from the estate of Paeroa-based teacher and local historian Nelly Scott Climie.

She first met Masefield in 1931 while in England on a teacher exchange programme. After returning to New Zealand, she kept up a correspondence with him that lasted until his death. A poet herself, she sometimes sent her verses to him to critique.

Early in 1955 she wrote a poem called “Captain Cook’s Dream” to commemorate the 80th jubilee of Paeroa District High School, where she had once been a pupil and where, although officially retired, she did some relief teaching. The poem referred to Cook’s naming of the Thames estuary during his first visit to New Zealand.

“My grateful & tender thoughts to you for your charming kind letter,” Masefield responded, “and for your lively patriotic poem about the Paeroa school & Captain Cook.Years ago, when I lived at Greenwich, I used to go often to the Painted Hall, as it was called, where there were many marine paintings, including a fine portrait of Cook, who was a very fine-looking fellow. I like also to see, sometimes, elsewhere, some of the exquisite charts he made, for he was (in that way) a lovely artist. How thrilled he would be to land at Paeroa & see what you & the others have made of it.”

These thoughts seem to have stirred in Masefield a desire to create some art of his own. On 11 June 1955 he wrote again to “dearest Nell”, telling her: “I have tried to paint you something like-ish to one of Captain Cook’s ships, in case you might care to have it. Such as it is, here she comes, under a fair amount of sail, and with every blessing & grateful & loving thought that I can send with her.”

John Masefield. Watercolour of the HMS Endeavour. From: Nelly Scott's Masefield Collection. NZMS 1139.

About the size of a postcard, Masefield’s little watercolour painting of the Endeavour is now part of our archive at NZMS 1139.

Author: Iain Sharp, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Lewis Eady legacy

It is interesting to discover how a part of a library's collection originates. In the case of Auckland Libraries' music collection, it started when a visionary librarian connected with an Auckland city councillor.

In 1926, Mr L. Alfred Eady, an Auckland city councillor, attended a library conference in Dunedin. There he heard Mr John Barr, Auckland’s chief librarian, speak about the need for public libraries to have music scores and music literature. Barr put out the challenge: Was there any library in New Zealand which even held a collection of the standard operas?

Ref: Bettina Photography. Lewis Alfred Eady. Alexander Turnbull Library,
Lewis Eady Family Collection , ID: 1/2-190380; F
Barr was convinced that the citizens of Auckland should have access to sheet music in the same way they had access to other resources. Access to the written expression of musical imagination should be as core to a library service as other scholarly endeavours.

Ref: Bookmark promoting the
Lewis Eady Music Room, 1928
This obviously struck quite a chord with Mr Alfred Eady. The two men got together to discuss what could be done. The starting point was a list of core repertoire needed to establish a music collection, drawn up by the deputy librarian Mr Abram Cunningham. Alfred’s father, Mr Lewis Eady, owned a successful music shop on Karangahape Road which made for a ready source for supply. The next step seemed logical - Alfred Eady announced, on behalf of his father, that he was going to present to the Auckland Public Library over 600 volumes of music scores and literature. This donation formed the basis of the Lewis Eady Music Room.

On 13 June 1928, with a base collection of 1,181 items, the first music section in a public library in Australasia was established. That same year Lewis Eady Ltd shifted to imposing new premises on Queen Street. Further donations were made by the Eady firm in 1956. In September 1984, they donated a sum for the purchase of music or music literature in celebration of their centennial. In January 2005, they donated a selection of classical music in celebration of their 120th anniversary, along with a generous sponsorship for the purchase of a grand piano.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Dominion Road: A musical!

What happens when real life politics and art collide? Aucklanders can find out as Dominion Rd - The Musical hits the stage this month.

Ref: Dominion Rd - The Musical promotional poster
In a case of fiction confronting current events, this brand new musical follows a group of residents on Auckland's iconic Dominion Road. Will they be able to put aside their differences to fight against a proposed development of their street as a 'Chinatown'?

Penned by award-winning duo Renee Liang and Jun Bin Lee, and directed by Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho, Dominion Rd - The Musical features five well known faces working with local Dominion Road community cast members to form the chorus. The production has been a work in process for over a year and weaves the true stories of the community into a toe-tapping, family friendly creative musical.

The inspiration for the characters and the lived experiences of Dominion Road shopkeepers and residents have been drawn, in part, from the Auckland Libraries Oral History Collection, created in 2013 as part of the Dominion Road Stories project. You can listen to audio extracts from the project on the websites above.

During the Dominion Road Stories project, Auckland Libraries also commissioned new work from photographer Solomon Mortimer. Solomon created a series of black and white images, capturing on the street sights and activities of people and place, as well as some fine images of shopkeepers and buildings.

