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

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No 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.

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A Brief Glimpse at Chinese Immigration to Otago

Monday, January 21st, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post researched and written by Emma Scott, Collections Assistant.

On 15 September 1865 a special meeting was held by the Otago Chamber of Commerce at the Athenaeum building to consider whether an invitation should be extended to the Chinese to immigrate to the Otago Province to work on the gold fields. Mr W.A. Tolmie began the discussion by stating that Otago was unlikely to retain the population as it currently stood and that his experience of the Chinese in Australia was that they were “valuable colonists; were a well behaved class, and produced large quantities of gold and were large consumers”. Mr Ewan moved “that a committee be appointed to wait upon the government to urge the Executive to give an official letter or notice to the effect that the lives and property of any Chinese coming into the Province will be protected”. The motion was carried with only one member of the meeting being opposed. [1]

At the Hocken Collections we hold the archival records for the Otago Chamber of Commerce, this collection includes some of the minutes of the annual meetings held by the Chamber. In the minutes for the meeting held on the 10th of October 1865 [2], Chinese immigration to the province was commented on further:

Minutes of annual meetings held 1862-1870, 1874, 1883, 1884, 10 October 1865, Otago Chamber of Commerce Records, UN-022, Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o Hākena.

The “leading chinese merchant in Melbourne” appears to have been Lowe Kong Meng. [12] There is evidence of his deputy Ho A Mee arriving in Dunedin in December 1865 on the South Australian to inspect the mining districts of the province. [3] [13] Five days after the Otago Daily Times had reported Ho A Mee’s visit, five Chinese passengers were reported to arrive in Port Chalmers from Melbourne on the ship Otago. [4] In the meeting the following year, on 2 October 1866, the minutes state that “upwards of a hundred Chinese have settled in the gold districts, and are working harmoniously with the European population; and as it is understood they are satisfied with the prospects offered by this province.” [6].

Settling in Otago to work on the goldfields was hugely challenging for the Chinese immigrants. Many of the Chinese had “few material resources, no mining tradition in China, and poor education (if any), which meant few were able to speak and write English”. Initially the Chinese made a good impression with the European miners and excelled at working on the land that was often already worked over and abandoned, but “European ill-feeling” grew against the miners as gold deposits declined in the late 1870s. As gold became more scarce, more fortunate miners returned to China while others moved to more urban areas to take up other occupations. [5]

Some of the Chinese miners who moved to Dunedin joined the Chinese community established in the area of lower Walker (now Carroll), Stafford and Hope Streets. This area was known as “Tongyan Gai” or “Chinese street” to some of the Chinese who lived there. [7] This area was popular because the accommodation was cheap and was also a place of work where laundries, grocers, greengrocers and fruiterers were located. [8] This area also had “minimal facilities, dirt, gambling dens and brothels” and was called the “Devils Half Acre” by Europeans [9], unfortunately this led to some negative perceptions of the Chinese community.

In the block map below dated around 1888 you can see some of the Chinese merchants located in Walker and Hope streets, including Wy Yeck and Wong Sing Tobacco Factories, and Joe How Cabinet Makers. Stones Otago and Southland Directory also lists some other Chinese merchants located in Maclaggan Street, Rattray Street and in Farley’s Royal Arcade, located in the block between High Street and Maclaggan Street.

Detail from “City of Dunedin. No. 7 & no. 8, part of Block VI”. Robt. Baré, draughtsman. (Dunedin: Thos. George Lith, [1888?]) Hocken Maps Collection: H++ 885.927 [1888?] gbb

The Royal Arcade from High Street. Hocken Archives UN-029 box 190.

In Dunedin in the 1900s the three main occupations of the Chinese were: fruit and vegetable retailing, market gardening and laundering. All of these occupations required working long hours and could be very physically demanding. The market gardeners worked an average of nine hours a day in Winter and twelve hours a day in summer, seven days a week. By the 1890s and the 1900s Chinese market gardens were established in Sawyers Bay, North East Valley, Kaikorai Valley, Tainui, Forbury and in South Dunedin. [9]

The photograph below of St Kilda dated around 1905 shows some cultivated land where some of the gardens were located.

