Thursday, 28 April 2016

Telling tales: The Arabian Nights

The theme for school holidays events this April is storytelling – the perfect excuse to look at one of the all-time greatest hits of children’s literature, the Arabian Nights, known in Arabic as Alf Layla wa LaylaThe Thousand and One Nights.

Their Chief in a low but distinct voice uttered the two words, “Open Sesame”. 


Storytelling is one of the repeated themes of the Nights, with the collection well-known for its ‘stories within a story’ framing device. In most full editions the Nights begin with the tale of the jealous king Shahriyar, who is a serial killer of wives – marrying daily and executing his brides the next morning. Into this deadly situation steps Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter and an expert storyteller.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

New Zealand Prisoners of War in Italy during the Second World War

Recently a customer called into the Central Auckland Research Centre looking for a photograph of his uncle published in the Auckland Weekly News in 1943.  He said the photograph was the first indication to his family that his uncle was no longer a prisoner of war. A search of the Heritage Images database produced no results, which is not uncommon as many of the images from the Auckland Weekly News have a caption but few of the people are named. There is, however, ongoing work to rectify this. 

When the Italian Armistice was announced on 8 September 1943, Colin Tayler was a prisoner of war at Campo PG 107, about 9 kilometres north of Schio in Northern Italy.  Over the next three weeks he and his travelling companions, Privates D R Muir, R Kendrick, I Penhall and E Barnett, travelled approximately 566 kilometres south: by train to Pescara on the Adriatic coast, before walking some distance and catching another train as far as they could go.  They met allied soldiers north of Foggia and were sent to the New Zealand base at Taranto, before crossing the Mediterranean to the New Zealand base at Maadi, Egypt. The evening post reported that Tayler, Kendrick and Barnett arrived in Wellington on the 6 January 1944, and Penhall on 10 February 1944.

We found an image of Private Colin L Tayler and his travelling companions, taken at Taranto on the National Library of New Zealand website: