Showing posts from 2016

Beaches: Devonport to Waiwera

On now in the Angela Morton room at Takapuna Library is Beaches: Devonport to Waiwera. Showing camping and cars and everything in-between, the focus is on how we’ve enjoyed our beaches and the part they’ve had to play in Kiwis’ lives.
Ref: Crowds on Milford Beach, 1922, North Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, T0505.

Auckland’s 1960s American-style shopping malls

New Zealand’s first American-style shopping centre LynnMall opened on 30 October 1963. A 110 foot tower with a flashing red beacon marked the site which had previously been a swampy, seven-acre scrub-covered paddock. LynnMall offered a relaxed, traffic-free arrangement of shops around a weather-proof courtyard with a fountain, flowers and trees. There was plenty of seating, a free children’s play area and 500 free car parks. Three of the city’s largest retailers anchored the centre - Farmers, Milne & Choyce and Woolworths - and were complemented by 43 specialty shops such as La Gonda Fashion, Kean’s, Starforme Foundations, Masco and Curtaincraft.

Ref: J. T. Diamond, LynnMall from Farmers end, November 1963, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, JTD-11A-02070-2.

The great War for New Zealand, Waikato 1800-2000 / Vincent O’Malley

Ref: The great war for New Zealand, Waikato 1800-2000, Bridget Williams Books, 2016, Vincent O'Malley, Auckland Libraries, 993.3 OMAL.
On 12 July 1863 British Imperial Army troops crossed the Mangatāwhiri River which marked the boundary between British occupied territory and land under the authority of the Kingitanga (the Māori King movement). The crossing of this boundary by military troops, just south of the city of Auckland, was a declaration of war. The invasion of the Waikato had begun.

Ref: Sketch map of the North Island of New Zealand, shewing approximately the loyal and rebel districts, 1869, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 2563a.

The life and times of the Farmers Santa

The team who built the giant Farmers Santa in 1960 would be amazed at the icon’s fluctuating fortunes. The statue enjoyed a 30 year run until the store’s Hobson Street site was sold (now the Heritage Hotel). He relocated to the Manukau Shopping Centre and was sacked for being too tatty, then taken apart and left in a rigger’s yard. Santa was later sold for $1; renovated for $40,000; restored again for $100,000; and had his winking eye and beckoning finger removed. He was the world’s largest fibreglass Santa in 1960; and crowned the world’s creepiest Christmas ornament in 2011.
Ref: Coloured postcard of the Farmers Trading Company, 1970s, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 9-1.

Quaker collection

The Society of Friends or Quaker Collection makes up a part of our rare books collection. It was initially accepted on deposit in 1973 and then gifted to Auckland Libraries in 1995 for safe keeping for posterity. The collection came from the library of the Society of Friends in Auckland, and consists of some 300 books including a copy of the Breeches Bible printed in 1608 and another Bible printed in 1653. Other rare and significant works form part of this collection including 43 books printed before 1801.

As one would expect, most items in the Quaker Collection are concerned either with the history, principles and precepts of the Society of Friends or with the lives of outstanding Quaker personalities.

These include a well-worn copy of George Fox’s Journal printed in London in 1694. George Fox was a founder of the Society of Friends and his journal is a central document in Quakerism.
Ref: George Fox, A journal or historical account of the life, travels, sufferings etc., 1694, Sir Georg…

A zoological atlas: Voyage autour du monde, sur la Bonite

The great exploring expeditions of the 19th century often published accounts of their voyages in a series of large illustrated atlases. This particular atlas is part of the account of a French expedition, published as Voyage autour du monde : exécuté pendant les années 1836 et 1837 sur la Bonite commandée par m. Vaillant. It was acquired recently by Auckland Libraries and is currently on display in the exhibition Old & New: recent additions to Sir George Grey Special Collections together with another recent atlas purchase: An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse.
Ref: Auguste Nicolas Vaillant. Voyage autour du monde : exécuté pendant les années 1836 et 1837 surla Bonite commandée par m. Vaillant. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, Printed 910 V13.
In 1836 French naval officer Auguste-Nicolas Vaillant was given instructions for a voyage through the Pacific on the former troopship La Bonite. The main aim of the voyage was political – Vaillant was to maint…

The little church that wouldn’t die

Later this year The church on the corner: a history of Selwyn Church Māngere East, 1863-2012 will be published. Selwyn Church started life 153 years ago in Ōtāhuhu when local Anglicans built a new wooden church in Victoria Street (now Mason Avenue). It was dedicated as the Church of the Holy, Blessed and Undivided Trinity on St John the Evangelist’s Day, 27 December 1863 by Bishops George Augustus Selwyn and John Coleridge Patteson.

