A Kiwi Christmas playlist

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – AV and Music

Hocken Christmas music

Have you ever heard of the New Zealand Christmas classic “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Pat McMinn and the Combie Murdoch Trio? No? How about Pixie Williams singing “Best Wishes”?  These are only two of the many New Zealand Christmas classic tracks waiting in the Hocken stacks to be rediscovered. The recorded Christmas music that the Hocken has dates from the late 1940s with the Pixie Williams disc, though the 1960s to the 1980s featured many recordings popular at the time, but now faded into obscurity. These include

  •  Chic Littlewood’s “Let’s make everyday Christmas”
  • The Dallas Four’s “White Christmas”
  • Hauraki Good Guys with Salty Dog “Please daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas”
  • Various Artists Still hooked on Christmas

However, many recordings have remained in the public consciousness, with arguably the most well-known being Kingi Ihaka’s “Pukeko in a ponga tree”.  Along with Billy T. James’ “When a child is born”, Julie Nelson and The Don Ball Orchestra’s “Sticky Beak the kiwi” is still incredibly popular. “Sticky Beak the kiwi” was written specifically by Gisbourne-based folk singer Bob Edwards and lyricist Neil Roberts for children in 1961. 14-year old Julie Nelson sang the song, backed by the Whanganui dance band, the Don Ball Orchestra. The song became a hit.

Sticky beak the kiwi

Well known bands like the Avengers in the 1960s, and Split Enz in the 1980s, recorded Christmas messages for their fan clubs, in a similar vein to the Christmas fan club recordings released by The Beatles. Billy T. James released “A Maori Christmas” for Radio Hauraki, while Fred Dagg released the infamous short track “Star of wonder”. These tracks were among the local songs gathered together in the 2012 Christmas-themed CD Pohutakawas & pavlova.

Along with Wing’s two albums of Christmas music (Everyone sing carols with Wing, and Carols, rap and sing: A beautiful Christmas), another Christmas-themed holding we have is Wendyhouse’s The Wendyhouse Christmas album, which has alternative (and often subversive) Christmas tracks such as “Teddy’s anger”, and “Here comes the family”.

Our sheet music holdings have some interesting items too – “The song of Bethlehem (A New Zealand Christmas carol)” from 1942 by Muriel Hunt and Joye Taylor is a short piece that centres on the seasonal features of the New Zealand Christmas. “Dear Santa Claus” in contrast (written in the UK in 1948 by Gerry Mason, and published locally by Beggs), is more traditional in theme, focussing on a child’s letter asking Santa Claus to not forget him.

Finally, one very interesting holding we have is particularly close to the Hocken Collections:  the Hocken end of year function from 1987, featuring the recorder skills of Ken Booth. This cassette is definitely one for the digitisation list!

Hocken Cassette

Going for UNESCO Gold – A second Memory of the World Registration for The Hocken Collections!

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

We are very excited to announce that the Hocken Collections has again been successful receiving a Memory of World Registration.

This year it is Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s collection of Church Missionary Society papers that has been added to the register.

IMG_0968

Some of the collection laid out on furniture from the original Hocken Library reading rooms

We made application this year as part of our programme of work to commemorate 200 years since the mission at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands was established. Our current exhibition Whakapono : Faith and foundations showcases some of the documents in the collection, and the Marsden online website provides sophisticated tools to search a portion of the documents.

This collection of records acquired by Hocken from the Church Missionary Society in London contains the letters and journals of Rev Samuel Marsden and the settlers who came to New Zealand in 1814 to begin establishing missionary settlements.

The records document the development of the Anglican mission in the Bay of Islands including Marsden’s celebrations of Christmas Day 1814. In describing what they saw and learnt in detail the authors created a rich resource for developing our understanding of New Zealand in the pre-Treaty of Waitangi era. They provide a first-hand account of  Maori world around the Bay of Islands; describing people, places, events, conversations, battles and gatherings, who was important and why, relationships between local iwi and hapu, Maori cultural practices, rituals, religion and arts, Maori horticulture, fishing and foods, and the land and sea, forests and lakes.

