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