Friday, 27 December 2013

Hydrographic heritage

During the Auckland Tall Ships Festival earlier this year the Auckland Libraries heritage and research collections organised a popular display which included letters, maps, magazine covers and photographs. Of particular interest to many visitors were the hydrographic charts.

These charts are fascinating examples of early mapping and are wonderfully detailed, with volcanic cones sometimes looking like puffs of smoke. They are accessible via the Heritage Images database and copies of the charts are available to be purchased from Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Ref: NZ Map 3908a, Auckland Harbour, 1848-1855, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Ref: NZ Map 2560, Kaipara Harbour, 1852, Sir George Grey Special Collections
In 1848, Captain John Lort Stokes commanded the paddle-steamer Acheron, and began the first official hydrographic survey of the New Zealand coastline. Starting on Auckland's North Shore, the Acheron then traveled to Banks Peninsula, Otago, Wellington and Fiordland. In 1851, the Acheron was replaced by the smaller vessel Pandora under Commander Byron Drury. Over the next four years Drury and his officers diligently filled in the gaps on the charts for the north west coast of the North Island.

According to Te Ara, 250 sheets of fair tracings had been sent to the British Admiralty for inclusion into charts by 1855. Amazingly, as recently as 1969, one or two charts which were created by Stokes and his officers were still in use.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas cheer

Well that time of year is nearly upon us and what better way to celebrate than to look back at Christmases past, through the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries. The clothes and hairstyles and locations might have changed a bit but we are still enjoying the same things at Christmas such as picnics at the beach and taking family photographs.

Heritage et AL will be taking a break over the festive period but will be back on 20th January with more heritage stories and taonga (treasures) from the Auckland Libraries collections. Enjoy your Christmas an New Year holiday!

Christmas cards:

Ref: Footprints 05550, 'The Season's Greetings', Otahuhu, 1906, Photograph reproduced courtesy of Otahuhu Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre
You can see more heritage Christmas cards in the online exhibition from the Sir George Grey Special Collections.

Getting ready for the holidays:

Ref: AWNS-19140101-40-3, the Christmas rush at Auckland Station, 1914, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Friday, 20 December 2013

Boccaccio anniversary

2013 is the 700th anniversary of the birth of the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) - poet, biographer, prose writer, lecturer, book collector, biographer of Dante and Petrarch, humanist.  

Boccaccio’s best known work is the 'Decameron', written between 1348 and 1352. It is a collection of 100 tales told by a group of young noble men and women who flee to the countryside to escape the Plague. Over 10 days they tell each other stories to distract and amuse themselves. The 'Decameron'’s combination of “realism, cheer and disorderliness” and its reputation as a book banned for its erotic content have ensured that it has remained popular through the centuries. It has been translated into many languages, turned into verse, and inspired other books, films, and electronic media.
Ref: 'Il decamerone Di M. Giovanni Boccaccio', Londra, 1757-[61], Sir George Grey Special Collections
The copy in Italian (shown above) was printed in the 1750s. The second book (shown below) was published in America. The verse is translated into English from a French verse translation made by Jean de la Fontaine in the 17th century.
Ref: 'Tales from Boccaccio / Englished from the French of Jean de la Fontaine'; illustrated by Richard Floethe. Mount Vernon: Peter Pauper Press, 1947, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Heady heights and Haystacks

Driving in the outskirts of Auckland at this time of year you are bound to notice those large rolls of hay perched on hillsides, or perhaps the smaller oblong bales dispatched along the length of a recently chopped field.

In the past the making of haystacks was an activity which provided a way of connecting the local farming communities and local families with one another. Before the advent of hay-balers these giant piles of hay required far more labour, tenacity and skill to create.

Ref. Footprints 20, Giant hay stack, Mangere, c. 1905, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Mangere Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre
The stack in the photograph above was made up of hay from fields 10 acres in extent and was estimated at 60 tons in weight. Reg Wyman is on top of the stack and Geoff Mellsop on the ledge halfway down.