Ref: James D Richardson, Old Holy Trinity Church, Ōtāhuhu, c 1900-1919, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-8789.

The ‘Devonport Gazette and Greater North Shore Advocate, Who’s Who Directory, Ratepayer’s Chronicle’

The first issue of this weekly suburban newspaper came out on Thursday 3rd November 1921. 2,500 copies were delivered free of charge to “each house in the Borough of Devonport” and also made available to patrons of the Victoria Picture Theatre in Devonport. It was published and printed by James William Henry Martin and family, who managed the Devonport Printing Works at 56 Victoria Road, Devonport.

Ref: The Devonport Gazette and Greater North Shore Advocate, 19 August 1922. 
On the front page, the middle two columns carried movie advertisements and stills for screenings at the Victoria Theatre, while other parts of the newspaper also included movie news. The ‘Who’s Who’ columns were for advertising local businesses and trades, while the editorial on page two addressed local issues. Pages two and three also included reports from Devonport Borough Council and other local public meetings. Later this was extended to cover reports of the Takapuna Borough Council and other Takapuna area publ…

Medical marijuana in colonial New Zealand

There was a time when New Zealanders could buy marijuana over the counter for ailments ranging from asthma to corn removal. In the 1880s cannabis or hemp, as it was known then, only cost a shilling an ounce. Mother Aubert used cannabis as a tea for nun’s menstrual cramps at her mission in Jerusalem on the Whanganui River. Brett’s Colonists’ Guide endorsed Indian hemp as a treatment for painful menstruation, too - in a concoction including camphor and opium.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic, In the dispensary, 22 September 1906, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19060922-6-2.


After the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 the European population of Aotearoa New Zealand began to increase rapidly. Settlers wanted land. From early on, the area around Mt Taranaki had been identified as ideal land for British settlement. The New Zealand Company, an organisation which focused on colonisation and land sales, was involved in the settlement of New Plymouth and several extremely dubious land purchases in Taranaki in the late 1830s and early 1840s. New Zealand Company artist Charles Heaphy produced an enticing, idealised painting of Mt Egmont / Mt Taranaki to attract potential migrants. However, there was nothing to indicate that this was the ancestral tribal land of Te Ātiawa and other Taranaki Māori. When the new Colonial government was established, land purchase officers were officially appointed to purchase Māori land for the Crown, as outlined in the Treaty.
Ref: Heaphy, Charles, 1820-1881. Heaphy, Charles,…

Obstetric tables: a 19th century flap book

In 1845 George Spratt published the fourth edition of his highly successful Obstetric tables : comprising graphic illustrations, with descriptions and practical remarks; exhibiting on dissected plates, many important subjects in midwifery. This illustrated anatomical ‘flap book’ is a recent addition to the Sir George Grey Special Collections printed collection. You can view a digitised version of the 1835 edition through the Internet Archive, or come visit us on Level 2 of the Central City Library to turn the pages (and lift the flaps) yourself.

Obstetric tables was published as a training aid at a time when it was becoming difficult for medical students to gain clinical experience. It contains a large number of layered illustrations that can be lifted to provide ‘dissected’ views of the female body in pregnancy. Some of the plates contain as many as four or five layers, showing for example the different stages of pregnancy, the position of a baby during birth, and use of forceps in an…

Beauty pageant photographic collection

The South Auckland Research Centre has recently added 1142 photographs to our image database Footprints. To date this database now includes a selection of over 8000 photographs and other images relating to South Auckland, and adjoining areas.

A sample of thirty-two photographs from the Beauty Pageant Photographic Collection, donated by beauty pageant organiser Val Lott, has been added covering the years 1990 – 2003.

Ref: Val Lott, Beauty pageant, Māngere, 6 May 1990, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07210.
Ref: Val Lott, Beauty pageant, Māngere, 6 May 1990, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07209.
Ref: Beauty pageant, Pukekohe, 24 May 1992, photograph reproduced courtesy of Val Lott, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 07223.

