Soothing Springs or Putrid Pools?

Monday, November 18th, 2019 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Practising History (HIST 353) student Sam Bocock wrote this blog in response to reading an Otago Preventive Medicine dissertation. An invaluable primary source of New Zealand medical and social history, the Preventive Medicine dissertation collection comprises more than three thousand public health projects written by fifth-year medical students from the 1920s to the late 1970s. Topics range from studies on current health issues, such as asthma, to health surveys of various occupational groups and of New Zealand towns and Maori. Permission is required to access the dissertations. An index to the dissertations is available.

Soothing Springs or Putrid Pools?

Imagine a bone rattling, teeth chattering, miserable winter afternoon. Chicken soup may be for the soul, but a natural hot pool warms the mind, body and spirit. Welcome to Rotorua – a thermal wonderland. The central North Island settlement offers a cornucopia of natural hot water springs and pools. These have and continue to draw visitors from across the world since the 19th century, simply to relax.

Scene at the Blue Baths in Rotorua, circa 1935, showing the pool, and three women in bathing suits. Photographer unidentified.[1]

Although these pools and baths feel good, I wonder if they are actually good for you. Two University of Otago medical students explored this in 1938. J.R. Hinds and S.E Williams wrote a Preventative Medicine Dissertation titled ‘A public health survey of the swimming baths of Rotorua’. Here are three questions to consider: What caused the southern students to conduct this study? What did they find? What are the broader themes hidden within the text and its wider significance?

I suggest that geothermal tourism had national significance, interest, and influenced this study in a number of ways. Rotorua was, and is, a huge contributor to the growth of tourism in New Zealand. However, the baths were not always the focus. The Pink and White Terraces were world renowned in the nineteenth century. Tourists flocked to view this ‘eighth wonder of the world’.[2] On the 10th of June 1886, Mount Tarawera Volcano erupted and obliterated the terraces, greatly modified the nearby hydrothermal features, and destroyed tourism facilities.[3] After the volcanic destruction of the terraces, the focus of geothermal tourism shifted to Rotorua township.[4] For most of the last century Rotorua had been New Zealand’s main tourism centre and for the first half of that period the principal attraction was geothermal activity, especially bathing in mineral water, either for pleasure or for medicinal purposes.[5]

The government’s investment in the development of the Rotorua township, associated sanatorium and spas led to the establishment of the world’s first government tourism department in 1901.[6] The Department of Tourist and Health Resorts marketed geothermal tourism,[7] as seen below in the booklets and brochures.

An example of the Department of Tourist and Publicity’s attractive brochures of the 1930s.[8]

A montage of illustrations of activities and facilities available at Rotorua in New Zealand Railways Magazine.[9]

Looking through a scientific lens, a hot topic of the day was the emergence and treatment of epidemics. The study of epidemic outbreaks coupled with discoveries of bacteriology, emphasised the importance of water as a medium whereby organisms can readily and quickly spread throughout a community.[10] From the late nineteenth to early twentieth century there was a focus on balneological and therapeutic properties of hot geothermal waters, with the development of sanatoriums and spa facilities intended to be of national significance.[11] Hinds and Williams wanted to examine the bacteriological safety of the Blue Baths, and make recommendations to the establishment on how to improve hygienic measures.

They found that the water supply was clean, the real problem was human pollution. The bulk of the water came from an actively boiling spring proven to be bacteriologically sterile.[12] During the busy summer season, 800-1000 persons used the baths daily. After a few hours of exposure to human pollution (hair, skin, mucus, open wounds, etc) and excellent temperatures for bacterial growth, outgoing water showed an alarmingly high bacterial count.[13] This could lead to eye, ear and respiratory passage infections.[14]

The methods of purification in Rotorua were out of date and sub-standard. The most pernicious mistake was the belief that the frequent changing of the water would maintain healthy standards.[15] No effort was made to maintain pure water apart from emptying and cleaning every 48 hours, which was insufficient in the face of counts such as 25,000 organisms per cubic centimetre.[16] The students recommended that a continuous purification system and chloramine treatment be implemented. To keep the water sterile and avoid irritation chlorine content had to be between 0.3-0.5 parts per million.[17] Observations in the past indicated that below 0.3 bacteria are not killed sufficiently quickly, and above 0.5 eye irritation was marked.[18]

Photo gives some indication of their popularity for recreation at that time, and the layout of the facilities in relation to the hygienic problems. Photographer unknown, circa 1959.[19]

The students advised changes to the Blue Baths’ facilities. Bathers should not be allowed to walk around the edge of the pool before going to the dressing room and should have a proper shower and foot scrub. Pathway detritus also resulted in contamination of the bath water.[20] The dressing rooms should be kept spotless and towels and costumes should be properly sterilized or provided by the facility.[21] Authority should be given to bathing attendants to refuse admission to people with skin infections, the common cold, sore throats, or those wearing bandages.[22] The students put thought into every effort that should be made towards directing the public to follow general hygiene principles.

Certain disadvantages made the choice of purification system difficult. The sulphur dioxide present  was a powerful dechlorinating agent, and acted as a reducing agent on chlorine, complicating treatment processes.[23] The acid and mineral content caused corrosion of all metal pipes except lead, and siliceous deposits on pipes and other apparatus created constant trouble for engineers.[24] Advantages the baths offered included free water that did  not require heating, and (arguably) enough of it for practical needs.[25]

Although it is a preventative medicine dissertation, this study highlighted resource exploitation can be linked to the increase of tourism. In the 1930s, residents of Rotorua began using geothermal wells to heat residential, commercial, and government buildings. Over the decades, increasing demand on the geothermal resource resulted in the failure of a number of hot springs.[26] Originally there were 63 boiling features at Whakarewarewa, but, by 1985, only 38 were still boiling, and only 4 of 16 geysers erupted on a daily basis.[27] I am suggesting that government investment in Rotorua and the opening of the Blue Baths in the 1930s were catalysts for future thermal resource exploitation. In 1986 the New Zealand government ordered the closure of about 40% of the geothermal wells in Rotorua City.[28] There is an obvious link between the growth of tourism, and the depletion of natural resources.

Carl Leonard, a guide at Whakarewarewa, poses at the site of the extinct Papakura Geyser, 1986. Photographed by Merv Griffiths.[29]

Notes

[1] Blue Baths at Rotorua, ca 1935, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22656675.

[2] Shirley Barnett, “Maori tourism,” Tourism management 18, no. 7 (1997): 471.

[3] Kenneth A. Barrick, “Geyser decline and extinction in New Zealand- energy development impacts and implications for environmental management,” Environmental Management 39, no. 6 (2007): 790.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ian Rockel, Taking the waters: early spas in New Zealand (Government Printers, 1986), 20.

[6] Melissa Climo, Sarah D. Milicich, and Brian White, “A history of geothermal direct use development in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand,” Geothermics 59 (2016): 218.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Mitchell Leonard Cornwall, Rotorua and New Zealand’s thermal wonderland, ca 1930-1937, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23063926.

[9] New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch, “Rotorua, nature’s cure. Thermal waters, health and recreation. Best reached by rail, New Zealand,” issued by the New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch, ca 1932, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23179795.

[10] J.R. Hinds and S.E. Williams, ‘A public health survey of the swimming baths of Rotorua’, 1938, 1.

[11] D.M. Stafford, The founding years in Rotorua: A history of Events to 1900 (Rotorua District Council, 1986), 448.

[12] Hinds and Williams, 87.

[13]Ibid, 88.

[14] Ibid, 94.

[15] “Below Standard,” Auckland Star, 13 August 1938.

[16] Hinds and Williams, 108.

[17] Ibid, 109.

[18], J.A. Braxton Hicks, R. J. V. Pulvertaft, and F. R. Chopping, “Observations On The Examination Of Swimming-Bath Water,” British medical journal 2, no. 3795 (1933): 603.

[19] The Blue Baths, thermal baths in Rotorua, ca 1959, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22779571.

[20] Hinds and Williams, 110.

[21] Ibid, 111.

[22] Ibid, 112.

[23] Ibid, 107.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Kenneth A. Barrick, “Environmental review of geyser basins: resources, scarcity, threats, and benefits,” Environmental Reviews 18, no. NA (2010): 222.

[27] Ministry of Energy, The Rotorua Geothermal Field — A report of the Rotorua geothermal monitoring programme and task force 1982–1985, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1986, 48.

[28] Barrick, “Environmental review of geyser basins: resources, scarcity, threats, and benefits,” 222.

[29] Carl Leonard, a guide at Whakarewarewa, at the site of the extinct Papakura Geyser – Photograph taken by Merv Griffiths, Dominion post, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23173714.

Bibliography

Barnett, Shirley. “Maori Tourism.” Tourism Management 18, no. 7 (1997): 471-73.

Barrick, Kenneth A. “Environmental Review of Geyser Basins: Resources, Scarcity, Threats, and Benefits.” Environmental Reviews 18 (2010): 209-38.

Barrick, Kenneth A. “Geyser Decline and Extinction in New Zealand—Energy Development Impacts and Implications for Environmental Management.” Environmental Management 39, no. 6 (2007): 783-805.

“Below Standard.” Auckland Star. 13 August 1938.

Blue Baths at Rotorua. Ca 1935. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22656675.

Climo, Melissa, Sarah D. Milicich, and Brian White. “A History of Geothermal Direct Use Development in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand.” Geothermics 59 (2016): 215-24.

Cornwall, Mitchell Leonard. Rotorua and New Zealand’s thermal wonderland. Ca 1930-1937. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23063926.

Hicks, JA Braxton, R. J. V. Pulvertaft, and F. R. Chopping. “Observations On The Examination Of Swimming-Bath Water.” British medical journal 2, no. 3795 (1933): 603-606.

Hinds, J.R. and S.E. Williams. ‘A public health survey of the swimming baths of Rotorua’, 1938.

Leonard, Carl. A guide at Whakarewarewa, at the site of the extinct Papakura Geyser. Photograph taken by Merv Griffiths. Dominion post. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23173714.

Ministry of Energy. The Rotorua Geothermal Field — a report of the Rotorua geothermal monitoring programme and task force 1982–1985. Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1986.

New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch. “Rotorua, nature’s cure. Thermal waters, health and recreation. Best reached by rail, New Zealand.” Issued by the New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch. Ca 1932. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23179795.

Rockel, Ian. Taking the Waters. Government Printing Office Publishing, 1986.

Stafford, D. M. The Founding Years in Rotorua: A History of Events to 1900. Ray Richards, 1986.

The Blue Baths, thermal baths in Rotorua. Ca 1959. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22779571.

