Showing posts from 2017

Women’s suffrage and temperance as seen by the New Zealand Graphic

Some political cartoons published by the 'New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal' dealt with women’s suffrage and temperance. Interestingly, for a ladies’ journal, sometimes the attitudes to women’s issues are portrayed from a wistfully cynical male viewpoint of female foibles. Perhaps this is explained by the fact that the Graphic’s principal cartoonist was one Mr Ashley John Barsby Hunter. Have a look at his view of ‘The Political Woman.’

The next cartoon shows the Women’s Franchise Bill about to be committed before the Legislative Council after passing through the House of Representatives with half-hearted, devious Liberal support. Now a reluctant and scheming Seddon is about to commit the Bill to the Upper House. The clerks (other politicians) are laying odds that they will throw it out.

Jane Austen 200

Jane Austen fans will probably already know that 2017 marks two hundred years since the death of the novelist on 18 July 1817 at the early age of 41.

Since then her six completed novels have been among the most loved in the English language, with a steady surge in popularity following their adaptations into film and TV versions.

After Jane’s death her brother Henry Austen organised the publication of her last book in 1818. It includes her earliest novel, Northanger Abbey, and her final completed novel, Persuasion, printed as a set in four small volumes.

Waikowhai Park

“As Auckland grows every open space which is preserved for the use of the public is an asset of incalculable value,” a writer said in the NZ Herald in 1914. “Every city, in order to keep its inhabitants healthy, must have breathing spaces for the adults and playing grounds for the children.” Few of those spaces, it seemed, compared with Waikōwhai Park, Auckland’s newest, beautiful reserve on the shores of the Manukau Harbour.

The land had been purchased from Māori in the 1840s, and a decade later, nearly 500 acres was granted to the Wesleyan Mission. Used for camping and fishing, its location on the outskirts of the isthmus was perfect for a public reserve. In 1911, the Waikōwhai Park Act was passed: a collaboration between the Mt Roskill Roads Board and the Wesleyans (who gifted a portion of the land for the park). Both the central Government and the Roads Board came up with the finances to create it, including grading the roads for motor vehicles to use, and laying a two-mile long w…

An old Sanson church

A little Anglican church in the Manawatu recently celebrated its  140th year and quite coincidentally I happened to be down that way for the weekend.

Even more interesting, from a family history point of view, is that the builders of St Thomas's  (Main Road, Sanson) were ancestors of mine – the Ellerm brothers, Fred and Bert.

I had been inside St Thomas's only once before, at a family funeral when I was fifteen years old, and since then had only ever driven past the church on the way to Palmy, admired its cuteness and thought, "one day, I must make the effort and have a good look around."

One day turned out to be this particular weekend because it happened to be the weekend to celebrate "The 140th anniversary of the consecration of St Thomas’s church, Sanson, by the Right Reverend Octavius Hadfield, Bishop of Wellington."

On the Saturday was an open day with photographs and the chance to really inspect the building. On the Sunday was a special 10am service…

Toni Savage, entertainer and philantropist

Laura Joan 'Toni' Swan (née Savage) was an entertainer who began her career singing and dancing, mixed with some accordion playing and ventriloquism for New Zealand and American troops during the Second World War. She continued entertaining throughout her life, and after her death in 2011 her executors donated her archives (known as the Toni Swan papers, NZMS 1746) to Sir George Grey Special Collections at Auckland Central Library.

Dr Grace Russell and the Dobie sisters

When I started researching New Zealand women who worked in the war effort overseas during the First World War, I realised much of the material I needed was in a cupboard in someone’s spare room – or in a box under the bed.

While the soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and the nurses of the New Zealand Army Nursing Service all had numbers – and files at Archives New Zealand – women who paid their own fares and often worked with the British, the French and the Serbs were more or less untraceable.

Enter Kate de Courcy who contacted me when she saw a little plea for information under an article I wrote for North & South magazine on the World War 1 Oral History Archive interviews I did with Nicholas Boyack in the 1980s – when our veteran interviewees were between 86 and 99 years old.

Kate sent me transcriptions of letters from her grandmother, Dr Grace Russell from Auckland which are in her family’s possession.  Grace had been a port doctor at Port Said, largely dealing wit…

Your story - a work in progress

At a recent talk here at Auckland Libraries, many of us came away buzzing over ideas on preserving 'our' story. What can we do right now, to get those interesting things about ourselves organised for posterity?

Our speaker, Jan Gow, discussed a computer programme called Treepad, that has a free edition, but also a  paid edition with useful add-ons such as the ability to save images.

But as she said, there are other options, too.

For the paper-addicted among us, the stationery sections at book stores are our happy place, from basic binders to the joy of the beautifully-covered journal. One could purchase a different journal for each decade (perhaps colour-coded?), and add to it over time.

If spread-sheets are so your thing, you could come up with something practical there.

And you could always make up an eBook, which I’ll address in a later post. Publishing an e-book can cost you virtually nothing, and you can easily get print copies for little cost, as well.

