Interview – Julie Dunn from trace/untrace records

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

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

Julie Dunn (Kai Tahu / Kāti Māmoe) has been a key figure in the Ōtepoti Dunedin music scene since founding the independent label trace/untrace records in 2017 with label partner Richard Ley Hamilton. The label has released key recordings (many on the it-will-never-die cassette format) by a large number of emerging and up-and-coming local Dunedin artists, including Neive Strang, Koizilla, Adelaide Cara, Asta Rangu, Night Lunch, and Dunn and Hamilton’s band Bathysphere.

The theme of Te Marama Puoro o Aotearoa / New Zealand Music Month 2022 is ‘level up’ – encouraging all members of the music industry to raise awareness of new, emerging, and up-and-coming musical artists. This includes supporting these artists in their music career development and helping them to cross over to a broader audience. trace/untrace records have been key in doing this mahi.

To celebrate Te Marama Puoro o Aotearoa / New Zealand Music Month 2022, Hocken Collections Music and AV Curator, Amanda Mills, spoke to Julie Dunn about trace/untrace records, their music background, and the local Ōtepoti Dunedin music scene.

Heaven is Other People. Bathysphere. trace/untrace records, 2017. Hocken Music Collections, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena. Cover image taken by Susan Dunn. Reproduced with permission by Julie Dunn.

Hocken Collections: What is your musical background?

Julie Dunn: “I was introduced to the local music scene when I snuck into an Idiot Prayer gig in my final year of school (2011). It was eye-opening to say the very least (life changing might be a more accurate way to put it…). From that time on I started gravitating towards the scene and the people who had introduced me to it, and within a year I had become a dedicated roadie to my friends’ band A Distant City (Josh Nicholls, Zac Nicholls, Nick Tipa, CJ Holley). Over the years their bands would proliferate at speed, however all the while I remained in the role of roadie / manager / merch maker / door person. It wasn’t until after trace / untrace had begun that I started to write my own music, and alongside that formed Mary Berry and played my first gig in 2018.”

What made you decide to establish trace/untrace and support local artists?

“Years of being involved with the scene had fostered a great love of Dunedin music and the people here who make it. The number of bands that my friends were gigging in was increasing at speed, and at that time there were about four releases recorded and ready to see the light of day. Richard and I decided to action an idea we had been chewing on for some time and start a small label to collect those releases together. Our main kaupapa at that time was to support the bands to create freely by helping them to handle the (often off-putting) admin bits that come with releasing music, and to find a way to make a physical format more accessible by making cassettes ourselves.”

How long have you been involved with the label?

“Since it started in 2017!”

Where did the label name come from?

“We brainstormed a bunch of names, mostly from music that inspired us. trace / untrace was a riff off the Sonic Youth lyrics in their song New Hampshire, ‘trace paper fly onwards’. It also alludes to the ephemeral nature of so much Dunedin music, especially that stuff which only existed in band practices and at gigs, and which was never recorded. Even things that were recorded were often removed later from Bandcamp by the artists. Although we were about to start immortalising people’s music in the form of cassettes, we wanted to preserve that wairua and centralise it within our mahi.”

trace/untrace releases some material on cassette. What was the attraction of that format?

“There are so many things that I love about cassettes! Initially it was just that they were the cheapest, easiest thing to make, and it was something that we could produce at home rather than having to outsource. Once we started to make them I came to realise also that they are a hugely tactile format, in the same way as vinyl I guess, in the winding of the reels and physicality of the analog medium. I love the sound quality as well, the cassette lends a compression to the music that always tends to compliment the type of music that we release. I have always had circa 1994 vehicles with their original tape players intact and loved the sturdiness of my tapes in comparison to how I remember CD’s performing. When I bought Peter’s first Fazed on a Pony cassette I played it on repeat in the car for about 4 months every day and it’s still going strong.”

What was your involvement with the rehearsal/performance space the Attic?

“The Attic had many forms over the decade or so that it was a home to creatives in Dunedin. I became involved a few years after its inception when my partner formed a band (Space Bats, Attack!) with Lee Nicholson, one of the members there. From that time in 2012, it supported every band that we were involved with, and a thriving community grew up around it. I think there’s no way trace / untrace would exist without it; in many ways the two things were synonymous – the Attic was the place, trace / untrace was the face. It’s so true that often you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone, and although I always felt so lucky to be a part of the Attic and the community it represented, I only now appreciate how empowering it was for us to have a space that we had a level of agency over to springboard our projects out into the wider scene. We are sorely feeling the loss now! “

The theme of Te Marama Puoro o Aotearoa / New Zealand Music Month 2022 is ‘level up’ – supporting emerging or up-and-coming artists. Do you see much support for emerging artists in the wider local music community?

