Posted on by Mel Adams
Once again I found myself sitting at my desk and feeling a bit restless. Blame it on the lack of sunshine, moonlight, good times or lack of boogie, or whatever. I decided to make a dash and escape the clocktower. This time I didn’t want to go it alone so I dragged Katherine with me (aka submissions lady to you) I took Donald’s advice and headed to the Hocken Collections where Katherine Milburn took us for a tour. Man there is some brialliant stuff there.
After dodging the many football fans heading to the stadium to watch the footie we made it to the Hocken. Formerly the Otago Dairy Co-operative Company the Hocken Collections has bounced round campus a bit over the years (oldies will know that the Richardson building was first and foremost the Hocken building) before setting up shop here and an impressive shop it is. The reason for all the moves – space my dear friends. There are a lot of things in the Hocken Collections. A note hastily scribbled in my notebook reads fun facts like 10km of archive material, over 1 million images, 200,000 books. You get the picture there is a lot of awesome resource material living here.
So how did the Hocken Collections begin? The brain child behind the collection is Dr Thomas Morland Hocken (1836-1910) who settled in Dunedin from 1862 and collected like a mad thing – books, newspapers, maps, photos, artifacts and much more – all related to New Zealand, Pacific and early Austrialia. This is the basis of the Hocken collection. The awesome thing to note is that Dr Hocken used this material for his own research – as part of the tour we were shown his hand written notes on a poster he had collected. He was a very devoted man to his collecting
Dr Hocken’s reason for collecting is still a founding basis behind the Hocken collection today and it means that there is a wealth of interesting items within its walls. Hocken offered his collection to Dunedin and the people of NZ – based on this the Collections is open to both Uni folk and the general public ( a lot of folk including myself have used the Hocken for family research – check out these awesome research guides).
Katherine (our tour guide although the other Katherine would be very keen to help) is responsible for the Ephemera collection which started to become a focus of collecting from the mid 60s. The Ephemera collection is made up of things that in most cases we would think are rubbish that you throw away. However, Katherine views these items slightly differently. The premise behind the Ephemera collection is to provide a snap shot of our society at a given time. Best example, the little box filled with funeral programmes over the past 100 years. The earliest is a beautiful word press item, mid 70s is an old school typewritten version while those from the 21st century are often a collage of images and stories. It all tells a story about how society has changed over the years.
So as I hit my word limit on this little tale, I realise that this blog post is kinda like the Hocken Collections, there is a lot there to cover and not a lot of space for it all. There is so much awesome material to look at(often restricted due to its delicate nature but it is there), so why not pay a visit and take a tour (it’s got 4.5 out of 5 stars on Tripadvisor) or visit the latest exhibition . If you prefer to stay put you can always read Ka Taka Hakena: Treasures from the Hocken Collections or view some of the amazing images online via the Hakena Heritage collection or have a peek at the Hocken Snapshop to see what Dunedin was like in the olden days. They even have a blog!
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