Dunedin’s Hermit of Flagstaff

Monday, May 4th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Ben Rudd and his hand-built hut. Image from the Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club website, https://otmc.co.nz/benrudds.html

 

Post researched and written by Jennie Henderson, Hocken Collections Assistant.

Many of us may be feeling a bit hermit-like during New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown, but we are not Dunedin’s first hermits!  100 years ago, Dunedin resident Ben Rudd earned the nickname ‘The Hermit of Flagstaff’ with his reclusive habits.

Benjamin Rudd (1854-1930) was born in England, and came to Dunedin after completing a gardening apprenticeship. He worked in Dunedin as a gardener for many years, and lived on two farm properties on the slopes of Flagstaff. When he wasn’t working in town, and after his retirement from gardening, Rudd poured all his efforts into his farm – laboriously building stone fences and his hut by hand, developing extensive gardens, and lovingly caring for his animals.[1]

In this section of W.T. Neill’s 1922 map, Ben Rudd’s first farm, Woodside, can be seen. Rudd sold this farm and moved back into Dunedin to work as a gardener for Peter Dawson in 1919, but returned to a new property on the northern slopes of Flagstaff after 18 months. Topographical map showing Dunedin and vicinity / from surveys by W.T. Neill, district surveyor, [Wellington]: N Z Lands and Survey. Sourced from LINZ. Crown Copyright reserved.

Rudd and his property were often a target of vandals, thieves and larrikins, presumably due to their isolation, and perhaps also due to Rudd’s short stature and fierce responses to any threats. In the face of damage to his buildings and crops he became increasingly reclusive, suspicious of strangers, and aggressive to trespassers.

Rudd’s disputes with his tormentors often made it to court, and a colourful picture of these surprisingly violent encounters can be drawn from the newspaper reports. In 1886, Rudd was committed for trial for shooting at John Waldie with intent to kill.[2] It was reported that Waldie and a friend had ridden past Rudd’s property, and said to him “Good morning, Uncle Ben. You’re working hard”. Rudd’s response was to throw stones at them, and then to shoot at them, hitting Waldie and his horse. Rudd’s lawyer argued that the men had teased Rudd many times, and that he had only intended to scare them with the gun. At his trial, the jury found Rudd not guilty.[3]

In 1889, Rudd was found to have assaulted Susan Hornsby. When Rudd found Hornsby and her sister out walking on his land, unknowingly trespassing, he hit her on the face, grabbed her hair, and kicked her. Rudd maintained that he did not touch her, but only waved his hand near Hornsby to shoo her off his land. The court considered the charge to be proven, and Rudd was fined.[4]

In 1894, Rudd was in court again for assaulting a trespasser with a hay-fork. The attending doctor reported that Edward Thomas’s skull was fractured by Rudd’s blow. He was fined £22 and costs.[5]

In 1902, during another assault trial, Rudd’s defence counsel commented on the extent of the trespassing which so infuriated Rudd:

“…practically speaking the whole of the top of Flagstaff was Rudd’s property, part of it freehold and part leased. On holidays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays a number of persons were frequently walking through and trespassing on his ground… Considerable damage was often done to his fence and any crop he might have.”[6]

This frustrated a local, who wrote to the newspaper in reply:

“… I have heard of Rudd and his propensities, and have always carefully avoided the enclosed selection on which he lives. Outside it there are no fences; there is nothing whatever between high roads and mountain top to suggest that the land is other than common. Am I, nevertheless, liable to Rudd’s pleasant attentions? … It would seem…so long as Ben doesn’t kick us, he may knock us about as he pleases… perhaps, he’ll strike a snag next time.”[7]

The judge presiding over the case acknowledged the problem of Rudd’s behaviour: “… it was a difficult thing to know what to do with this man, whether he should not be punished or sent to some place where he could be controlled”.[8]

It was a challenging situation for all involved.  Rudd, hugely sensitive to trespass (and violent towards the trespassers) but also the target of abuse, faced frequent incursions onto his property. One such walker actually posted an apology in the paper in 1904.[9] Inspired by this apology, a member of the public, Mr Baylie (actually Rudd’s uncle), wrote to the editor describing some of the offences against Rudd and his property, including garden implements and firewood being stolen, and on one occasion, a large stone being loosed and rolled down the hill, breaking his fences.[10] In 1907, Rudd brought trespass and assault charges against a picnicker. At the trial, Rudd’s lawyer spoke of the magnitude of the issue: “The number of trespassers averaged 100 a week. In the course of one year he had counted 16,000 trespassers on his property. He had intended to rear native birds, native trees, and game on his property, but trespassers had defeated his objects”.[11] Conversely, the lawyer for the defendant stated that Rudd “…had been a source of terror for many years to people who desired to visit Flagstaff. He had really become a menace to the safety of the public”.[12] The newspaper reports on Rudd reveal that his situation somewhat polarised the town. Many seemed to empathise with the old man who just wanted to be left alone, and others found his actions, and his desire to limit access to Flagstaff, reprehensible.[13]

While Rudd clearly had faith in the court system, he also spoke for himself by composing poems. In 1904, a photo of Rudd and his horse Kit was published with the title ‘A well-known local celebrity’. It was accompanied by a poem, by Rudd, about Kit.[14] In this poem, Rudd refers to himself as ‘a jovial soul’ who defies trouble.  He mentions ‘The folk [who] kindly greet us’ as he and Kit headed into town for supplies; this was a vastly different picture of his experiences than that painted by his appearances in the court news!  Rudd was also concerned about the ability of the working man to earn an honest living on the land, as expressed in this poem to local representative Donald Reid, and in this poem about taxes republished after his death.[15]  Rudd clearly felt the pressure of changing times encroaching on his desire for a simple farmer’s life.

Perhaps surprisingly, one group of walkers found favour with Rudd and became friends with the old man. In 1923, members of the newly formed Otago Tramping Club (now the Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club) encountered Rudd while walking in the area. This initial meeting is recounted in the first issue of the Club’s journal, Outdoors, in 1934.[16] In spite of Rudd’s reputation, he and the Club came to an agreement that he would cut a track through the scrub for the club members to access Whare Flat, for which he was paid £5.[17] Club members regularly visited Rudd on their walks through the area.[18]

Ben Rudd, with Otago Tramping Club members (1920’s). Image from the OTMC website, https://otmc.co.nz/benrudds.html

In February 1930, two of Rudd’s visitors found him ill in his hut.[19] It seemed that he may have been ill for some time, but was unable to go for help.  He was taken to hospital, but died there on March 2. Obituaries and reminiscences were published in the paper for some time after his death.[20]

Ben Rudd in his garden. Image from the OTMC website, https://otmc.co.nz/benrudds.html

Rudd lived on in the common memory of Dunedin residents, and in landmarks. Rudd Rd ran (and runs today) off Wakari Rd and up towards to site of Ben’s first farm, Woodside.  In 1934, a correspondent to the Evening Star suggested renaming Flagstaff ‘Rudd Hill’.[21]  In 1946, the OTC purchased Rudd’s second farm on the northern slopes of Flagstaff, and runs it as a trust to this day.  They organise regular expeditions for weed control and native tree planting, and there is a shelter built near the former site of Ben’s hut.  Much of the information available about Ben Rudd has been gathered together by the OTMC in relation to the Ben Rudd Management Trust, and is published on the OTMC website.