“In Dunedin there’s definitely an incredible culture of tautoko for younger bands. Initiatives like Amped Music Project have been amazing in driving that sort of mahi, and even informally there is so much interest in younger people and the music they are making. If I’m completely honest, sometimes I feel like bands down in Dunedin can be overlooked within the national music scene purely because we are out of the way, and potentially have to push harder for the same amount of recognition in comparison to bands who live in the bigger centres. Funding-wise this can often be apparent, and I think it’s likely related to the criteria for getting that funding being based on things that are made easier by living in a main centre. However, as has been the story for years now in Dunedin, our single biggest challenge is the lack of venues and landlords willing to rent practice spaces to musicians!”

Where do you think the local music scene and independent label scene is heading?

“More bands, and more diversity in those bands. As we all recover from the Covid thing I expect there is going to be a lot of pent-up energy released over the next few years in the form of high-output.”

How would you describe the current Dunedin music scene?

“To be honest I have been pretty out of touch with it recently as Covid has put me deep in to hermit mode. To me the Dunedin music scene is currently embodied by the Crown Hotel and those bands that play there almost every weekend. Obviously I can only speak for my own niche in the scene but it feels like the energy is there in spite of the venue situation. Albums are still coming out every month and tours are back on, hopefully there’s good things on the horizon.”

What is next for trace/untrace?

“Next year we are losing the Bank St HQ and will need to find a new recording studio / practice space. Aside from that, there are heaps of releases that I’m so excited to announce over the next few months, and without a doubt are some of the best music we will have ever released! We’ll just keep churning out the tunes regardless of anyone listening.”

For further information on trace/untrace records, check their website https://www.traceuntracerecords.com/

Many thanks to Julie Dunn for taking the time to answer these questions – kia ora Julie

Kaleidoscope World

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022 | Hocken Collections | 1 Comment

Post researched and written by Amanda Mills. Curator Music and AV, and Katherine Milburn, Curator Ephemera.

Kaleidoscope World: 40 Years of Flying Nun in Dunedin explores the Flying Nun scene in Dunedin – from the early origins with The Enemy through to the contemporary local music scene which looks beyond Flying Nun. The exhibition pulls material from across the Hocken’s rich collections as well as some iconic and visually arresting loans from people central to the music scene, while also featuring a commissioned artwork by Robert Scott (The Clean, The Bats). This blog post highlights three works featured in the exhibition.

The central exhibition image is the collage of a one-eyed cherub holding a record, created by Ian Dalziel for the tenth anniversary of Flying Nun Records in 1991. Dalziel used the collage for the commemorative card set, taking original images of a cherub, hair, and an eyeball from the 1978 Harters Picture Archive for Collage and Illustration, compiled by Jim Harter, and the image of a record from a magazine ad. The collage was again used on a 1991 New Year’s Eve Flying Nun gig poster at Christchurch’s Dux de Luxe, this time adding solar and lunar elements designed by Alec Bathgate (The Enemy, Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs). The cherub has become an iconic image associated with Flying Nun – it was used to heavily promote the label’s 25th anniversary and has more recently been re-imagined as a t-shirt motif.

Ian Dalziel, (b.1957), The Original Collage, 1991, collage and ink on paper, 135 x 135mm, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago, V2015.14.1. Given by Warwick Eade, 2015. Part of the artwork Commissioned for Flying Nun Records, on the occasion of their 10th anniversary. Permission to use kindly granted by Ian Dalziel and Flying Nun Records.

Conceived by Stephen Hall-Jones, Social Activities Manager for the Otago University Students’ Association, and strikingly brought to life on a poster by artist Robert Scott, ‘mutant hillbillies’ was a memorable and successful 1990 Orientation theme. With his friend Michael Tull, Hall-Jones introduced the full story in a calendar where each page depicted a hillbilly family member. (The Hocken would be very grateful for a donation of this calendar should anyone have one spare.) The poster advertised a 12-night programme of events described by Critic as ‘…a veritable feast for those people who are into New Zealand music’. Robert Scott was not only the poster artist that year, but he also performed as a member of two of the drawcard bands: The Clean and The Bats.

‘Mutant Hillbilly Orientation 1990’ Dunedin: Otago University Students’ Association, 1990. Eph-0069-LG-D-03/01 Posters collection, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago. Permission to use kindly granted by OUSA.

