Sunday, 29 October 2017

Thomas Mandeno Jackson, tenor and auctioneer

Recently while describing photographs from the 1893 New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal I came across a portrait simply entitled ‘Mr T.M. Jackson, the well known New Zealand tenor.’ I tried many Google and Wikipedia searches to try and find the forenames for Mr Jackson and a little about him. These searches were all unsuccessful. They led me to conclude that unless one is searching for a famous Australian singer like Dame Nellie Melba, Wikipedia and Google tend to be very much centred on the northern hemisphere. New Zealand opera singers before the twentieth century seem to be completely ignored by the internet. Perhaps librarians can take some comfort from the fact that the all-powerful Google is not, in fact, omniscient. Instead in this case I had to turn to New Zealand Papers Past to find out who Mr Jackson was, and then I discovered he was well known for his auctioneering day-job.

The New Zealand Illustrated Magazine for 1 March 1900 gives us a good early biography of Thomas Mandeno Jackson. He was born in 1863 and was the son of Samuel Jackson, a well-known lawyer in early Auckland.

Ref: Hanna/New Zealand Graphic, Mr T.M. Jackson, the New Zealand tenor, 11 February 1893. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-18930211-122-1
According to Thomas Mandeno Jackson’s obituary, he began working as an auctioneer about 1883. By 1887 he was conducting his auctions at his Dunblane Auction Mart in Queen Street, Auckland. In his spare time, singing in amateur opera was his hobby.

Thomas Mandeno Jackson first came to public notice when he sang at the Remuera Public Hall. Soon he was noticed by a touring Australian opera singer and musical examiner, Madame Steinhauer Bahnson, who often performed in New Zealand during the 1880s and 1890s.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Take a walk along the Puhinui Stream

On 28 October 2017 the second annual Puhinui Stream Challenge Fun Walk takes place (see details here). The six-kilometre walk begins in Hayman Park, near Manukau City Centre, and ends in Totara Park. In some stretches the route follows the course of the upper Puhinui Stream. It offers a chance not only to get to know this beautiful but little-known waterway but also to observe the results of change in an area which as little as 60 years ago was almost entirely rural.

Ref: Puhinui Stream Challenge Route Map, Auckland Council, 2017.
A minor change to the route has been made just beyond the 4 km mark. The motorway underpass has been temporarily closed, so the route now follows the Orams Road bridge instead.

Hayman Park

In 1966 the newly formed Manukau City Council bought a 364-acre (147.3 ha) tract of farmland at Wiri to build a new city centre. The first commercial building (a hotel) went up in 1974. The same year, development of a 20-hectare park to the west of the planned city centre began. This was named Hayman Park to honour Mike Hayman, the council’s first City Planner.

Ref: Eileen Reyland. Aerial photograph of Hayman Park and Manukau City Centre, ca 1994.
Auckland Libraries Footprints 02890.
The tall white building at upper centre is the Manukau City Council administration building, now the Manukau Civic Centre. Across the fields to the right is the Rainbow’s End roller coaster. Part of the Puhinui Stream can be seen on the extreme upper right. 

Ref: Whites Aviation. Aerial view of Wiri, 1949.
White’s Aviation no. 20628 / Auckland Libraries Footprints 05949.
This shot covers much of the same area as the 1994 photograph above. Wiri Station Road is the road that crosses the middle foreground.

The original farm landscape was altered by the excavation of ponds along the course of a minor tributary of the Puhinui and the development of a small hill on the park’s south-western corner. However, existing stands of pine, macrocarpa and eucalyptus trees were preserved. In 1974 more pines and eucalyptus trees were planted, as well as poplar, willow, silver birch, spruce and cypress. Later planting included some natives such as puriri, kauri and kōwhai but mostly exotic species, including redwoods, liquid ambers and magnolias.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Gorgeous Girl Shows

For a brief time in the 1940s Auckland dancers performed Gorgeous Girl Shows wearing little more than G-strings, balloons and fans, to packed houses of appreciative American servicemen.

Ref: The Pony Dancers. From: The New Zealand Herald, 9 August 1975. Auckland Libraries.