Hocken holds archives (ARC-0338), publications, and ephemera relating to the OTMC, with special reference to Ben Rudd’s property, including:​ Friends of Ben Rudd’s newsletter, programmes of the OTMC which include details of working bees on the property, the OTMC journal Outdoors, Friends of Ben Rudd membership certificate, Annual reports of the OTMC (including the report from 1947 which first refers to the purchase of Ben Rudd’s land), and plans for a shelter to replace Ben Rudd’s hut.

This Otago Tramping Club annual report (1947) mentions the purchase of Ben Rudd’s former farm and the erection of a hut.

Hocken also holds several photographs of Rudd, in addition to the photograph below (which can be seen on Hocken Snapshop). These photos cannot be reproduced here as there is currently no access to Hocken’s photographic collection during the COVID-19 lockdown, but this blog will be updated with more photos when possible.[22]

Ben Rudd and Maggie Watt, Box-027 PORT1303

As well as writing poems himself, Ben Rudd provided inspiration for others. Charles Brasch, the famous Dunedin poet, wrote a poem ‘Ben Rudd’. It was first published in Landfall in 1957, and revised for Ambulando (1964).  The Aotearoa NZ Poetry Sound Archive has a recording of Brasch reading this poem on New Zealand poets read their work (1974). Hocken also holds a copy on LP.​ You can listen here at the poetryarchive.org.

… No one crossed his door,

No one crossed his path

For fear

Of sudden threat or oath.

 

And yet his single care

Was to keep at bay

All who might interfere

Coming to pry – …[23]

 

Dunedin author Geoff Weston also wrote a poem about Rudd, published more recently in 2005.

 

…“I’ve been once to town!” He’d’ scowl; “And that’s enough-for me.”

“I found these boots; these bloody boots;

And they’ve never been right.

They make me itch; and they make me scratch; and they make me pee;

And they’re always bloody tight!”…[24]

 

Rudd was buried in Anderson’s Bay cemetery with his uncle John Wycliffe Baylie.  He is remembered for his eccentricity, his volatile temper, his passion for nature and animals, and through his land, managed in his name to this day.

Ben Rudd’s headstone in Anderson’s Bay cemetery, Dunedin.

[1] For a wonderful image of Rudd standing by his stone walls, see Otago Witness, 3 May 1911, Page 46 (Supplement). Jane Thomson, ed., Southern People: a dictionary of Otago Southland biography, Longacre Press, Dunedin, New Zealand, 1984 describes Rudd’s method of levering individual stones into place from a sack tied around his waist like an apron.

[2] Tuapeka Times, 9 January 1886, Page 2.

[3] Evening Star, 12 April 1886, Page 2.

[4] Evening Star, 5 April 1889, Page 2.

[5] Evening Star, 23 June 1894, Page 1 (Supplement).

[6] Evening Star, 14 February 1902, Page 3.

[7] Otago Daily Times, 15 February 1902, Page 11.

[8] Evening Star, 14 February 1902, Page 3.

[9] Evening Star, 2 November 1904, Page 5.

[10] Evening Star, 7 December 1904, Page 8.

[11] Evening Star, 9 December 1907, Page 4. There is a full description of the trial, including the injuries to Rudd and the defendant, Edward Fountain, here.

[12] Evening Star, 9 December 1907, Page 4.

[13] In Evening Star, 24 June 1905, Page 9, there is a long and touching interview with ‘the strange man of the hill’ which illustrates how many Dunedin locals felt a connection to Rudd. Compare this to the unfavourable remarks in ‘Dunedin letter’, Tuapeka Times, 18 December 1907, Page 3.

[14] Otago Witness, 30 November 1904, Page 74.

[15] The editorial piece which includes to poem to Reid also mentions the death of Rudd’s horse, at his own hand, when she collapsed with old age, Evening Star, 17 March 1906, Page 2. ‘Taxes’, Evening Star, 4 March 1930, Page 7.

[16] Held at Hocken Collections.

[17] Evening Star, 12 October 1923, Page 6.

[18] For example, see Otago Daily Times, 7 October 1926, Page 4.

[19] Otago Daily Times, 24 February 1930, Page 7.

[20] ‘Obituary’, Evening Star, 3 March 1930, Page 9. For some heartfelt reminiscences, see ‘From a suburban balcony’, Evening Star, 22 March 1930, Page 2; ‘Ben Rudd, the Flagstaff Hermit’,
Otago Daily Times, 29 March 1930, Page 19.

[21] Evening Star, 27 October 1934, Page 2.

[22] For example, see Still, David: Portrait of Ben Rudd (P1998-103) and Stewart, John, Rev. : Photographs relating to hermit, Ben Rudd (n.d.) (P1999-033).

[23] Charles Brasch, ‘Ben Rudd’ from Alan Roddick, ed., Collected poems, Oxford University Press, New Zealand, 1984.

[24] Geoff Weston, ‘I knew Ben Rudd’ in Knight, et al., Glowing embers, Dunedin, 2005.

Stirring up the Stacks number 7: Virginia Pudding

Thursday, April 30th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Gini Jory, Hocken General Assistant

When I came across this recipe late last year in the Cyclopedia of valuable receipts: a treasure-house of useful knowledge for the every-day wants of life, by Henry B. Scammell (what a mouthful!) that one of my colleagues had on his desk, I knew I had to give it a go.  For some background, my full name is Virginia, and I’ve always had a bit of a problem with it. As a child people always said it in an American accent which I hated, and I never knew anyone else with the same name who wasn’t about 30 years older than me, so it always felt a bit weird. Finding a pudding with my name out of the blue brought up lots of nostalgic memories of searching for notebooks, mugs, key rings and piggy banks desperately looking for one with my name on it. Of course, I was never successful, whereas my sister Emily found her name every. single. time.  Secretly, I was quite bitter about this fact.

But now it is finally my time! I have a whole pudding, and that’s much better than a key ring.
Or, at least, I hope it is.