The writers also describe their work introducing European agriculture, new plants and animals, teaching reading and writing, how they learnt Te Reo Maori, the development of early Maori orthography and also their own tiny community’s internal strife, failures and successes as they struggled to live together in a foreign and isolated place.

The documents are written by a variety of people principally Samuel Marsden, Thomas Kendall, William Hall, John King, John Butler, Reverend Henry Williams, James Kemp, Richard Davis, George Clarke, James Hamlin, William Colenso and the CMS officials in London.

JPG_Image-MS_0054_087_003

Part of a letter from Reverend Samuel Marsden to the Church Missionary Society in London with list of items sent to the Society. The list includes items of Maori clothing such as fine cloaks. MS-0054/087

From the early 1800s Maori were beginning to explore the wider European world. They were intensely curious about European technologies, literacy, religion and trade.  Seeing the potential benefits these could bring to their people Nga Puhi leaders Te Pahi, Ruatara and Hongi Hika used their relationship with Samuel Marsden to encourage him to send teachers, agriculturalists and artisans to New Zealand.

The records registered are MS-0053, MS-0054, MS-0055, MS-0056, MS-0057, MS-0058, MS-0060, MS-0061, MS-0062, MS-0063, MS-0064, MS-0065, MS-0066, MS-0067, MS-0068, MS-0069, MS-0070, MS-0071, MS-0072, MS-0073, MS-0176/001, MS-0176/002, MS-0176/003, MS-0176/004, MS-0176/005, MS-0177/001, MS-0177/002, MS-0177/003, MS-0177/004, MS-0498.

Hocken was an active collector of publications and archival material documenting New Zealand’s history and culture. He was particularly interested in the early mission period. These records were primarily acquired by Dr Hocken directly from the Church Missionary Society in London in late 1903. Whilst initially reluctant to part with the records the CMS eventually agreed that they should be returned to New Zealand. Hocken later sent £250 to the Society. Hocken also acquired some of the documents in the collection from descendants of the missionaries.

Dr Hocken’s collection was transferred to the University of Otago in 1907 under a Deed of Trust that established the Hocken Collections.

Further additions of complementary Church Missionary Society records have been made by donation and purchase, notably the purchase from D.K. Webster of London in 1967 of the papers comprising MS-0498.

 

Celebrating audiovisual heritage

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Audiovisual and Music

Broken disc Hocken Collections

UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is held annually on October 27th to raise awareness of collections of audiovisual objects around the world in various institutions. While this celebratory day has passed, it is always advantageous to draw attention to the importance of audiovisual collections and to their fragility.

It is worth remembering that audiovisual materials are very important primary records of the 20th and 21st century. Countless major historical moments of the last 100 years have been captured in film, or on sound recordings. Many of these recordings are now iconic, for example footage of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Edison blue amberol cylinder. Hocken Collections; uncatalogued.

However, much audiovisual material has been lost, or is in danger of disappearing. Purposeful destruction, decay and obsolescence of format, and neglect are some of the factors that contribute to much of this cultural loss. The theme for the 2014 World Audiovisual Heritage Day was “Archives at risk: Much more to do”. Audiovisual collections are often at risk because of the inherent fragility of the materials used : all audiovisual heritage is endangered.

Damaged shellac 78rpm disc.

In New Zealand,audiovisual collections are held in many institutions, including the Hocken Collections, and the Alexander Turnbull Library. Preservation programmes are undertaken to ensure the survival of these precious items, though often these are hampered by lack of resources. Audiovisual digitisation and preservation is highly skilled and labour intensive work. But the collections that are in the care of institutions, archives and libraries are highly valued and we do our best. Apart from preserving sound and images for the future digitisation can improve access to AV collections. Many people know of their existence, but often not the depth of the collections. Making digital copies available online brings them to a new audience.Broken disc  Hocken Collections

The Hocken Collections has many different formats of audiovisual material. Formats such as cylinder, open reel tape (ORT), and 16mm film are challenging to for us to digitise, as suitable equipment is often difficult to source. Film reels are a precious source of historical content and information, and we have very pleased to have preserved the Hocken’s motion picture films with the help of the local Film Heritage Trust. A sound format that presents interesting preservation issues is the 16” transcription disc – turntables need be larger than usual and require a longer tonearm to accommodate the disc size. Rare and unique material is part of the Hocken’s collection, and we are currently building our capacity to care for this material using the highest standards and best practice.