For Flying Nun’s 15th anniversary in 1996, the label commissioned five musicians signed to the label (who were also visual artists) to create a limited-edition artwork, an etching on a 7” vinyl disc with an accompanying label on the reverse side of the disc. These discs featured no music and were designed purely as collectable promotional items. There was no specific brief, and each artist – Alec Bathgate, Chris Knox, Sean O’Reilly, David Mitchell, and Hamish Kilgour – created an etching from their imaginations, which were quirky, abstract, or lurid. Alec Bathgate created a whimsical illustration, a guitar playing figure seemingly hovering over volcanos, with the Auckland cityscape behind it. Bathgate remembers there being nothing meaningful in the illustration, as he recalls “I was just asked to contribute something and came up with that!”

Alec Bathgate. “Flying Nun Records 1981-1996: 15th anniversary label and etching.” Flying Nun Records, 1996. Hocken music collections Rec-S 3091. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago. Permission to use kindly granted by Flying Nun Records and Alec Bathgate.

Keen to see and hear more? Come and visit Kaleidoscope World: 40 Years of Flying Nun in Dunedin at Hocken Collections, open until 19 March 2022. Open to the public, Monday to Saturday from 10am-5pm. 90 Anzac Ave, Dunedin, (03) 479-8868, or www.otago.ac.nz/hocken

One hundred years ago today: Prof Jack’s public radio broadcast

Wednesday, November 17th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post researched and written by David Murray, Archivist

The University of Otago’s own Professor Robert Jack made the first public radio broadcast in New Zealand one hundred years ago today, on 17 November 1921. Jim Sullivan records that he “continued the transmissions two nights a week and the programmes – a mixture of announcements, live music, and gramophone records – were heard in all parts of the country and even on a ship near the Australian coast.”

Robert Jack is seated at the centre in this photograph of the university’s Physics Department staff and senior students, taken in 1926.

Professor Jack’s colleague Agnes Blackie (seated on the left in the photo) described him: “In everything, Dr Jack’s aim was perfection. This showed itself in many ways: the laboratory place-cards that he printed so beautifully by hand, the finely-written lists, the tidiness of the department. His standard for himself was also his standard for his students and woe-betide them if through carelessness, they fell short of it. Dr Jack’s insistence on punctuality has become legendary: ‘You’re late, Mr Smith.’ ‘No I don’t think so; the clock is just striking,’ ‘Well, you’re nearly late!’ Yet he could easily be disarmed by the right approach as in the case of the student who when asked fiercely whether had had any excuses for lateness replied, ‘Plenty, Doctor, but no reasons.'”

“Dr Jack was a splendid lecturer, illustrating his lectures with experiments skillfully demonstrated and enjoyed as much by the lecturer as by the students. His popular lectures for the public of Dunedin were great occasions: lecture-room packed, lecture-bench crowded with apparatus and the audience lifted out of themselves by the lecturer’s own enthusiasm.”

“To a very sensitive nature was added the strain of nerves stretched taut by serious overworking. It was, however, only a very blind student who did not see through the protective barrier of sternness to the warmly human man behind.” (ref: MS-4443/051).

The photograph is signed on the back by: R. Jack, Agnes R. Blackie (seated on the left), Robert R. Nimmo (seated next to Jack), Helen C. Thomson, Phyllis J. Sutton, Evelyn A. Franklin, Allan G. Harrington, James K. Horn, William M. Somerville, Harold M. Taylor, Doris M.A. Wheatley (ref: MS-3846 Box 2).

From Huia to Hocken – the story of our building

Monday, November 15th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

This post was originally written by David Murray, Archivist, for his Built in Dunedin blog in 2019. It is republished and slightly re-edited here to mark the Ōtepoti Dunedin Heritage Festival 2021, which has a particular focus on built heritage. 

The building as it appeared when new in 1954. Image courtesy of Naylor Love

The 1950s Streamline Moderne building that is home to the Hocken Collections was originally built as a dairy factory and offices. The Dunedin-based Co-operative Dairy Co. of Otago produced Huia brand butter and cheese for 75 years, and from this site for over 40. The company disappeared in the dairy mergers of the late 1990s, and their premises became the University of Otago’s new Hocken Library in 1998.

Outwardly, the building perhaps looks older than its years, although it was internally and practically up-to-date when new. It is a late example of a style of architecture introduced to Dunedin in the mid-1930s. Plans were ready in 1947, but there were numerous delays in securing permits and consents, followed by a long construction period of three years. The factory finally opened in 1954.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. First some earlier history of the dairy company…

Dunedin has a long a long association with the dairy industry. New Zealand’s first co-operative dairy factory opened on the Otago Peninsula in 1871, when the eight shareholders of John Matheson & Co. established the Peninsula Cheese Factory at Matheson’s Springfield property. The development of infrastructure and technology saw rapid growth in the industry from the 1880s, when further factories were built around the country. Improved transport networks, refrigeration in both factories and transportation, cream separators, new testing methods, and selective breeding all contributed to the rapid growth of an export industry in the decades that followed. Combined exports of butter and cheese grew from 5,000 tonnes in 1881, to 300,000 tonnes in 1901.