Hocken Snapshop (10th Jul 2012). 1054_01_023A.jpg. In Website Hocken Snapshop. Retrieved 19th Apr 2018 11:40, from http://hockensnapshop.ac.nz/nodes/view/9802.

If you open this Hocken Snapshop link you can zoom in and see Chin Fooi’s laundry at 162 Rattray Street, which was established in the 1920s.

Advertisements and flyers for Chinese businesses are hard to come by, but in our posters collection we hold an advertisement for L. Gang & Co. Fruiterer that was located at 108 North Road on the corner of Chambers Street (where the Jumbo Dairy is now). According to the Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory, L. Gang & Co operated in this location from 1941 and continued to be listed there until 1945, from 1946 it became Wong & Co. Fruiterers. If you have any information about this business we would love to hear from you.

Gang & Co, Hocken Posters Collection.

Inviting the Chinese to immigrate to Otago had a significant impact on the region as the Chinese community played a “major role in the economic and cultural development of the province” and helped establish Otago as a commercial centre. [10] It is excellent to see some acknowledgement of the Chinese community with the Dunedin Chinese Garden opening in 2008 and a Rattray Street mural depicting businessman Chin Fooi painted in 2015. [11] The history of Chinese communities in Otago and Southland is a broad and fascinating topic, if you would like to learn more, I would highly recommend reading Dr James Ng’s set of books, Windows on a Chinese Past, which we hold at the Hocken amongst other fantastic resources on this subject.

References:

[1] “Chamber of Commerce,” Otago Daily Times, 16 September 1865. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT18650916.2.16

[2] Minutes of annual meetings held 1862-1870, 1874, 1883, 1884, 10 October 1865, Otago Chamber of Commerce Records, UN-022, Hocken Archives.

[3] Evening Post (Wellington), 27 December 1865.
https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP18651227.2.6

[4] “Shipping”, Otago Daily Times, 25 December 1865.
https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT18651225.2.5

[5] James Ng, “The Otago Chinese Goldminers: Factors that helped them survive”, in Rushing for Gold: live and commerce on the goldfields of New Zealand and Australia, ed. Lloyd Carpenter and Lyndon Fraser (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2016), 101-121.

[6] Minutes of annual meetings held 1862-1870, 1874, 1883, 1884, 2 October 1866, Otago Chamber of Commerce Records, UN-022, Hocken Archives.

[7] James Ng, “The Sojourner Experience: The Cantonese Goldseekers in New Zealand, 1865-1901”, in Unfolding History, Evolving Identity: the Chinese in New Zealand, ed. Manying Ip (Auckland, Auckland University Press, 2003), 12.

[8] J.M.A. Tuck, “The Devil’s Half-Acre: 1900-1910” (B.A. Hons diss., University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ, 1983) 10.

[9] Niti Pawakapan, “The Chinese in Dunedin between the 1920’s and the 1940’s” (M.A. diss., University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ, 1987) 10-58.

[10] David Fung, Turning stone into jade: the history of the New Zealand Chinese Association (Wellington: New Zealand Chinese Association, 2014), 109.

[11] “Artists still making their marks”, Otago Daily Times, 25 May 2015.
https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/artists-still-making-their-marks

[12] Paul Macgregor, “A Trade in Chinese Men and Supplies: Lowe Kong Meng and the organisation of the Chinese gold rush in Otago”, in Rushing for Gold: live and commerce on the goldfields of New Zealand and Australia, ed. Lloyd Carpenter and Lyndon Fraser (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2016), 133-147.

[13] Pauline Rule, “The Transformative Effect of Australian Experience on the Life of Ho A Mei, 1838-1901, Hong Kong Community Leader and Entrepreneur”, in Journal of Chinese Overseas, ed. Zhou Min and Liu Hong (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 107-134.