The images presented here include three broken 78rpm discs that we have in our collections, though they have been removed from circulation! The was cylinder is not broken. They are all extremely fragile, and care is required in handling them. This is only one example of how delicately balanced the preservation of audiovisual material can be, and how vulnerable the content and the carrier (formats) are.

Seventy five years of the New Zealand Listener

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post researched and written by Gina Rocco, Library Assistant – Periodicals

In June 1939, the first ever issue of the New Zealand Listener was sent free to all households with a radio licence.  As the official journal of the state-owned New Zealand Broadcasting Service, its original brief was to publicise radio programmes and publish content related to broadcasting.  The first editor liberally interpreted ‘broadcasting’ to encompass all human affairs, including the arts in particular.  Consequently the Listener became an important contributor to New Zealand literary life, with many major writers among its reviewers and short form fiction contributors.

Seventy five years later the Listener continues to be a top seller, and is New Zealand’s only major weekly magazine combining current affairs, arts criticism, and entertainment.

Looking through our holdings, I encountered a constantly evolving format in both dimension and design. The original focus as a visual accompaniment to the auditory world of radio has gone full circle, with radio’s place in the magazine having been gradually usurped by television, and now also internet-related content.  Radio New Zealand’s weekly programming highlights are currently allocated a mere one page per issue.

Here’s a taste of some randomly discovered content that caught my imagination:

1944: The Pahiatua Polish Children

The ragdolls on the cover of this June 1944 issue are promoting nationwide toy making contributions for the 734 Polish refugee children about to arrive at the Pahiatua camp that would be their temporary home for up to four and a half years.  The associated article provides details for readers to write in and buy a toy pattern at a cost of one penny, the pattern choices being:  duck, owl, rabbit, elephant or a Humpty Dumpty.  The article provides an insight into soft toys of the day, describing considerations such as: the type of cloth to use (animal skin not recommended); type of stuffing (options given are wood-wool, scoured-wool, rags, flock or sawdust); procuring fencing or fruit-case wire to provide stiffening; and cutting cardboard ovals for the soles of the feet.  The last section describes how to make a paper mache doll, including finishing it with enamel paint so that “it will be washable and everlasting”.

IMAGE 1 S14-444j Toymaking for the Polish children. Listener v.11no.262  (1944June30)

v.11:no.262 (1944: June 30)

1957: The Aunt Daisy Story

A serial biography beginning in August 1957 marked twenty one years of Aunt Daisy, regular Listener columnist and “First Lady of Radio”.  The Aunt Daisy Story instalments had titles such as:  A Victorian Childhood, New Plymouth Ho!, and The Fairly Gay Nineties.  The first issue containing the series (1957:Aug.2) included a pull-out photograph of Aunt Daisy (unfortunately this insert is missing from Hocken’s copy).

Advertisers jumped on the bandwagon, hastening to associate their varied products with Aunt Daisy’s trustworthy image.

IMAGE 2 Aunt daisy ad collage

v.37:no938 (1957:Aug.2), v.37:no.941 (1957:Aug.23) & v.37:no.942 (1957:Aug.30)

1960: Twiss Family Puppetshow

The page below shows the format of the single page per issue dedicated to television that was typical of the early 1960s. The Monday to Sunday listings take up very little space, as television was broadcast only two hours per evening on a single channel.

The television page always included a story on current programmes or personalities.  The article below describes Puppet Playhouse, a local programme featuring 23 year old puppeteer Greer Twiss (better known now for his career as a sculptor).  Puppet Playhouse was a family affair:  Greer made the marionettes, his mother the costumes and his father the props and set.

Channel 2 has just acquired a new announcer called Mr Throgmorton.  Viewers will excuse his somewhat wooden features when they see him, because Mr T. is a puppet who introduces the new Wednesday feature, Puppet Playhouse.

IMAGE 4 S14-445c Television Guide (Greer Twiss, Puppet Playhouse) v.43no.1101 (1960Oct.7) p.26v.43:no.1101 (1960:Oct7)

1961: Television – It’s wonderful!