Over half a million GI’s arrived in New Zealand for rest and recuperation between June 1942 and the end of WW2. They were keen to be entertained in the city’s nightclubs and dance halls and made a beeline for The Civic Theatre’s Hollywood-style floor shows. The theatre’s 3,000 tickets often sold out within an hour. Patrons watched the latest movie then the Civic’s golden barge rose from the depths bearing an orchestra, dancing girls, and “star, Freda, in peacock-feathered headgear, posing as the stem of a huge champagne flute.”

Ref: Clifton Firth. Freda Stark, 1947. Sir George Grey Special Collections, 34-409.
Freda Stark became an overnight sensation after a costume malfunction left her topless whilst performing at the Civic’s Wintergarden Cabaret. Wearing only a fishnet halter and G-string, she’d knelt to buckle her shoe when her vest hooked itself around her bosom leaving her bare-breasted. “The night was a great success!” she said. The audience of GI’s were in an uproar and soon christened her “The Fever of the Fleet.”

The Civic’s dancers were the city’s first permanent ballet corps and included Da Katipa, Wilma Lockwood, Thelma Creamer and Lenore Upton; directed by ballet mistress Regina Raye. The dancers rehearsed for two hours each night before going on stage as “The Lucky Lovelies,” then changed costumes and appeared  downstairs at the Wintergarden as “The Pony Dancers.”

Ref: Advertisement for The Lucky Lovelies. From: The Auckland Star, 7 August 1943. Auckland Libraries.

Regina Raye said, “It was glamour such as we had never known, the officers uniforms, the long evening frocks of the girls set a scene which Auckland had seldom seen. We did Gypsy numbers, Can-Can, South American and Russian, the Americans loved them all.”

Due to wartime austerity Ms Raye had to be inventive when creating the showgirl’s outfits, making do with homely materials such as lambswool dusters, medical gauze, glue, glitter, “cardboard cones, patty cake cups, shiny paper, mutton cloth dyed black to make sexy tights, and stiffened baize to make wonderful flared skirts.”

Freda wore bunches of balloons over barely-there clothing in the exotic Balloon Dance. GI’s burst the balloons with their cigarettes as she danced around the Wintergarden’s tables. However, her pièce de résistance was appearing solo in the Ritual Fire Dance wearing a G-string, a feather headdress, and gold “paint” created by applying a silver powder mixed with glycerine which the spotlight’s amber filter turned gold. Lenore Upton was similarly near-naked when she performed the popular Fan Dance. She dexterously manipulated two large fans while dancing and managed to keep her body concealed. Lenore said the audience responded to this routine en masse singing the Andrews Sisters’ hit song “Strip Polka”:

Take it off! Take it off! cries a voice from the rear.
Down in front! Down in front! Soon it’s all you could hear.
But she’s always a lady even in pantomime,
So she stops! and always just in time.

“It used to make me laugh when they shouted it out. I know that they tried to embarrass you. But we took it in good part,” she said.

It was a hectic time for all members of the troupe. A new floor show had to be choreographed each week, new routines learned, and new costumes made. All the dancers had compulsory war-time work during the day, followed by six or seven hours rehearsing and performing at nights. Management then sent them home in taxis. Freda Stark recounts that “The Americans would follow us and we’d get out [of the taxis] and straight into their cars and go back to the cabaret. We had a lot of fun. It was a very exciting time, life was très gai, but it was also very sad because of the war.”

Ref: Meeting a Nightclub Showgirl. From:The Auckland Weekly News. 21 October 1942. Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19421021-17-1.
The Civic dancers entertained wounded soldiers at the GI hospital on Sundays, she said this brought home to them the horror and tragedy of the war. “Some of the boys had no legs and I’d be dancing before them, tears pouring down my face.”

The Civic spectaculars came to an end when the Americans left. Lenore Upton noted that “For three years we had all these men and it was an exciting time and then it was totally flat. Then, from 1945, our men started coming back and life slowly returned to normal.”

Freda Stark said dancing at the Civic when the Americans were in town was the happiest time of her life. “I was bored stiff after the war,” she said, and moved to London afterwards.

Nightclubs closed for a while after the troops departed. NZ Truth reported “there [was] no place where the party-minded can carry on till the cock crows.” In fact, Truth said “a visitor in search of a night out is likely to give up by 10 o’clock and retire to bed out of sheer boredom!”

After Freda died in 1999, The Civic Theatre renamed its cocktail bar “Stark’s” in her honour.