Owner-bound music volumes

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

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

The Hocken sheet music collection houses some interesting titles and volumes, including a number of owner-bound volumes, which are, on the surface, intriguing collections of random choices of sheet music. We collect these from a number of places including auctions and sales, with a handful of volumes donated to us. The purpose of owner-bound volumes was to collate collected music, keeping it tidy and in good condition, and easier to use on a piano stand. Cultural capital was also important. Many had gilt lettering and leather binding, so were attractive to display. Also (like a contemporary music collection), they displayed the owner’s tastes in sheet music, and the subjective choices and organisation are displayed by the indexing, which was often hand-written.

These volumes tell stories of what was fashionable in music at the time, and available to purchase locally from dealers, although all volumes included sheet music that was purchased overseas, and therefore not widely available here. The content throughout all the volumes is a mix of song (piano-and-vocal), and music (piano only), and much of this is related to dance. However, Aline Maxwell-Scott, writing about jazz-age owner-bound volumes in Australasia, thinks women’s owner-bound volumes were more likely to include songs than men’s[1], although our volumes belonging to William Larnach show a substantial number of piano-and-vocal songs.

The practice of owner-binding sheet music dates to the nineteenth century, and is linked predominantly to both the mass publishing of sheet music, and to domestic amateur music making. This was largely the realm of women, as they were the primary providers of musical entertainment in the home, according to Maxwell-Scott[2], and she notes that playing the piano was an accomplishment that enhanced marriage prospects[3]. The female acquisition of musical skills maintained the social values of the developing middle classes, which was especially true for the Antipodes, where applying European cultural values to the uncivilised environs of the colonies was valued greatly. The piano was even considered “a kind of gigantic hearth God, to be placated by polish and performance, its altar covered in lace and candles”[4]. It was also women who drove the nineteenth-century market for sheet music and popular songs, and increased demand led to the rise in the production of this music, and expansion of the music industry.

The overall content of owner-bound volumes is eclectic, with different genres represented – sentimental song, classical piano pieces, operatic arrangements, comic bawdy numbers, and songs relating  to military or war subjects. Many were popular songs of the day. There is also the aesthetic nature of sheet music covers to consider, as many are beautiful, and still in extremely good condition. Over time, owner-bound volumes became more scarce, with a drop in number from the 1920s, correlating with the rise of the gramophone and the 78rpm disc.

The earliest owner-bound volumes in Hocken’s sheet music collection bear William Larnach’s name embossed on the cover, and date to around the 1880s. Although there is no date for the binding, it is likely to have occurred relatively quickly, as a way to collate the music, and also to signify cultural status. Larnach’s volumes are interesting, containing many songs from Sheard’s comic song annuals which were published overseas, although one piece, ‘The Old Flag’, was published in Dunedin by G.R. West, at 18 Princes Street. Unlike later owner-bound volumes, there is not much information annotated on the sheets, but the titles make for interesting reading!

Title from William Larnach’s owner-bound volume. ‘New Zealand Anthem: Dedicated by permission to Lt. General Sir William Francis Drummond Jervois K.G.C.M.G., C.B.’ by William Allan and John McGlashan. Hocken Sheet Music Collection.

Owner-bound volumes don’t always include local material, focusing on predominantly English or American titles. There are some exceptions, especially in one volume belonging originally to Lucy Maude Bayley, which features some rare local sheets by Charles H. Russell, published by Charles Begg in Dunedin. However, even if the music is not from New Zealand, the dealers were, and dealers’ stamps tell you what music was available at what dealer, with stamps for Begg’s and Terry’s, and later, Muriel Caddie (among others) frequently appearing. Also, these owner-bound volumes were predominantly collected by local individuals: their initials regularly appear on the front of the volumes, and the sheets are annotated with their names, and (often) addresses, so we can try and trace their lives. However, due to the sheets being trimmed for binding, these details are often lost, or at least severely cut, making it harder to locate owners.