At first look, this recipe has a few issues. Firstly, the whole thing is one tiny paragraph, nothing like recipes in cookbooks these days. And the whole thing is pretty vague on a lot of key points. No temperatures are given; the texture or consistency of the desired outcome is never mentioned, and I don’t know about you, but that frothy raw egg white sauce doesn’t sound great. It also sounds pretty flavourless.

Here is the recipe, split into ingredients and method and with some more modern metric measurements:

Virginia Pudding

Ingredients:
5 eggs (reserve 3 whites for sauce)
1 pt (472 ml) milk
1 gill (142 ml) cream; or 1 oz (28g) butter
3 Tb flour
6 Tb sugar

Method:
Mix all ingredients bar three whites and sugar. Bake for ½ an hour.
Beat egg whites to a froth with sugar. Pour over the pudding just before it is eaten.
Flavour to taste; serve cold.

I originally turned to google to see if I could find anything similar, to get a better idea of what I should be making here. It was rather unhelpful however- plenty of results for Virginia apple pudding, Virginia bread pudding, and even a Virginia chicken pudding. Eventually though, I found a transcription of Housekeeping in Old Virginia, by Marion Cabell Tyree from Project Gutenberg which has a slight variation of the same recipe:

Virginia Pudding.

Scald one quart of milk. Pour it on three tablespoonfuls of sifted flour. Add the yolks of five eggs, the whites of two, and the grated rind of one lemon. Bake twenty minutes.

Sauce.—The whites of three eggs, beaten to a stiff froth, a full cup of sugar, then a wine-glass of wine and the juice of a lemon. Pour over the pudding just as you send it to the table.—Miss E. S.”

As you can see, the sauce on this one is a bit fancier (and sweeter), and there is some lemon for flavour in the pudding.  But there’s still no temperature and no hint as to what this pudding should turn out like.

This was the way practically all recipe books were written at the time, as there were no oven thermometers, no exact way of measuring ingredient weights, and a lot of the methodology was assumed, as the books were mostly used by cooks who knew what they were doing, and didn’t want to waste time writing down recipes. A fun history fact, but not a lot of help to try and translate this recipe into 21st century-speak!

With not a lot to go on, I decided to just get in and give it a go. I had looked up similar looking puddings, like the Chess pie and transparent pudding, which have similar ingredients and origins, so I thought I was probably looking for something that resembled a pumpkin pie, sans crust.

I decided to add a splash of vanilla for a bit of flavour, and I opted to use the cream over the butter.

Having mixed all the pudding ingredients together, it was decidedly wet! Into the oven it went for half an hour, at 180 degrees Celsius, which is what most things I bake seem to be cooked at.

First attempt mixture before baking

First attempt mixture during baking

I had decided I wasn’t super keen to eat this cold, so decided to crack on with the sauce while the pudding cooked. This was… a mistake.

When I took the pudding out, it was still very soft. It had a skin on top but was extremely wobbly. Not thinking this was what I was aiming for, I put it back in for about another 20-30 minutes. I should have held off on the sauce, as the egg whites went very stiff during this time. Because I wasn’t sure about the raw side of it, I put the egg white/meringue mix on top of the pudding and put it back in the oven to make it like a meringue topped pie. If it hadn’t gotten so stiff I could have made it look much nicer, but it was very hard to spread.

First attempt mix after baking

First attempt with addition of meringue baked

First impressions: Egg with meringue on top.

It had a definite quiche like texture, and was still very bland despite the vanilla. the only flavour came from the “sauce” which was nice and sweet. In all honestly, I was disappointed this was the dessert I shared a name with.

 

First attempt end result

I had been meaning to give it another go to share with my workmates, but due to the Covid-19 lockdown I am currently unable to. However, this did give me another idea- so, I emailed round the recipe and asked everyone what they thought it would taste like, and if it was something they would want to try.

Here are some responses:

​“Yes I would definitely like to try this. Maybe with some poached fruit?”

“What is a gill of cream?” (I had never heard of this measurement before either!)

“Anything sweet and comforting looks good to me.”

“I’m intrigued, there isn’t as much sugar as I would have expected for the meringue and there isn’t any vanilla. Perhaps it will taste like a pavlova except not as sweet? Looks yum.”

“I think it would be super bland, no flavour at all! Definitely would try it though as there’s nothing gross going on but would be nice with some berries on the side or something.”

“The pudding looks amazing and sounds perfect for a cool Autumn evening! But the recipe makes it seem like it might be a bit bland as there is nothing to give it much flavour e.g. vanilla or lemon.”

“Reading the recipe the bottom bit is an unsweetened batter pudding, like a Dutch Baby or a Yorkshire pudding, and then it is topped with meringue. Personally I think it might be a bit bland to my 21st century palate and I’d be craving some fruit with it. But back in the day it would have been sweet, filling and easy to digest. And also made from the kinds of ingredients readily available to the home cook. Lockdown food?”

“I’m always a sucker for meringue !!! (and a lot of eggs !)”

One of my colleagues suggested it sounded a bit like a Queen pudding, minus the breadcrumbs and jam. I had a quick google of this, and now that I saw something similar and a properly explained method, I decided to give it another go with my bubble buddies over Easter weekend. This time I did things a bit differently:

I beat the egg mixture, and took the instruction to “flavour to taste” very liberally, adding about 1/3 a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla to this as well.
I heated the milk and butter (had no cream this time round) on the stove, not letting it boil. Sifted in the flour, mixed and then slowly poured it into the egg mixture in small batches while beating to combine. This resulted in a much puffier mixture than my previous attempt, and I had more mixture, so had to put the extra in a mini ramekin. Popped it into the oven at 160 degrees, slightly lower this time. After 30 minutes I took it out and left to cool on the bench.

Attempt 2 uncooked mixture

Attempt 2 cooked mixture

When we were ready for dessert, I whipped up the egg whites with the sugar, and piped it on top of the pudding. Popped it in the oven on grill for about 5-10 minutes, until the meringue was slightly browned on top. We had it with some boysenberry ice cream, and it was much nicer this time round! More of a baked custard consistency, which I think is probably more what this pudding should be like. I think it would definitely be nice with some poached fruit or a berry compote. I definitely wouldn’t call this my new favourite pudding, but I’m glad I gave it another go and got a better result.

Attempt 2 meringue piped

Attempt 2 final result

Now this is more of a fun weird thing to share my name with, and I’m ok with that.

References:

Scammel, Henry B, c. 1897. Cyclopedia of valuable receipts : a treasure-house of useful knowledge for the every-day wants of life. St. Auckland, N.Z. : Wm. Gribble.

