Banners for the forecourt

Monday, March 29th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Do you like our new banners? Just in time for our centenary on Wednesday we have had some banners installed on the Hocken forecourt. One features a close up of Dr Thomas Morland Hocken and the other a design from the book, The grammar of ornament : illustrated by examples from various styles of ornament, one hundred and twelve plates, by Owen Jones, published in 1910.

New foyer display – Dr T.M. Hocken’s Munificent Gift to the People of New Zealand

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Our new foyer display celebrates the centenary of the Hocken Collections being open to the public. The display is installed now so come and see it. We will be also celebrating the centenary with cake for morning and afternoon tea on Wedneday 31st March in our foyer and lunchroom, all welcome.

Death of former Hocken Librarian, Michael Hitchings, 1924-2010

Monday, March 22nd, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Joanna Paul (1945-2003), M.G. Hitchings, Hocken Librarian, 1965-84, March 1985, pencil on paper: 422 x 296mm, accession: 85/7, commissioned by the Hocken Library to appear on the cover of the 1984 Annual Report.

Hocken staff were saddened to learn of Michael Hitchings’ death on Friday 19th March. We record our appreciation of his contribution as Hocken Librarian from 1965 to 1984 and his ongoing support of the Hocken. We join his family and friends in mourning his loss.

The Hocken Library Annual report for 1984 published an appreciation of Michael’s work “RETIREMENT OF MICHAEL HITCHINGS. The retirement of Michael Hitchings on 30 June 1984 as Hocken Librarian marked the end of an era for the Library. His service was noted by the Hocken Library Committee at its meeting on 28 March 1984 in the following terms.
“The Committee notes Mr Hitchings’ decision to retire at the end of June 1984 with regret that he will be leaving the position of Hocken Librarian and gratitude for his achievement in that position since April 1965.

Mr Hitchings’ early career included meteorological work on Campbell Island before he became involved with research libraries in the field of New Zealand and Pacific studies. He worked briefly in the Library of the Auckland Institute and Museum, and from 1956 to 1965, with two interruptions, in the Alexander Turnbull Library; the interruptions were to take a Commonwealth Library Fellowship at LeHigh University, Pennsylvania, and to work as a New Zealand Government Historical Manuscripts Officer in London. From 1963 to 1965 he was Assistant Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Mr Hitchings was therefore well prepared to take the post of Hocken Librarian in 1965. Dr Hocken’s original gift had by then been developed into a notable collection, thanks to the foresight and devotion of two University Librarians, Mr J. Harris and Mr F Rogers, and the careful work of Mrs G Strathern, who was appointed assistant in charge of the Hocken Library in 1952, and her assistant Mrs L. Rodda, but its potential as a resource for research in many fields relating to New Zealand and the Pacific was understood by few people. The growth of advanced studies and research had only just begun, and there was only limited appreciation of the value to a university of a research collection of this kind.
It became Mr Hitchings’ task to build up the collections of the Hocken Library, to develop its services to scholarship, and to find, train and preside over the specialized staff that was needed. During his librarianship the collection has grown enormously. In his annual report for 1968 he said, “Total accessioned items now number 36,000, but the true holdings probably approach 40,000 for there are many unaccessioned volumes of newspapers, unbound periodicals and archives.” At the end of 1983, the number of “volumes in stock” totalled 131,000, and there were in addition 2587 metres of archives and manuscripts, 85,000 photographs, nearly 6,000 pictures, and many other items.
This accumulation of material has been essential, if somewhat embarrassing. The use that it is put to by increasing numbers of scholars depends not only on its existence but also on the work of the Library’s staff in organizing it and helping readers to use it. The Hocken Library stands very high in the scholarly world, to the great credit of the University of Otago, and this is due to the hard work and professionalism and the scholarly understanding of Mr Hitchings and his staff.
The achievements of the last nineteen years have not been gained without problems. The move to a new building, necessitated by the growth of the collection, was a difficult experience; and the services so avidly used have been provided under conditions of severe restraints on staffing. To a large extent, however, the Hocken Library’s problems have been caused by its success.
Mr Hitchings contribution has been enhanced by his involvement with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and similar bodies and by his close association with scholars and creative artists. He is known by these to be a man of principle and of great integrity in the handling of material entrusted to the Library, and the Library has gained from this knowledge. His honours, the MBE, and the Fellowship of the New Zealand Library Association and of the Art Galleries and Museums Association of New Zealand, would have caused no surprise to those who have benefitted from his work.”

Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell reports, “Late in 2009 Michael and his former wife Maureen Lewis donated a collection of almost 115 art works and related hand printed books and catalogues to the Collection. The works reflect their long interest in the creative arts and their close relationships with writers and artists. Stuart Strachan and I had a Christmas lunch with Michael and as I left him my last words were to thank him again for the gift. “You know how much it means to us don’t you?” I said. He looked at me directly and deliberately and said “Yes, I do.”
I left him content that he was aware of our appreciation and the importance of the enduring contribution he has made to Hocken’s collections and research into New Zealand’s creative life.

Three Hocken Librarians at lunch: Sharon Dell, Michael Hitchings, Stuart Strachan, December 2009.

Access to new digital resources

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Hurray for the digital world – two announcements that will make life easier for researchers, one available now and one to come.
The NZ Electronic Text Centre has announced the Journal of the Nelson Historical Society is now available online and the Parliamentary Counsel Office is initiating a programme to digitise historical NZ Acts, from 1841 to 2007. Read more at

The Frances Hodgkins Fellowship

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

The 2010 recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship is Joanna Langford, who moved to Dunedin from Wellington last month to start the year-long Fellowship.

If you are a visual artist interested in applying for the 2011 Frances Hodgkins Fellowship you can download an application form or find further information on the University of Otago website. Just put ‘Frances Hodgkins Fellowship’ in the search bar. Applications close 1 June 2010.

Eddie Clemens: Delusional Architecture exhibition at Hocken Gallery

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Have you seen our current exhibition yet?

Eddie Clemens: Delusional Architecture is on display until 24 April at the Hocken Gallery. Eddie Clemens was the 2009 University of Otago Frances Hodgkins Fellow. His choice of title for this exhibition, a phrase taken from the science-fiction movie Terminator II (1991), hints at his recent examination of how physical surroundings affect human behavior. This concern rests alongside his long-held fascination in the vagaries of consumerism. His witty sculptures flirt with the science fiction genre and technology by employing electronic circuits, LEDs, cool fluorescent tubes and hidden miniature fans. Applied to sculpture, these special effects are fun to look at while they also draw our attention to our increasing use of screen-based entertainment, and, our increasing desire for daily escapism. Clemens’s art points to a commonality between architectural structures, shopping and computer technology – they all have the ability to hold us emotionally captive. One of my favourite works is the two brooms with bristles made from fibre optic threads that glow in a changing rainbow assortment of colours.
Come and see the show and let us know what you think.

Welcome to the 2010 University of Otago Fellows

Friday, March 12th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Last night (11 March 2010) about 80 members of the wider University community welcomed the five 2010 fellows in the Hocken foyer. The fellows are Michele Powles (Robert Burns Fellow), Chris Adams (Mozart Fellow), Joanna Langford (Frances Hodgkins Fellow), Suzanne Cowan (Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance) and Karen Trebilcock (University of Otago College of Education Writer in Residence).

After short speeches visitors were invited to view our current exhibition Eddie Clemens : Delusional Architecture. Eddie was the 2009 Frances Hodgkins Fellow.

‘Dr Hocken’s Legacy: 191O – 2O1O 1OO Years of the Hocken Library’

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

To kick off this year of celebration former Hocken Librarian, Stuart Strachan, will give the History and Art History Department Otago Anniversary Week Lecture on the history of the Hocken Collections on Wednesday 31 March 2O1O at 5.30 pm in the University of Otago’s Archway 2 Lecture Theatre. All welcome.