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Showing posts from October, 2017

Thomas Mandeno Jackson, tenor and auctioneer

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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 Ma…

Take a walk along the Puhinui Stream

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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.
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 coun…

Gorgeous Girl Shows

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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.

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.”

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-…

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

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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.
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.

William Eastwood (1821-1877) and his Manukau watercolours

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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.

This selection of William …

Passchendaele, Dave Gallaher & the All Blacks

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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.

This team photo is from 30 September 1905, near the beginning of t…