Summer in the West: Jack Diamond’s photographic record (part 1)

Following the news that the J. T. Diamond Collection has been inscribed onto the UNESCO Memory of the World documentary heritage register, we thought that a photographic blog series featuring some of the great images from the collection would be appropriate.

The J.T. Diamond Collection comprises John (Jack) Thomas Diamond’s meticulous research and documentation of West Auckland’s history compiled over 60 years. The collection documents many local industries and locations that have disappeared or altered significantly and includes detailed and unique archival records of the first two generations of colonial settlement in New Zealand.

The collection is made up of manuscript material, photographs, plans and site records including Diamond’s notebooks which detail his photographic record of the West. These photographs continue to be used in publications and are widely referenced by local and regional government authorities, historians and national heritage organisations.

The UNESCO recognition highlights the significance of this collection and the work that Auckland Libraries do to protect and preserve our local history.

Surfing at Piha, 1935. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre, JTD-04K-04133.
After the Duke of Gloucester’s visit to Piha on Christmas Day 1934, the beach became a very popular spot for day trippers and people trying out the new surfing craze. Here two women enjoy the water at the south end of Piha, surround by surfers. The view is south across the bay towards Kaiwhare Point. From the Weekly News, Christmas 1935.

Surf boat at Piha, 1936. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre, JTD-04K-01674.
 From the Weekly News, Christmas 1936, here surf lifesaving club crew members are hauling in the wooden surf boat. The club was founded in January 1934 and is the oldest club on Auckland's West Coast. Piha Surf Life Saving Club pioneered the use of surf rescue boats in New Zealand, with the country's first surf boat, also called a long boat, launched in 1936.

Piha camping ground from road, 1934. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre,  JTD-04N-04152.
From the Auckland Weekly News, Christmas 1934, this view, framed by an overhanging pohutukawa tree branch, down onto the flat at Piha, shows the camping ground, buildings, Piha Stream, lagoon and beach. There are a few tents and buildings on the hillside below the road which Jack Diamond described as the "old road".

Christmas party at Perry family farm, New Lynn, c1920’s. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre,  JTD-11K-05718.
Members of the Perry family had a Christmas picnic party at Joe and Maria Perry's pig and poultry farm on Golf Road in New Lynn. A warm summer Christmas, so different from England, meant relaxing outside and taking advantage of the cool shade of a tent.

Foote's houseboat at Laingholm, c1920’s. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre,  JTD-09A-03243.
Standing on the bank of Laing Stream, Laingholm, just upstream from the culvert at the end of Sandy Parade, this weatherboard cottage had originally been built by the Foote family on a barge in the Hokianga and used for cruising around the harbour. It was known as "The Houseboat". Bill Foote, the owner, had it towed down to the Manukau Harbour in 1924 for use as a floating holiday home. It was finally put ashore in 1935 and for a time was the home of Sandy and Vera McAdam.

Camping at Piha, 1895, Joseph Hibbs. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre,  JTD-04K-02084-1.
Mrs. J. C. Macky and friends at their campsite in a cleared area with tents pitched beneath several large trees. Despite the wildness of their surroundings they are properly dressed for the times in long skirts, blouses, collars and hats, about to start building a fire for the essential billy can, without which there would be no tea!

Piha camping ground and Lion Rock, c1930’s. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre, JTD-04K-01978.
Before it became one of Auckland’s most popular beaches, the camping ground at Piha in the 1930’s looks quite different, and yet so familiar. There are a few scattered buildings and tents on the flat, the slope of the sandhills bordered by the Piha Stream look barren, and Lion Rock looming behind the dunes appears far closer.

Little Huia Bay, c1910. J. T. Diamond Collection. West Auckland Research Centre, JTD-07E-05119.
When cars were rare and roads were rough, excursions by sea made shorelines and islands more accessible for day trippers and group outings. This photo, taken around 1910, shows three women wading along the shoreline at Little Huia with the cutter 'Comet' (owned by Tom Fletcher and Captain Alf Fletcher) moored in the bay, closer towards the wharf the excursion steamer S.S. Weka is berthed.

Author: Liz Bradley


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