Some volumes stand out and tell stories through the addresses, and annotations given. Harry Kelk’s owner-bound volume is one. Kelk (a teacher) emigrated to New Zealand from England in the 1870s, aged 16. His owner-bound volume has music sheets collected over a number of years, and although they have no dates printed on them, a couple have the dates hand-written on them. One of the later sheets (‘The Mikado Quadrilles’) has the inscription ‘H. P. Kelk, from his aunt Ellen, 1906’, while others have dates in the  1880s. There are some interesting inscriptions too – ‘Myosotis’ reads “Don’t forget the night you heard this first! Never!” and “A thing of beauty is you forever.” These sheets are all piano music, and predominantly waltzes.

Title from Harry Kelk’s owner-bound volume. ‘Myosotis’ by Caroline Lowthian. Hocken Sheet Music Collection.

Another recently-acquired owner-bound volume was originally compiled by Lucy Maude Mary Bayley, who was born in 1869 to Frederick and Lucy Bayley. Her volume features some interesting sheets, mostly piano music: polkas, airs, mazurkas, melodies, and studies. Four of these music sheets were locally published – ‘The Daily Times Mazurka’ (a polish folk dance in triple meter), was published and available from Kelsey’s (who were taken over by Begg’s in 1883), ‘The Colonial Mazurka’, published by G. R. West, and two rare pieces by Charles H. Russell – ‘Fern Leaves’, and ‘The Silvery Spray Mazurka’, both published by Beggs. While most of these songs are undated, we can get an estimated publishing date, as Lucy Bayley annotated some titles with a (purchase?) date.

Title from Lucy Maude Bayley’s owner-bound volume. ‘Fern Leaves’ by Charles H. Russell. Hocken Sheet Music Collection.

Finally, the three owner-bound volumes of Jessie Bell McLaren provide a slightly more modern comparison. McLaren was born around 1896 to David and Christina McLaren of 15 Crown St, North East Valley (her address is annotated on one of the music sheets). Her three volumes of sheets, titled Selections and Songs on the cover, still have their binders’ stamps, which identify Whitcombe and Tombs on Princes Street as the binder. These volumes are a diverse collection of mostly popular songs from theatre shows, but include a number of piano-only pieces, mainly waltzes and foxtrots. McLaren dated these pieces, so we can see the acquisition date, which was during the First World War. There are a few war-related sheet music titles, with some directly related to theatre productions about the Great War. While many of these titles were purchased in Dunedin or in other New Zealand centres (dealers stamps give the location), a number were sent to her from England. Written on the back of one sheet is a letter from a loved one, Bill, who sent the sheet from Stevenage, England during that time. This could be a co-incidence, but Jessie Bell McLaren married chemist William Francis Stanley Pollock in 1922, moving to Highgate. Is he the same Bill who wrote the letter?

Letter from Jessie Bell McLaren’s owner-bound volumes, from Bill to Jessie.

Title from Jessie Bell McLaren’s owner-bound volumes. ‘The Lilac Domino’ by Charles Culliver. Hocken Sheet Music Collection.

The remaining owner-bound volumes in Hocken’s sheet music collections date between the late 1800s and the 1950s, and all have thought-provoking selections of international, and locally-produced music. Not all are listed on the University’s Library Search|Ketu online public access catalogue, but we are working to make these volumes, and their contents, searchable. However, they can all be viewed in our reading room – please come and talk to our Curator, Music and AV if you would like to view them.

Title from Jessie Bell McLaren’s owner-bound volumes. ‘That Naughty Waltz’ by Edwin Stanley and Sol. P Levy. Hocken Music Collection. Note the Dunedin dealer’s stamp in the lower right hand corner, and that the sheet has been trimmed.

[1] Maxwell-Scott, 2016, p 192.
[2] Maxwell-Scott, 2016, p 189.
[3] Maxwell Scott, 2016, p 191.
[4] Crisp, L. quoted in Maxwell-Scott, 2016, p 191.

Stirring up the stacks #1: Variety salad in tomato aspic

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Kari Wilson-Allan, Collections Assistant, Archives

Food. We all need it, and many of us love it. We love to try new tastes, new textures, know what’s on trend and what’s on its way out. (Time to see yourself out, salted caramel?)

But what about the old food fads? Is there value in revisiting them? Have our palates shifted; can we stomach the ingredients?