Author: Leanne, Central Research

Auckland Libraries references


Cherie Devliotis. 2005. Dancing with Delight: Footprints of the Past. Dance and Dancers in Early Twentieth Century Auckland.
Dianne Haworth & Diane Miller. 2000. Freda Stark: Her Extraordinary Life.
Harry Bioletti. 1989. The Yanks are Coming: The American Invastion of New Zealand 1942-1944.


Auckland Star, 22 March 1984, “Freda’s daring days.”
Auckland Star, 16 March 1989, “Civic’s beginnings echo down the years.”
NZ Herald, 9 August 1975, “Oh What a Lovely Lot.”
NZ Truth, 30 August 1944, “Capital’s Night Clubs – Where?”
NZ Woman’s Weekly, 17 January 1994, “Murder, Forbidden Love – What a Past!”
Otago Daily Times, 28 June 2008, “Dancing with the stars.”


Heritage Images, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Heartfelt thanks from the mother and father of an HMS Orpheus survivor

The painting below features in a slideshow which is part of the Gatherings on the Manukau Exhibition. This travelling exhibition opens at the Waiuku Library on 17 October, closing on 4 November.

Ref: G.C. Beale, HMS Orpheus wrecked in the Manukau Harbour, February 1863. Auckland Libraries, Sir George Grey Special Collections, 7-C6.
In terms of lives lost, it still ranks as New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster. On 7 February 1863 the Royal Navy corvette HMS Orpheus had difficulty entering the Manukau Harbour in stormy weather, struck a sandbar near Whatipu Beach and rapidly began to sink.

Part of the Australia Squadron, the corvette was delivering reinforcements and supplies to assist British troops and settler volunteers in the Waikato War. There were 259 men on board. In the attempt to abandon ship many were dashed to their deaths in the sea’s powerful surge.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

William Eastwood (1821-1877) and his Manukau watercolours

We can trace the footsteps of local artist William Eastwood as he journeyed about the Manukau Harbour from 1866 to 1876. His wonderful watercolour paintings reveal various aspects of the landscape around the harbour during this decade. The tones and washes of colour reflected across the paintings are still present in the harbour today.

Born in London, England, Eastwood, his wife and their eight children immigrated to New Zealand, arriving in February 1863. Upon arrival he worked as a conveyancing clerk for law firms. Soon after arriving he joined the Mechanics Institute. He was one of the founders of the Society of Artists, Auckland and held the position of President. In 1875 he served as Chairman of the Onehunga Highway Board. William later inherited money from the estate of a wealthy relative in England, allowing him, from his base in Onehunga, to travel about New Zealand and to Australia. During these travels he painted and sketched many landscape scenes.

Ref: William Eastwood, Manukau Heads, 1874. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr J Eastwood, 1900 1900/1/24. Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
This selection of William Eastwood’s images starts on the Āwhitu Peninsula where he would have stood or sat while he sketched and painted this fine view across the harbour entrance.

Ref: Showing a watercolour sketch of Manukau Harbour with Puketutu Island at far left, 3 January 1866. William Eastwood, Album of drawings and paintings 1863-1877. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries. NZ Print 698.
This scene appears to have been painted from a viewpoint near the mouth of Oruarangi Creek, Māngere. Part of Puketutu Island can be seen to the left, and a stretch of the Māngere coastline towards the centre right (now part of Ambury Regional Park).

Ref: William Eastwood, The Manukau, Onehunga, March 1870. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr J Eastwood, 1900 1900/1/23. Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
This more intimate scene show logs lay scattered about on the foreshore at Onehunga, with the wharf to the right. The backdrop, an expansive view across the harbour towards the Manukau Heads, is lit with a rosy hue.

Ref: William Eastwood, Onehunga, 12 March 1876. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr J Eastwood, 1900 1900/1/27. Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
Imposing storm clouds did not deter William Eastwood from his task when setting up his easel and paints on 12 March 1876. This view, from the other side of the wharf to the previous painting, affords the viewer the unusual sight of Māngere Mountain painted in shadow.

Ref: Onehunga, 1870. William Eastwood, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr J Eastwood, 1900 1900/1/31. Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
Our journey ends at Onehunga, looking north-west towards the Waitākere Ranges and the harbour’s northern shoreline. Once again the watercolour painting captures the light and atmosphere of these landscapes beautifully.