The Co-operative Dairy Co. of Otago formed in Dunedin in 1922. At that time, 564 dairy companies operated around the country, 88% of them co-operatives within a highly regulated industry. The new company claimed it was owned entirely by those who supplied cream, with ‘absolutely no dry shareholders’. 284 individuals operating home separators took 68% of the initial share allocation, while eight small Otago factories (Momona, Mosgiel, Milton, Goodwood, Waikouaiti, Merton, Omimi, and Maungatua) took the remaining 32%. The new company purchased the business of the Dunedin Dairy Co., taking over their newly-built premises opposite the railway station in June 1923. In doing so, it acquired the Huia brand, under which Dunedin Dairy had marketed butter since 1920. By the 1927/28 season the new co-op produced 800 tonnes of butter, the second largest output by a South Island factory.

The original building served the company for thirty years, but by the 1940s it was cramped and behind the standard demanded by regulators. The company bought out the butter business of the Taieri & Peninsula Milk Supply Co. in 1942, taking on its Oamaru factory, but it still sought to expand its Dunedin operation on a larger and more accessible site.

An area of reclaimed Otago Harbour Board land included a vacant and appealing site near the railway line on the east side of Anzac Avenue. The avenue had been built in 1925, in time to link the railway station with the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition at the newly reclaimed Lake Logan. The idea of such a road been put forward by Harbour Board member John Loudon as early as 1922, before the exhibition was formally proposed. The development or reclamation of the lake had been anticipated for some years, and a new road would also improve connection with West Harbour. It was the exhibition, however, that brought the impetus needed to make what was then referred to as the ‘highway’ a reality. Exhibition architect Edmund Anscombe played a central role in the planning, proposing parks, reserves, and housing for the area to the east of the avenue, but it remained largely undeveloped through the depression years and up to the war.

A late 1920s photograph shows young trees lining the avenue, but by 1933 some had died and others were stunted. Most of the present elms were planted between 1934 and 1938, by school pupils participating in Arbour Day activities.

Detail from c.1902, from ‘Dunedin from Logans Point’ by Muir & Moodie. The future site of the co-op building is under water, next to the shoreline at the far left centre of the image. Ref: Te Papa PA.000184.

Anzac Avenue as it appeared about 1928, meeting Union Street and the southern edge of Logan Park. The future factory site is the furthest of the vacant land on the left. Ref: ‘Dunedin, New Zealand no. 872’, Alexander Turnbull Library Pan-0017-F.

An aerial view from April 1947, showing the vacant site at the centre of the image. Ref: Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library WA-06920-F (cropped detail).

The new Dunedin North Intermediate School opened at the corner of Albany Street and Anzac Avenue in 1934. In 1944, a rehabilitation centre for disabled servicemen opened. Most of the other new land was put to industrial use. Dominion Industries built a linseed oil operation, Shaw Savill Albion a wool and grain store, J. Mill & Co. another wool store, and stationers Williamson Jeffery a factory and head office. On the north side of Leith, a new milk treatment station opened in 1948.

The dairy co-op secured a leasehold section from the Harbour Board in October 1945. Allan Cave, a North Island architect with extensive experience of dairy buildings, prepared preliminary sketch plans and a well was bored on the site in April 1946. Two months later, the district building commissioner deferred issuing a permit, due to the post-war building restrictions and a shortage of cement and labour.

In September 1946, Cave recommended switching to a local architect, and the company appointed L.W.S. Lowther in his place. Lowther immediately began work on plans and specifications, completed in February 1947.

Launcelot William Stratton (Lance) Lowther, architect. Image courtesy of Barbara Parry.

Born in Llanelli, Wales, to a New Zealand-born father, Lance Lowther had worked as assistant to Henry McDowell Smith before taking up private practice in 1945. He had at least a hand in many streamlined designs that came out of Smith’s office in the late 1930s, including the Law Court Hotel and two blocks of flats on View Street. In a more traditional aesthetic, he had a significant and it has been claimed leading design role (under Smith’s name) for the new St Peter’s Anglican Church at Queenstown. Early houses by Lowther include a Moderne/Art Deco design at the corner of Taieri Road and Wairoa Street. He later worked in private partnership with former Otago Education Board architect Clifford Muir.