Ref: Solomon Mortimer. Full length portrait of Colin Wigg in his cobbler's shop at 315
Dominion Road, 2013. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1212-12 

Ref: Solomon Mortimer. An interior view of the Soak and Suds Laundromat at 588 Dominion Road,
2013. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1212-42.

Dominion Road may be unbending in its physical geography, but one thing we can be sure about is that its social landscape is always evolving – and this may indeed be worth having a sing and dance about!

Dominion Rd - The Musical is playing at the Glen Eden Playhouse from August the 9th – 19th.

Author: Sue Berman, Principal Oral History & Sound

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

NZ Herald Glass Plate Negatives and the man in a hat with a cat

Auckland Libraries received an important donation in 2015 when the negatives formerly in the original New Zealand Herald offices, in their historic Albert Street base, were gifted for digitisation. We worked closely with Lauri Tapsell at the Herald. Library staff from Sir George Grey Special Collections and the team of library experts in the wider Heritage Collections, Preservation and Digitisation teams worked together to make the mystery negatives accessible online. The boxes with cryptic labels have been unpacked, cleaned and repackaged in preservation enclosures. They now add up to 16,416 records on our Heritage Images database.

In August 2017, Auckland Libraries will celebrate with New Zealand Micrographic Services the project which has seen the glass plates carefully cleaned and the images digitised. This project has proved to be more than the ‘NZH’ and more than ‘glass plates’. Images from other titles including the Auckland Weekly News were included. And as well as glass plates there were more recent negatives, including fragile acetate.
Staff from NZ Micrographic Services on the glass plate cleaning exercise.  
The glass plates needed expert and careful attention to allow for exhibition quality prints. Here’s an outline of the cleaning process from our Photograph Conservator Gabrielle Hillebrandt:
Working with glass plates is slow and meticulous. Well-fitted nitrile powder-free gloves must be worn when handling photographic negatives and prints. An air blower is used using air to remove any dust from the emulsion, while the non-emulsion side can be brushed and cleaned using accepted conservation techniques. Some items might have graphite re-touching or manually applied diffusing layers on the glass side, so staff must be sure that what they are cleaning off is actually dirt.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Crossing an exasperating little stream: the Milford foot bridge

Originally built to allow pedestrians to easily reach the 'new' Castor Bay Estate at the northern end of Milford beach, the Milford foot bridge has long been a focus of debate for local residents.

Ref: Photographer unknown. Beachgoers on the Milford over bridge, 1923. 
Auckland Libraries, Local History Online, EF0021.
The first foot bridge was initially built as a temporary crossing for the Wairau Creek in 1923. It was known as a ‘lighthouse’ structure, and since the depth of the creek allowed scows and other sailing vessels to sail upstream, as far as Sheriff’s Gum Store at the lower end of Shakespeare Road, it had to be built high enough to allow "the largest yacht to pass under".

Ref: Photographer unknown. Steam tram at Sheriff's Corner, Milford... 1920s.
Auckland Libraries, Local History Online, T0134

Monday, 24 July 2017

John A Lee on war poetry: when mud and blood became the keynote

John A Lee was, amongst other things, a war hero, politician, publican and author during his unusually eventful and varied life. In his will Lee asked that his private papers be deposited with Auckland Libraries a year after his death.

Recently described by John Horrocks in the Journal of New Zealand literature (2016; Vol. 34 (1)) as a “vast and chaotic archive”, researchers will be pleased to hear that a project is underway to undertake fuller arrangement and description of this collection. Lee’s papers came to the library in a staggered manner which leads to challenges for the archivist trying to follow archival concepts of provenance and original order. At the end of this project we will have a rich finding aid for Lee’s papers which will make it easier for future researchers to find and use them.


Whilst this work is ongoing it provides an opportunity to highlight some of the things that make up this collection.

Lee’s varied life is reflected in the variety of formats that make up this collection. As well as diaries, letters, manuscripts of his writing, photographs and scrapbooks Lee also donated gramophone records.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Further footprints with Murray Freer

Auckland Libraries has recently added a further selection of photographs from the South Auckland Courier files of the late 1960s to the Footprints database. These images provide a visual feast of local events, people and fashions at the time.

Here a group of young people model the latest styles during an open air promotional event organized by the Otahuhu Business Association, Eve's Apple Boutique and Radio Manukau in September 1969. The garments include a knitted jumpsuit, miniskirts, fringed jerkins and jackets, and a variety of hats and headbands. 

