Thursday, 27 August 2015

Coffee Lounge Culture

Coffee lounges opened in Auckland in the 1950s and filled a social gap for people who weren’t attracted to other entertainments available at that time such as commercial cabaret and big bands in ballrooms. They sported glamorous European-inspired names like C’est si Bon, El Paso, La Ronde, Picasso and Piccolo and their décor was Bohemian chic. Walls were covered in murals, or posters of bull fights, and ceilings were painted black and draped in fishing nets. Tables were lit by candles stuck in Chianti bottles, and the air was usually thick with cigarette smoke.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Elephants in Sir George Grey Special Collections

All the recent publicity for Anjalee, Auckland Zoo’s newest elephant, has inspired a series of posts about elephants. Heritage & Research team members here at Auckland Libraries have taken this opportunity to explore some elephant related items in our collections, as well as some other famous Auckland elephants. Today we are featuring elephant images from rare books held in Sir George Grey Special Collections.

These first two colour plates are from the most recent publication we’ve selected, The Arabian nights: tales from the Thousand and one nights / illustrated by E.J. Detmold. Both plates illustrate the story of Sinbad the sailor.

In this version of the story Sinbad is pictured riding on the back of an elephant during his seventh voyage.

Monday, 17 August 2015

The Ōtāhuhu Methodist Memorial Sunday School

The fine brick-and-tile Ōtāhuhu Methodist Memorial Sunday School is a rare but impressive example of a Methodist war memorial building. It stands behind the Ōtāhuhu Methodist church in Fairburn Road.

Ref: Bruce Ringer, Ōtāhuhu Methodist Memorial Sunday School, 2013.

The foundation stone, inset into the footing of the building’s southern wall, reads:

“Ōtāhuhu Methodist Memorial / Sunday School / - / This stone was laid / to the glory of God / by Revd. E. Drake, President of Conf. / on Feb. 28th 1920 / - / Feed my lambs”.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

F. Douglas Mill aerial photograph collection

The majority of the F. Douglas Mill Collection contains images which represent some of the first civil aerial photographic surveys in New Zealand, the images range from the late 1920s to the middle of the 1930s and document the country at that time from the Bay of Islands down to Waimate and Dunedin.

Details of the collection can be found here in Local History Online. The photographs include an early aerial survey of Auckland containing images such as this one of the Auckland War Memorial Museum under construction:

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Footloose and fancy free on Footprints

It is 1964 and the world is your oyster. These young women are enjoying themselves at a friend’s 21st birthday party in Ōtāhuhu in 1964.

With the excitement and verve of the 1960s young women stepped out into the world with different expectations and hopes than previous generations. In the years to come the momentum for change increased, many women challenged the norm, dared to be different, and in doing so created a revolution.


“I’m young and I love to be young
I’m free and I love to be free
To live my life the way that I want
To say and do whatever I please” 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Chunuk Bair Centenary: Once on Chunuk Bair

Today, 8 August, marks the 100 year anniversary of the Battle for Chunuk Bair. The battle, which took place from 6-10 August 1915, was New Zealand’s most significant action in the Gallipoli Campaign.

To help commemorate the anniversary of the battle we are taking the opportunity to look back on the premier performance of Maurice Shadbolt's only published play, Once on Chunuk Bair. The first performance of Once on Chunuk Bair was given at Mercury Theatre, Auckland, on 23 April 1982. The play was directed by Ian Mune and designed by Richard Jeziorny.

Two manuscript collections held in Sir George Grey Special Collections are useful in looking back to this initial staging of the play. The first is the Roy Billing papers, who was the lead actor in the 1982 performance. This collection includes draft scripts of the play as it was performed at the Mercury Theatre, complete with Billing's annotations as well as an extract from his unpublished memoir, photographs, and an oral history interview with Roy Billing about the staging of Once on Chunuk Bair.

The photographs were taken by Billing during the shooting of promotional video, directed by Ian Mune, for the TVNZ news at the earthworks for the making of the new motorway at Albany.


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Conservation of the Cook Islands Proclamation (E Tuatua Akakite) of 1891

To mark Te Epetoma o te Reo Māori Kūki ‘Airani, Cook Islands Language Week, we have a special behind the scenes post today. This year is also particularly significant as today, 4 August, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Cook Islands achieving self-government.

Last year David Ashman, the Preservation Manager at Auckland Libraries, performed conservation treatment work on The Cook Islands Proclamation (E Tuatua Akakite) of 1891. This was reported on earlier this year in both the Cook Islands News and the Cook Islands Herald as well as on the website of the Cook Islands Museum and Library Society.

The proclamation is described on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register for Asia/Pacific:

A fragile and rare, one-paged document written in Maori, the language spoken by most of the population of the Cook Islands at that time, called the Proclamation (E Tutatua Akakite), signed by the Earl of Onslow, on 4th April, 1891, on behalf of the Queen of Great Britain & Ireland, placing a protectorate over the Cook Islands. This document marks the beginning of a relationship, which continues today with the Queen as the Head of State of the Cook Islands through the Governor General of New Zealand and the Cook Islands inheriting a Westminster parliamentary system.  

The conservation process that David followed is illustrated by the subsequent photographs:

The process began by first removing the document from its highly acidic backing board, to which it had been attached over 60 years ago. 

Ref: Backing removal of E Tuatua Akakite, 2014.