Ref. Footprints 01307, Haystack at Flat Bush, 1956, photograph reproduced by courtesy of Mangere Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre

Monday, 16 December 2013

Friday, 13 December 2013

West Auckland history: family connections, Pt 3

Marge Harre, as featured in book ' 'Roadhouse Days: an account of a family, a house and a restaurant' by Drew Harré and David Harré (2009) and covered in blog posts on the 4 and 9 December, is part of a network of families in West Auckland, linking the Gardner and Clark families. These connections are explained in the 'The Clark Family History: the descendants of Josiah Clark & Ann (nee Rose) Clark of Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England' by Athol Miller (1989), which adds further background to Marge’s story.

(Rice) Owen Clark I (1816-1896), Marge’s great grandfather, immigrated to New Zealand from England in 1841. In 1854 he bought some land in Hobsonville and “[i]n 1862 he established the field tile industry [used for drainage in agriculture], which under his guidance and that of his son R O Clark II and grandsons Thomas Edwin, and latterly under his great grandsons Malcolm and Thomas Edwin II, was to grown into the firm known as Ceramco" (p.20, 'The Clark Family History').

Ref: JTD-11G-04973-1, cutting off field tiles by machine, 1957, West Auckland Research Centre
Whilst it was largely the Clark and Gardner men that made their name in the clay industries, Briar achieved success with her pottery and wrote 'Briar Gardner: Pioneer Potter' (2002). The book contains photos of her pottery, a foreword by Sir Thomas Clark, and has sections written by Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Dave Harre and John Parker.

Ref: JTD-11G-03432, flower pot for hanging on wall, 1967, West Auckland Research Centre
Keen to find out more about these families? Then look no further:
If you browse through the West Auckland newspaper section in the Local History Online database, the indexes bring up a number of relevant articles in the Western Leader, including:
Copies of theWestern Leader can also be viewed at the West Auckland Research Centre, Level 2, Waitakere Central Library..

Author: Carolyn Skelton, West Auckland Research Centre

Monday, 9 December 2013

Family History, Local History: Marge Harré, the early years, Pt 2

The blog post on the 4 December 2013 introduced Marge Harré and her family's involvement with the Roadhouse restaurant in Oratia. The Clark and Gardner families with whom Marge was related, played a leading role in the growth of West Auckland’s brick and clay industry. 'The sons of Louisa (Clark) and John Gardner made bricks in New Lynn. Between 1922 and1925 they made nearly 21 million' (p.15, 'Roadhouse Days').

Louisa (Gan) Clark/Gardner (Marge's grandmother) lived at the Gardner house at Glorit until some of the family moved down to New Lynn in 1898. The house, named Mataia Homestead,  is located on the Kaipara Coast Highway. Gan moved down there a little later, probably around the early 1900s. The photo below is from the early 1930s, when Gan went back to visit the house.

Ref: Gan in hat in front of House at Glorit, from the Harre Family Collection, c. 1930s, West Auckland Research Centre
Marge’s mother, Ellen (Gardner) Miller died 11 months after Marge was born. Ellen’s parents were Louisa (Gan) and John Gardner. As a child, Marge received a limited education due to health concerns relating to TB - the disease which had killed her mother and father while she was young. “Marge was brought up by her Grandmother Louisa (Gan) Gardner [neé Clark] and her Aunts and Uncles at New Lynn.” (p.15, 'Roadhouse Day'). 

The women in this family passed onto Marge their enthusiasm for, and love of cooking. After the birth of her first child, Marge developed TB and wasn’t expected to live. With the support of her family, she survived, and spent the later stages of her illness with her Aunt Gert Bethell at Te Henga.

Ref: Marg Harré in the Roadhouse kitchen, from the display at the West Auckland Research Centre
In spite of the many setbacks and struggles Marge faced in her life, she had a successful career at the Town and Country Roadhouse Restaurant. She was a significant and positive influence on family, friends and colleagues.

After Louisa Clark died, Marge kept her 'Gan’s' hat, shawl and walking stick for the rest of her life. Marge adored Gan. Photos of  Gan’s hat, walking stick and shawl were on display at the West Auckland Research Centre, along with a diary, which was written by Marge Harré’s grandfather, John Gardner during his trip from Britain in 1859.