In contrast to the relatively low key one-page inclusion of programme listings when television made its New Zealand debut in Auckland less than a year previously, this issue excitedly announces its arrival to Wellington and Christchurch, claiming that “about half New Zealand’s population will soon be able to watch television”

IMAGE 3 S14-444i Television it's wonderful! Listener v.44no.1132 (1961May19)

v.44:no.1132 (1961:May19)

The article provides advice concerning the placement and size of the television set – quite the contrast to the popular super-sized television screens of today!

The best size of screen occupies 12 to 15 degrees of the viewer’s field of vision and does not require him to move his eyes or turn his head to see different parts of the picture… A viewer should seat himself at a distance from the set equal to five times the screen’s height.

1973: Happen Inn People

This January 1973 cover shows the move to full colour and the larger magazine format that persisted until 1989.

Happen Inn was a Saturday evening pop music show hosted by Peter Sinclair.

IMAGE 5 S14-445a Happen Inn People. Listener v.72no.1733 (1973Jan.29)

v.72:no.1733 (1973:Jan29)

Turning the cover reveals a two-page spread of monochrome photographs by Robin Morrison documenting the exploits of the “Happen Inn People” during their summer break.

IMAGE 6 S14-445b Happen Inn on holiday.pp.2-3.Pages 2&3 v.72:no.1733 (1973:Jan29)

******

Unfortunately, Hocken’s holdings of the Listener’s first three years are extremely sparse (only one fragile issue from late 1939), and we also have many gaps in later years. We will gratefully receive donations of early issues – please contact the Periodicals team (serials.hocken@otago.ac.nz) for details of collection gaps.

References:

‘First issue of NZ Listener published’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/first-issue-of-the-em-new-zealand-listener-em-published, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Jun-2014

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-PolFirs-t1-g1-g1-t5.html

“New Zealand Listener.” In The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, 1998-01-01. http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100232827.

Jolly rollicking fun: a boy’s birthday party in 1892

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

Post prepared by David Murray, Arrangement and Description Archivist

What were children’s birthday parties like in 1890s New Zealand? A sweet little account of one from Gore, Southland, has turned up in one of Hocken’s latest acquisitions: further papers of the historian James Herries Beattie (1881-1972). Among these papers is a notebook of verse and prose that Herries presented to his mother when he was eleven years old.

Herries wrote about his eleventh birthday, and tells of the games, the food, the gifts, and those who  were there. The original version of the story is shown in the image below, together with a transcription of a ‘Revised Edition’ Herries made at the age of fourteen as part of an expanded series of four notebooks he titled ‘A Reading Book for spare moments’.

Beattie_MS4237_008

My Birthday Party.

Monday. June 6th 1892.

I am eleven years old now. I was going to have a party on Saturday but it rained so that it had to be put off till Monday afternoon. I got leave to get away from school at 2 o’clock. A little while after this the children that were invited rolled up so that games were started. The first thing was swinging & after all had had their turn we went for the games. We had for these: Ninepence, Rounders, Twopenny catches, Red Rover, Tig, Hiding-go-Seek, and hats or as this game is variously called, egg cap, Fools cap or rotten eggs etc. There were also lots of games with balls which I do not know the names of. After all these games we went into the house where mother had spread a glorious feed. Then we seated ourselves & had a splendid tea (at least I did) for some short bread & nice cakes were near me & somehow or other they managed to disappear which looks suspicious to me but there might have been a mysterious invisible juggler etc present who could account for them but I would not be to[o] sure if I were you because there was a voracious little boy sitting at the table. After tea was over we adjourned to the lawn or green behind the house where we played the games before tea & started to play again. We had a good game of “Red Rover” as this game is called about here although it goes under different names elsewhere. Then we had “I Spy”, which is just a sort of “Hide-&-go-seek” game. After this game as it was fairly dark (the sun had set awhile before) the girls started to take the boys hats & run away with them. This last item was the means of another nice little game which was the boys began to kiss the girls. This soon put an end to their hat-taking nonsense. There was some fun on that lawn that night for the next half-hour. Everyone seemed to be running about and there was some confusion because in the very indistinct light there were some collisions between various parties. The boys were chasing the girls bent on getting a kiss while the girls snatched the boys hats whenever a chance presented itself. After some real jolly rollicking fun everybody did proceed inside where some more games were played suitable for the house. When it was getting late the guests departed having as far as I know enjoyed themselves. The presents I got from the family were; a saddle & bridle from father, all the eatables from mother, a bible from Bessie, a pocket-knife from Jessie and two handkerchiefs from Oswald. I also received some presents from the children who were invited & as they had all been told especially not to bring presents I considered it real handsome of them. I got an ornamental inkstand from Dick, Lily, & Isabella Smaill, a ball from Hettie Lewis & a set of school instruments (rulers, pencils etc) from Herb Lewis, a Birthday card from Tom & George Brown, and also a very pretty card from Mary Nichol. I will now tell you who came;