Milan Mrkusich’s public art

One of New Zealand’s most highly respected abstract artists, Milan Mrkusich, designed several largepublic artworks in Auckland in the 1950s-1960s. The most well-known existing ones include the mosaic mural on the B. J. Ball Building overlooking Fanshawe Street, and the stained glass windows at Grey Lynn’s St Joseph’s Catholic Church - the largest abstract work in the country at that time.
Ref: Patrick Clearwater, BJ Ball mural, 31 May 2010.
B. J. Ball (NZ) Ltd was a paper manufacturing company and Mrkusich’s mural for them highlights the paper-making process from the raw material of trees to the end product of stacks of reams. This mural is 7.6m high and 3.9m wide (25ft x13 ft.) and is made from thousands of glass and ceramic tiles. As Julian Dashper recounts in a 1995 article, Mrkusich made full size plan drawings “which he rolled up and posted to Italy, where a master tile maker made a complete mural on the floor, turned it upside down into hundreds of little boxes and sent it back t…

House and home: entertainment

Now on in our exhibition space on the second floor of the Central Library is House and home: domestic life in New Zealand. This nostalgic exhibition, which will run until 30 October, explores the domestic side of New Zealand life before the 1980s. It looks at what made a house a home in New Zealand. Today we’re looking at entertainment in the home.

Ref: James D Richardson, Jean Richardson sitting on cushion on chair, playing the piano, 1915?, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-8902.

Lower Queen Street

As the City Rail Link (CRL) project begins and Lower Queen Street has become predominantly closed to traffic, we take a look back at the varying ways that the space has been used.

Lower Queen Street, between Customs Street and Quay Street, currently sits on reclaimed land that used to be part of Commercial Bay. Reclamation works in the area occurred between 1875 and 1886.

Ref: Auckland Weekly News, Lower Queen Street Auckland near the wharf and Railway station, 7 December 1900, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19001207-7-2.

An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse

An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse: undertaken by order of the Constituent Assembly of France, and performed in the years 1791, 1792, and 1793 in the Recherche and Esperance, ships of war, under the command of Rear-Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux.
Ref: An account of a voyage in search of La Perouse, title page, M. Labillardiere,1800, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1800 LABI Atlas.
This three volume set was published in 1800. The first two volumes were acquired by the Leys Institute Library Ponsonby in 1905 and some decades later transferred to Sir George Grey Special Collections. Volume three, an atlas including many beautiful engraved illustrations, was recently purchased, thus completing the set over a century later.

In the West, Much News

In late January 1929, Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war novel Im Westen, Nichts Neues (In the west, nothing new) was published by Propyläen Verlag. In England the book was quickly translated by the Australian librarian Arthur Wesley Wheen and republished under the title All Quiet on the Western Front.

Ref: Two original 1929 editions that finally made it into the Library, the one on the left is from the Quaker Collection.

Art for the people

Sculptures, murals and statues are dotted around Auckland with information about many of these public artworks available on Auckland Council’s Art and Heritage Database. A display on level 2 at the Central Library showcases some of these items, from Fatu Feu’u’s Aotea Centre mural to Greer Twiss’s Pigeon Park sculpture.

Statues and monuments from the Auckland Domain are featured including the Pukekaroa Palisade where Princess Te Puea planted a tōtara tree during the city’s 1940 centennial celebrations in order to reaffirm the mana of the Tainui people in the area, and the connection between her family and the Domain. Her great-grandfather Te Wherowhero had lived in two houses on the Domain site between 1847-1858 before returning to the Waikato as the Māori King.

Ref: Pukekaroa Palisade, 2016.

Whites Aviation hand coloured photographs

Whites Aviation produced hand coloured photographs of New Zealand for around fifty years. When they began in 1945 colour photography wasn’t accessible as it was only in its infancy so the hand coloured photographs they sold were very popular. These now iconic images can be found in cafés like Replete in Taupō orVudu in Queenstown.

This very large photograph that was recently donated to the library is 1100 x 2520 millimetres and formerly hung in the Auckland Star building.
Ref: Whites Aviation, Auckland, c1965, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1411-1.

Dalmatians out west: transport, horticulture, viticulture and sport

Now on in the J.T. Diamond Room, Waitakere Central Library is our Dalmatians out westexhibition. The exhibition features images from Auckland’s Dalmatian community and will run until 30 August 2016.