 

 

John Prouse and the Maiden of Morven

Monday, November 4th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 1 Comment

Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Curator Music and AV

Every year when World Audiovisual Heritage day comes around, we are always struck with the wonderful, intriguing recordings that are made available for the public to hear a little bit of a forgotten past. This year, to celebrate World AV Heritage Day at Hocken, we are looking back to the very early days of recording, and focussing on one New Zealander in particular – John Prouse, and his 1905 recording of Maiden of Morven (Gramophone and Typewriter Company 3-2359 ). This recording is one of the first recordings of a New Zealand artist, after the extremely rare Violets by Thomas Mandeno Jackson. Hocken Collections’ copy of Maiden of Morven is also thought to be the only copy that survives, although others may exist in private collections.

John Prouse was born in Wellington in 1856, the fourth of Richard and Janet Prouse’s twelve children (sadly, three died in infancy). Richard Prouse was an early settler to the Wellington region, arriving at age ten on the Duke of Roxburgh. Prouse senior established a sawmill business in Wainuiomata (later moving to Silverstream), before retiring to Wellington in the late 1880s until his death in 1894.  Two of Richard and Janet’s sons (James and Richard) established Prouse Brothers Sawmills in Levin, and a joinery factory and timber yard in Wellington. John, however, did not enter the family business. From his youth he possessed an excellent singing voice, and was a member of the Taita and Wainui church choirs (where the Prouse family lived). His public debut on the Wellington stage came in 1885, at age 29, and his career bloomed from then. He won much praise for his performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Israel in Egypt during the 1888 New Zealand Festival of Music in Wellington. In the early 1890s, Prouse, wife Lena, and their four children left for England, where he studied with Wilheim Ganz and T. A. Wallworth at Guildhall in London. Prouse also studied with Sir Charles Santley, who helped launch his professional career with engagements at The Crystal Palace, and The Royal Albert, and St. James’ halls in London (Main, 1990, p. 27). Prouse returned to New Zealand in 1892, joining the family timber business, and managing sales in Wellington, but also kept performing around New Zealand, including at the 1894 New Zealand Festival of Music in Wellington. He toured in 1902-1903 with visiting French soprano Antonia Dolores, before returning to England in 1903 with his family for a longer stay, where he could perform alongside some of the most well regarded vocalists in England and Europe. Violinist Jan Kubelik and pianist Wilheim Backhaus assisted Prouse in some of these performances.

Portrait of the New Zealand singer, John Prouse – Photograph taken by Marceau, Los Angeles.. White, Harold Temple, 1881-1972 :Photographs relating to Temple White’s musical career. Ref: PAColl-8018-2-6. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

While still in London in June 1905, Prouse made twelve recordings for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company (forerunner to His Master’s Voice). William Main, in his 1990 article on Prouse, suggested that until the late 1980s it was unknown if these recordings were ever commercially released (p.27). However they were assigned catalogue numbers, so it is possible they do exist in private or institutional collections. Three of the titles Prouse recorded were test pressings with few copies known to exist: Pilgrim’s Song (composed by Tchaikovsky), There are no more like thee (composed by Temple), and Maiden of Morven (a traditional composition arranged by Malcolm Lawson).

Maiden of Morven survives at Hocken Collections, donated to us in 2002 as part of a larger collection of 78rpm discs. Maiden of Morven itself is a love lament from a bereaved Ossianic hero to his deceased love, with lyrics by Harold Boulton, and musical arrangement by Lawson. Prouse did not use Boulton’s full lyrics, cutting a third verse that refers to Ossian (the narrator and purported author of a cycle of Scottish epic poems) and his writing. The below lyrics are those sung by Prouse for his recording of Maiden of Morven.

Moan ye winds that never sleep,
Howl ye spirits of the deep,
Roar ye torrents down the steep,
Roll ye mists on Morven.
May the tempests never rest
Nor the seas with peace be blest
Since they tore thee from my breast,
Maiden of Morven!

Fairer than the flowers that grow,
Purer than the rills that flow,
Gentler than the fallow doe
‘Mid the woods of Morven;
As the leaf is to the tree,
As the summer to the bee,
So wert thou, my Love, to me,
Maiden of Morven!

Oft I chased the deer of yore,
Many a battle-brunt I bore,
When the chiefs of Innistore
Hurled their might on Morven.
Blunt my spear, and slack my bow,
Like an empty ghost I go,
Death the only hope I know,
Maiden of Morven!

(Harold Boulton, Maiden of Morven lyrics. Date unknown.)

The performance is of its time – formal, with clear diction and enunciation with a piano accompaniment that is, while not spartan, not overly florid, and does not overpower the vocalist. Prouse is in fine, robust form on the recording, and it is easy to understand why his performances were highly commended with his “cultured style and melodious voice”, as noted in The Kent Times, and re-reported in the Poverty Bay Herald (unknown author, 1912). Here is the 1905 recording of Maiden of Morven.

 

John Prouse. Maiden of Morven (Gramophone and Typewriter Company G.C-3-2359). 1905. Hocken Music Collections Rec-M 972. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

The 10”, 78rpm shellac disc is in good condition for being 114 years old. There is surface wear and minor scratching, but this is to be expected on a disc this age. The centre label is in good condition and clearly indicates the artist, title, composer, catalogue number, and the Gramophone and Company label image, but not the lyricist. The reverse side has the company name, and an etching of the label image – a cherub writing on a disc. Due to the age and fragility of the disc, we made the decision to digitise the content for preservation and access, and the original disc is no longer available for issue. By making this digital copy of the recording available for World Audiovisual Heritage Day, we are celebrating Prouse’s career and highlighting how very early recordings survive and thrive in collections.

And what of the remainder of Prouse’s career? On returning to New Zealand  later in 1905 (Wellington newspaper The Evening Post lists him performing in August) he continued to be in great demand as a vocalist, and hosted friends such as Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Clara Butt at the family home. In 1908 he performed in Rossini’s Stabat Mater, and the reviewer for The Dominion was complimentary, calling his performance “thoroughly enjoyable”, and noting his singing and enunciation of the Latin text were “beyond criticism” (unknown author, 1908).  Prouse toured again with Antonia Dolores in 1911, and continued to perform widely until his death in August 1930, including some radio broadcast recitals in April of that year. Prouse’s legacy lies in being one of the first recording artists from New Zealand – one with a particularly fine voice.

References:

A Clerk of Oxford (2012, May 19). Thou’rt the music of my soul: Maiden of Morven [blog post]. Retrieved from https://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2012/05/thourt-music-of-my-soul-maiden-of.html

Mail, W. (1989). John Prouse (1856-1930): New Zealand’s first commercial recording artist. Music in New Zealand 5:9, 26-27.

Unknown author. (1908). Stabat Mater. Dominion, 15 August. Retrieved from https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DOM19080815.2.47?query=%22john+prouse%22+stabat+mater&items_per_page=10&start_date=01-01-1856&end_date=31-12-1930&snippet=true

Unknown author. (1912). Gisbourne liedertafel. Poverty Bay herald, 6 July. Retrieved from https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/PBH19120706.2.7?query=%22john+prouse%22+voice&items_per_page=10&page=4&start_date=01-01-1856&end_date=31-12-1930&snippet=true

Wallingford, N. (2014, December 3). The houses of the Prouse brothers [blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.qwerty.geek.nz/ProuseHouses/

 

Stirring up the stacks #5 – sauerkraut roll

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Alex Scahill, Collections Assistant, Publications

I came up with this idea upon spotting a recent children’s book by Gavin Bishop, Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook, appear on the new arrivals shelf at the Hocken. What caught my eye was that the cook in question, John Thompson, only had one hand. What a challenge it must have been for Thompson, attempting to prepare meals for dozens of men, on a ship being rolled around by the merciless ocean, using 18th century technology and ingredients that often did not store well or were opportunistically harvested along the way, many of which most of us would turn our noses up at today (anyone keen for penguin, seal or turtle?). Actually, I think that’d make for a great contemporary cooking show. Let’s chuck Gordon Ramsay into a cramped little box that pitches and rolls around like a ride at an amusement park, and make him cook haute cuisine for dozens of amused onlookers using an assortment of random (and questionably fresh) ingredients using nothing but a woodfire oven… with one hand tied behind his back. I’d watch that!

Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Hocken G246.C7 BH57 2018

What attracted me to cooking something in the realm of what may have been served on board these voyages was that at the time I spied this book I was also (temporarily) one handed, having recently broken my elbow. So I endeavoured (insert cheesy dad joke grin) to become a one handed cook myself and see if the food served aboard the ships was really as bad as it sounds. Admittedly, extended preparation time of my dish, combined with a rather unfortunate mishap which set me back a few weeks (keep reading), meant that by the time it actually came to serve my dish to my colleagues my elbow was fully healed.

So what type of fare was typical on board Cook’s voyages to New Zealand? Cook set out with provisions for a two year voyage, unsure of where and when they may have the opportunity to resupply with fresh water and food. Eighteenth century sailors were a hardy bunch, and there was little room for fussiness when it came to food. Eat what you were served or perish.

Provisions list from Cook’s journal for July 1772 for the Resolution and Adventure (total 201 men). Burkhardt et al. 1978. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

While Cook had loaded his vessels with a variety of livestock, this was primarily for leaving behind on islands they encountered during the voyage, and generally only those animals which did not survive the voyage were consumed on board. What meat was available for consumption was usually subjected to heavy salting in order to prevent the meat from spoiling, thus extending the shelf life for long trips. Other protein came primarily from what birds or sea creatures could be caught along the way.  The same was said for produce, with unknown plants harvested for food from islands along the way. Consumption of some poisonous species in the South Pacific resulted in the deaths of a pig and a pet parakeet, although no sailors suffered the same fate (Burkhardt et al. 1978: 132).

However, due to the large number of Hocken staff who are vegetarian or vegan, I wanted to prepare a dish which would cater for as many of our staff as possible, so I opted to use two of the absolute staples from Cook’s galleys: bread and sauerkraut. The third major staple on board these voyages was booze, which was consumed regularly in lieu of fresh clean water, although I decided that serving beer at work during morning tea was perhaps unwise.

Sailors and Sauerkraut. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

In the stacks I found a book called Sailors and Sauerkraut (Burkhardt et al. 1978). The authors of this volume scoured the journals of Cook, Banks and others for references about the food and beverages which were consumed during their voyages to New Zealand, and subsequently produced a recipe book inspired by those references. I chose to recreate their recipe for Sauerkraut Roll.

This was perhaps a little ambitious considering I’d never even tasted, let alone tried to make sauerkraut before. The recipe seemed straightforward enough. Just cabbage and brine. But it does take several weeks to ferment. My first batch appeared to be going well and after a while began to take on the characteristic sauerkraut smell of ‘sweet farts’ (I’m really making this sound appealing!).

Enter catastrophe. After several weeks of waiting it came time to have a taste test. As I moved my container to the kitchen bench for tasting my clumsiness got the better of me and I ended up with my entire batch of sauerkraut pasted across the kitchen floor. So I started again.

Once the sauerkraut was ready it was time to prepare the rest of the dish for morning tea. I opted to double the following recipe.