Viet, Helen Zoe, 2017, Smithsonian Magazine. The Making of the Modern American Recipe. Visited 8/4/2020. < https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/making-modern-american-recipe-180964940/>

Mcdaniel, Melissa, originally by Tyree, Marion Cabell. Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Visited 8/4/2020. < https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42450/42450-h/42450-h.htm#Page_365>

Naming the Unknown Soldier

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

​Post by Anna Petersen, Curator Photographs

These past twenty years have certainly proved a boon time for putting names to previously unidentified photographs of people and places.  As cultural institutions and private individuals all over the world continue to digitise their collections and create searchable databases, new information emerges on a daily basis that brings new life to images formerly prone to be cast aside.

Recently the Hocken received one such portrait of a soldier.  The donor had come upon it in the SPCA Op Shop at North East Valley, Dunedin, and could not bear to leave the strapping young man to oblivion.  The back of the print offered no clues as to his identity and all the Op Shop keeper knew was that the photograph came from a house in Waitati.

The donor, Marinus La Rooij, who happens to be an Otago history graduate, then made it a mission to discover all he could about the man’s identity.  Firstly he reached out to the Facebook group, Unknown Warriors of the NZEF, sending them a cell phone snap of the photograph. From the C,7 written on the military cap badge, they were able to link the soldier to the Canterbury Battalion, Seventh Reinforcement, which enlisted in mid-1915, went to Suez and moved on to the Western Front.[1]

Matching other known portraits from relatives, it did not take long for the Facebook group also to provide the soldier’s name and army registration number as Robert William’ Leslie’ Wilson 6/2962.  Equipped with these crucial details, the donor was then free to search and find Private Lesley’s army service file online at Archives NZ.[2]

As it turned out, this person was not a local lad but the son of William and Margaret Wilson of Belfast in Canterbury.  He worked as a farmer in Belfast before enlisting in the army at the age of 21.  Leslie Wilson had dark brown hair and blue eyes and, though smaller than he perhaps looks in his photograph standing just 5’4″, was deemed fit and ready for service.  Sadly, like so many other fine young men whom we pause to remember on ANZAC Day, Robert William Leslie Wilson died far from home, of wounds received in action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.  He was just 23 years old.[3]

Thanks to our donor, a copy of this portrait has now been uploaded to Robert Wilson’s record on the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Online Cenotaph database, where you can leave him a virtual poppy here.

And the original photograph is now safely housed in the Hocken Photographs Collection and readily accessible to researchers under the reference number, P2020-011.

[1] Email from the donor, 22 March 2020.

[2] Email from the donor, 23 March 2020.

[3] AABK 18805 W5557 0124077 R22021950, Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanatanga, Wellington, New Zealand. https://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE21241794 ​

 

 

 

 

Signs of COVID

Sunday, April 19th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Nick Austin. Nick is a General Assistant at the Hocken. He is also a practicing artist.

I spent my Easter break delving into a stack of issues of the Listener (ranging between 1987 – 1990) found in the garage during a lockdown tidy up. With the sudden closure of Bauer Media Group this month (the Listener’s most-recent publisher – and of many other household titles too, of course), I could only read with my Covid-19 glasses on.

Below is a selection of ‘clippings’ assembled to form a narrative of this moment, derived from this lockdown browsing. It is interesting to me how some images rhyme closely with issues now. (What lessons we might take from the economic turmoil of the late 1980s when forming Covid responses, though, it is not my intention here to suggest – as useful as that subject may be.) Others clearly have nothing to do with Covid-19 but I can’t help making associations. My selection reflects, I hope, the exhausting omnipresence of the virus and its implications right now.

*The Listener was published from 1973 – 2020. It succeeded the New Zealand Listener (1939-1973); N.Z. Radio Record: and Home Journal (1932-1939); The Radio Record (1927 – 1932). Hocken Collections has significant holdings of most of these titles. A former Hocken staff member posted this article in 2014, on the occasion of the publication’s 75th anniversary. Her conclusion still stands:

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

v.121: no.2526 (1988: July 30) p46

 

v.122: no.2543 (1988: Nov. 26) p136

v.116: no.2469 (1987: June 20) pp88-89

From a column by A K Grant on suggestions to convert of hospitals into State-Owned Enterprises. Drawing by Dave Johnstone. v.118: no.2489 (1987: Oct. 31) p60.

v.126: no.2606 (1990: Feb. 19) p31

v.123: no.2561 (1989: April 8) pp86-87

v.128: no.2642 (1990: Nov. 5) p18

v.116: no.2469 (1987: June 20) p61

v.116: no.2469 (1987: June 20) p78

v.121: no.2530 (1988: Aug. 27) p119

From an article by Sally Zwartz, “University challenge”, on Massey University’s broadcasting of programs to accompany extramural courses. Drawing by Simon Letch. v.120: no.2510 (1988: April 2) p29

v.122: no.2538 (1988: Oct. 22) p24

v.127: no.2623 (1990: June 18) p108

From a column by Denis Welch, “Airline fracture”, on the privatisation of Air New Zealand. Drawing by Trace Hodgson. v.122: no.2541 (1988: Nov. 12) p15

v.122: no.2545 (1988: Dec. 10) p25

v.123: no.2550 (1989: Jan 21) p16

From a column by A K Grant on the societal effects of ‘predictions’. Drawing by Dave Johnstone. v.126: no.2612 (1990: April 2) p93

From an article by Sue McAuley, recording another woman’s experiences of living alone. Original photograph by Peter Black. v.123: no.2554 (1989: Feb. 18) p45

From an article by David Barber, “Selling Labour”, on Finance Minister David Caygill’s re-election campaign. Original photograph by Jane Ussher. v.126: no.2607 (1990: Feb. 26) p22

Secret business: Cablegram codes

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

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

The installation of a submarine cable between Wakapuaka (near Nelson) and New South Wales in 1876 brought a new world of communication to New Zealand. People had already been able to send telegraph messages for a few years within the country. The first telegraph line appeared in 1862, linking Lyttelton and Christchurch, and in 1866 a cable went in under Cook Strait, linking the South and North Islands. Auckland was connected to points south by 1872. Once the new line to Australia opened, New Zealanders could send cablegrams around the world across an extensive network of overland wires and undersea cables.

Specimen messages from Bentley’s Complete Phrase Code, 7th reprint of 1st edition (London: E.L. Bentley, 1921). From Briscoe & Co Ltd archives, MS-3300/117

This new form of communication was taken up with alacrity by government, news agencies and business. Meteorology services were important early users which had promoted the installation of the trans-Tasman cable – the cabling of weather data enabled more accurate weather forecasts. International news arrived in New Zealand more promptly. Before 1876 it had been cabled to Australia, then sent on to New Zealand by ship. For businesses involved in imports and exports, and the many with head offices or branches in other countries, the new speedy communication improved efficiency.