Huia advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 27 May 1949 p.7. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

The construction history of the factory highlights the challenges faced in post-war building. In addition to a council permit, plans had to be approved by both the Department of Agriculture and the Harbour Board, both of which asked for changes. Finance also proved difficult, as although commercial banks were happy to lend, the Reserve Bank could exercise its power to stop advances of more than £60,000 for building work. Building firms were stretched and unenthusiastic to tender for the contract, but Love Construction gave a price from the quantities. They were given the go-ahead in August 1947, before the building controller again deferred issuing a permit. Despite repeated efforts it was not until February 1951 that a permit was finally issued. Drawings held in the Hocken are undated, but the work finally begun in March 1951 was probably mostly carried out according to the 1947 plans.

Michael Findlay has described the building as ‘constructed from steel reinforced concrete with steel roof trusses enabling wide spans and unobstructed floors. The wall and floor surfaces had rounded internal corners for hygiene and the design was efficient and modern, a great step up from their earlier Dunedin factory’. The Moderne exterior is characterised by clean lines and simplicity. It might also be described as Art Deco, as it fits some definitions of that style. Embellishment is minimal, consisting mostly of raised banding or string courses. Glass bricks are a feature of the west elevation, and allowed a filtered light into the factory.

The original plans show a large butter and smaller cheese manufacturing area, and a big garage space at the rear with access from Anzac Avenue. There was also stores, freezers, a box and pallet area opening to the cart dock on Parry Street, dressing rooms, and a dining room. Unusually, a bicycle parking area was placed internally in the south-west corner. Office activities took place upstairs, where there was a public counter, large general office, manager’s and secretary’s offices, strong room, another dining room, and a generously sized and wood-panelled board room.

Rosemarie Patterson’s excellent history of Naylor Love, A Bob Both Ways, provides some insight into experiences on the building site through the recollections of foreman Duncan McKenzie. He remembered laying the foundations on the swampy reclaimed site in the winter of 1951: ‘It was just an absolute bog. We were building a kind of floating foundation, big pads right across. 8 feet wide and 18 inches deep. Alex Ross, manager at the time, put an ad in the paper for labourers’. Because of the strike there were many men looking for work. ‘He started sending them to me, and they just kept on coming. But in those days we worked in the rain, and wharfies weren’t used to working in the rain, so most of them left on those wet days. A few stayed on, three or four who didn’t get their jobs back on the wharf.’

The project employed many new Dutch migrants. Conditions in Europe and a shortage of workers saw significant Dutch immigration after the Second World War, with over 10,000 arriving in the three years from July 1951 to June 1954. Most were single, non-English speaking men from a working class background, including carpenters and skilled labourers. McKenzie used one of his steelworkers, a good English speaker who had been a corporal in the Dutch Army in Indonesia, as an interpreter. McKenzie remembered they ‘had to learn to do things differently, especially the concrete work which all had to be boxed. They were not used to doing that.’

McKenzie also recalled Love’s purchasing their first skilsaw in time for the laying of the upstairs floor. ‘It was big 6 x ¼ inch flooring, and they brought it over for us to cut the flooring with. And everybody’s eyes nearly popped out. Len Griffin, the supervisor who used to go round the jobs, every so often for some particular job would come and borrow our skilsaw! The company’s only skilsaw! It was the same with dumpy levels. Being a big job, I always had one there, but there was always someone coming and borrowing it. We didn’t have one for a job, we had one for a lot of jobs.’

‘We didn’t have cranes. We had electric hoists. You’d fill the barrows, generally on the ground, and take them up on a hoist, and wheel the concrete round to wherever you wanted it, and pour it, and take it back down again. It got a bit more complicated later on. We’d take a skip on the hoist and put it in a hopper on the top. And you’d fill your barrow out of that. All the concrete was done by barrow. You had to have scaffold ramps up every lift. Every four feet you’d probably put a pour. So the scaffold had to be built at the right height to swing the barrow and tip the concrete in. We had pre-mix concrete there, but before that – while I worked on the Nurses’ Home in Cumberland Street – all the concrete was mixed on site.’

When construction began, co-op management optimistically hoped it would be able to have its machinery in by April 1952, but there were more delays, including sourcing the roofing material and steel girders. In March 1953, the manager reported a shortage of carpenters. The building neared completion the following summer, but it was practically impossible to move in during the dairying season. In April 1954, building work was complete with the exception of some painting and plastering. Plant was moved from the old premises, and by the end of August all departments had moved in. The final build cost was £150,000.

Butter churners. Campbell Photography. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena P1998-167-006.