Girls

Gerty & Maud Coutts

Annie & – Graham

Lily & Isabella Smaill

Brenda & Mabel Low

Bessie & Mary McKenzie (my cousins)

Mary Nichol

Hettie Lewis

Annie Coutts

Boys

Dick Smaill

Herbert Lewis

Alick Graham

Tom Brown

George Brown

Bessie, Jessie

Herries. Oswald Beattie

 

The reason why there is more girls than boys is that my 2 sisters know more girls than I do boys.

*     *     *     *     *

Beattie’s other childhood writings included verse, history, notes on New Zealand birds, short accounts of activities, and a longer story titled ‘The Boys of Kaikatoto School’. Other material recently acquired by Hocken dates from the 1940s to 1970s, and includes a ledger containing details of book publications and other accounts, reading notes, diary notes, and other papers. There is also the complete manuscript for an unpublished historical novel titled ‘Morry: A Son of the Backblocks’. These papers have been added to our existing collection of Beattie’s papers under the reference number MS-4237.

 

 

Johnny Tahu Cooper, QSM, (1929-2014)

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and AV

Johnny Cooper (the ‘Maori Cowboy’) was a local rock’n’roll hero.

Cooper grew up on a Te Reinga farm in the 1930s, becoming a fan of Gene Autry during his childhood. While living with his aunt and uncle, he listened to their 78rpm disc collection, his favourites being Autry, Tex Morton, and Wilf Carter. Cooper learnt to play the ukulele along with the records, soon performing to shearing gangs.

After gaining a scholarship and attending Te Aute College for two years, he went to Wellington and found work as a gravedigger. Not long after, he formed a country and western band with Will Lloyd-Jones on slap bass, Ron James on piano accordion, Don Aldridge on steel guitar, and later, Jim Gatfield on guitar. They called themselves Johnny Cooper and the Range Riders.

 

Johnny Cooper Rock and Sing

Rock and Sing With Johnny Cooper and his Range Riders. His Masters Voice, 1956. Hocken Sound Recordings. HRec-M 697

The band entered talent competitions, coming first in the talent quest at Wellington’s Paramount Theatre, winning £20, and an audition with HMV. In 1954 Cooper went to Korea to entertain the New Zealand troops, and on returning, HMV asked the band to record with the label. This resulted in their first hit, a duet with Margaret Francis of a cover of One by One, backed with Cooper’s own song Look What You’ve Done – a song that found another life 40 years later when it featured in ‘Once Were Warriors’. HMV then approached Cooper about recording a new genre: rock’n’roll. HMV were keen for Cooper to cover Bill Haley and the Comet’s smash Rock Around the Clock, though Cooper was sceptical, and didn’t really like the genre. However, he recorded it (and the b-side Blackberry Boogie), and it became a hit. Interestingly, Cooper’s version was released locally before Bill Haley’s version.

In 1956, HMV released its first New Zealand rock album, ‘Rock and Sing with Johnny Cooper’, a 10” compilation that placed his country recordings with Rock Around the Clock, and Blackberry Boogie. Cooper also released a second rock’n’roll cover by Haley – See You Later Alligator in 1956 (this time on 45prm as well as 78rpm disc).