The route taken by a cablegram from London to Auckland, from Clutha Leader, 9 March 1876. Courtesy of Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

There were a couple of drawbacks to the use of cablegrams. First, they were expensive – the initial cost of a cable to Britain was 15 shillings per word (equivalent to about $120 in today’s money), though the price came down over time. Second, there were issues with confidentiality. Messages were seen by telegraph operators at both sending and receiving ends, as they translated the words and numbers into the dots and dashes of Morse code. Worse, messages might be intercepted en route: for instance, during the US Civil War of the 1860s, both Union and Confederate sides tapped each other’s telegraph messages.

People soon developed various encryption methods, which helped overcome both these disadvantages. Phrases could be made into a single word, making messages shorter and cheaper. Coding systems also made messages more secure. I became interested in these codes while working with some of the business archives at the Hocken – several of these include code books.

A generic code book such as Bentley’s Complete Phrase Code could be used for phrases or entire messages that weren’t highly sensitive. First published in London in 1907, Bentley’s converted phrases or individual words into 5-letter codes. Two of the 5-letter codes could then be combined into 10-letter ‘words’ to reduce the total words and make the message even cheaper to send. For example, the message “Market dull with downward tendency. Political complications disturbing business” could be sent with two ‘words’: jykacofklo enzdebienc. We hold a 1921 copy in the archives of Briscoe & Co Ltd. Another similar system was Kendall’s Verbatim and Phrase Code. We hold a copy of this in the archives of NMA Co of NZ Ltd.

Part of the introduction to Kendall’s Phrase and Verbatim Code (1921). From the archives of NMA Company of New Zealand Ltd, MS-4856/126.

Codes like Bentley’s and Kendall’s used letter combinations that looked like gobbledegook, but others used real words. Their code books had alphabetical lists of words, matched to the terms to be coded. We have several examples of these in our archives and published collections – they are all codes specifically designed for particular businesses. Businesses developed private codes to replace or supplement the published code systems, in order to increase relevance and confidentiality. Examples of those using real words are Dunedin sharebrokers’ Sievwright Bros codes relating to investment and mining stocks, the New Zealand Railways code for messages between railway offices; and Shaw, Savill & Albion Co’s private telegraphic code for its shipping business.

From Sievwright Bros. & Co. Stock and Sharebrokers, Dunedin, Telegraphic Code for Investment & Mining Stocks (Dunedin: Mills, Dick & Co, c.1905).

Because the private codes were specific to a particular business, they were able to include long phrases in just one word. For example, in Shaw, Savill & Albion’s code, ‘pained’ translated as ‘At what price can you purchase Live Cattle of prime quality, suitable for freezing?’. In railway code, ‘briar’ stood for ‘Two-berth cabin for man and wife; if not available, reserve two seats together in first-class non-smoker. Will not accept berths in separate cabins.’ At Sievwright Bros, ‘ace’ meant ‘Buy for me when you think the market has bottomed’.

Codes for vessels’ destinations in Shaw, Savill & Albion Company, Limited, Private Telegraphic Code – No. 2. (London, 1890), from NMA Company of New Zealand Ltd records, MS-4856/124.

Some businesses went further with their private codes, so a single letter meant something. Their messages had a fixed format. A good example is the Dunedin importing company F. Meredith and Co. Ltd, which had individual codes for many different overseas firms. The illustrations below show the code they used for communicating with Messrs Vishram Khimji,  Bombay. A lot of information could thus be conveyed with just one ‘word’. Note that they mixed this private code with one of the standard codes for messaging prices.

The private code used between importers F. Meredith & Co Ltd, Dunedin and exporter Messrs Vishram Khimji, Bombay. From F. Meredith & Co Ltd records, AG-265-13/002.

Page 2 private code used between importers F. Meredith & Co Ltd, Dunedin and exporter Messrs Vishram Khimji, Bombay. From F. Meredith & Co Ltd records, AG-265-13/002.

Another feature was the ‘condensor’, which converted 13 numbers, each with a specific meaning according to a private code, into 10 letters, or one cablegram ‘word’. Again, there are some good examples of this in the F. Meredith and Co. archives.

Of course secret codes could be useful for dubious as well as legal business, and reports appeared from time to time in local newspapers about discoveries of these, from Russian railway thieves with insiders informing them of valuable consignments with a special telegraphic code[1] (1909) to international drug dealers operating out of Shanghai with their own code[2] (1925). In 1912 a court case revealed that English suffragettes had their own telegraphic code where cabinet ministers and others were coded as trees and plants, and protest plans as birds.[3]

Whatever code was used, care needed to be taken to get it correct. Mistakes could be disastrous. In 1926 an unnamed New Zealand firm ordered from Calcutta 5000 bales of 50 woolpacks, when they intended to order 5000 woolpacks. They ended up with 50 years worth of supply, and other businesses had difficulty getting freight space from Asia because of the ‘exceptional cargo of woolpacks’.[4]

Thanks to Fletcher Trust Archives for permission to share items from the archives of NMA Company of New Zealand Ltd held in the Hocken Collections.

Notes

[1] Wairarapa Age, 21 July 1909.

[2] Waikato Times, 29 June 1925.

[3] Clutha Leader, 3 May 1912.

[4] Press, 5 July 1926.

References

Edward H. Freeman, ‘The telegraph and personal privacy: a historical and legal perspective’, EDP Audit, Control and Security Newsletter, 46: 6 (2012), 9-20.

A.C. Wilson, ‘Telecommunications – Early telegraphy and telegrams’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2010. https://teara.govt.nz/en/telecommunications/page-1

A.C. Wilson Wire and Wireless: A history of telecommunications in New Zealand 1890-1987 (Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1997).

National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

 

Kia ora koutou!

Thursday, March 26th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Kia ora koutou,

Although Hocken is closed while Aotearoa manages the Covid-19 crisis, our catalogues and online resources remain available. Our staff will be working from home to respond to enquiries as best they can at a distance so let us know what we can do to help.

Use the staff contact information available on our website and check our Facebook page for updates and news.

https://www.otago.ac.nz/library/hocken/

For general enquiries hocken@otago.ac.nz

Researcher Services reference.hocken@otago.ac.nz

Pictorial collection enquiries photos.hocken@otago.ac.nz

Archives collection enquiries archives.hocken@otago.ac.nz

If you are unable to access Hakena email archives.hocken@otago.ac.nz

Requests that require access to our onsite collections or to our equipment are unable to be fulfilled until our premises reopen.