The sauerkraut is ready

FOR THE ROLL

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • yeast, sugar, salt, water
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk

Mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk and add the flour. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, then put in a warm place to rise until double in volume. Roll out the dough to a size large enough to wrap around the filling.

FILLING

  • 500g sauerkraut
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • cracked pepper
  • 5 large onions
  • 2 cups croutons

Wash the sauerkraut under running water and drain. Fry one of the onions in a little oil until golden and then add the sauerkraut and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for a while. While the sauerkraut is cooking slice the remaining onions into rings and fry in oil until golden. Also prepare croutons.

Spread half the onions and croutons on the dough and cover with a layer of sauerkraut. Repeat. Carefully roll everything up, sealing the ends of the roll so that nothing will leak out during cooking.

Adding the filling

All rolled up (like a “sauerkraut calzone” according to my feedback)

To make it look a little less rustic (debatable) I prepared some caramelised onion as a garnish.

On the morning of serving I arrived at work with the rolls raw, gave them a quick glaze with olive oil, garnished with the caramelised onion and popped it in the oven first at 220˚C for 10mins, and then at 180˚C for a further 30mins until nice and golden.

Looks delicious!

They came out looking much better than I’d anticipated, but the real test would come down to taste. My personal opinion was that it tasted fine, but certainly better than expected. I just don’t think sauerkraut is really my thing. The following are a selection of comments left in the anonymous comments box during tasting:

visually appealing, which was surprising”

“this was so nice it gives me a false impression of what ships meals were like”

“…would definitely be great with a beer”

“Delicious! What were the sailors complaining about?”

“smells divine!”

and my personal favourite:

“tasty, and the perfect meal to prevent shipboard romance on long trips”

Overall, certainly a reasonable tasting novelty which provoked some decent discussion, but given the effort I think it’s fair to say I won’t be attempting this one again any time soon.

 

References:

  • Beaglehole, J. C. (ed.) 1955-1974. The journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery. Cambridge: published for the Hakluyt Society at the University Press.
  • Bishop, G. 2018. Cook’s cook : the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Wellington: Gecko Press.
  • Burkhardt, B., McLean, B. A., and Kochanek, D. 1978. Sailors & sauerkraut, or, Recipes from Paradise, or, Making do with what you have : a reading cook book with extracts from the journals of William Anderson, Joseph Banks, James Cook, Thomas Edgar, Alexander Home, James King, David Samwell and recipes interpolated therein. British Columbia: Gray’s Publishing.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #4: a “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Delightful and Enchanting Things: Some Impressions of a Hocken Collections Exhibition

Monday, August 5th, 2019 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Andrew Lorey, Collections Assistant (Researcher Services)

Things! They are everywhere! From the beds that we sleep in to the clothes that we wear to the keyboards that we touch, we interact with a greater number and diversity of things on a day-to-day basis than the number and diversity of people with whom we work and live. Though we might not often reflect upon the subtle ways that things impact our daily lives or the powers of things to affect our emotions and moods, we experience the physicality and the material presence of things during every moment of our lives.

Artworks and objects on display in the central ‘Blue Room’ of A Garden of Earthly Delights. Photograph by Iain Frengley.

A Garden of Earthly Delights, an exhibition on view at the Hocken Collections|Te Uare Taoka o Hākena between 11 May 2019 and 11 August 2019, encourages us to think not only about things but with them and through them. Curators at the Hocken Collections collaborated with 13 University of Otago departments and Dunedin cultural institutions to assemble over 180 artworks, photographs, teaching models, books, articles of clothing, rocks, fossils, pieces of furniture and other objects, and the resulting exhibition, in the words of Pictorial Collections Head Curator Robyn Notman, aims “to stimulate ideas and associations that may not always be made between such a diverse group of natural and human-made objects” [1].

Advertising poster created in conjunction with A Garden of Earthly Delights. Design by Erin Broughton.

Articles, interviews and reviews published by media outlets throughout New Zealand have enabled Notman and other Hocken staff members to explain the motivations and intentions behind the exhibition [2] [3] [4] [5], but few of these published accounts have discussed the particular effects and associations created by interacting with specific objects on display. Indeed, it is difficult to capture in words the profound ways that material objects and artworks can captivate an exhibition’s viewers or spark people’s imaginations. Because no two people have had the same life experiences, forged the same memories or viewed the world in exactly the same way, things have great powers and potentials to elicit emotional responses and to convey various forms of knowledge.

The Neanderthal bust on loan from the University of Otago Archaeology Programme confronts exhibition visitors as they enter the Hocken Collections Gallery. Photograph by Iain Frengley.

Upon entering A Garden of Earthly Delights for the first time, I was confronted by the immediacy and tangibility of the multitude of things that were on display. For instance, a plaster bust of a male Neanderthal (Homo neanderthalensis) greeted me as I entered through the Gallery door. An extinct species of human that coexisted and interbred with anatomically modern people (Homo sapiens), Neanderthals have captured the popular imagination for over a century [6] [7]. Archaeological and genetic discoveries over the last 20 years have dramatically changed our understanding of Neanderthals’ ancestral relationships to modern humans [8] [9], and commercial interests as specialised as perfume manufacturers have sought to capitalise on our cultural fascination with ‘cave-men’ and ‘cave-women’ [10]. Positioned at waist-level height and staring directly at me when I walked in, the Neanderthal felt like a gracious host who was welcoming me into his place of abode.

Used by the University of Otago’s Department of Anthropology as a teaching model, this particular Neanderthal cast has lost much of its contextual information. Its exhibition label identifies its maker as ‘Unknown’ and provides a date of creation as ‘c. 1975’ [11]. Some people might think that this lack of information could discourage exhibition visitors from engaging with the bust, but the scarcity of contextual knowledge about the Neanderthal cast actually helped me to reflect on the actual undertaking of archaeological and anthropological research. By reading the exhibition label and then looking at and thinking about the bust, I was having an experience similar to that of an archaeologist discovering an artefact or bone that has been buried under the surface of the Earth. I did not know who made this plaster cast, where it came from or how old it was, but I knew what it was and how it made me feel. In thinking about this material object, I was able to better understand the difficulties and limitations of academic research in archaeology and anthropology.

Nestled in the corner of the ‘Blue Room’, George R. Chance’s Karearea depicts an endemic New Zealand bird in all its grandeur. Photograph by Iain Frengley.

Moving away from the Neanderthal bust and into a different corner of the Hocken Collections gallery space, I was drawn to a large-format photographic print of a kārearea (New Zealand falcon; Falco novaeseelandiae) [12]. Measuring 200 x 115 cm, the print depicts the kārearea at approximately 5x its actual size. The print’s coexistence with other artworks and objects within the gallery space, including larger-than-life botanical teaching models and nearby paintings by Frances Hodgkins and Robin White, helped me to become aware of the tensions that exist between natural and human-made environments. George Roger Chance, the son of a prominent New Zealand-based photographer, captured this image of a falcon around Flagstaff or Mount Allan (localities north of Dunedin), suggesting that this particular kārearea must also have been keenly aware of its coexistence with humans and their material-cultural creations [13].

The simple black-and-white colouring and the central positioning of the falcon in the photograph also encouraged me to stop and contemplate the things that this kārearea may have been feeling or thinking when its photograph was taken. What would it be like to spend my days gliding through the skies under the strength of my own body? What would I do if I had powers of eyesight that allowed me to spot a rabbit in a paddock at a distance of 16 kilometres (the human equivalent of a falcon’s eyesight)? These are just a couple of the questions that crossed my mind when I stopped to think about the photograph in front of me.

Beyond the biological wonders of the falcon depicted in the print, the seemingly straightforward title of the work – Karearea (New Zealand falcon) – also encouraged me to stop and reflect. Because it refers to the falcon in both te Reo Māori and English, the print reminds anyone who sees it to consider the importance of biculturalism and to appreciate the fact that the same thing – in this case, a bird – can represent very different things to different people. After all, tangata whenua formed ideas about and associations with kārearea throughout Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu long before New Zealanders began to ‘scientifically’ understand, classify and interpret the ecological importance of New Zealand falcons [14]. In this case, a photograph – the thing that was in front of me – caused me to think beyond myself, to imagine and to realise my own personal position within a larger world.

These two embroidered skirts were made by Louise Sutherland, a famous long-distance cyclist who was the first person to cycle the Trans-Amazonian Highway. Photograph by Iain Frengley.

Entering into one of the exhibition’s smaller rooms, I noticed a pair of brightly coloured hand-embroidered skirts hanging together against the backdrop of a pink wall. Even at first glance, it was clear that the skirts were something more than clothing. Delicate butterflies, multi-coloured flowers, animals, rainclouds and sunbeams adorn these skirts, and a lone cyclist traverses both pieces of clothing. The nearby exhibition label explained that Louise Sutherland, a famous New Zealand cyclist and nurse, made the skirts to commemorate a 4,400-km journey that she took through the Amazonian rainforest [15]. After becoming the first person to cycle the Trans-Amazonian Highway, Sutherland spent several years giving lectures in order to raise funds to establish a health clinic in Humaitá, Brazil, usually wearing the eye-catching skirts in order to capture the attention of her audiences.

Having learned a little more about the skirts from reading the exhibition label, I suddenly understood that many layers of meaning and of memory were woven into the fabric of these beautiful things. Of course, the embroidered designs visually told the story of a New Zealand woman who defied all odds by cycling over 4,400 kilometres through a dangerous and wild environment, but the skirts themselves were also physical and material testaments to the efforts Louise made to create them and to educate people about the needs of impoverished communities in the Amazon [16]. Through their stunning visual qualities and their lively histories of use, the skirts gained a particular dynamism and power that helped transport me to Brazil and enabled me to imagine what it must have been like for Sutherland to have undertaken her journey over 40 years ago.

A selection of illustrations and objects on display in the ‘Pink Room’ of A Garden of Earthly Delights, showing the large wooden table on loan from the University of Otago Department of Geology. Photograph by Iain Frengley.

Turning away from the embroidered skirts, I began to observe the other artworks and objects that were on display in the Garden of Earthly Delights. I noticed a variety of botanical illustrations on the walls around me, some anatomical drawings and models and a long table in the centre of the room which supported a large book and about 10 papier-mâché botanical models. As I walked around this section of the gallery, I gradually became aware of the fact that the unassuming table greatly affected my physical impressions of the space. Furniture might just represent the most underappreciated class of material things that we encounter in our lives. After all, we spend most of our time sitting in chairs, sleeping in beds, setting meals on tables and working at desks. We more often think of furniture in terms of its function rather than its form or visual beauty, and as a result, we frequently overlook the ways that furniture items can memorialise and embody particular lived experiences, emotions and feelings.