‘Stirring up the stacks’ is a new and occasional blog series coming to you from the kitchens of the Hocken staff. By finding and preparing long-forgotten, curious, or delectable sounding recipes amongst our varied collections, we aim to entertain, inspire, delight or, perhaps, disgust, you with our concoctions.

So, let’s get into it!

I’ve been perpetually intrigued and grossed out by the concept of jelly salads since I first heard of them. Meat and/or veges, suspended in elaborately shaped goop, and usually photographed with the colour balance all out of whack. Images I’d seen tended to be American in origin, and seemed to date from the 1950s until maybe the 1970s. But meals of jelly had hit the culinary scene far earlier on, here in New Zealand and many other parts of the globe. Emeritus Professor Helen Leach, a well-known face in our reading room, had me nearly fall off my chair in surprise when I read in her 2008 book The pavlova story: a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history, that the first pavlova, dating from 1926, was in fact a layered jelly, with nary an egg white in sight! The Davis company cornered the market, from 1913 producing a gelatine that opened up options in the kitchen. Previously, dishes with gelatine had been the preserve of those with time, resources and great expertise.

Evidence indicates that the Davis company promoted their product vigorously. We hold eleven of the recipe books they published in New Zealand, ranging from 1926 through to the 1980s.

Desserts, salads and savoury dishes the Davis gelatine way (n.d.)

I browsed through a couple, and quickly realised I was going to need a recipe with an illustration to understand how exactly I was to construct my masterpiece. The book above proved to be a boon. Not only did it have a recipe I thought I might have some chance of executing, it was pictured in full colour on the rear cover. There’s no year of publication, but I suspect it is from the late 1950s or early 1960s – elements of it indicate that it predates decimal currency.

My choice of recipe, variety salad, requires me to to make tomato aspic too. For those not in the know, or who (like me) only associate the word aspic with cat food, an aspic is a savoury jelly, traditionally made with meat stock.

What better to do than put on some sixties pop and hit the kitchen?

Cutting my work out for me

You might notice I’ve got both gelatine (Davis brand, naturally), and agar agar powder.  Why’s that? I’m (probably foolishly) making two discrete aspics – one for the omnivores and one for the herbivores, of whom I’m one. Curiously, around a quarter of Hocken staff are vegetarian or vegan, and I want a good range of willing tasters  – as much as I’m leery  of trying it myself.

I’ll admit here I cheated a little. The day prior to cook day, I did a trial aspic, to get an idea of how it came together – had I converted pints to millilitres accurately? I also wanted to see if I could get the veges in the mould to behave as they should, to figure out how quickly the gelatine would set (the answer: forever), if there was enough liquid (there wasn’t – must double the mix come Show Day!) and if I could get it out of the mould. I’m an impatient one at the best of times, and tried too soon. The tomato aspic, freshly tipped out of its bowl, cleaved itself as if it were the Red Sea. Lesson learned. Well, maybe.

Chop chop!

Leach and others have pointed to the time-consuming nature of this type of dish as one reason why it eventually fell out of favour. I’m not surprised to read this: as I was wielding my knife I was feeling certain that, were I transported back to the the 1960s as a housewife, I would not fare well in the role. I’m realising nor will I ever be a Michelin-starred chef. I’ve diced my vegies, cooked my peas and rice (rice??), and juiced the lemon that’s not listed in the ingredients but features in the method. It’s a hot day, I’ve got my first aspic brewing, and I’m knackered.

Best to not think about being knackered when prepping gelatine…

Now things are getting tense. I have to pour a little aspic in my bowl, allow it to set a little, then artfully place my ‘garnish’ (slices of tomato and capsicum), then pour over a little more aspic.

Jusqu’ici tout va bien, as the French would say

Time for the fiddly bit, the bit everyone wanted to know about – how did I get the gherkins and carrots to stay put? It’s a game of dip the strip (in partially set aspic), stick the strip  (against the wall of the bowl at an angle), then repeat with the next.  The fun continues as you discover half are falling off, and the others aren’t doing so well at staying parallel. Come half time, your language is becoming as colourful as the salad itself.