Ref: Gan's hat and shawl in the display at the West Auckland Research Centre
Author: Carolyn Skelton, West Auckland Research Centre

Friday, 6 December 2013

Bicycling Auckland

In 1869, Mr Cousins of the carriage-makers Cousins and Atkin Ltd, rode the first bicycle in Auckland down Grey Street. Reportedly Mr Cousins wobbled down the road on a rattly sounding number with wooden wheels and iron tyres. No surprise then that the earliest bikes or 'velocipedes' were called 'boneshakers', and were perhaps not so easy to ride. "Messrs. Cousins and Atkin have offered a very handsome premium to any of their employees who could first bring it [the bicycle] safely along Queen-street without a 'spill'' (Daily Southern Cross, 26 Aug 1869, via Papers Past).


Bikes may have been tricky to ride, but the craze had begun. Velos morphed into high-wheeled penny farthings - popular for a few years among wealthy young men. Then came the 'safety bicycle' – much easier for everyone to ride - men and women, and were more like what we ride today.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Marge Harré: an enterprising woman, a restaurant & a West Auckland family, Pt 1

Marge Harré’s story is one of an enterprising and, by all accounts she was an extremely engaging and unique character. She left behind a lasting legacy - one that connects, a house, a community, her wider family history, and the history of West Auckland. Her most enduring legacy has been provided in the book, 'Roadhouse Days: an account of a family, a house and a restaurant' by Drew Harré and David Harré (2009).

'Roadhouse Days' tells the story of Marge and her family’s involvement in the Town and Country Roadhouse Restaurant (1949 to c.1968) in Oratia, West Auckland. Written by Marge’s son, Dave Harré and Dave’s nephew, Drew Harré, this book contains entertaining anecdotes, recollections as well as accounts based on historical records. Many of Marge’s recipes are also included at the end of the book.

Ref : JTD-13A-01995-1,  Oratia Bowling Club pavilion. (Parr Homestead in background), 1963, West Auckland Research Centre
The original Roadhouse restaurant partners were Trude Bethell, Iibbie Woodward/Wheeler, Marge Harré and Jim Wakeling. The family trees of the 3 women link to prominent families in the history of West Auckland, including the Clark, Gardner, Bethell, Miller, Woodward and Harré families. A recent display at West Auckland Research Centre, Waitakere Central Library, for Family History Month, included a Family tree with Marge at the centre.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Porky pies

Highly adaptive, intelligent and capable of eating pretty much anything, pigs are one of the real survivors of the animal kingdom. Pigs have long been domesticated by humans and this close relationship is evident in the number of sayings in the English language, which relate to pigs - most of which are not very flattering to the poor pig! These idioms, many of which are seen as clichés, include: 'fat as a pig', 'making a pig of oneself', 'pig in a poke', 'happy as a pig in mud', 'road hog', 'porky pies'. Expressions about pigs are also found in other countries around the world including Europe and Africa.

In NZ, early explorers brought with them a range of new food sources including  pigs. Pigs became an important food for Māori and were often gifted to other iwi. Pigs and baskets of potatoes were also used as a form of currency. Further, feral pigs along with seals, goats, shellfish and roots were an important food source for shipwrecked castaways struggling to survive in remote parts of NZ.

In Auckland pigs were farmed early on by European settlers. Including John Logan Campbell (later Sir) and William Brown, who ran a pig farm on Motukorea or Browns Island in the Waitemata Harbour in the early 1840s. Generally speaking though, most pig farming was limited to the South Island until the mid 1880s. The pig farming industry developed alongside the dairy industry in similar locations such as the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatū, Southland. Pig farming remains important in NZ contributing to the country's economy through meat sold locally and overseas and employment in the industry.

Take a walk through the pigs of yesteryear, drawn from the heritage collections at Auckland Libraries and think of the humble pig the next time you are about to tell 'porky pies'!

On the farm:
Ref: AWNS-19080709-6-1, pigs and other farmyard animals, 1908, Sir George Grey Special Collections