This is the third and final blog post based on the themes in the exhibition.

Transport, Horticulture and Viticulture
A number of Dalmatian families specialised in transport or earthmoving companies. The Lendich family were by far the largest, followed by Vuksich & Borich and then Bogoslav Sokolich. 
Marinovich and Sons also owned a fleet of transport trucks which plied the route between Dargaville and Auckland.
Ref: Marinovich & Sons’ truck for the Auckland-Dargaville Service. West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries. DGHS Collection.
Ref: Tony and Ivan Yukich standing in front of their new truck, c1998, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries. DGHS Collection.

Julia Thorne George's wedding

In today’s property market most young couples can only dream of such a wedding gift, but when Julia Thorne George married up-and-coming lawyer Wilfred Colbeck in June 1895 her parents presented her with a house in St Stephens Avenue, Parnell. What’s more, Sir George Grey sent her a generous cheque that enabled her to furnish the dining room in style.

She was nevertheless miffed at Sir George for failing to attend the wedding. Technically, he was her great-uncle, but she regarded him more as a grandfather. She had lived in the same house as him most of her life. Her mother, Annie, was the daughter of Grey’s half-brother Godfrey Thomas, who died young. Grey not only took Annie in but continued to provide a home for her and her growing family after she married Seymour Thorne George in 1872.

Ref: Daniel Mundy, Interior of Mansion House, Kawau Island, c1870, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A3034.

Our favourite photographs: South Auckland edition

Inspired by a recent post on the New York Public Library's blog the team at the South Auckland Research Centre have chosen a selection of their favourite photographs from the collections there. Their choices span a century, from the 1890s through to the 1990s, and show a variety of places around South Auckland and the Counties Manukau area.

Bruce Ringer

The Auckland Libraries Footprints database includes a wide range of captivating and illuminating photographs. It’s difficult to make a choice of favourites, but here are three that stand out in my memory.

Ref: Racing boy, Pakuranga, c1905, photograph reproduced courtesy of Howick Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 39.
This photograph looks straightforward but has an element of mystery. It’s a rare example from the time of a shot that captures a person in motion. But it leaves a few questions hanging in the air. Who is this boy? Why is he running? The obvious assumption is that he’s run…

Military Service Act of 1916

One hundred years ago today, 1 August 1916, conscription was introduced to New Zealand through the Military Service Act. The first names were drawn under the Act on 15 November 1916, and monthly ballots were repeated for the remainder of the war. As you can see from the poster, there were serious consequences for those who did not enrol.

Ref: Flyer. Military Service Act, 1916. From: Lusty family. Collection of newspapers and ephemera, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZMS 1387.

Dalmatians out west: music, dance, social occasions and weddings

Now on in the J.T. Diamond Room, Waitakere Central Library is our Dalmatians out west exhibition. The exhibition features images from Auckland’s Dalmatian community and will run until 30 August 2016.

This is the second in a series of blog posts based on the themes in the exhibition.

Music, dance, social occasions and weddings
Music and dance were mostly the domain of the two Yugoslav organisations, the Yugoslav Club Inc., and the Yugoslav Benevolent Society (The Croatian Benevolent Society).  Annual Ballroom competitions were conducted and cups were given out to the best foxtrot, waltz and tango dancers. 
Ref: Sisters Danica and Fleur Martinovich dressed for the ball in dresses they made themselves, 1946. West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries. DGHS Collection.

Women’s Suffrage Centenary Memorial

The Women’s Suffrage mural in Khartoum Place celebrates suffragettes who fought for women’s franchise in New Zealand – which they won in 1893, and women in this country became the first in the world to gain the vote. Artists Claudia Pond Eyley and Jan Morrison designed the 2,000 bright tiles of the mural marking the centenary of this achievement. A Navy band led over 300 guests down Queen Street for the 1993 opening, and the Air Force hung a cargo parachute across Khartoum Place which dropped at the exact dramatic moment for the unveiling by Irish President Mary Robinson and Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard.

Ref: Auckland Council, Khartoum Place pre-1993.

Bernard & Picart's Ceremonies: the book that changed Europe

The ceremonies and religious customs of the various nations of the known world was the first book to compare the world’s religions in a way that encouraged tolerance and has recently been called 'The book that changed Europe'.

The ceremonies and religious customs was illustrated by Bernard Picart and written and published in Amsterdam by Jean Frederic Bernard between 1723 and 1737.