We are unable to accept deposits of either physical or digital material but we welcome enquiries about deposits in the future.

Besides answering your enquiries we will be using this time to work on other tasks that will enhance access to the Hocken Collections in the future, such as transcribing key archival texts and geotagging images on Snapshop.

If you need to get in touch with us please be patient — response times may be a bit longer than usual.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to the University of Otago Information Technology Staff for going way above and beyond to help an entire University move to online delivery of services.

Kia kaha, kia manawanui, kia tūpato, kia atawhai tētahi ki tētahi

Be strong in body and spirit, be careful and be kind to each other.

Timothy Peter Garrity, 1931-2020

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

With sadness we record the death of Tim Garrity. Moe mai ra e hoa.

Tim held the position of Curator of Pictures at the Hocken for almost twenty years, from 1978 to 1997. His background in philosophy and skills as an artist equipped him well to carry out the variety of duties in this role, and he developed relationships with the visual arts community which greatly benefited the Library, developing the collection and creating important links with key practitioners.

Born in London, Tim arrived in New Zealand in 1948. He began his career as a painter; this led him to travel extensively overseas after study in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. He worked with Colin McCahon between 1962 and 1963 and represented New Zealand at the 1963 Paris Biennale.

Tim administered the Auckland Gallery’s Research Library from 1975 until the end of 1977, when he left to come to Dunedin. As a respected artist with an international reputation, Tim could establish a rapport with other artists who then gave material to the Hocken Pictures Collection or involved him in supporting written or other projects. Tim’s own researches led to the writing of a chronology of Dunedin art collector and philanthropist Rodney Kennedy for the publication The Kennedy Gift: Rodney Kennedy (1909-1989).

An interest in McCahon’s work was maintained throughout his working life and he wrote the introduction to the Hocken Library’s publication listing all the McCahon holdings entitled A Tribute to Colin McCahon 1919-1987. Tim also produced James Brown, caricaturist: a complete catalogue of the paintings, drawings and lithographs by James Brown (1818-1877) in the Hocken Library, and wrote the note introducing John Buchanan as an artist, in John Buchanan: artist botanist and explorer, a catalogue of his pictures in the Hocken Library, which was published to accompany an exhibition of Buchanan’s work in 1988. Another publication from that year, Geometric, abstract and minimalist painting at the Hocken, shows Tim’s approach to curating an exhibition exploring aspects of the Hocken collection which are less well-known.

Tim’s enthusiastic encouragement of first-hand study of the collection meant that he was greatly appreciated by Otago’s artists as well as by researchers from further afield. Tim was always unstintingly generous with his own time and knowledge.

Image: Timothy Peter Garrity 1987. George Griffiths photographer, ref: 99-182/051B.

Miscreant Mollusks: A look into the relationship between Bluff Oysters and Typhoid Fever with reference to the Muttonbirding Industry.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

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

Typhoid fever was and still is a serious illness for anyone to contract. In 1932 two fifth year medical students, L.P. Clark and R.J. McGill, conducted a public health survey of the Bluff township looking at the sanitary standards of industries associated with Bluff, specifically the oyster industry.

In 1929 news articles of six cases of typhoid fever outbreaks in Christchurch were suggested to link back to the consumption of Bluff oysters. The Bluff oyster industry was about to go international with refrigerated live and canned oysters. This potentially serious health risk, therefore, needed to be examined more closely.

Public Response

Strong denial was the response to the accusation that the source of the outbreak lay in the consumption of Bluff oysters. An Invercargill man called it all ‘bunkum’, that it was the housewives who “often keep them a week and expect them to remain good.”[1] The fact that the oysters were “kept in good salt-water”[2] at the wharves in Bluff Harbour was used to suggest they were healthy. Professor Hardman and Professor Boyce had done research into disease and oysters in 1899 and found that oysters could carry bacteria for up to 10 days. The lifespan of the bacteria could apparently be inhibited by pouring salt-water over them or storing them in pure water.[3] The fact that sewage contaminated the Harbour may have increased the likelihood of contamination.

Oyster Harvesting

The oyster season occurred from February 1st to September 30th. The students Clark and McGill were able to go on board the ‘Wetere’ oyster boat to observe the oyster harvesting process. An average of 80 sacks were yielded a day with each sack containing about 70 dozen oysters. The oysters were dredged up from the Foveaux Strait oyster beds and piled onto the deck of the boat. Clark and McGill noted the men standing all over the pile of oysters as a potential contamination point. The oysters were then brought back to Bluff Harbour and stored below the wharves in a pile for transportation to the local cannery or to buyers who wanted fresh oysters.

Oyster boat with fishermen standing on pile of oysters. ODT Collection. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/11281.

 

Canning Process

Oysters were brought in from the wharf on carts to the cannery. They were opened by employees, then sent to be washed in a kauri tub. They were then canned in half pound tins that held around 18 oysters per tin. In the tin they were sent through a hot box with steam pipes that both sterilised, and partially cooked the oysters. The tins were stored in an incubation room at 38°C. Clark and McGill noted that this was the most sanitary way of shipping oysters. Any water contamination was prevented by the high heat of the hot box steam pipes.

Muttonbirding

Muttonbird harvesting was and still is restricted to Māori who have claims to the industry. The season began on March 18th of every year and everyone must be off the islands by the end of May. Oyster boats took them to the Muttonbird Islands to harvest. In exchange for this, the captains of the oyster boats received a kit of muttonbirds. Each kit could hold about 3 dozen muttonbirds. They packed the birds into kits, inside these kits were kelp bags. The oils of the birds filled the bag, acting as a preservative. Clark and McGill were highly suspicious of contamination, but there was no evidence that anyone had been contaminated by muttonbirds. Thousands of muttonbirds were collected in the season. The kits were sent around New Zealand in cheese wagons to go to shops or individuals for sale.

 

Materials used in packing kits of mutton birds for marketing: kelp blades blown up to form bags, protecting the kits when full, 1927. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/16790.

Medical Students Findings

Clark and McGill found that sewage was being disposed of into Bluff Harbour at low tide. The high tide took the sewage by the flood tide to the Foveaux Strait oyster beds. Oysters are filter feeders and so they would consume the small particles of faeces and those who ate the oysters raw were at risk of getting infected with disease as this was how it was spread. The sewage of Bluff residents coming from the flood tide created a volatile combination that could potentially have allowed for the spread of typhoid.

Bluff Harbour. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/2155.