Excuse my French

Finally, I’m reasonably satisfied with the alignment, and the rest is plain sailing. On top of the peas, I pile the seasoned rice and diced celery. I have surplus carrot and gherkin, so in they go too. Once I’ve poured over the aspic, I’ll be done. But do I mix the aspic through the ‘variety’ mix? The instructions don’t specify, and I’m not sure there will be adequate seepage through to lower layers to avoid a rice eruption when I unmould. I give it a desultory stir, then leave it as it is.

Come the big reveal, I’m nervous as. Will my salads unmould in one piece, and will anyone actually try any? It’s scary stuff.

Ta da! The agar agar version, still in its bowl on the left, pleads with gravity to help it along. Meanwhile, the gelatine has held its own.

To my great shock, both were persuaded fairly easily from their nests. The agar agar came out most cleanly, and had a beautiful sheen. It takes some time, though, to convince my workmates that they want to taste them.

The first cut is not for the squeamish

Archivist Tom eventually made the first move, and once he consumed a little and didn’t collapse, others tentatively followed suit. As we’ve learnt from reality cooking shows, nothing counts until the feedback is given. Tasters had the opportunity to submit their thoughts, anonymously or otherwise, and these, along with their facial expressions, gave me almost as much delight as the successful up-ending of my concoctions.

The aforementioned Tom declared it to be ‘very surprising, & unexpectedly good’. Jacinta, Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori, found it ‘delightfully refreshing’. Another said ‘very tasty once you get past the texture’. Emma (Collections Assistant, Publications), had textural misgivings too, saying ‘it is like eating tomato sauce as the main meal’. Jennie, also from Publications, thought it ‘visually splendid’, but noted ‘I don’t trust food that wobbles’. Understandable – I have similar reservations.

Megan, a CA from Researcher Services deserves a special medal for summoning the courage to take the plunge, but said ‘I hope to never be that starving’. She was not a happy chappy. Others felt they’d been transported to the past – Archives Curator Anna said ‘just like Grandma used to make’. More than one staffer suggested the addition of vodka. Bloody Mary salad, anyone?

Publications Curator Pete summed it up for most of us though: ‘I can honestly say this is the best salad in aspic I have ever tasted’. And what did I think? It was a fun culinary experiment I probably wouldn’t repeat (I chose not to finish my serving), but it was far less horrific than I had imagined.

Chaos out of order

General Assistant Nick takes the last word. He said ‘visually arresting, perfect for Christmas, delicious with Emerson’s Morning Star Pale Ale’. So, what are you waiting for – get it onto your menu for Christmas dinner. It’s sure to be a memorable dish.

Sources

Australian Dictionary of Biography: Davis, Sir George Francis (1883-1947)

Leach, Helen. The Pavlova story : a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history. Dunedin, Otago University Press, 2008.

Serious Eats: A social history of Jell-o salad: The rise and fall of an American icon

 

Stitching in the Detail

Monday, December 10th, 2018 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Megan Vaughan, Collections Assistant – Researcher Services

Hapua School, Parenga – sewing class (c.1900). P1990-015/49-328. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

This wonderful candid scene from the far north has turned up as an illustration several times over the years, captioned briefly or sometimes not at all. The sewing class image from Te Hāpua School is intriguing, prompting questions about the people, time and place, and it deserves to be more than an illustrative aside. This post looks behind the scene in an attempt to embroider a more detailed background to the sewing class on the veranda.

Most sources, like the Hocken, have estimated the date of the photograph to be approximately in the early 1900s, but Robin L. Shepherd, author of Te Hapua School: our 75th year identified the year as 1904 and the teacher as Mrs Greensmith. By 1904, Te Hāpua Native School had been in existence for eight years and Edwin Greensmith was the school’s third principal. His wife, Isabella Cleland Lloyd, was the assistant teacher. They arrived at Te Hāpua the year this photograph was taken and the wooden building seen in the photograph replaced the original raupō schoolhouse with its mud floor just five years earlier. Edwin and Isabella taught at Te Hāpua for only three years while raising their young family. Single men were not allowed to teach at native schools until the 1930s, and the majority of the head teachers in Te Hāpua’s first 75 years were men whose spouses shared the teaching load. The author of the history booklet, Robin L. Shepherd, was himself Te Hāpua’s eighteenth principal, starting in 1969, and his wife Gena Shepherd was the assistant teacher.