This photograph, like many others in the newly released collection, was taken by the well-known local photographer Murray Freer. Murray began providing photographs to the Courier as a freelancer in 1958, then progressed to reporter, and finally became editor of the Courier’s southern editions. Murray has provided us with a fascinating account of his years behind the camera (Murray C. Freer: A Photographer’s Life).

In another example of Murray’s work, children from the East Tamaki School are depicted singing an Austrian folk song during the Otara Schools Music Festival at Otara (later Hillary) College in August 1968. The conventional schoolchildren’s clothing provides a striking contrast to the far-out styles shown above.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Autograph books

While the autograph is now thought of as a hastily scrawled celebrity signature, autograph books were once a treasured item which collected illustrations, poems and personal messages from friends and loved ones. Sir George Grey Special Collections is home to a number of these cherished albums. These books contain amazing images and messages that provide an insight into friendship groups and communities.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Caroline Abraham: my own bright land

34 sketches in New Zealand for Mr Charles Abraham.

Ref: Caroline Abraham, Sketchbook, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 3-111.

Mrs Caroline Harriet Abraham is chiefly remembered as a recorder of the early colonial New Zealand landscape. Her cousin was the wife of Bishop Selwyn and she herself married Selwyn’s good friend Mr Charles Abraham. During the first half of their New Zealand residence, the Abrahams lived mainly at St John’s College where Charles was Principal. They moved south in 1859 when he was made inaugural bishop of Wellington.

Ref: Caroline Abraham, Sketchbook, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 3-111.

Monday, 15 May 2017

RainbowYOUTH archive

From humble but enthusiastic beginnings, RainbowYOUTH has grown to become one of the most successful youth organisations in New Zealand.

Ref: RainbowYOUTH, RainbowYOUTH Collection, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries.

In 2017 an exhibition was created from the Auckland Libraries RainbowYOUTH archive collection, which consists of seven recorded oral histories, images and ephemera sharing the origin and development of the 28 year young organisation, and the stories of those involved from the very first small Auckland gay and lesbian group to the highly successful present day queer youth community support network. The RainbowYOUTH Exhibition is on now at Leys Institute Library, Ponsonby, until June 3.

Monday, 8 May 2017

R. A. K. Mason: a uniquely distinguished son of the city


THIS TOTARA TREE
WAS PLANTED BY THE
AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL
TO HONOUR THE MEMORY OF
RONALD ALLISON KELLS MASON
POET
AND NATIVE SON OF THIS CITY
1905 - 1971

I knew that the tōtara planted hard against the library edge was planted for R. A. K. Mason but the plaque has weathered in this exposed comer of Rutland and Lorne Streets. When I saw the photograph by John Daley of the new building the decision to plant a memorial here made sense. This is a resonant corner with a new modern library and a wow factor. I researched the back story in the library's own New Zealand Card Index, now digitised for convenient access.

The two articles indexed from the New Zealand Herald give a sense of the difficult road to achieving Mason's memorial which the simple plaque text gives no indication of. They are also an insight into the value of this remarkable index.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Monday, 24 April 2017

Auckland Weekly News Photos for 1914-18

The Great War is over!

Now 24,463 Auckland Weekly News Supplement photos for the period August 1914 to December 1918 have been more fully described so that they can be searched by description and subject. This means they will be more searchable and useful for librarians, social and family historians and genealogists.

The photos cover that period’s social, political and military history from a New Zealand perspective. While there is obviously a national emphasis, many photos reflect this country’s involvement with international events in an important period of New Zealand’s history. This can be seen in the following Trevor Lloyd cartoon from October 1914 demonstrates New Zealand’s loyal support for Britain as they face Germany’s massive armies of mangy curs invading Belgium.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Lilian Edger and Theosophy

Last year in the Special Collections reading room I came across a slim volume titled Religion and theosophy, a lecture delivered on Sunday afternoon in the City Hall, Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday afternoon, March 26th, 1893 by Lilian Edger, M.A.

Intrigued by the title I wondered about who the woman was who had given this lecture. After a little digging I found Lilian Edger was a scholar, lecturer, author, educator and prominent Theosophist.

More well-known is her older sister Kate who was the first woman in New Zealand to gain a university degree. Lilian was also an outstanding scholar, obtaining her B.A. at 18 and her M.A. with double first-class honours a year later from Canterbury College.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Colonial Tinder

Matrimonial agencies and personal ads were the colonial era equivalent of today’s dating apps like Tinder. In 1885 the owner of Auckland’s only agency, Thomas Hannaford, claimed to have found 115 wives for socially isolated men. He was particularly proud of encouraging “many respectable English girls to wed Maori Chiefs” who were subsequently “living lovingly together”. He felt his match-making skills helped promote “the fusion of the races” and he petitioned Parliament to recognise his expertise in this area (Star, 16 July 1885).