Measuring 242 x 112 x 78 cm, the rectangular table is one of the largest things on display in the exhibition, and it is much more than a piece of carved wood on which to place artworks and objects. It seemed slightly unremarkable at first, due to its lack of decoration and its plainness in comparison to the vibrant illustrations and intriguing objects that surrounded it, and it was also one of the few objects in the exhibition that was not accompanied by a descriptive label [17]. Looking more closely, I realised that the table was not actually plain or undecorated – hundreds of signatures, messages and other types of graffiti adorned its surfaces. It then occurred to me that in the context of this exhibition, this graffiti was not merely a material manifestation of vandalism or some rebellious compulsion. Rather, it seemed to represent a type of crowd-sourced decoration and artistry that had required years of labour, perhaps undertaken in stolen moments when no authorities could intervene. Memories, feelings, frustrations and follies had been inscribed into this table over its decades of use, and therefore the table represented not only a piece of furniture designed to fulfil a particular function but also a material expression of many different aspects of human experience.

Some of the objects, illustrations and artworks on display in the ‘Green Room’ of A Garden of Earthly Delights. Photograph by Iain Frengley.

Each of the things described in this blog post – the Neanderthal bust, the kārearea photograph, the embroidered skirts and the large table – tell different stories about the people who made them, the places they travelled and the ideas that they express. By displaying them in association with the other 180 artworks and objects in A Garden of Earthly Delights, exhibition visitors are given innumerable opportunities to consider things in new ways, often thinking alongside, with and through the things on display. In this way, the exhibition encourages gallery visitors to think creatively and playfully about the world around them. For me, the exhibition served as a powerful reminder that our material surroundings affect us during every moment of our lives, whether we consciously observe them or not. This realisation has stuck with me long after my visit to A Garden of Earthly Delights, and it offered me both a new way of thinking and a new way of thinging.

The entrance to A Garden of Earthly Delights, located on the First Floor of the Hocken Collections. Design by Erin Broughton.

A Garden of Earthly Delights is open for viewing in the Hocken Collections’ First Floor Gallery at 90 Anzac Avenue until 11 August 2019 Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday, 11 August 2019, from 2pm to 4pm.

 

[1] Otago Bulletin Board (2019). Uni News – Art and science come together in exhibition. https://www.otago.ac.nz/otagobulletin/news/otago710920.html.

[2] Davies, Caroline (2019). Inside the Hocken: A Garden of Earthly Delights. Down in Edin Magazine. 17(July 2019), 60-75.

[3] Notman, Robyn (2019). Sculpture in kauri gift from McCahons. Otago Daily Times: The Weekend Mix. 08 June 2019, page 6.

[4] Otago Daily Times Online (2019). Exhibition more of a ‘garden’ adventure. https://www.odt.co.nz/entertainment/arts/exhibition-more-garden-adventure.

[5] Exploring Colour (2019). A Garden of Earthly Delights. https://exploringcolour.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/a-garden-of-earthly-delights/.

[6] Sommer, Marianne (2006). Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Neanderthal as Image and ‘Distortion’ in Early 20th-Century French Science and Press. Social Studies of Science. 36(2), 207-240. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0306312706054527.

[7] Pääbo, Svante (2014). Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes. London: Hachette UK.

[8] Slon et al. (2018). The genome of the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. Nature. 561, 113-116.

[9] D’Errico et al. (1998). Neanderthal Acculturation in Western Europe? A Critical Review of the Evidence and Interpretation. Current Anthropology. Supplement to Vol. 39, S1-S44.

[10] Aude Ltd, a British fragrance company, recently released a unisex fragrance called ‘Neandertal’. The company’s website (https://neandertal.co.uk/) states that the ‘perfume imagines the life of this mysterious being [the Neanderthal] while raising questions of the past and future of modern humans’. I wonder what the perfume smells like…

[11] The full exhibition label for the Neanderthal bust reads:

Maker Unknown
[Neanderthal bust], c. 1975
Plaster
Early hominid/human cast collection, Archaeology Programme
Department of Anthropology, University of Otago School of Social Sciences

[12] You can learn more about the kārearea/New Zealand falcon at the New Zealand Department of Conservation|Te Papa Atawhai’s website: https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/nz-falcon-karearea/.

[13] The full exhibition label for the kārearea photograph reads:

George R. Chance, 1916-2008, Aotearoa
Karearea (New Zealand falcon), c. 1970
Gelatin silver print
Given by the photographer in 1991
Hocken Photographs Collection P2018-013-009

George Chance (junior) made a study of these falcons in the 1970s and later participated in the making of a documentary entitled ‘Karearea: the Pine Falcon’, which was directed by Sandy Crichton and released in 2008. This particular bird was a local that used to fly between Flagstaff and Mount Allen. George Chance made a number of very large prints like this one using his own enlarger, a Durst 600. A second copy of this photograph was hung in the Hall of Birds at the Otago Museum when John Darby was a curator there.

The photograph hung on the first floor of Cargill House until 1991, and was then deposited at the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago and now resides at the Hocken.

[14] Te Ara | The Encylopedia of New Zealand provides two traditional Māori sayings that refer to the kārearea. The first suggests that the behaviour of the kārearea could indicate upcoming changes in the weather, while the second demonstrates that the falcon was traditionally viewed as bold, treacherous and possibly even as an enemy:

Ka tangi te kārewarewa ki waenga o te rangi pai, ka ua āpōpō.
Ka tangi ki waenga o te rangi ua, ka paki āpōpō.
When a kārearea screams in fine weather, next day there’ll be rain.
When it screams in the rain, next day will be fine.
https://teara.govt.nz/en/nga-manu-birds/page-4
and
Homai te kāeaea kia toro-māhangatia
Ko te kāhu te whakaora – waiho kia rere ana!
The kārearea must be snared
And the kāhu saved – let it fly on!
https://teara.govt.nz/en/nga-manu-birds/page-5

 

[15] Sutherland, Louise (1982). The Impossible Ride: The Story of the First Bicycle Ride across the Amazon Jungle. London: Southern Cross Press.

[16] Wall, Bronwen (2010). Louise Sutherland: Spinning the Globe. Wellington: Kennett Brothers.

[17] The table is briefly described as follows in a notation on an exhibition label primarily devoted to botanical models:

A note on the table. Presumably this large work table was left in the Department of Geology when the Medical School moved out in the mid-1920s, thus it technically became ‘the Geology work table’ around this time, but came into existence [sic] many years before. Sporting nearly a century of graffiti carved by myriad generations of geology students, it represents the vast and colourful histories of the many departments in this exhibition that host research collections.

 

Stirring up the stacks #4 – a “delicious cake from better times”

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post cooked up by Ali Clarke, Collections Assistant, Archives

When we started this challenge of testing recipes we had found in the Hocken stacks, I immediately thought of the archives of scientists Franz and Marianne Bielschowsky, whose lives took several unexpected paths. Marianne’s recipe books – some handwritten, some full of clippings and some published – are mostly in German, so that added to the challenge! My German language skills are pretty basic, but with the help of a good dictionary and a fluent German speaker I was able to figure out the technical instructions in my chosen recipe.

The cover of Marianne Bielschowsky’s book, ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’ (an illustrated cook book), compiled c.1946, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

 My attention was grabbed by Marianne Bielschowsky’s handwritten heading “Leckere Kuchen aus besseren Zeiten!” for some printed recipes she pasted into one of her recipe clippings books. This translates as “Delicious cakes from better times!” That has a poignancy which reflects the times – the clippings book was probably compiled about 1946, when she was living in England. A cake like this, featuring butter, sugar and 6 eggs, would have been beyond the capacity of most people during rationing – when an adult’s weekly rations were 2oz of butter, 8oz of sugar and 1 egg. No doubt this distinctly German recipe also served as a reminder of a happy childhood there.

Recipe for Frankfurter Kranz, pasted into ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

I’ve written about the Bielschowskys previously, in a post about the Spanish Civil War for the University of Otago 150 years history blog. Franz Bielschowsky (1902-1965), the son of a distinguished German neurologist, was dismissed from his position as a medical researcher in Dusseldorf early in 1933 because he was Jewish, and fled to Amsterdam. In 1934 he relocated to Madrid, where he became a lecturer in the medical faculty; in 1935 he was appointed director of the biochemistry department of the new Institute for Experimental Medicine at the Central University of Madrid.

Marianne Bielschowsky, photographed in Brussels, 1939. MS-1493/036, Bielschowsky papers.

Marianne Angermann (1904-1977), a German biochemist who had worked with Franz Bielschowsky in Dusseldorf, joined him at the Institute in Madrid late in 1935; they were to marry in 1937. Angermann was born in Dresden. She was not Jewish herself, and her family appears to have been in comfortable circumstances; her father was at one time the Burgermeister (Mayor) of a small town. She studied in Koln (Cologne), Bonn and Freiburg im Breisgau, where she obtained her PhD. Marianne described herself and her parents as ‘Antifaschisten’ – opposed to fascism.

Angermann and Bielschowsky refused offers to leave Spain when the civil war began there in 1936, but as the siege of Madrid lengthened, research became impossible. Franz joined the republican medical service and worked at a military hospital in Madrid. They fled Spain early in 1939, as Franco’s forces prepared to enter the capital. They were now refugees for a second time, and as war took over Europe they ended up in England. Both worked at the University of Sheffield until 1948, when they arrived in Otago, where Franz had been appointed director of the cancer research laboratory; Marianne worked alongside him. She was especially known for her development of various special strains of mice, used worldwide for medical research.

My first attempt at the cake was a hit with my family.

An English translation of Marianne Bielschowsky’s recipe:

Frankfurt Wreath

For the cake:

4 eggs

200g sugar

100g potato flour

100g wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 packet vanilla sugar (I substituted 2 tsp vanilla essence)

Whip the egg whites until stiff (“like snow”). Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add to egg whites alternately with the sifted flours and baking powder to make a soft dough. Beat well. Bake for 1 hour in a greased and floured ring tin. When the wreath is cold, cut it through twice [making 3 layers]. Fill with the following cream, then spread cream over the outside and sprinkle with the almonds.

For the cream:

2 eggs

100g sugar

3 heaped tbsp flour

½ litre skimmed milk

125g butter

toasted chopped almonds

Mix the eggs, 3 tbsp of the sugar, the flour and milk together well [in a pot]. Heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to the boil. Remove from heat and continue stirring until it is cold. Mix the remaining sugar and softened butter together and stir into the custard mixture.

Hints

I couldn’t find potato flour in my usual supermarkets, but it is available in health food stores and Asian grocery stores.

No oven temperature is given – I found it took just 30-40 minutes in a moderate oven (180°C).

I made the cake twice. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the consistency of the cake in my first test run, so I changed the method a little on my second try. Instead of adding the yolks/sugar/vanilla to the egg whites, I slowly folded the whipped egg whites into the well beaten yolks/sugar/vanilla mixture, then added the flours/baking powder – this worked better and made a lovely light sponge.

The cream was more successful on my first attempt – it curdled slightly on my second go when I added the butter/sugar. I recommend making sure the butter/sugar mixture is really well creamed, and cold, before stirring it into the cold custard.