Te Hāpua School (initially called Pārengarenga Native School) was established in 1896 with Lucy Irvine as the first head teacher. The community had spent many years petitioning the Education Department for a school. The Ngāti Kurī people actually wanted the school at Kapo Wairua, even further north than Te Hāpua. However, the Education Department maintained it was too remote and it was easier for them to get a teacher and supplies to Te Hāpua instead. At that time, Te Hāpua was a lake called Lake Hōpua and in order to get the sorely needed school Chief Murupaenga of Ngāti Kurī drained the lake and set up a papakāinga there. In an historical account in the Ngāti Kurī Deed of Settlement, a retired politician commented that the area might have suited the Education Department but it caused numerous problems for the community including inadequate road access, flooding, lack of fresh water and deficient soil quality.

Indeed, health and access issues plagued the school and its community for many years. During 1906, the Greensmiths’ final year at Te Hāpua, the school closed for much of the year due to a meningitis epidemic. This was not the first time, nor the last, that epidemics forced the school to close. The previous head teacher, Mr Matthews, was moved to provide an extensive report on the health of the local children in 1903, noting “one hundred were ill, and nine had recently died, suffering from coughs, fevers and convulsions” (Ngāti Kurī Deed of Settlement, p.22). Access problems made the trip to school hazardous for many pupils. Shepherd noted the Raharuhi people kept their children from attending Te Hāpua fearing they might drown crossing the Waitiki River. This prompted Mr Greensmith to offer the use of his boat to ferry pupils safely to school.

Portion of: Te Hāpua / drawn by N.M. Dudley. Wellington N.Z.: Lands and Survey Dept., 1959. Hocken Maps H++ 830/NZMS2/N2/7 1959. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Although it was drawn over fifty later, the map shown in part above is beautifully detailed and gives us more of an idea of the topography of Te Hāpua and its surroundings. The Waitiki Channel and stream, which was a problem for many children on their way to school during the early years, can be seen to the west of Te Hāpua as well as areas of mangroves and swamp. The Hocken holds a physical copy of this map and the National Library has made a digitised version available.

Portion of: Topographical survey of the country between Hohoura Harbour and the North Cape. Wellington. N.Z.: Dept. of Lands and Survey, 1899. Hocken Horizontal Maps 841 1895a. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

The lovely watercolour map by T.K. Thompson shown above is earlier, from 1899, and marks the location of Te Hāpua School (“Native School”) to the south of Manuka flat.

The sewing class scene depicts a time when practical skills were prized and made a compulsory part of the school syllabus. In fact, the government wanted all schools, not only native schools, to focus on these more so than academic learning. To this end the Native School Standards of Education (in section 4 of the Native Schools code, 1880) stipulated that girls were expected to be able to thread needles and hem by the end of standard 1, and by standard 4 “to do button-holing, to sew on buttons, to darn stockings, and to be learning to knit stockings”. Some of the girls in the photograph are taking measurements, which suggest they may have gone beyond the syllabus into altering or making new garments.

An important part of any photograph’s story is its creator. Fortunately, The Turnbull Library, which also has a copy of the sewing photograph, has been able to identify the photographer Arthur James Northwood. Arthur and his two brothers, Richard and Charles were all photographers in the Far North from the 1890s to about 1940. They travelled by horseback enabling them to access remote areas taking photographs of the gum fields and the people that worked in them. They also photographed the teachers and pupils of Te Hāpua School. Shepherd’s book includes several images taken by Arthur and Richard Northwood in 1904. Arthur Northwood also took the picture below, which appeared in the Otago Witness in December 1908 (this image does not appear in Shepherd’s history). We all know that photographing children (let alone large groups of them) brings challenges, making “A study in smiles” remarkable with a group of no less than seventeen boys smiling simultaneously for the camera.