Cooper’s third single made him a significant name in local music history. Pie Cart Rock’n’Roll (1957) was (as the story goes) about the Whanganui pie cart, where Cooper and the band would get their ‘pea, pie, and pud’ meals. Pie Cart Rock’n’roll was considered the first locally written rock’n’roll song. However, this is thought to be incorrect – Sandy Tansley’s 1957 song Resuscitation Rock (according to researcher John Baker) was released a few weeks before Pie Cart Rock’n’roll in September 1957.

Cooper and the band kept their audiences broad by appearing in variety shows. In the late 1950s he began the ‘Give it a Go’ talent quest, with musicians such as Mike Nock, John Rowles, and Midge Marsden appearing. The talent shows ended in 1968, and Cooper released his last single, Break the World in Two / Cold Cold Heart on Impact. He continued to perform in the 1970s as The Johnny Cooper Sound, and in the 1980s as part of the Original Ruamahanga River Band. He retired in the 1990s.

Johnny Cooper was 85 when he passed away last week at his home in Naenae.

Winifred Betts – botany pioneer

Monday, September 8th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant (Reference)

This year the University of Otago Department of Botany is celebrating its 90th anniversary. In honour of the occasion, I’ve been looking back at the beginnings of botany, as revealed in the university’s archives here at the Hocken. Although the “department” is generally dated from 1924, when John Holloway began as lecturer, botany was taught as early as the 1870s. In the university’s early decades, when student numbers were small, there were very few teaching staff and they had a wide brief. The first professor of “natural science” – F.W. Hutton – taught geology as well as biology. The 1877 University Calendar offered a general introductory course called “Principles of Biology,” as well as papers in zoology and botany. This pattern was to continue for several decades. The 1877 botany course covered “the structure, functions, and distributions of the orders of cryptograms, and the principal orders of phanerogams,” as well as “the use of the microscope.”

Geology and biology were separated into two positions after Hutton left in 1880. Thomas Parker held the chair in biology from 1880 to 1897 and William Benham from 1898 to 1937. Both were brilliant scientists, but their chief research interests were in zoology rather than botany. As the university grew, the workload of teaching all aspects of biology to science, medical, dental and home science students became increasingly burdensome. Professor Benham managed to get an assistant – Winifred Farnie – to help with biology teaching from 1916 to 1918. In 1918 he suggested that it was time for the university to appoint a lecturer in botany, but the Council decided to delay for a year. The 1919 calendar notes that instruction in botany “is not provided at present” – presumably Benham had decided he was over-stretched and could no longer offer the course. He repeated his request for a botany lecturer to the council that year, and this time approval was granted. Benham already had somebody in mind for the post – his former student Winifred Betts.

OU Review 1917

Otago University Graduates of 1917, including Winifred Betts and Winifred Farnie

Rather than simply appointing Betts, the council decided to advertise the post of botany lecturer. Were they, perhaps, reluctant to appoint a woman? As it turned out, they received three applications, all from women, and selected Betts as Otago’s first botany lecturer. For Benham, this was a long overdue development. In 1919, writing in honour of the university’s jubilee, he commented: “It is a curious fact that in each of the four colleges in New Zealand it has been expected that one man shall undertake to teach efficiently those two subjects [zoology and botany], which in England, even in fourth-rate educational institutions, have for many years been entrusted to two distinct individuals.” He was happy to report that Otago had now “set the example to the other University Colleges by appointing a lecturer in botany”.

Winnie Betts was just 25 years old when she commenced her new position at the beginning of 1920. Born in Moteuka, she was educated at Nelson College for Girls, receiving a University National Scholarship in 1911. She then came to Otago, graduating BSc in 1916 and MSc in 1917. She was clearly one of the more capable students of her era, and by 1915 Benham had selected her as a demonstrator in biology. On completing her MSc she received a National Research Scholarship – one was awarded at each university each year. This provided her with an income of £100 a year along with lab expenses so she could carry out independent research. In 1919, at a lecture to an admittedly partisan audience in Nelson, distinguished botanist Leonard Cockayne described Betts as “the most brilliant woman scientist in New Zealand.”