The secret to any custard is stirring to prevent lumps – I use a hand whisk to stir the entire time it is cooking. This recipe recommends stirring while it cools as well – I put the pot into a sink of cold water to speed that process.

I used whole almonds I had chopped into big chunks, then toasted in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes.

The second attempt disappeared quickly from the Hocken staffroom!

Results

This cake was a big hit with the tasters both times I made it! It isn’t strongly flavoured, but the contrast in textures between the fluffy cake, smooth cream and crunchy almonds is delicious, as many commented. There was universal approval from the Hocken staff: “those ‘better times’ must have been amazing”, suggested one. The delicious custard/nuts made it “quite different to most of my modern cake experiences”, wrote one reviewer, with others also noting its distinctly Germanic style. A warning – it’s messy to eat, as one reviewer pointed out!

I searched online for modern versions of this recipe – the English-language versions, such as this one translate the name as Frankfurt Crown Cake. They add jam to the filling between the layers, coat the almonds in caramel, and include cherries and other fancy decorations so the cake resembles a jewelled crown. They also use packets of vanilla pudding instead of making the custard from scratch! The older version I tried is less extravagant, but still delicious, and I encourage you to try it at home. We don’t know if Marianne Bielschowsky made this cake once she had settled in Dunedin, but in any case it has been a pleasure to make it as a tribute to her.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft Party starters

Monday, May 6th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian and Curator of Ephemera

There was never going to be a problem deciding which of Hocken’s amazing collections to use when it came to my turn for ‘Stirring up the stacks’ – it had to be Ephemera hands down! But the major dilemma was choosing from the hundreds of advertising flyers and leaflets in the collection featuring recipes.

I finally settled on a little recipe leaflet, dating to ca.1960s, promoting Bycroft cracker biscuits as “Party starters” that “set parties off with a bang!” In 1961 Bycroft merged with Aulsebrooks to become A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd manufacturing both biscuits and confectionery. Their product lines included Huntley Palmer biscuits, Mackintosh toffees and Oddfellows. Unfortunately big losses in the confectionery market led to the closure of their Dunedin factory in Maclaggan Street in 1976. In 1977, while the parent company continued to be A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd, their trading name changed to Aulsebrooks, and in 1978, a private Nelson based company, Moana Estates, made a successful partial takeover of the company.

 

Bycroft Party starters! Recipes. Bycroft, [1960s]. Ephemera Collection, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.)

My next big decision was which of the eighteen toppings and dips featured in the leaflet to make and test on Hocken staff, who include vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances. Eventually I concluded five spreads and one dip was the best way to ensure that there was at least something for everyone.

I decided against the Worcester spread and Gherkin scramble as being too last minute to make and the idea of flavoured scrambled egg was off-putting! The current exorbitant price of avocados made the Avocado dip off limits – I wonder how easy these were to find back in 1960s New Zealand? The liver paste, needed for the Liver and bacon spread, was unobtainable in 2019 and the Creamy cheese spread seemed too safe an option. So I settled on Minty spread; Ham and pineapple spread; Peel spread; Savoury egg spread; Crunchy spread; and Mushroom dip.

Some of the recipes specify which Bycroft cracker should be served with each dip – there were six pictured on the leaflet; but I selected a fairly similar range from today’s options at the supermarket, including rice crackers for the gluten intolerant and a new cracker chip that I thought would make a good dipper.

All the recipes were easy to make, although I had to make two servings of the Savoury egg spread to provide a similar amount to the others. Apart from the crunchy spread and finishing the Mushroom dip, all were assembled the night before which required one departure from the recipe – I was concerned the mint in the Minty spread might turn brown overnight so added a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Thanks to a previous Hocken staff member, Val Parata, I had a great set of authentic brown ramekins to serve the spreads in, and an old Christmas gift set of bread-themed spreaders seemed a fitting final touch.

Recipes

Minty spread

1 cup tinned green peas, well drained; 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint; ½ teaspoon salt; shake pepper

Mash peas until smooth. Blend in chopped mint, salt and pepper. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers, top with fresh mint sprig.

 

Ham and pineapple spread

2 slices cooked ham; 1/3 cup crushed, well-drained pineapple; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Trim fat from ham. Chop ham finely. Blend in pineapple, mayonnaise and mustard. Spread on Bycroft Savoury Crispbread, top with more chopped ham if liked.

 

Peel spread

¼ Cup finely chopped peel; ½ cup peanut butter; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; about 4 tablespoons opf cream

Place chopped peel in bowl. Blend in peanut butter and lemon juice. Stir in enough cream to make a spreading consistency. Spread on lightly buttered Bycroft Imperial Crackers. Decorate with more chopped peel if liked.

 

Savoury egg spread

1 hard boiled egg; 2 tablespoons butter; 1 tablespoon tomato sauce; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard; ½ teaspoon curry powder; 1 teaspoon sugar; 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Shell hard boiled egg while still hot. Mash well with butter. Blend in remaining ingredients. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers.

 

Crunchy spread

½ cup grated carrot; lemon juice; 1 stick celery; ½ cup roasted peanuts; ¼ teaspoon salt; shake pepper; 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Sprinkle carrot with a little lemon juice. Chop celery finely. Chop peanuts a little. Mix all ingredients together. Spread on lightly b uttered Bycroft Savoury Crispbread.

 

Mushroom dip

1 packet mushroom soup; 4 tablespoons ginger ale; 8 oz. reduced cream

Soak soup overnight in ginger ale. Next day add cream. Blend thoroughly and leave in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

 

Hocken staff were excited by the final array presented at morning tea time and eagerly tucked in. They were asked for feedback on their most and least favourite spreads, and overall the reaction was positive but, as can been seen in the photographs, “The most delicious spreads weren’t the most visually appealing though haha!”

Minty spread proved the most popular with seven votes and was described by one staff member as “unexpectedly good and refreshing”, but another rated it their least favourite saying “cold cooked peas reminded me of being made to finish my dinner as a child. It took so long the peas went cold.”

Savoury egg spread was the next most popular with a nostalgic taste that took one “back to Nana’s house”. Mushroom dip and Peel spread were third equal favourites: “LOVE the mushroom dip. Definitely making it at home to impress my vego friends, as nice alternative to onion dip”; “Peel – my favourite, interesting flavour combo that worked – mostly nuttiness coming through”.

Crunchy spread and Ham and pineapple spread were the least favourite overall, the latter for one staff member being “better than expected as I avoid Hawaiian pizza” but Chloe declared “Ham and pineapple for life!”

My own personal favourite was the mushroom dip: I was wary of the overnight ginger ale soaking of the mushroom soup mix but it was not noticeable in the eventual tasty product. But I think the Minty spread has star potential if the tinned peas were exchanged with fresher tasting frozen peas and some mashed feta was added for a delicious 2019 update.

Stirring up the stacks #3 was a fun trip back to the recent past that proved nostalgic (in a good way) for many Hocken staff, and the recipes were, as promised by the Bycroft leaflet, “Easy, economical, imaginative ways and means of getting the gathering going.”

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Louise Menzies: In an orange my mother was eating (16 February – 30 March 2019)

Monday, April 1st, 2019 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Nick Austin, a General Assistant at the Hocken. He was the 2012 Frances Hodgkins Fellow and presented the exhibition The Liquid Dossier (16 February – 13 April 2013) at the Hocken Gallery.

Sitting and reading. These verbs take on a vocational significance at the Hocken; users of our material are called ‘readers’, after all. Louise Menzies’ exhibition at the Hocken gallery, called In an orange my mother was eating turned aspects of her research activity, as the 2018 Frances Hodgkins Fellow, into a ‘family’ of related artworks. Some of these works are paper-based, and most have text in them. Every one, though, is a kind of ‘material meditation’ variously on artists and their legacies – and other items of ephemera – some of which she encountered over the twelve months she lived in Dunedin and read at the Hocken.

In the main gallery, a sky-blue shelf ran the full length of the longest wall. On its ledge,  24 individual sheets of paper, hand-made by Menzies. Adhered to each of these sheets is a risographed facsimile of one of two intimately related texts. One of these is a colouring-in book called The Lone Goose by the artist Joanna Margaret Paul (1945 – 2003). Published in 1979 by Dunedin-based McIndoe Press, it is an elliptical sort of story about the imagined friends of a goose waddling around our city’s Southern Cemetery. Paul complements her text with suitably – and wonderfully – provisional line drawings.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (detail) 2019 Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper Book pages: The Lone Goose by Joanna Margaret Paul, (Dunedin: McIndoe, 1979). With thanks to the Joanna Margaret Paul estate; Correspondence relating to The Lone Goose: MS-3187/058, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (installation view) 2019, Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper

While researching Hocken’s holdings of Paul material (we have quite a lot[i]), Menzies mistakenly requested a manuscript from our archives stack. Serendipitously, it contained correspondence between various players on the subject of The Lone Goose’s distribution. This cache of letters is the second text in Menzies’ work. On one hand, representatives from McIndoe’s distributors, Reed, just do not ‘get’ Paul’s book: “I fear the reps are going to be laughed out of the shops if they try and sell it.” But in response, Brian Turner (yes, the poet) in his capacity as Paul’s editor, is clearly peeved: “… I guess we [at McIndoe] do not move in the real world, as your reps do, and can hide our embarrassment at being ‘arty’.” While the letters present a bleakly familiar story of an artwork’s failure to lift-off in the marketplace (that the book is not exactly an artwork, does not really matter here), Menzies’ work is not depressing – it represents a significant new generation of Paul admirers.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (detail) 2019 Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper

It is easy to sense Paul’s importance to Menzies. (The title of the exhibition is a line from a Paul poem.) Both artists use language as a material to give form to thought. The way Paul’s work – her drawing, painting, film-making, writing – absorbs and reflects the places, people, things around her, is of high interest to Menzies. Paul was a Frances Hodgkins Fellow in 1983 so there is a kind of genealogical thread that connects them, too.

Frances Hodgkins. Given the reflexivity of this exhibition, it was sort of a no-brainer for Menzies to use Hodgkins (1869 – 1947) as a subject. It is surprising, though, how she did it. In one of the gallery’s side rooms sat three chairs: one a type you would see in halls and meeting rooms, dating from possibly the 1980s; one, a three-legged stool from about the 1960s; the other a contemporary type of adjustable office chair, with the brand name Studio on the rear of its back. This furniture shares the same provenance – all three were relocated from the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship studio, which is just across the road from the Hocken – and Menzies re-upholstered them in identical fabric.