Northwood, A.J. (1908). “A study in smiles”: Māori boys at Te Hāpua School, Auckland, the most northerly in New Zealand. Otago witness supplement, 30 December 1908, p.47. Dunedin, N.Z. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Clearly, there is a lot more to the sewing class photograph than its simple captions, but research also raises further questions. Who were the children in the photographs? The girls have obviously survived the epidemic of 1903 that prompted school principal Mr Matthews to compile a health report on each child in the area, but how did they fare in the meningitis epidemic the following year? Did Arthur Northwood take the photograph of the boys on the same visit in 1904, and if not, when? Some of the answers may lie in the old school records held in the Te Ahu Heritage Museum in Kaitaia. There is certainly room for more detail to be stitched into the Te Hāpua sewing class scene.

Sources:

Barrington, J.M., & Beaglehole, T.H. (1974). Maori schools in a changing society: an historical review. Wellington, N.Z.: New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

Dragicevich, K. (2015). The gumfield collection: 100 years on – looking back: photographs by Arthur and Richard Northwood, 1898-1940. Awanui, N.Z.: Willow Creek Press.

Education: Native Schools (1897) in Appendices to the Journals of House of Representatives, E-02, 1897, Session 2, retrieved 27 April 2018, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1897-II.2.2.3.6?end_date=31-12-1897&phrase=0&query=te+hapua&start_date=01-01-1897

Education: Native Schools (1905) in Appendices to the Journals of House of Representatives, E-02, 1905, Session 1, retrieved 27 April 2018, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1905-I.2.3.3.7?end_date=31-12-1905&phrase=0&query=te+hapua&start_date=01-01-1905

Education: Native Schools (1907) in Appendices to the Journals of House of Representatives, E-02, 1907, Session 1, retrieved 27 April 2018, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1907-I.2.3.2.7?end_date=31-12-1907&phrase=0&query=te+hapua&start_date=01-01-1907

(Hapua School, Parenga – sewing class c.1900) [photograph]. P1990-015/49-328. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Mead, Sidney M. (2016). Tikanga Māori: living by Māori values. Wellington: Huia Publishers.

Morris, M. (2010) ‘Unpaid domestic work – Making clothes and preserving food’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, retrieved 27 April 2018, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/23326/school-sewing

Ngāti Kuri and The Crown deed of settlement of historical claims (2014), retrieved 27 April 2018, http://www.ngatikuri.iwi.nz/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/NK_DOS_Historical_Claims.pdf

Northwood, A.J. (1908). “A study in smiles”: Māori boys at Te Hapua School, Auckland, the most northerly in New Zealand. Otago witness supplement, 30 December 1908, p.47. Dunedin, N.Z.: Josian Lye for the Otago Daily Times and Witness Newspapers Co.

(School records [Te Hapua Public School]) [catalogue entry]. Te Ahu Heritage Museum, retrieved 27 April 2018, http://www.nzmuseums.co.nz/account/3293/object/608238

Shepherd, R.L. (1971). Te Hapua School: our 75th year. Te Hapua, N.Z., Te Hapua School.

Simon, J.A., Smith, L.T., Cram, F., and University of Auckland. International Research Institute for Maori and Indigenous Education. (2001). A civilising mission? : perceptions and representations of the Native Schools system. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press.

Sylva, T. (2014). In the matter of the Treaty of Waitangi act 1975 and in the matter of the Muriwhenua land claim (WAI-45), retrieved 27 April 2018, http://www.ngatikuri.iwi.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Wai_45_Tuini_Sylva.pdf

Te Hapua / drawn by N.M. Dudley [map]. 1959. Wellington N.Z.: Lands and Survey Dept. Hocken Maps H++ 830/NZMS2/N2/7 1959. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Topographical survey of the country between Hohoura Harbour and the North Cape [map]. Wellington. N.Z.: Dept. of Lands and Survey, 1899. Hocken Horizontal Maps 841 1895a. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

 
Anna Blackman anna.blackman@otago.ac.nz
 

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