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Showing posts from June, 2014

How I met your mother? Pt 1: Nightclubs and Dance Halls in the 1950s & 1960s

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Dance halls and night clubs were a great way for young people to meet, enjoy music, dance and socialise in the 1950s and 1960s.

After World War II many Auckland teenagers had jobs, which meant they had the means and the time to enjoy the freedom of dance halls and night clubs playing pop, rock and roll music and jive. There were many inner city night club and dance venues that served soft drinks only.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (known as “St Septs”) dances in Khyber Pass were easy to attend as it was close to most tram and bus routes in Auckland.

Musical inspiration

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On Monday 23 June, Mike Chunn from the NZ band Split Enz spoke at the Central City Library about the influence that the Beatles had on him. Like many other Aucklanders, the 1964 concert at the Auckland Town Hall was highly memorable and a very exciting chance for NZers to see the Fab Four in the flesh. For Mike, the influence was even greater and inspired him to pursue a career in the music business.

The Beatles played two nights in Auckland on the 24 and 25 June as part of their tour around NZ, also playing gigs at Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Described as "the moment that young New Zealand plugged into an international youth culture", just like the rest of the world, Beatlemania hit NZ in a big way.

Horses in the First World War

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Animals played a vital part during the First World. None more so that the horse. The conflict began with the cavalry forces but as the war progressed, horses were gradually replaced by the introduction of tanks. However, horses still played a vital part in the war. The use of horses varied but the United Kingdom used mounted infantry and cavalry charges throughout the war.

Shipping conditions for horses were not ideal and many arrived in poor condition. There was also no return journey for the remaining horses at the end of the war. Some were given to the British Army but the majority were sadly destroyed. One or two did make the journey home including Colonel C. G. Powles’ horse Bess and there is a memorial to her near Flock House in Manawatū.

Horses were used for a variety of jobs, moving heavy artillery, transportation and as pack animals along with mules. The harsh conditions, heavy work, injuries and poor rations including little water, took a heavy toll on the animals.

It was in…

Ponsonby District Rugby Football Club – 140 Years

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My nine year old son Thomas has recently started playing for the Ponsonby-Kelston junior division of the Ponsonby Rugby Club, colloquially known as the ‘Ponies’. The Club celebrated its 140th anniversary at the end of May, so I thought that provided a good opportunity to explore the club’s history.

Founded in 1874, Ponsonby is one of the oldest rugby clubs in New Zealand, and is the last surviving founder member of the Auckland Rugby Union, which was formed in 1883.

Ponsonby is well known as a ‘feeder’ club, with hundreds of its players having gone on to represent Auckland, an impressive 53 players are on its Honours Board for wearing the All Black jersey, and 21 for representing NZ Māori.

Early All Black legends from the Club include Dave Gallaher and George Nicholson, both members of the 1905 ‘Originals'. Gallaher captained the ‘Originals’, and went on to serve in First World War, losing his life at Passchendaele in 1917. The Gallaher Shield was created in his honour in 1922.

Remembering tūpuna who served in the First World War

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During the First World War, over 2,000 Māori served under the Native Contingent and the Māori Pioneer Battalion. Conscription of Māori did not take place until 1917, prior to this date, Māori involvement was purely voluntary.

Changes put in place in late 1915/early 1916 led to the disestablishment of the Native Contingent and the incorporation of Māori soldiers into the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion, which is more commonly known as the Māori Pioneer Battalion.

Dogs in the First World War

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The contributions of animals during war is often not acknowledged. Dogs as well as carrier pigeons, horses and mules all played their part during the First World War. Britain had an estimated 20,000 dogs by 1918.

Dogs played a variety of roles during the war depending on their breed, intelligence and the training they had received. This included as:

sentries - quietly letting their masters know if the enemy was approaching scouts - patrolling ahead and detecting the enemies' scent and alerting their masters by 'pointing' in the direction of the approaching enemycasualty - finding the wounded or dying on battlefield and carrying medical supplies to the wounded who were able to tend to their own woundsmessengers - carrying messages, particularly in the trenches where communication was difficultmascots - these were often the officer's dog in a military unit and were intended to boost morale amongst the soldiers.

Maori in the First World War: How the Māori Pioneer Battalion was formed

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Following on from an earlier blog post this week, which discussed the establishment of the First Māori Contingent, this post looks at the involvement of these troops during the First World War.

Following severe New Zealand losses the Māori Contingent were sent to Gallipoli in July 1915. They landed at ANZAC Cove on 3 July and were attached to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade.  They were employed as pioneers, digging trenches and clearing mine-spoil at Quinn’s Post and dragging water-tanks up onto Plugge’s Plateau.  They dug the Great Sap, which was an eight-foot deep communication trench wide enough to carry two stretchers side-by-side.  This ran along the beach connecting Walker’s Ridge with the northerly outposts of the ANZAC perimeter.

However Māori soldiers were soon fighting in a combat role.  Second Lieutenant Thomas Grace led a team of marksmen and scouts who cleared Turkish snipers from Monash Gully. The Māori Contingent pushed the Turks off Table Top Hill with a bayonet…

Maori in the First World War: The First Māori Contingent

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Māori support for New Zealand’s recruitment effort during the First World War varied. Some tribes volunteered in large numbers but from others there was no response at all. This unevenness reflects the varying impacts of colonialism experienced by different iwi/tribes. Iwi who had suffered land confiscations often rejected calls to participate in the war. Recruitment was greatest among iwi traditionally allied with the British Crown in the various NZ wars fought during the 19th century. These tribes included Ngāpuhi and other far northern tribes, Ngāti Kahungungu, Te Aitanga-a-Mahāki, Te Aitanga-ā-Hauiti and Ngāti Porou from the east coast and Te Arawa from the Bay of Plenty. Kaumatua/elders from these iwi encouraged their youth to volunteer and honour their obligations to citizenship and the Treaty of Waitangi.

Young Māori Party politicians also supported Māori participation in the war. Te Rangi Hīroa (Peter Buck) (1877-1951) served as a medical officer with the first Māori contingen…