Louise Menzies, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925 (installation view) 2018 Digital print on textile

Louise Menzies, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925 (detail) 2018 Digital print on textile

In the 1920s, Hodgkins was actively considering her return to NZ when, after years of struggle, she was offered a financial reprieve: a job in Manchester as a textile designer. While there are few extant examples of actual Hodgkins textiles (a silk handkerchief is held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery), several of her gouache sketches are held at Te Papa. Menzies has printed the chairs’ fabric with one of these (digitally adapted) designs. Her work is named after its source, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925. While the chairs serve as a memorial to the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship’s titular artist, they’re also a reminder of the stationary fact that every artist needs to make a buck somehow.[ii]

One thing that is different for an artist’s viability in the 21stCentury is the sheer number of residencies available to them. While the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago remains one of the most generous offered in NZ (12 months on a Lecturer’s salary; free studio), this country’s artists frequently travel the world to participate in residency programs. In 2014, Menzies was invited to do a residency and exhibition at the University of Connecticut Art Gallery. During her six-week visit, she worked with the Alternative Press Collection (one of the largest collections of its type in the USA) within the Thomas J. Dodd’s Research Center. Over a much longer period, a resultant publication gestated. In fact, Menzies used the first part of her Hodgkins Fellowship to complete it.

Image: (publication cover) design by Narrow Gauge, images courtesy of Allan Smith, George Watson, Alternative Press Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library.

Time to think like a mountain, the finished book, was a segue into a publication-project that marked Menzies’ time as the Hodgkins Fellow. Coinciding with her Hocken exhibition and the end of her residency, Menzies and designer Matthew Galloway produced a calendar with source material from the Hocken’s Ephemera Collection. Each of Menzies’ calendar’s pages features an image of a calendar page from a past year whose dates fell on the same days as the present month’s. In yet another reflexive nod, Menzies’ calendar runs from February 2019 to January 2020 (the chronology of months over which the Fellowship takes place)… but the elegance of the idea is better explained with images:

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

It is fascinating how Menzies rematerialised different sources from the Hocken Collections as art; how she used her Fellowship as a subject; how she shows that time is not linear.

A video work that shares its title with the exhibition’s the video has many, intriguingly related, parts: an image of Paul’s son, Pascal, sitting for the camera; a soundtrack of the Ornette Colman song, The Empty Foxhole, featuring his then-10-year old son on drums; intertitles that contain a transcript of the complete Paul poem from which the exhibition took its name; an anecdote involving Menzies’ daughter…

Louise Menzies In an orange my mother was eating (installation view) 2019 Digital video, 3 min 21 sec

All photography unless otherwise credited: Iain Frengley

[i] We have nearly five hundred Paul items, including her paintings, drawings and sketchbooks.

[ii] Or, as another expatriate NZ artist has put it, “The artist has to live like everybody else.”

 

Stirring up the stacks #2: The parfait on the blackboard

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 1 Comment

Post cooked up by David Murray, Archivist

In our last ‘Stirring up the Stacks’ post, my colleague Kari laid down a challenge: find old recipes in the collections, try them out, and inflict them on fellow staff members for their verdict.

The recipe I found comes not from a publication or manuscript, but from a glass plate negative (reproduced above), noticed when rehousing records of the University of Otago’s former Home Science School. It dates from the 1930s. Four instructors in uniform stand in front of a group of fifteen women. These women don’t appear to be students, and possibly the class was one of the demonstrations given through the Home Science Extension Bureau, or one of the ‘refresher’ courses offered to former students.

Behind the instructors, written in chalk on the blackboard, are five recipes. One of the great thing about glass plates is the level of detail that can often be found in them – you can really zoom in! Richard, our reprographics wizard, scanned the plate and was able to pull up the recipes with some clarity. The titles were clearly visible: vanilla ice cream, coffee mousse, orange water ice, pineapple mousse, and peach parfait. Most of the text for the last two recipes is readable, partially obscured by an instructor staring down the camera.

Choosing the parfait, I thought I might have to fill in the missing parts of the recipe, but after a fair bit of hunting I fortunately found a beautifully handwritten copy in the first-year practical workbook of Rae Vernon (1915-2001). Rae was a Home Science student from 1934, and later joined the staff herself. On the same page is a coffee mousse recipe that also appears on the blackboard:

Peach Parfait

Mashed peaches 1 cup
Sugar 1 cup
Water ⅓ cup
Egg whites 2
Juice of 1 orange
Cream 1 cup
Almond essence ¼ tsp

Method: Boil sugar and water to 238˚F or until it threads and pour gently into the stiffly beaten egg whites, whipping constantly. Combine peaches and orange juice. Beat in the white mixture. Stir briskly until cool and then fold in whipped cream and almond ess. Pour into a mould cover with waxed paper and press on the lid. Pack in two parts of ice and 1 of salt for 4 hrs. If canned peaches used the amount of sugar should be reduced to ¾ cup.

My prior knowledge of frozen parfaits was somewhere between non-existent and negligible, but this is apparently a fairly conventional recipe, except it only uses the egg whites and not the yolks. The most unusual ingredient is the almond essence, and I was not entirely convinced it would go with peaches, but looked forward to finding out.

The cooking process was fairly straightforward. I did use tinned peaches, and so used less sugar as directed. I wasn’t quite sure how mashed they should be, but erred on the side of a smoother consistency. The trickiest bit for me, not having a thermometer, was boiling the sugar and water to the correct ‘threading’ stage. To add to the fun I found a vintage (though not 1930s) mould. Unwilling to experiment with packing in ice (apologies to those wanting closer authenticity), I covered the finished mixture tightly in its mould and put it in the freezer overnight.

Turning the parfait out of its mould was a bit tricky, but dipping it in a bath of warm water did the trick. I tarted it up with some more peaches and a sprig of mint and hoped it would pass muster.

Reaction in the Hocken staff room was favourable, a common theme being pleasant surprise about the peach and almond flavour combination. Some comments:

“Proper grandma food”

“Delicate and dreamy”

“If was a synaesthete I would say it tastes like a floral dress”

“Love the almond flavour”

“I enjoyed the flavour combination”

“Very sweet, but also quite light”

“I was a little apprehensive re tinned peaches but very pleasantly surprised how nice it tasted. The almond flavour was a surprise, but subtle”

 “Would be a lovely dessert to cleanse the palate”

Overall, it turned out better than I expected, and I would make it again. It was fun to bring to life the obscure detail of an image in the collections.

Image references:

Glass plate negative showing cookery class. University of Otago School of Consumer and Applied Sciences records. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena. MS-1517-034-005.

Page from Rae Vernon’s Foods 1 practical workbook. Association of the Home Science Alumnae of New Zealand records. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena. MS-1516/023.

 

Joining the dots: the charm of primary sources

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post researched and written by Jennie Henderson, Hocken Collections Assistant  – Publications

As a researcher, the promise of what might be hiding in a primary source can be irresistible.  Primary sources can convey a sense of time, place, and personality like nothing else. There is a great satisfaction that comes from connecting the dots between sources and watching a narrative rise up from your research.

Recently, some staff members at the Hocken were invited to take part in a research project. The aim? To hone our research skills and to learn about topics and sources that were unfamiliar to us. My chosen topic was ‘Surveyors and surveying’ – an area with a massive range of possibilities.[1] After I had spent some time floundering about in the worthy deeds of New Zealand’s pioneer surveyors, one of our knowledgeable archivists pointed me towards the John Reid and Sons collection.

In the 1870s and 1880s, when suburban growth in Dunedin was expanding rapidly, surveying and civil engineering firms flourished. One such firm was Reid and Duncans, established in 1876 by engineer George Smith Duncan, his brother James Duncan, and John Reid. Reid was a farmer and storekeeper who had also worked as a draughtsman under John Turnbull Thomson in the Survey Department in Dunedin. G.S. Duncan had trained as an engineer, and worked for another Dunedin firm before going into partnership with his brother and Reid. Duncan was particularly well-known for his work on the Roslyn and Mornington cable tramways. The Duncan brothers moved to Melbourne to work for the Melbourne Tramway Trust in the mid-1880s, and John Reid’s son Henry William Reid joined the company in their place. The firm changed its name to John Reid and Son, and when Edward Herbert Reid joined the firm three years later it became John Reid and Sons.[2]

Their collection (ARC-0704) is a mixture of business records – contracts, diaries, plans, and correspondence – some of which were purchased at auction, and some of which were donated. Knowing nothing about the firm, I requested the first diary on the list: Diary of John Cunningham.[3]

Cunningham was a Dunedin-born surveyor who worked for Reid and Duncans in the early 1880s. His diaries provide the bare bones of his day-to-day work: ‘In office took parcel up for Mr Duncan to Roslyn’; ‘Wet in morning in office levelling in afternoon’; ‘cleaning theodolites’.[4] And in the early stages of my research I noticed (to my amusement) that Cunningham’s particular style of handwriting made his many references to a ‘wet day’ look like ‘wet dog’, as on 4 April 1879:

Diary of John Cunningham, MS-3801/002, John Reid and Sons Limited: Records (1873-1915, 1929-1930), ARC-0704, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Reading through his diaries gave me a sense of just how busy urban surveyors were – working on several jobs at a time, travelling considerable distances, juggling weather and the field/office requirements of their job. Cunningham refers to jobs in Opoho, Roslyn, Sawyers Bay, Otakia, Halfway Bush, Kaikorai, Blueskin, Glenleith, Princes Street, and Green Island. These men were often civil engineers and land and estate agents as well as surveyors.[5] They would not only survey blocks of land and the roads providing access to them, but work with the road boards and borough councils to select contractors for building the roads, and sell off the blocks of land they had subdivided for their clients.[6] Their work was checked for accuracy by the Chief Surveyor’s office, who would not hesitate to send plans back if they did not meet the standard.[7]

Cunningham made many references to working on the Roslyn tram project, which reflects the importance of the project to the firm, and particularly to the Duncans. He often worked with John Reid and George Duncan (as well as other staff members) which suggests the company’s partners remained actively involved with the business, in the field as well as in the office. But it was Cunningham’s references to working at Littlebourne which particularly caught my eye. Littlebourne, that grand house which sits in a back corner of Dunedin’s memory – what would Cunningham’s diaries reveal about its past?

Littlebourne was the name Charles Kettle, Otago’s first Chief Surveyor, gave to his hand-picked 20 acre property: Sections 1 and 2, Block 1, Upper Kaikorai. On some early maps, this area is called ‘Kettle’s Township’.

Wise’s New Zealand Directory map of the City of Dunedin, N.Z, 1875, Dunedin: Henry Wise & Co, 1875. Hocken Maps Collection, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Detail of Kettle’s Township.