Loading finished products. Campbell Photography. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena P1998-167-004.

The building officially opened some eight years after the first consent permit was sought. Keith Holyoake, Minister of Agriculture and future Prime Minister, performed the honours before a crowd of 450 people on 2 November 1954. Referring to the end of the bulk purchasing agreement with the United Kingdom, he said: ‘This is a new era and a really challenging time as far as the primary producer is concerned’. In a peculiar call to arms for securing market share he said ‘we now have to fight the battle with the British housewife’.

The company had 55 staff in its Dunedin and Oamaru factories in 1954. Its products over the years included butter, process cheese, savoury sandwich paste, and reconstituted cream. A subtle name rearrangement occurred in 1976, when the Co-operative Dairy Company of Otago became the Otago Co-operative Dairy Company. In the 1980s the Dunedin factory was producing over 3,500 tonnes of butter annually.

Cheese continued to be made on the site, with a specialty cheese unit established in 1985/86. The company had large shareholdings in the Otago Cheese Co., and in Mainland Products Ltd, which had some operations at Anzac Avenue. In 1989/90 butter reworking ceased after the Dairy Board decided it could satisfy the Otago and Southland markets with patted butter ex-churn from Westland. In the same year, Mainland’s processing plant moved to Eltham, reducing manufacturing operations at Anzac Avenue to creamery and whey butter, and specialty cheese. A Cheese Shop fronting Parry Street opened in 1990, with some products continuing to be marketed under the Huia brand. Adjoining chicken and sausage shops also operated for a time but were less successful. The company performed well for its shareholders, but the Anzac Avenue site was becoming surplus to requirements.

Reconstituted cream point of sale advertisement. Ref: Otago Co-operative Dairy Company records, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena 84-159/003.

The building as it appeared in 1997, when vacated by the dairy company. Ref: Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena MS-4069/070.

The University of Otago purchased the building in 1996, for redevelopment as a new Hocken Library. The library had been established in 1910 to care for and provide access to Dr Thomas Morland Hocken’s public gift of his collection of books, pamphlets, newspapers, maps, paintings, and manuscripts relating to Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. It opened in a purpose-built wing of the Otago Museum and was a much expanded collection by the time it left that site in 1979. By the 1990s the collections were split between the Hocken (now Richardson) Building and a former vehicle testing station in Leith Street. The dairy co-op site brought the library, archive, and gallery together in a secure, environmentally controlled facility, and allowed much improved public access. The architects for the redevelopment were Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates in collaboration with Works Consultancy Services, and the project was managed by Octa Associates Ltd. The main contractor was Lund South, the contract being worth $5.4 million.

The University took possession on 30 June 1997 and the work was carried out over most of 1998. The interior was more or less gutted, with the reorganised space including a large foyer, gallery, public reference area, reading rooms, public tea room, staff areas, and stacks. Preserved internal features included steel trusses and exposed timber joists. Two doors with frosted-glass decoration (moved from the entrance) each feature a pair of huia, as used in the co-op’s branding. The building retains the sympathetic colour scheme given to it at this time, of yellow-creams and gold, with grey-green metal joinery. One of the more obvious external changes was the replacement of steel-framed windows with aluminium ones.

Officially opened by Governor General Sir Michael Hardie Boys on 2 December 1998, the refurbished building was the university’s major Otago sesquicentennial project. Other funding came from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, the Community Trust of Otago, and the Alexander McMillan Trust. The external funding was over $2.3 million of the $5.4 million cost.  It is currently home to over 11 shelf kilometres of archives, 200,000 books, 17,000 pictures, and 2 million photographs.

We’ve now been in the building for over 20 years. Changes in recent years have included consolidating two reading rooms into one, to allow a workroom for the expanded Researcher Services team. Also the conversion of the public tea room into a researcher lounger, tea and coffee is still available for a small koha.

The main stacks are of course also climate controlled, kept at 16 to 20 degrees Celsius, with a relative humidity of 40-45%. Over the past twenty years we have installed more and more mobile ranges of shelving, as well as removing internal partitions, as we increasingly push the limits of storage capacity. A two-degree vault has been attached to the building since 2010, providing the ideal climate control for film and colour transparencies and some other material. This is in addition to the original twelve-degree vault, which holds material including video tape and audio cassette recordings, and glass plates and lantern slides. Essential to both, as well as the temperature control, is lower humidity than you would find in a more conventional refrigeration unit.

The Hocken Library, in case there is confusion, remains the official name for the building, while the institution within is the Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, a branch of the University of Otago Library.

The building during its transformation into the Hocken Library in 1998. Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena MS-4069/070.