S14-586a

Winifred Betts

 

In December 1920 Winnie Betts married another brilliant Otago graduate, the mathematician Alexander Aitken. Aitken, whose studies were interrupted by war service (he was badly wounded at the Somme), was by then teaching at Otago Boys’ High School. This was an era when most women left paid employment when they married, so it is intriguing that Winnie Aitken continued working as botany lecturer for some years. She joined a handful of women on Otago’s academic staff. As well as the women of the School of Home Science, there were Isabel Turnbull in Latin, Gladys Cameron in Bacteriology and Public Health and Bertha Clement in English; others came and went during Winnie’s years at Otago.

Winnie Aitken’s career as botany lecturer came to an end in December 1923. Her husband had been awarded a scholarship for postgraduate study and they moved to Edinburgh, where he had a long and distinguished academic career as a mathematician. Alexander died in 1967 and Winnie in 1971; they had two children. Various women have since taught botany at the University of Otago; indeed, it has been one of the more gender-balanced of the academic departments. As the department celebrates its 90th anniversary with Prof Kath Dickinson at its head, it seems an appropriate moment to remember the woman who pioneered it all!

Missing; stolen; drunk: perusing the Police Gazettes

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Kari Wilson-Allan, Library Assistant (Reference)

To open a volume of The Otago Police Gazette is to enter into a colourful world that warrants investigation.  What follows is a series of observations based on issues from the early and mid-1870s.

The Gazette served as a key communication tool for the police force between stations and regions.  Without photography or modern electronic communications, police work would have been very different in the late nineteenth century to how it is today.  Nonetheless, their reliance on the circulation of written material is part of what makes for such a fascinating document now.

Willisford 15 May 1877 p.62

15 May 1877, p. 62.

The mug shot was not yet employed as a means of recording appearance.  Consequently, vivid textual description is used, often offering more information than what a photograph could ever provide.   For instance, a group of wanted felons were described variously in the 30 November 1872 issue: Thomas Sheehan had a “dirty sulky appearance, [and] speaks with a broad Irish accent;” William Walsh “always keeps his mouth open;”  James Cummins was of a “coarse Yankee appearance,” and Thomas Howe had “thin features, Roman nose, smart appearance, [and was] fond of horse-racing.”

McLennan 31 Aug 1874 p. 70

31 Aug 1874 p. 70

Edward Chaplin was described in the 30 September 1871 issue as “a clerk and mining agent, below the middle height, broad shoulders, stooped and awkward gait, fresh complexion, grey hair, grey prominent eyes – occasionally bloodshot – very short sighted, Jewish appearance; he usually keeps his hands in his trousers pockets and looks on the ground when walking; he was dressed in a black sac coat, dark grey overcoat, dark striped trousers, and black silk hat; addicted to drink.”

Throughout the yellowed pages, charges for larceny, lunacy, vagrancy, disorderly conduct and habitual drunkenness abound.  Other cases illuminate societal concerns: “furious riding” and “sly grog-selling” were both frowned upon, as was “occupying a house frequented by reputed thieves.”

Apprehensions 30 April 1874, p. 33

Apprehensions list 30 April 1874, p. 33

Anxiety for the wellbeing of citizens is also apparent, with men charged for deserting their wives and for failing to support their mothers.  Children, too, could find themselves arrested for “being neglected,” or for “being a criminal child;” the usual outcome of this was a sentence of some years at the Industrial School.  Women tended to attract charges of vagrancy and drunkenness, whereas men were the usual perpetrators of a wider range of offences.  Serious and violent transgressions also arose, among them assault with intent to commit rape, attempted suicide and murder.

Brody 31 Dec 1873 p.80

31 Dec 1873 p.80

Māori appear infrequently over the period surveyed, but Chinese names are occasionally interspersed amongst those of British and European origin, both as perpetrators and as victims of crimes.

Ah Yeu 10 Jan 1876 p.3

10 January 1876, p. 3.

Wehi 2 Oct 1876 p.96

2 October 1876, p. 96.

The pages are filled with reports of items stolen (watches, horses and money dominate), warrants issued, and inquest findings.  Lost and found property is recorded, as are “missing friends” such as Edward Chaplin described above.  Offenders apprehended are listed alongside their punishments, and further tables record those arrested, tried, and discharged from prison during the past weeks.  Descriptions of former prisoners are provided, with notes made of any distinctive features such as tattoos or physical abnormalities.