Kettle settled there in 1860 and built a home on the land after several years of farming in South Otago. He died of typhoid in 1862, and parts of his estate were leased and sold off in the 1870s.[8] John Cunningham’s involvement began with the purchase of the property by local businessman J.M. Ritchie around 1880.[9] Ritchie planned to subdivide the land and engaged Reid and Duncans to survey the sections and mark out the roads. Cunningham’s first mention of working on the property is on 31 January, 1881. He refers to being in the field at Littlebourne, and ‘plotting and calculating Littlebourne’.[10] He mentions ‘...attending City Surveyor and Mayor to get there [sic] signatures attached to plan of Littlebourne’and ‘chaining ajoining [sic] boundarys [sic] to Littlebourne to see whether encroaching or not…’.[11] He also refers to taking levels for ‘Mr Ritchie’s propsed Township Moari [sic] Hill’, which suggests Ritchie had bought much more land in the area.[12]

The John Reid and Sons collection holds other diaries, and I was interested to see if I could match Cunningham’s experiences with the colleagues he mentions in his entries. Sure enough, A.J. Duncan’s diaries (George Smith Duncan’s younger brother Alfred John) are peppered with references to Kettle’s, Littlebourne, and Cunningham.[13] From the end of 1880, and right through into 1882, Duncan worked frequently at Littlebourne and in the Roslyn/Maori Hill area for Mr Ritchie: ‘Fine day. Up at Kettles with G.S.D. and J. Cunningham and J. Reid in the morning.’;[14]Up at Kettle’s for about 2 hours’; ‘Up at Kettle’s (Littlebourne Estate) with J.C. and J.R. all day’; ‘At Littleburn estate all day with JR and JC. Finished today’.[15] Even when the bulk of the field work was done, there were plans to be made in the office: ‘Calculations connected with Littlebourne estate all day’; ‘Fixing up litho. of Littlebourne Estate 3 hours’; and regular trips back up to the site for smaller details: ‘Up at Littlebourne for 2 hours defining line for contractor for wall on [?] section.’[16] Like Cunningham, Duncan also refers to working for Mr Ritchie on other jobs in the area: ‘Up at survey for Mr Ritchie Bk VIII Upper Kaikoarai [sic], part of sects 1 2 3 half day’; ‘At Mr Ritchie’s survey (Maori Hill) all day’; ‘Finished sketch plan to day and handed it to Mr Ritchie’s (2 hours).[17]

Slowly, a narrative was beginning to form: of urban surveyors working six days a week to meet the needs of an expanding city and its wealthiest citizens, of an area of town opening up to new construction, of the changing shape of Dunedin, of the influence of religious interest groups in deciding the layout of the town.[18] I wanted now to connect the dots of the human story underneath the blocks and sections as well, and helpfully the Hocken’s photograph collection provided an idea of what working on the Littlebourne site may have been like.

“Ferns in Littleburn Bush”, from album 114, W. M. Hodgkins “Dunedin & Otago”, page 09. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago [S18-029a].

This image gives us an idea of the density of the bush in the Littlebourne area. It is undated, but photos of the Littlebourne bush in the same album are dated as 1865.[19] Although this is sixteen years before the subdivision, an 1875 etching of the area shows Kettle’s Littlebourne House still in semi-isolation, with only the Lunatic Asylum, the Otago Boys’ High School Rectory, and Cranmore Lodge in the area, so we can assume there was still plenty of native bush on the estate when Cunningham and Reid were working there.[20] An 1881 advertisement for the sale of the subdivisions emphasised how ‘clumps of native bush [had been] carefully preserved for thirty years.’[21]

Could I flesh out Cunningham’s and Duncan’s personal stories even more? Would we have any of the Reid and Duncans material to which they contributed? Yes! In the John Reid and Sons collection are plans relating to ‘Littleburn Estate’ and ‘Township of Cannington’ (c.1881).[22] These plans show road levels for the subdivision. A.J. Duncan specifically mentions ‘working at plans of Road through Littleburn Estate’ and being ‘up at Littlebourne Estate taking levels of part of road.’[23] Finding the actual plans that Duncan referenced in his diary provided another layer of substance to the surveyors’ experiences, and brought me a delightful moment of connecting the dots.

The Hocken Maps collection also held some treasures connected to the subdivision and the surveyors. Reid and Duncans’ finished ‘Plan of the Township of Littlebourne’ (1881) shows the Kettles’ house, and the Otago Boys High School Rectory.

Plan of The Township of Littlebourne: being subdivision of part 09 sections 1 & 2, Block 1, Upper Kaikorai. Reid & Duncan, Surveyors Hocken Maps Collection Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago [S18-519a] (For interest, compare this to George’s Key Map of Dunedin and suburbs with calendar for 1884, where the different parts of the subdivision and the eventual route of the extension of Stuart St through Albert St and up to Highgate can be clearly seen.[24])

Detail of George’s key map of Dunedin and Suburbs with calendar for 1884, Dunedin, Thos. George, 1884. Hocken Maps Collection; Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Another copy of this plan was used to advertise the sale of the subdivided sections in 1881, and Papers Past provides details of the auction and the buyers.[25] Successful businessman John Roberts, previously affirmed as a part-owner in 1874, purchased the house and section for £2700. Roberts had married Kettle’s daughter Louisa in 1870. Together, they built the world-famous-in-Dunedin Littlebourne House in 1890. Their mansion, gifted to Dunedin City after Roberts’ death in 1934, was demolished in 1949 to make room for the Stuart Street extension, and the remaining land made into sportsfields (just above Moana Pool).[26]

We can also flesh out our Littlebourne surveying story by taking a little time for J.M.Ritchie. At the time of his purchase of the Littlebourne block, Ritchie was a managing director of the National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand (N.M.A.). He was known as an astute and successful businessman, owning rural land worth £29,000 and urban land worth £9,000, which goes some way to explaining how he could finance such extensive land purchases and development.[27] The Hocken holds the N.M.A. records in a restricted collection, in which some of Ritchie’s private letter books are included.[28] Ritchie’s Cannington Estate Letter Book 1877-1885 provided several connect-the-dots moments with its frequent references to Littlebourne, including to Park and Bradshaw (buyers of sections 16 and 28 respectively in the auction). It made me smile to find, in the letter book, Ritchie’s 1882 ‘Rough Statement’ which included an unpaid account to Reid and Duncans – beautifully concrete evidence of their relationship in this business endeavour.[29]

Cannington Estate Letter Book 1877-1885, N.M.A. Company of New Zealand Limited : Records (c.1861-1960), Box 6, UN-028, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

And what of John Cunningham? It seems that he may have left Reid and Duncans soon after, because in the Stone’s Trade Directory for 1884, he is listed as an independent surveyor. Hocken Collections holds some maps attributed to him alone, the earliest being from 1885:

Plan shewing part of allotments 35 & 36, township of Hawthorndale, being part of original section 13, Block IV, Upper Kaikorai District, surveyed by J. Cunningham for Roslyn Borough Council. Instruction from Mr. Collinson at Haggitt Bro’s & Brent, Nov. 1885. Hocken Maps Collection. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

I took particular joy in seeing Cunningham’s writing and hand-drawn plan here, especially as my research began with his references to a ‘wet dog’.[30] John had married Elizabeth McKay in 1880, and they had five children. He and his wife lived in the Wakari/Halfway Bush area for the rest of his life, and are buried together in Andersons Bay cemetery. In the course of falling down a genealogical rabbit hole at the very end of my research, I found this photo of him on Ancestry. The girl is simply named ‘Betty’, and I wonder if it was John’s granddaughter Mary Elizabeth Thomson (1919-2014).

John Cunningham with Betty, posted by mtate76 in the Furneaux family tree on Ancestry, accessed 1 March 2019. https://www.ancestrylibrary.com.au/family-tree/person/tree/17373132/person/28043342587/Gallery?_phtarg=yNA12

One of the biggest challenges with researching primary material is when to stop. There is always further digging to be done, and it feels as if the connection you are seeking could be just over the page. The matters touched on above would benefit from further investigation in the land records, contemporary newspapers, biographical details of the people involved, looking into the Road Boards and Roslyn/Maori Hill Borough Council Records, and of course, more trawling through Papers Past. There are also many more employee diaries in the John Reid and Sons archives, and plenty of scope for research into their work on Dunedin’s tramways. From the people perspective, there are many more personal stories to be told from these sources.

The unfinished lead from this research that has stayed with me the most is a reference from A.J. Duncan in November 1880. In the section of the diary that is used for ‘Remarks on the week’, Duncan wrote ‘Baby Betsy, splendid.’ It was the only truly personal reference in his diaries, and I felt certain that he was referring to the birth of a daughter, or perhaps the daughter of one of his 14(!) brothers and sisters. But after spending more time than I really ought to have tracking down his family members on genealogical sites, it seems unlikely that Betsy was a relative, unless he was referring to his sister Isabella’s daughter, Elsie Barbara (could her nickname have been Betsy?), who would have been turning one soon after that entry was made. Nor did John Cunningham have a daughter Betsy or Elizabeth. Perhaps Betsy was the daughter of another colleague whose diary I did not get to. But from this final piece of research I have had a taste of what draws genealogists back, again and again, to find their people: – the essence of past lives lived must be there, just around the corner, if only the researcher can pin it down. And that is the charm of primary sources: they promise to illuminate the human experiences beneath the ‘facts’ of history, if only the researcher is canny and determined enough to find them.

Diary of A.J. Duncan (1880), November 1880, MS-3801/004, John Reid and Sons Limited: Records (1873-1915, 1929-1930), ARC-0704, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

To uncover your own narratives, join us at the Hocken Collections, Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm (Pictorial Collections open Monday-Friday, 1pm-4pm). Our staff members are impressive repositories of knowledge in their own right. Please feel free to ask for assistance or guidance.

[1] To save the researcher some time, brief biographies of 450 early surveyors can be found in Charles Lawn, The Pioneer Land Surveyors of New Zealand (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, 1977). Published more recently, Janet Holm’s Caught Mapping: the life and times of New Zealand early surveyors (Christchurch: Hazard Press, 2005) is another excellent source on the challenges of surveying New Zealand in the earliest days of Pākehā settlement. In September 1994, the Friends of the Hocken Collections published an extensive bibliography of the Hocken’s surveying sources as part of their regular bulletin. See Welcome to the Hocken: Friends of the Hocken Collections—bulletin (Dunedin, 1991), September 1994.

[2] ‘George Smith Duncan’, in Jane Thomson, ed., Southern People: a dictionary of Otago Southland biography (Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1998), 141; ‘John Reid and Sons’, The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Wellington: Cyclopedia, Co., 1897) 275-6.

[3] Diary of John Cunningham (1879), (1881), (1882), MS-3801/001-003, John Reid and Sons Limited: Records (1873-1915, 1929-1930), ARC-0704, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

[4] Diary of John Cunningham (1879), 9 January 1879; 3 June 1879; 13 August 1879.

[5] Stone’s Directory for 1884 lists eleven civil engineers/civil engineering firms in Dunedin (including George S. Duncan of Reid and Duncans), and 32 surveyors. Ten of the individual surveyors were also listed as civil engineers. Four of the commission / estate agent firms listed also employed surveyors.