After selling its building, the Otago Co-operative Dairy Co. did not continue as an independent entity for long. The profitable business made a record payout to shareholders in 1996 but mergers across the industry meant there would only be four co-operatives nationwide by the end of the 1990s, and a further mega-merger would follow. In 1997, Otago merged into Kiwi Co-operative Dairies. One farmer who welcomed the news commented: ‘Otago is sitting as a small company doing well and wondering where it will end up’. In 2001, Kiwi in turn merged with the New Zealand Dairy Group and the New Zealand Dairy Board to form the country’s largest company, Fonterra. The Anzac Avenue building is now one of few tangible reminders of the old business.

The Hocken Library in 2019.

Newspaper references:
Lyttelton Times 16 October 1873 p.3 (‘A Cheese Factory in Otago’, copied from Otago Guardian); Evening Star 29 April 1920 p.6 (advertisement for Huia butter), 8 September 1922 p.2 (formation of company), 25 November 1922 p.4 (Loudon’s proposal), 17 May 1923 p.9 (proposed highway), 7 July 1923 p.4 (housing proposal), 14 November 1924 p.2 (‘Highway proposal’), 11 May 1928 p.5 (trees and verges), 29 April 1933 p.23 (dead trees), 2 August 1934 p.12 (elms, with photograph), 5 August 1936 p.14 (elms), 9 August 1937 p.11 (elms) , 10 August 1938 p.15 (elms), 16 September 1938 p.7 (replacing damaged trees); Otago Daily Times 12 October 1922 p.5 (notice of establishment), 22 October 1923 p.9 (‘famous Huia butter’), 19 June 1928 p.18 (company history and purchase of Dunedin Dairy Co.), 9 March 1934 p.6 (dead and stunted trees), 30 September 1942 p.6 (‘Butter business purchased’), 5 August 1947 p.6 (‘New factory to be built’). 3 November 1954 p.10 (‘New £140,000 dairy facory opened by Mr K.J. Holyoake), 21 March 1996 p.1 (‘Dairy factory to become Hocken Library’), 31 July 1996 p.16 (‘Otago Dairy Co-op makes record pay-out to suppliers’), 30 October 1997 p.3 (‘Otago-Kiwi dairy merger nets suppliers a windfall’ and ‘Dairy merger welcomed by farmers’)

Books:
Ledgerwood, Norman. Southern Architects: A History of the Southern Branch, New Zealand Institute of Architects (Dunedin: Southern Branch, New Zealand Institute of Architects, 2009) p.126.
Patterson, Rosemarie. A Bob Both Ways: Celebrating 100 Years of Naylor Love (Dunedn: Advertising and Art, 2010), p.90.
Philpott, H.G. A History of the New Zealand Dairy Industry 1840-1935 (Wellington: Government Printer, 1937), pp.375-406 (statistics).

Web resources:
Petchey, Peter. ‘La Crème de la Crème‘, Friends of the Hocken Bulletin no.26 (November 1998), https://www.otago.ac.nz/library/hocken/otago038951.html#bulletins (accessed 24 October 2019).
Stringleman, Hugh and Frank Scrimgeour, ‘Dairying and Dairy Products‘, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/dairying-and-dairy-products (accessed 24 October 2019).
Yska, Redmer, ‘Dutch – Migration After 1945‘, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/dutch/page-2 (accessed 24 October 2019).
Zam, Darian, ‘When Lactose Goes‘, Longwhitekid, https://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/2011/05/31/when-lactose-goes/ (accessed 24 October 2019).

Archives:
Otago Co-operative Dairy Co. records, Hocken Archives, including manager’s reports (84-159 box 6), architectural drawings (97-235 box 32), and annual reports (97-235 box 4).

Special thanks to: Chris Naylor, Rosemarie Patterson, Barbara Parry, Chris Scott (DCC Archives), and the late and much missed Michael Findlay.

In the Hocken Gallery: Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana by Bridget Reweti

Monday, October 4th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | 1 Comment

Post written by Collections Assistant Nick Austin

It was the Hocken’s pleasure, and good fortune, to host the karakia whakatuwhera – opening blessing – for the exhibition Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana by 2020-2021 Frances Hodgkins Fellow Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi), here in our gallery just prior to August’s lockdown. University of Otago Māori Chaplain Dr Helen Papuni led karakia through the gallery, followed by kōrero and waiata to welcome the exhibition and pay acknowledgements. It was great that so many guests from out of town were able to attend this special evening.