Medical Students Suggestions

Clark and McGill suggested holding the sewage for 13 days until diseased bacteria died. They also suggested heating the sewage to 65°C to sterilise it. They argued for some sort of sewage treatment before being released into the ocean. Diseases could survive in salt-water for 11-25 days. By treating the sewage this could be reduced to 3-5 days. Bacteria could survive in unsterilised seawater for 3 weeks and could survive in an oyster for 5-6 days.

The students suggested a water carrying system that would go to a pumping station located in the Ocean Beach neighbourhood to remove the town sewage. Then it could be pumped into Foveaux Strait well away from the Harbour. It wouldn’t be until the mid-1960s that Bluff would have a sewage pumping system that would do just as Clark and McGill suggested.[4] And it was much later, in the 1990s, that the sewage being released was treated.[5]

The Oyster Industry Today

There are higher sanitary standards in the Bluff oyster industry today. It is now the oysters themselves that are at risk of disease. Bonamia exitiosa is a waterborne parasite that was found in the Foveaux Strait in 1986. Between 1986 and 1992, 89% of the oyster population was killed.[6] The population was closed off in 1993 to let them repopulate and was opened again in 1996.[7] Since 2016 Bonamia infection levels have been low and oyster populations have been recovering with close monitoring by the Ministry of Fisheries.[8]

 

[1] “All Bunkum”, Evening Post, 17 October 1929.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Oysters and Disease”, Evening Star, 3 June 1899.

[4] “Sewage treatment and disposal”. Invercargill City Council, accessed 3 August 2019, https://icc.govt.nz/infrastructure/sewage-treatment-and-disposal/.

[5] Ibid.

[6] H.J. Cranfield, A. Dunn, I. J. Doonan, K.P. Michael, “Bonamia exitiosa epizootic in Ostrea chilensis from Foveaux Strait, southern New Zealand between 1986 and 1992”, Journal of Marine Science 62, no.1 (2005): 3.

[7] K. P. Michael, J. Forman, D. Hulston, D. Fu, “The status of infection by bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in Foveaux Strait oysters (Ostrea chilensis), changes in the distributions and densities of recruit, pre-recruit, and small oysters in February 2010, and projections of disease mortality,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2011/5, (2011): 5.

[8] K.P. Michael, J. Bilewitch, J. Forman, D. Hulston, J. Sutherland, G. Moss, K. Large, “A survey of the Foveaux Strait oyster (Ostrea chilensis) population (OYU 5) in commercial fishery areas and the status of Bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in February 2018,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2019/02, (2019): 2.

 

Bibliography

“All Bunkum”. Evening Post. 17 October 1929.

Clark, L.P. and McGill, R.J.  “A public health survey of the Bluff with special reference to the Oyster industry” (5th Year Medical Diss. The University of Otago. 1932).

Conn, Ailsa. “The Importance of Norovirus and Cadmium in Shellfish and Implications to Human Health”. (MA. Thes. University of Canterbury, 2010).

Cranfield, H.J.  Dunn, A. Doonan, I. J. Michael,K.P. “Bonamia exitiosa epizootic in Ostrea chilensis from Foveaux Strait, southern New Zealand between 1986 and 1992”. Journal of Marine Science 62, no.1 (2005) 3-13.

“Oysters and Disease”. Evening Star. 3 June 1899.

“Sewage treatment and disposal”. Invercargill City Council. Accessed 3 August 2019. https://icc.govt.nz/infrastructure/sewage-treatment-and-disposal/.

Michael, K.P. Bilewitch, J. Forman, J. Hulston, D. Sutherland, J. Moss, G. Large, K.

“A survey of the Foveaux Strait oyster (Ostrea chilensis) population (OYU 5) in commercial fishery areas and the status of Bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in February  2018,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2019/02, (2019).

Michael, K. P. Forman, J. Hulston, D. Fu, D. “The status of infection by bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in Foveaux Strait oysters (Ostrea chilensis), changes in the distributions and densities of recruit, pre-recruit, and small oysters in February 2010, and projections of disease mortality.” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2011/5. (2011).

Images

Oyster boat, ODT Collection. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin,

https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/11281.

 

Oyster boats, Bluff, Southland, 1935. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New

Zealand, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/30657435.

 

Materials used in packing kits of mutton birds for Marketing: Kelp leaves blown up to

form bags, protecting the kits when full, 1927. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/16790.

 

Bluff Harbour. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/2155.

 

 

 

 

 

Stirring up the stacks #6 – pumpkin pie

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

Post cooked up by Andrew Lorey, Collections Assistant (Researcher Services)

I faced a daunting challenge as I started thinking about what to cook for my contribution to the Hocken Collections ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’ series. Over the last year my colleagues have fermented sauerkraut from scratch, deciphered German-language cooking notes, recreated 1960s party starters, provided a perfectly prepared peach parfait, and concocted lovely jelly-stabilised variety salads for vegans and omnivores alike.

I would describe myself as an unskilled cook at even the best of times, and as such, I struggled to think of a dish that I could contribute to a morning tea or lunchtime without subjecting my workmates to bland tastes and unpalatable textures. As you might expect, I ended up thinking about the types of foods that I enjoy, and particularly the types of dishes that my parents and grandparents cooked when I was a child growing up in America.

 

Figure 1 – Two Hocken Collections cookbooks offering recipes of ‘American Dishes for New Zealand’.1, 2

Different Cultures and Different Cuisines

It is an indisputable fact that all of us have our own personal favourite foods, whether they come in the form of hāngī, vegetarian dishes featuring perfectly cooked tofu or after-dinner treats like ginger nuts and vanilla ice cream. But food plays a much more important role in our lives than simply providing us with nutritional nourishment and energy. I think Emma Johnson captures the multi-dimensional importance of food in her introduction to Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa:

Food is a confluence of things: a web of weather systems; the lay of the land; stories of arrival, trade, economics and politics; histories and empires; domestic and urban practices. It is all connected and culminates in each of us. All of these systems, stories and politics become deeply personal, as food becomes part of us.3 (emphasis added)

In an increasingly global world, it may come as no surprise that people are consuming increasingly global foods. Recent census statistics published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa show that 27.4 per cent of the people residing in New Zealand during the 2018 Census were born outside of the country4, and it follows that most New Zealand immigrants have transported their home countries’ cuisines along with them. When reflecting upon my own identity as an immigrant, I realised that it would be interesting to search for cookbooks at the Hocken Collections that provide instructions for dishes that may not traditionally be associated with New Zealand.

Figure 2 – This adaptation of a figure published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa illustrates the proportions of New Zealand immigrants as reported during the 2018 Census.5

I am pleased to say that I did not have any trouble finding cookbooks related to the immigrant experience here at the Hocken Collections. Interestingly, I found a series of cookbooks published by Wellington’s Price Milburn publishing house between the late 1950s and early 1970s that provided recipes from a wide variety of international cuisines. The two American recipe books shown in Figure 1 come from this Price Milburn series, but the publisher also included volumes dedicated to Chinese, Turkish, French and South East Asian dishes.