[6] For example, see the letter from the Maori Hill Town Clerk in a Reid and Duncans Inward Letter Book discussing the offer to form and metal roads in Sections I, II, III, Block VIII, Upper Kaikorai. Letters in this book are addressed to Reid and Duncan as ‘Engineers and Surveyors’ and ‘Land and Estate Agents’. Inward Letter Book (1879-1884), 2 February 1882 MS-3801/028, John Reid and Sons Limited, ARC-0704, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.  See also Reid and Duncans’ call for tenders ‘for construction and metalling of streets through the Littlebourne Estate’, Otago Daily Times (Dunedin, New Zealand), 10 February 1881, 1.  The tender was presumably won by road contractor James O’Connor, who, six weeks later, was advertising topsoil for sale from Littleburn Estate. Evening Star (Dunedin, New Zealand), 28 March 1881, 3.

[7] Inward Letter Book (1879-1884), 14 February 1882 MS-3801/028.

[8] There is more digging to be done in the Land Records on this matter, but in 1873, five 21-year leases on two-three acre sections were offered for auction. Otago Daily Times, 30 September 1873, 4. In 1874, Kettle’s widow Amelia, Edward Bowes Cargill, and John Roberts (husband of Kettle’s daughter, Louisa) applied to have their ownership confirmed under the Land Transfer Act of 1870. Otago Daily Times, 20 July 1874, 3. In 1875, an ad appeared in the paper offering a long lease of the house and 15 acres. Evening Star, 26 November 1875, 3. The property must have been bought eventually, as in 1878, Mr F. Wayne and three partners offered all or some of the property to the Anglican Church as a bishop’s residence or cathedral site ‘on the same terms as those on which they recently purchased it, viz., £400 per annum rental for three years from 1st March next, and £8000 purchase money on the 1st March 1881.’ Otago Witness (Dunedin, New Zealand), 2 March 1878, 4. Despite a report recommending the purchase, the proposal was voted down at a meeting of the members of the Church of England. Evening Star, 10 May 1878, 4.

[9] According to Neighbourhood guide: Melrose Street, Avon Street, 23-55 Littlebourne Road, 53 Garfield Avenue, 1-12 Wallace Street (Dunedin, 199?), 1, the Kettles retained around four acres when the property was sold to Ritchie. However, the long trail of newspaper advertisements offering the property for lease or rent, and an 1881 article regarding the sale of the subdivided Littlebourne sections show that the house and 3.5 acres were also for sale, and that John Roberts bought them at auction. See Otago Daily Times, 9 March 1881.

[10] Diary of John Cunningham (1881), 31 January 1881, 4 February 1881, 4 March 1881, MS-3801/002.

[11] Ibid., 23 May 1881, 25 May 1881.

[12] Ibid., 14 November 1881. Maori Hill had been proclaimed a borough in 1876, and Roslyn in 1877. Albert Green, ‘A necklace of jade: the Dunedin Town Belt 1848-1903 (M.A. thesis, University of Otago, 2003), 24.

[13] Duncan also refers to surveying the land for the Synagogue in Moray Place with J. Reid and J. Cunningham. Diary of A.J. Duncan (1880), MS-3801/004, 23 July 1880, John Reid and Sons Limited: Records (1873-1915, 1929-1930), ARC-0704, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

[14] Ibid., 29 October 1880.

[15] Diary of A.J. Duncan (1881), MS-3801/005, 29 January 1881; 7 February 1881; 18 February 1881; 12 September 1881;

[16] Ibid., 28 February 1881; 8 March 1881; 12 September 1881.

[17] Ibid., 19-25 September 1881. Duncan also mentions working at a survey for Mrs Ritchie, although it seems this may have been at a property at Port Chalmers.

[18] While urban surveyors were instrumental in the growth and shape of the city, a substantial discussion of their role is noticeably missing from much of the dialogue about early surveying. As Ben Schrader notes, New Zealand’s urban landscape and the role of cities in our national development has been largely overlooked by New Zealand historians, who prefer to focus on the impact of rural lifestyles on the development of New Zealand’s national identity. See Ben Schrader, Big Smoke: New Zealand cities, 1840-1920 (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2016), 15-20. One could argue the same bias affects the study of surveying: surveying the wild, untamed landscape has been considered a more valuable contribution to the colonisation of New Zealand than the surveying of spaces already under Pākehā control.

[19] Two other Littleburn images can be seen here on Hocken’s site for digitised images: Hocken Snapshop.

[20] Etching reproduced in Neighbourhood guide, 2.

[21] Otago Daily Times, 29 January 1881, 4.

[22] Plans relating to ‘Littleburn Estate’ and ‘Township of Cannington’ (c.1881) MS-3968/001, John Reid and Sons Limited: Records (1873-1915, 1929-1930), ARC-0704, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

[23] Diary of A.J. Duncan (1881), 3 February 1881; 2 April 1881, MS-3801/005.

[24] The Stuart St extension was built in 1949, and was one of the reasons for the demolition of Roberts’ Littlebourne House.

[25] See plan of the Township of Littlebourne, being Subdivision of Part of Sections 1 & 2, Block I, Upper Kaikorai, Dunedin: McLandress, Hepburn & Co., c.1881, Hocken Maps Collection, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago. Advertisements for the sale emphasising the quality of the area, the access roads, and the proximity of the Roslyn Tramway can be found in Otago Daily Times, 29 January 1881, 4; 3 March 1881, 4; 9 March 1881, 2. Following the sale, calls for tenders for the erection of villas, gentleman’s residences and tennis-lawns at Littlebourne appeared in the paper. See ODT, 2 May 1881; 20 April 1882; 29 August 1882.

[26] See Hocken Snapshop’s image of Littlebourne House here.

[27] Jim McAloon, ‘Ritchie, John Macfarlane’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1993. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2r24/ritchie-john-mcfarlane (accessed 23 April 2018)

[28] N.M.A. Company of New Zealand Limited : Records (c.1861-1960), UN-028. Access to this collection requires the permission of the Fletcher Trust Archives, Wellington.

[29] Cannington Estate Letter Book 1877-1885, N.M.A. Company of New Zealand Limited: Records (c.1861-1960), Box 6, UN-028, Hocken Collections, University of Otago, Dunedin.

[30] See also Plan shewing subdivision of original section 23, Block IV, Upper Kaikorai District: the property of Presbyterian Church Trustees / John Cunningham, surveyor, Oct. 1887, Hocken Maps Collection, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago. The land he surveyed in this map belonged to the Presbyterian Church Trust, whose land can be seen adjacent to the Littlebourne subdivision on the Reid and Duncans’ map. An 1874 amendment to The Presbyterian Church of Otago Lands Act, 1866, had made provision for the Presbyterian Church Trustees to sell Trust lands to the Crown and reinvest the proceeds for the Church’s benefit. The sale of Church Trust land was a factor in Dunedin’s increasing suburban spread in this period.

Mourning cards at the Hocken

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Ali Clarke, Collections Assistant (Archives).

One of the more poignant collections held in the Hocken archives is a small number of papers relating to the Kaitangata coal mine disaster (Misc-MS-0840). On 21 February 1879 a miner entered some old workings with a naked light and the firedamp (methane) within exploded. 34 men and boys underground died, some from the explosion and others from the afterdamp (the toxic gases left in a mine after a methane explosion, including nitrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide). It was, at the time, New Zealand’s largest mine disaster; sadly there have been larger ones since, at Brunner in 1896 and at Huntly in 1914.

The collection includes some newspaper clippings and photographs, but perhaps most interesting are the mourning cards for nine of the people who died in the disaster. These small cards (around 115 x 75mm) each bear the name and age of the person, along with a memorial verse; the verses vary slightly. Five of the cards are for members of the Beardsmore family: James Beardsmore senior, his sons Edward and James, his son-in-law Caleb, and his brother Joseph. Two other men in the family were also miners, but off work at the time of the accident. The Beardsmores had arrived in New Zealand as assisted migrants in an extended family group of 22 aboard the ship ‘Oamaru’ just two years before the disaster; they hailed from Lancashire. Four of the family were left widows with young children through the mine explosion.

James Spiers, who died in the mine disaster (left), his widow Elspeth Spiers (right), and mourning cards for their son James. Misc-MS-0840-1.

The Clutha Leader reported that, overall, the disaster left 25 widows and 105 fatherless children. Another of the men for whom we have a memorial card, and also a photograph, is James Spiers, who was a father of eight. His youngest was just a baby who died himself soon before his second birthday; the collection also includes memorial cards for that child. The community raised funds to support the families bereaved by the disaster, but it was not easy for a widow to support a family in an era before government social support payments. Many remarried fairly quickly. Joseph Beardsmore’s widow Caroline married Harry Denson later that year – he subsequently died in 1896 in the Brunner mine disaster.

The oldest mourning card identified at the Hocken. Ephemera collection.

Preston family papers, MS-1272/039.

The Hocken also has a wide variety of other mourning cards, or in memoriam cards as they were sometimes known. Some are in family papers and others are in our ephemera collection. The earliest I have located is dated 1859 and is for Hannah Longfellow, who died in Yorkshire. It has an elaborate cutout design and is mounted on velvet fabric for framing. The earliest card for a New Zealand death that I have located so far is a much simpler design, for John Edward Preston, who drowned in a creek on his family’s sheep station on the Maniototo in 1877.

Lyttelton Times, 1 December 1855.

Northern Advocate, 24 December 1898.

New Zealand Tablet, 19 August 1920. Clippings from PapersPast, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

Quertier family papers, MS-3001/062.

Quertier family papers, MS-3001/062.

From the Blue Spur House of Treasures photograph album no.1, AG-683/056.

Mourning cards were popular in Britain from the early 1800s, and there is advertising for them in New Zealand papers from the 1850s. The cards were imported into New Zealand, with local printers – often newspaper offices – supplying them and adding the personal details required. Embossed flat cards, like those from the Kaitangata disaster, were common at that time, but during the 1880s and 1890s small folded cards became more common, with decorative covers and personal details inside. Another style of card popular during the 1890s and early 1900s was a large flat card in black, with text and decorative features in gold. Some, like the Arthur Brook Quertier card shown, were manufactured in Australia by the Memorial Card Company; the personal details would have been added locally. Occasionally memorial cards included a photograph. A rather unusual one in our collection is a 1901 card for Fred Hancock of Lawrence, produced by Wellington photographer David Aldersley, with a photograph of Hancock and a flower border. Most cards carried some sort of imagery, and many were beautifully designed.

A selection of In Memoriam card covers from the H.S. Tily papers, MS-3153/005.

Frank Tod papers, MS-3290/114.

The messages on cards varied between people and through time; many carried religious messages such as Bible verses, hymns, or poems with a spiritual flavour reflecting on death and the afterlife. Twentieth-century Catholic memorial cards frequently included a prayer readers could offer for the deceased person. The simple verses on the cards for the Kaitangata mine disaster victims reflected the shock of their sudden deaths; they refer to their grieving wives, children and friends, and some referred to the hope “we’ll meet in heaven again”. Today, exactly 140 years after the mine disaster, we remember the victims and their families.

Preview (opens in a new window)

 
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.