The exhibition Gatherings on the Manukau is on display at the Nathan Homestead during the Auckland Heritage Festival. Come along and see many more images and archives relating to the harbour.

Dates and locations:
30 September - 14 October 2017: Nathan Homestead, Manurewa.
17 October - 4 November 2017: Waiuku Library, Waiuku.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Passchendaele, Dave Gallaher & the All Blacks

As part of the ongoing centennial commemorations for the First World War, this week marks the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele. It was during this battle that one of the most famous New Zealanders of the day, the ex-All Black captain, Dave Gallaher was killed.
The centenary of Passchendaele and Gallaher’s death seem an appropriate time to reflect on how his 1905 All Black team were viewed in Britain.  A colleague recently alerted me to the existence of the publication, Navy & army illustrated : A magazine illustrative of everyday life in the defensive services of the British Empire. Tracking Gallaher’s 1905 Originals tour through this weekly British Armed Forces publication we can see the mystique that Gallaher and his team created as well as the legacy they left.

One simple way to see the impression the team left is how they are referred to by the writers in Navy & army illustrated as the tour goes on.
The New Zealand Rugby Football Team. From: The king and his navy & army. A weekly illustrated journal for society, the salon and the services. 1905. Auckland Libraries.

This team photo is from 30 September 1905, near the beginning of the tour. The caption reads: “The New Zealand Rugby Football Team. The remarkable success which the New Zealand team achieved in their first match was followed up during last week by victories over Cornwall and Bristol. In all the New Zealanders have scored 137 points in the three games, and have only had a dropped goal scored against them."

It only took a few weeks for this to change to, “the ‘blacks’ as they are called” (October 14, p.35).
By mid-November the report reads:  “New Zealand v. Richmond. The “All Blacks” gained their eighteenth victory on Saturday last by 17 points to nil, bringing their total to 571 points for and 15 points against (November 18 1905, p.175).”

In what seems a familiar complaint about a recent All Black captain, Gallaher himself came under attack in the October 21 issue:

“One would-be critic, who to my certain knowledge has not yet seen the New Zealanders play, held forth two or three weeks ago upon the iniquities of the off-side play of the New Zealand captain and “wing-forward,” D. Gallaher, and poured forth libations of gratuitous advice to referees to stop him, etc. (p. 92)”
The All Blacks performing the haka. From: The king and his navy & army. A weekly illustrated journal for society, the salon and the services. 1905. Auckland Libraries.
This photograph is of the All Blacks performing the haka before the Scotland test. The King described the match, “For years to come the match between the New Zealanders and the elect of Scotland on November 18, on Inverleith Ground, Edinburgh, will be referred to by writers on the game.  It was, perhaps, the greatest contest under the rules of Rugby Union Football that has ever taken place (December 2 1905, p.237).”

The test against Wales on the 16 of December was to become an even more famous game: The New Zealand Defeat.
Match report. From: The king and his navy & army. A weekly illustrated journal for society, the salon and the services. 1905. Auckland Libraries.

The correspondent for the Navy & army illustrated must have seen enough of the All Blacks for that tour as his final sentence of the report says that, “there are still good referees in England, if not many good players (December 23 1905, p.319).”

After King Edward VII’s coronation the title of Navy & army illustrated changed to The king and his navy & army. A weekly illustrated journal for society, the salon and the services. Considering the frequency and extent of colonial wars for the British Empire it is not so surprising that there was publication dedicated to the services.  Initially it was solely focused on the Armed Forces and can be read as propaganda for the Empire however the scope changes as the new subtitle shows.

The first few volumes have a wonderful publisher’s binding and are in great condition.
Navy & army illustrated : A magazine illustrative of everyday life in the defensive services of the British Empire. Sir George Grey Special Collections. Auckland Libraries.

As the title suggests it is a heavily illustrated publication with high quality images printed on glossy paper. Each volume comes bound and includes an index which is very helpful.

It could be a very useful publication for family history researchers, for example it includes photographs of New Zealand troops involved in the South African war. The family history website The Genealogist digitised some copies and added them to their service earlier this year which can be accessed for free from within an Auckland Library. The hard copy editions are available through our reading room in the Central Library.

Author: Andrew Henry