Better known as Picart’s Ceremonies it is a beautifully illustrated seven volumework with over 260 plates of engravings by Picart who was one of the most famous engravers and book-illustrators of the time. Much of the text that accompanies these images was written by Jean Frederic Bernard, a successful book publisher, although his name never appeared on any of the editions.
What made this such a revolutionary work was that Bernard & Picart try to present as positive a version of other beliefs to the European readers. To achieve this they focus on ritual rather than discussions of doctrine. The il…

Maps to the stars

Many of us will be star-gazing this month as we celebrate the rising of the constellation Matariki (also known as Pleiades) which signifies New Year in the Māori calendar. Looking up at the sky from the southern Hemisphere vantage point, many of us may know a few major constellations like Matariki, the Southern Cross and Orion (down under, this is known more often as the Pot or the Saucepan). A trip to an observatory or some Googling might help us identify a few more, or we may even find a book at our local library such as one of these:            The practical skywatcher's handbook / Robert Burnham ... [et al.] ; consultant editor, John O'Byrne      A walk through the southern sky : a guide to stars and constellations and their legends / Milton Heifetz, Wil Tirion.New Zealand's night sky : prominent stars and constellations

Dalmatians out west: early Dalmatian settlers

Now on in the J.T. Diamond Room, Waitakere Central Library is our Dalmatians out west exhibition. The exhibition features images from Auckland’s Dalmatian community and will run until 30 August 2016.
This is the first in a series of blog posts based on the themes in the exhibition.
Early Dalmatian settlers of West Auckland
The first Yugoslavs to settle in New Zealand are thought to be sailors from the Frigate Novara which berthed in Auckland in 1858. There was then a small influx of Dalmatian migrants, mainly from Podgora, in the mid to late 1870s with many working in the gumfields around Dargaville, Ahipara and Riverhead.

In 1903 the first vineyard in Oratia was established by Ivan and Katherine Vella, the first Dalmatians to arrive in the district, and by 1913 they had six acres of grapes. They also grew apples and peaches on the land.

In 1904 Tony Borich, Mate Borich, Jack Sunde and Stanko and Lovre Marinovich bought 160 acres of land in Oratia.

Ref: Lovre Marinovich with family and f…

In the swim: Auckland's salt water baths

One of the first fenced swimming baths in Auckland was around an area of shoreline at Smales Point. In the 1860s men paid a small fee to swim there – naked, as was customary at the time. Women were not allowed to use the Smales Point pool but were able to swim for a few hours a day at the Britomart Baths, during which time men were excluded.

Ref: James D Richardson, Auckland harbour, 1864, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-526.

The Builder


Shakespeare in his time: curator talks

‘Shakespeare in his time’, the current exhibition on at Sir George Grey Special Collections to mark 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, has seen many people come through to get a glimpse of the world in which Shakespeare lived and to see some of his own work and inspiration on display.

For those that have yet to see the exhibition, it remains on until the 19th of June, but for those who cannot make it, or want a little something extra, these curator talks are for you!
These short segments feature Georgia Prince, Iain Sharp, Kate de Courcy and Ian Snowdon, the curators of the exhibition, giving a little bit more background on particular areas and display cases they worked on.  
Have a listen below and find more on Auckland Libraries’ Soundcloud page!

Ref: William Shakespeare, Pericles, 1619, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1619 SHAK.
Curator Iain Sharp discusses the four Folios on display alongside the quarto edition of Pericles:

Jacking up the Jack

The outcome of the flag referendum on 30 March 2016 shows that many New Zealanders, by choosing to keep the current flag, are still happy to have the Union Jack on it. The voter turnout of 67.8 % may indicate that the third of the population who did not vote didn’t mind whether or not the Union Jack stayed or went.
Ref: Auckland Weekly News, A guard of honour for the Governor at the hoisting of the flag, Devonport, May 30 1900,Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19000608-1-2.
This was not the case a century ago when the ceremony of “unfurling the flag” became a popular event at schools across New Zealand during the late 1800’s and early twentieth century. These ceremonies were designed to instil national identity and pride in children, as well as make them appreciate the honour of the Union Jack, and by association, the country’s role in the British Empire.
Ref: Flying the flag, Otahuhu, 11 August 1900, photograph reproduced courtesy of Otahuhu Historical Socie…