The message is th…

Auckland’s Jazzy nightlife

Whenever I tell people what I research - the history of jazz in New Zealand - the first response I get is: ‘there was jazz in New Zealand?’ The second response is usually something along the lines of: ‘but we didn’t really have any nightlife…did we?’ The answer to both is emphatically yes! New Zealand, and in particular Auckland, certainly had a nightlife, and jazz invaded New Zealand about mid-1917. Auckland percussionist and saxophonist Bob Adams created New Zealand’s first jazz band in about 1918, and there were already plenty of dance halls, cabarets, and theatres ready and willing to get in on the new craze that soldiers brought back from the First World War.

As the 2016-2017 Auckland Library Heritage Trust Scholarship winner my project was to investigate the Jazz Age in Auckland (1918-1930). Yes, Auckland, and more broadly New Zealand, did have a Jazz Age commensurate with other Western nations. When we think of the Jazz Age what comes to mind are images that could be out of a …

Thomas Mandeno Jackson, tenor and auctioneer

Recently while describing photographs from the 1893 New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal I came across a portrait simply entitled ‘Mr T.M. Jackson, the well known New Zealand tenor.’ I tried many Google and Wikipedia searches to try and find the forenames for Mr Jackson and a little about him. These searches were all unsuccessful. They led me to conclude that unless one is searching for a famous Australian singer like Dame Nellie Melba, Wikipedia and Google tend to be very much centred on the northern hemisphere. New Zealand opera singers before the twentieth century seem to be completely ignored by the internet. Perhaps librarians can take some comfort from the fact that the all-powerful Google is not, in fact, omniscient. Instead in this case I had to turn to New Zealand Papers Past to find out who Mr Jackson was, and then I discovered he was well known for his auctioneering day-job.

The New Zealand Illustrated Magazine for 1 March 1900 gives us a good early biography of Thomas Ma…

Take a walk along the Puhinui Stream

On 28 October 2017 the second annual Puhinui Stream Challenge Fun Walk takes place (see details here). The six-kilometre walk begins in Hayman Park, near Manukau City Centre, and ends in Totara Park. In some stretches the route follows the course of the upper Puhinui Stream. It offers a chance not only to get to know this beautiful but little-known waterway but also to observe the results of change in an area which as little as 60 years ago was almost entirely rural.
A minor change to the route has been made just beyond the 4 km mark. The motorway underpass has been temporarily closed, so the route now follows the Orams Road bridge instead.
Hayman Park
In 1966 the newly formed Manukau City Council bought a 364-acre (147.3 ha) tract of farmland at Wiri to build a new city centre. The first commercial building (a hotel) went up in 1974. The same year, development of a 20-hectare park to the west of the planned city centre began. This was named Hayman Park to honour Mike Hayman, the coun…

Gorgeous Girl Shows

For a brief time in the 1940s Auckland dancers performed Gorgeous Girl Shows wearing little more than G-strings, balloons and fans, to packed houses of appreciative American servicemen.

Over half a million GI’s arrived in New Zealand for rest and recuperation between June 1942 and the end of WW2. They were keen to be entertained in the city’s nightclubs and dance halls and made a beeline for The Civic Theatre’s Hollywood-style floor shows. The theatre’s 3,000 tickets often sold out within an hour. Patrons watched the latest movie then the Civic’s golden barge rose from the depths bearing an orchestra, dancing girls, and “star, Freda, in peacock-feathered headgear, posing as the stem of a huge champagne flute.”

Freda Stark became an overnight sensation after a costume malfunction left her topless whilst performing at the Civic’s Wintergarden Cabaret. Wearing only a fishnet halter and G-string, she’d knelt to buckle her shoe when her vest hooked itself around her bosom leaving her bare-…

Heartfelt thanks from the mother and father of an HMS Orpheus survivor

The painting below features in a slideshow which is part of the Gatherings on the Manukau Exhibition. This travelling exhibition opens at the Waiuku Library on 17 October, closing on 4 November.
In terms of lives lost, it still ranks as New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster. On 7 February 1863 the Royal Navy corvette HMS Orpheus had difficulty entering the Manukau Harbour in stormy weather, struck a sandbar near Whatipu Beach and rapidly began to sink.

Part of the Australia Squadron, the corvette was delivering reinforcements and supplies to assist British troops and settler volunteers in the Waikato War. There were 259 men on board. In the attempt to abandon ship many were dashed to their deaths in the sea’s powerful surge.

William Eastwood (1821-1877) and his Manukau watercolours

We can trace the footsteps of local artist William Eastwood as he journeyed about the Manukau Harbour from 1866 to 1876. His wonderful watercolour paintings reveal various aspects of the landscape around the harbour during this decade. The tones and washes of colour reflected across the paintings are still present in the harbour today.

Born in London, England, Eastwood, his wife and their eight children immigrated to New Zealand, arriving in February 1863. Upon arrival he worked as a conveyancing clerk for law firms. Soon after arriving he joined the Mechanics Institute. He was one of the founders of the Society of Artists, Auckland and held the position of President. In 1875 he served as Chairman of the Onehunga Highway Board. William later inherited money from the estate of a wealthy relative in England, allowing him, from his base in Onehunga, to travel about New Zealand and to Australia. During these travels he painted and sketched many landscape scenes.

This selection of William …