Figure 3 – Wellington-based publishing house Price Milburn published a series of cookbooks catering to international tastes between the late 1950s and early 1970s.6, 7, 8, 9

Although it is uncertain whether actual New Zealand immigrants were involved with the creation of this Price Milburn series or whether the recipes were put together by New Zealanders who were simply interested in international cuisines, it is clear that an appreciation of international flavours and food literature has persisted in the decades following the Price Milburn publications. For example, recent books like Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar10, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific11 and “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book12 celebrate and explore the many layers of meaning that exist within the flavours of immigrant experience.

Bringing together dishes from countries as diverse as Rwanda, Chile, Sweden, Vietnam and Vanuatu, books such as these showcase the many vibrant culinary cultures that exist both inside and outside New Zealand while also telling the stories of particular people from particular places. As Therese O’Connell states in her introduction to Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar, “food, the preparation and sharing of it, consistently plays a fundamental role in each of the cultures we encounter.” It was precisely this fondness for sharing that led me to prepare a dish that pays homage to the culturally American cuisine that I grew up with – the not-too-savoury and not-too-sweet pumpkin pie.

As American as… Pumpkin Pie?

Pumpkin pie is a popular American dessert during autumn, particularly during the months of November and December, when many people observe holidays like Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November) and Christmas. During my recipe search, I consulted three separate cookbooks that included recipes for pumpkin pie in a quest to discover the finest list of ingredients and the most fool-proof instructions. Although one of the recipes came from a ‘foods demonstration’ undertaken by the University of Otago Department of University Extension13, I ultimately decided to use a recipe for ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ that appeared in one of the Price Milburn booklets shown in Figure 1.

Figure 4 – American recipes for Thanksgiving, including the instructions used for the ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ eaten recently at the Hocken Collections.

Hot Pumpkin Pie

8 oz [227 g] flour
2 oz [57 g] butter
2 oz [57 g] lard
½ teaspoon salt
cold water
1½ cups [368 g] mashed cooked pumpkin
2 eggs
6 oz [170 g] brown sugar
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup [237 ml] milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

METHOD:—Sift flour with salt and rub in butter and lard. Cut in just sufficient cold water to bind to a stiff paste. Turn out and roll and line a pie plate with one inch overlapping. Turn overlapping edge under. Prick the bottom and bake for ten minutes in a fairly hot oven, then fill and return to bake for a further three-quarters of an hour in a more moderate oven, until the filling is set and browned. To make the filling, steam pumpkin until tender and sieve enough to make 1½ cups puree. Beat in eggs, brown sugar, spices, and milk. Turn into pie shell and dust with additional nutmeg.

 

As you can see, the recipe provides instructions for making both the pie crust (using the first five ingredients) and the filling (using the final eight ingredients). The instructions do, however leave some things open for interpretation when it comes to the quantity of cold water necessary to create the perfect crust and the cooking temperatures that should be used in the oven (I could not locate settings for ‘fairly hot’ or ‘more moderate’ on my oven at home…). Where possible, I have calculated metric conversions for the ingredients and included those above.

Although the recipe does not explain this portion of pumpkin pie preparations, I began my cooking by washing my pumpkins under cool water, slicing them in half, scooping out the seeds and roasting them for about 60 minutes at 170˚C. To decide whether they were ready to be sieved, drained and pureed, I tried to pierce their rinds with the tines of a fork.

Waiting for your pumpkins to soften in the oven provides ample time to make the pie crust, although I must confess that I had saved some pre-made shortcrust in the freezer for this occasion. If you have a tried-and-tested family recipe for pie crusts, then you should feel free to use that too!

After pre-baking your pie crust if you wish (see the recipe method above) and creating your pumpkin mash puree, then the rest of the recipe is quite straightforward. Just beat in eggs, brown sugar, milk and spices (I doubled the suggested amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger), fill up your pie crust with this mixture and then cook for about 60 minutes (or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean) at 175˚C.

Figure 5 – One of the two pumpkin pies cooked as part of this instalment of ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’.

Reactions from colleagues about the pumpkin pies that I prepared were generally favourable, although several comments did remark that sweet pumpkin dishes remain somewhat foreign to the New Zealand palate:

“Transcendent”
“Delicious! A lovely blend of spices”
“Texture was a fluffy dream!!”
“Is it a main? Is it dessert? Could be both. All day eating.”
“I still find the concept of pumpkin as a sweet dish hard to wrap my head around, but this pumpkin pie was delicious!”
“Best pumpkin pie!”
“Yum!”

It seems fitting that this blog post has been published only shortly after Thanksgiving, and I hope that many of you who read it decide to give this recipe a try!

Figure 6 – I think one of my colleagues put it best when she said, “Yum!”.

[1] Elizabeth Messenger’s American Dishes for New Zealand (1962). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[2] American Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[3] Johnson, Emma (2017). Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa. Christchurch: Freerange Press.
[4] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). 2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights. https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/2018-census-totals-by-topic-national-highlights[5] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). New Zealand as a village of 100 people. https://www.stats.govt.nz/infographics/new-zealand-as-a-village-of-100-people-2018-census-data[6] 50 Chinese Dishes you can make (1958). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[7] Harris, Patricia (n.d.). Fit for a Sultan: Turkish Food for Other Kitchens. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[8] French Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[9] Heuer, Berys (n.d.). South East Asian Dishes for New Zealand. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited
[10] Reid, Robyn (1999). Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar: refugees and immigrants talk about their lives and food. Wellington: Wellington ESOL Home Tutor Service Inc.
[11] Oliver, Robert (2010). Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific. Auckland: Random House New Zealand.
[12] Refugee and Migrant Service (1998). “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: Refugee & Migrant Service.
[13] University of Otago Department of University Extension (n.d.). Ideas from Overseas American Food. Foods Demonstration. Dunedin: University of Otago.

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #5: – sauerkraut roll

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

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Soothing Springs or Putrid Pools?

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

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

Soothing Springs or Putrid Pools?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

[4] Ibid.

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

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

[7] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[12] Hinds and Williams, 87.

[13]Ibid, 88.

[14] Ibid, 94.

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

[16] Hinds and Williams, 108.

[17] Ibid, 109.

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

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

[20] Hinds and Williams, 110.

[21] Ibid, 111.

[22] Ibid, 112.

[23] Ibid, 107.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 
Anna Blackman anna.blackman@otago.ac.nz
 

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