Poly-Olbion by Michael Drayton

Shakespeare’s prolific contemporary Michael Drayton (1563-1631) was a poet who habitually thought on a grand scale, his taste running to epics and long, linked sequences rather than individual lyrics. He often drew his inspiration from British history and geography. He wrote at length about the battle of Agincourt, the Wars of the Roses and Edward II’s favourite Piers Gaveston.
His most ambitious project, however, was Poly-Olbion, which in the mellifluous phrasing of the subtitle offers a ‘description of tracts, rivers, mountains, forests and other parts of this renowned Isle of Great Britain, with intermixture of the most remarkable stories, antiquities, wonders, rarities, pleasures and commodities of the same’. Written in rhymed couplets and stretching to more than 15,000 lines of iambic hexameter, it took many years to compose. The first part was published in 1613 and the second did not appear until 1622. Drayton intended a third instalment, dedicated to the wonders of Scotland, but…

Bring back the trams

There's a bit of a movement around at the moment to #Bringbackthetrams. It's timely, given we've included trams in our latest heritage display on the second floor of the Central Library, 'Auckland's amenities', as trams were indeed the lifeblood of Auckland for decades.

They ran from the mid 1880s - originally horse drawn - until 1956 when the last tram took its final ride along the city to Onehunga route. At their peak in the 1940s, it's estimated around 99 million rides were taken on trams - a phenomenal number when Auckland's population was around the 200,000 mark.

Ref: Henry Winkelmann, Looking south up Queen Street from the Gladtone Coffee Palace..., April 1903, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1042.

A sense of place: the relationship between people, their landscape, and the environment over time

Landscapes are important. You are born into a landscape, you walk through the landscape every day of your life, as a child and as an adult. It belongs to you, and you belong to it.

Ref: Ephemera - Arts - Māngere stories Part 1 and Māngere frequencies, 2015, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries.

The Stinking City: Auckland’s cesspits and privies

Auckland was the smelliest city in New Zealand according to a visiting reporter in 1871. Raw sewage ran into Queen Street’s main drain, the Ligar Canal, “an open, evil-smelling sewer in the very heart of the city”
A writer in the Daily Southern Cross said the “stench was worse than asafoetida or sulphureted hydrogen, or an American skunk, or all three combined… daily and nightly the abominations of this great city are discharged, to swelter upon the shore, within twenty yards of its chief street.” He believed the city fathers should be sacked immediately because they “will… not open [their] purse-strings… to resolve the issue of sewage disposal.”
Ref: James D Richardson, Looking north west along Queen Street, Auckland Central showing the Ligar Canal..., 1857, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-387. 

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”. 
Ref: Plates from Stories from the Arabian nights / retold by Laurence Housman; with drawings by Edmund Dulac. New York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1907, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, IL: 1907 DULA.
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.

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 Newsin 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 we…

Whau flicks: New Lynn’s Delta Theatre 1926-1986

When the Delta Theatre opened in July 1926 the grand opening was advertised in the Saturday edition of New Zealand Herald:
Ref: excerpt from the New Zealand Herald, 31 July 1926, page 18. 
In The History of New Lynn, it was claimed, unusually for the time, that the architect of the Delta Theatre was a woman. However, contemporary newspaper reports on the ‘Leaky Picture House’ vary as to whether Miss Mitchell was the building contractor or the architect. The theatre was closed in 1928 because of subsidence and reopened in 1929, the Auckland Star reported upon its reopening on the 21 May 1929.

Ref: Delta Theatre, 1930, New Lynn Print Collection, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries.

The Shakespeare Beadle bust: origin and history

The current exhibition, ‘Shakespeare in his time’, on now until June 19th, showcases rare Shakespearian treasures alongside specially selected items from our Sir George Grey Special Collections which explore the world that Shakespeare lived and worked in.

Featured in the exhibition is the well-known Shakespeare Beadle bust, created three centuries later than any other piece. Usually residing on Level 2 of the Central City Library it shows Shakespeare contemplating the world which he holds in his hands. This bronze bust was created by Professor Paul Beadle through a commission from the Auckland City Council. The plaque below this sculpture, however, doesn’t tell us about its complicated, and mostly unknown, history.
Ref: Paul Beadle, Bust of Shakespeare, Bronze, 1970.

Researcher in residence 2016/2017