Hannaford started finding potential life partners for gentlemen in 1868. He also married people at “any day or hour they like.” His Queen Street offices were open for business between 10.00 am and 9.00 pm. Although scandal didn’t brew over such quickie marriage ceremonies here; in Australia, Holt’s Matrimonial Agency was known to marry “under age teenagers without permission, bigamists or some even so drunk that they didn’t realise that they were getting married.”

Monday, 13 March 2017

Mary Scott, 1888 - 1979

I discovered a Mary Scott display in Pirongia on a recent road trip following a compulsory coffee stop plus a walk across the highway to the Pirongia Heritage & Information Centre / Te Whare Taonga o Ngaa Rohe o Arekahanara.

Ref: Mary Scott display, Pirongia, 22 February 2017.

A Notable Display

The display features a gingham frame and artefacts from Scott’s writing life – notably her third typewriter. The adjacent bookcase features her prolific output. They even had some editions for sale. We left with It’s perfectly easy – one of Mary Scott’s great titles published by Paul’s Book Arcade in Hamilton, 1962. The striking dust jacket was designed by Geoffrey Ridall.

Ref: Mary Scott, It's perfectly easy.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

No description is equal to an actual leaf

Currently on display in the Special Collections reading room, in the Central Library, is a single leaf from a 13th century Latin Bible generously donated to the Library by Keith Stuart late last year.

Stuart, an archivist trained in biblical research presented a paper to ANZBS Conference in 2010 which included a detailed description of the leaf.

Described as a typical leaf from a Paris manuscript Bible it is roughly the same size as a sheet of A4. This is much larger than a Bible we may be familiar with pulling from the back of a pew, but is not especially large for a medieval Bible. As Stuart notes, the size of Bibles became smaller with the rise of Mendicant orders and their travelling preachers, so portability became important.

The text is in Latin, from Saint Jerome’s translation of the Hebrew and is from the first book of Kings, chapter 4 verse 19 to chapter 8 verse 22. It tells of the Ark of the Covenant in Philistine through to Israel’s demand for a King.

The leaf provides a significant example of a leaf from a thirteenth century Bible. It is hand written in a small gothic script on thin vellum. The thinness of the vellum can be seen in the text showing through from the other side. It also reflects the artistry of books of the period contrasting coloured lettering and fine pen work.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Churches in Onehunga

There are several historic churches in Onehunga, reflecting the early European settlement of the area.

Early Church Services in Onehunga

The first church services in Onehunga were held on the first Sunday (21 November 1847) after the arrival of the first contingent of the Fencibles. There was an Anglican service in the morning and a Catholic service in the afternoon.

St Peter’s Anglican Church

St Peter’s Church was one of the earliest churches in Auckland, constructed in 1848. The first service was held on Saint Peter’s Day, 29 June 1848.The stone wall at the church was built in 1853, a part of which still stands. In 1857, the tower and the spire were moved to the south side of the church. As the numbers of people attending the church grew, the original wooden church was extended in the 1860s and 1870s.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Manurewa Library celebrates

In February 2017 Manurewa Library celebrates its 50th anniversary. On 20 February 1967 it was opened on the first floor of the Natali Buildings on the corner of Great South Road and Station Road. It was Manukau City Council’s first full-service free public library.


Known as Pegler’s Building when it was opened in June 1930, this originally housed seven shops on the ground floor and a reception room or hall, four offices and two flats on the first floor. In 1967 the reception room was converted into a library.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Manurewa Central and Finlayson Park Schools

The South Auckland Research Centre has recently processed two collections, which provide an insight into the history of two local schools: Manurewa Central School and Finlayson Park School.

Manurewa Central School opened as Manurewa School in 1906, after the Woodside School Building was shifted to its new site on the corner of Hill Road and Great South Road. The building was later demolished in 1972. You can read more about the move and opening in the 31 August 1906 entry on Manukau’s Journey – a Manukau timeline.

Monday, 16 January 2017

A collection of roses from nature, 1796-1799 / Mary Lawrance

In 1799 a young woman called Mary Lawrance completed a 3 year-long project, a self-published book on roses, with all the 91 copper plates depicting varieties of roses etched and hand-coloured by herself.


It was purchased for Auckland Libraries in 2014 by the Mackelvie Trust, a charitable trust that supports J.T. Mackelvie’s bequest of art and decorative arts to the city. A luxurious book, it is one of the highlights in the current exhibition Old and new, showing until 28 February 2017 at the Central Library.