Return of prisoners 10 May 1876, p. 51

10 May 1876, p. 51

Submissions to the Gazette range from the mundane through to the grim and distressing.  Some cases appear trite or even comical to the modern eye.  Yet, on reflection, they show us the anxieties, concerns, and troubles of those living in the earlier days of our province.

Moir 31 Dec 1873 p. 80

31 December 1873, p. 80.

Every entry in the Gazette hints at a richer story on the part of both victim and perpetrator.  I can’t help but wonder at the implications and outcomes of certain cases, and if those with missing friends were ever reunited.

Verchere 15 Dec 1876, p.125

15 December 1876, p. 125.

 

 

Election ephemera

Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by  Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian (Ephemera)

Labour Party Brochure 1984

In 1966 Hocken Library staff wrote to all the candidates in the general election requesting examples of their electioneering pamphlets, brochures, and the like. Hocken staff have continued to contact all political candidates in every general election since then, and there are currently ca. 40 boxes of printed election ephemera in the library; including some ephemera from pre-1966 campaigns. This material is a rich resource for researchers of New Zealand’s election and political history that supplements the wide range of political publications and papers held at the Hocken.

Values Party Brochure 1972 cropped

 

The response rate of candidates to our request is quite variable, despite the careful efforts of library staff to contact every candidate and political party. It is important to ensure that all views are represented and that material for the full political spectrum is available for current and future researchers.

Social Credit Party sticker 1984 cropped

 

In 2014 several hundred candidates will be contacted by e-mail and asked for donations of their electioneering material. We will also be asking our fellow librarians throughout New Zealand to assist with the acquisition of this material.

National Party Poster 1966 cropped

 

 

If you would like to help us by donating pamphlets, brochures, posters, stickers, etc for any of the candidates throughout New Zealand, please send material to Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian (Ephemera), Hocken Collections, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054. All donations will be gratefully received.

Centenary of declaration of the Great War in Europe

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

George Malcolm Thomson was MP for Dunedin North from 1908-1914. At the time war was declared Thomson was in Wellington as Parliament was sitting. He was in the habit of writing a diary entry most days, recording a mix of parliamentary activity, letter writing and family news.

What follows are extracts from his 1914 diary, along with snaps of the original text.

Monday – Augt. 3rd

The declaration of war by Germany on France and Russia was the engrossing topic of conversation today. I spent the day in the library at the Education Bill. Prof. Prince came to tea with me, & and later we went together to the Town Hall & heard a delightful recitation by Mr. Watson on “Nicolas Nickleby”. Letter from Grandma

3aug

Tuesday – Augt. 4th

Education Committee met this morning, and Bishop Cleary was cross-examined by Canon Garland and Prof. Hunter. In the afternoon the House sat till 5 o’clock, & after getting through some work adjourned till 2.30pm tomorrow.

The atmosphere was electrical, party distinctions seemed to completely disappear, and the expected news came through at night that the Germans had violated Belgium territory & the British Army was mobilising, which amounted to a declaration of War. It is the beginning of the most appalling struggle known in the history of the world. Wrote John.

4aug

Wednesday – Augt. 5th

Letters from Stuart & John. Education sat again in the forenoon. In the afternoon we adjourned the House for an hour, & at 3 p.m. from the library entrance the Governor announced to a crowd of 3-4000 that the Empire had declared war against Germany. The House then adjourned till tomorrow. I went out to tea with Gertie and then wrote to Malcolm & Stuart. Earthquake shock at 9.30 p.m.

5aug

 

All images are from George Malcolm Thomson’s diary 23 May 1914-30 October 1916  (AG-926/004). The Hocken holds Thomson’s papers

For further information on George Malcolm Thomson see the Dictionary of NZ Biography entry on him from this link>http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2t40/thomson-george-malcolm

 
Anna Blackman anna.blackman@otago.ac.nz
 

Any views or opinion represented in this site belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Otago. Any view or opinion represented in the comments are personal and are those of the respective commentator/contributor to this site.