Bridget Reweti and Hocken Librarian Sharon Dell at Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana opening. Photograph: Sharron Bennett

Professor Robert Jahnke speaks at Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana opening. Photograph: Sharron Bennett

Sarah Hudson, Bridget Reweti, Erena and Unaiki Arapere, and Terri Te Tau at Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana opening. Photograph: Sharron Bennett

The title of Bridget’s exhibition, Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana, recognises two of the names of Tamatea, a principal ancestor of the Takitimu waka, who explored areas in Aotearoa including Tauranga Moana, the artist’s turangawaewae, and Murihiku, the southern part of Te Waipounamu (South Island). As Bridget writes in her exhibition wall text: “I use this connection to my tipuna who travelled over lands and seas to locate myself as a Tauranga Moana artist within Ngāi Tahu mana whenua.” It is this whakapapa that underpins the four series of works in the exhibition.

Bridget uses photography in ways that you have probably never seen before. In the series Kapo Wairua, she has produced photograms of x-ray-like details of migratory seabirds – tītī (sooty shearwater), toroa (albatross), kuaka (godwit) – onto stones cut flat on one side: pounamu (greenstone), onewa (basalt), kōkawa (andesite), pakohe (argillite). From an accompanying wall text by Matariki Williams we learn of the symbolism of birds’ departure and return, in the Māori world. For example: “Roimata toroa is a well-known Ngāti Porou tukutuku pattern that references the excreting of saline from the nostrils of these seafaring birds and is a constant reminder of necessary preparation when undertaking long journeys.” There is a haunting presence to these works that is potently summed up by the writer: “[T]hese birds compel us to always remember those who have gone before us, those who have made their haerenga to Rerenga Wairua, those for whom we continue to long […]”.

(L-R) through the fog it came and the silence of the sea (for Sarah), 2021, pounamu plate negatives. Photograph: Justin Spiers

Georgina May Young viewing after Fiona, 2021, toroa skull photogram on basalt. Photograph: Justin Spiers

It makes sense then that certain people from Bridget’s artistic whānui, some of whom have passed away, are paid tribute within works’ titles. On this note, the thoughts of many people in Ōtepoti Dunedin have recently been with Marilynn Webb (Ngāti Kahu, Te Roroa), a much-loved and influential artist who spent most of her artistic life in this town. Marilynn passed away just days after Bridget’s exhibition opened. As a mihi to Marilynn, when installing the exhibition Bridget chose to present three works by Webb on the mezzanine level outside the Hocken Gallery, from her 1980 Aramoana Fossil series.

Ghostly images combined with tactile materials are used again by Bridget in another series Summering on Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri. Last summer she travelled with friends into Fiordland to trace the movements, evident in landscape photographs from 1889, of Alfred Burton of the famed Dunedin-based firm Burton Brothers. She re-recorded Burton’s views with a conciousness of there being lore – placenames and histories long held by mana whenua, Ngāi Tahu whānui – that he would not have known. As a gesture to this gap in understanding of place, Bridget has coloured her photographs with the pigments of whenua from those very places, given to her by local people.

4870 – LIVING THE DREAM, 2021, whenua coloured silver gelatin photograph. Courtesy of artist

Summering on Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri series in Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana. Photograph: Justin Spiers

Rauhina Scott-Fyfe viewing How to drain a swamp series in Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana. Photograph: Justin Spiers

There is a strong sense of whanaungatanga – kinship – in every aspect of Bridget’s work here, from production to exhibition. Whakapapa too, not only in the sense of familial and artistic genealogies but in there being all sorts of layers of, or connections between, land and people, images and materials. An immaterial presence within the gallery is somehow articulated by the audio recording of taonga pūoro played by Alistair Fraser that accompanies the large moving image work, Like a rock against the tide. These atmospheric sounds float through the gallery’s open doors as a gentle but persistent entreaty: you should come in.

Still from Like a rock against the tide, 2021, HD Moving Image with sound

Pōkai Whenua, Pōkai Moana is open (in Level 2!) Monday – Saturday, 10am -5pm, until 30 October at the Hocken Gallery, 90 Anzac Ave, Ōtepoti Dunedin.

Lights of the City

Monday, December 21st, 2020 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Curator of Photographs Anna Petersen

Fig. 1 Lights of Dunedin, c.2000. John R. Lamb 35mm slide, P2017-033-055.

Illumination is a topical subject in Dunedin at present as the City Council continues to roll out the new LED lights, designed to cut down on energy consumption and enhance our night sky.  As we also enter the season of light, it seems a good time to make a quick survey of what the Hocken Photographs Collection has to offer as evidence of the different technologies used to light our way over the years and decorate the main business district.

Fig 2. Princes Street, Dunedin, 1861. F.A. Coxhead reprint of Meluish photograph, Box-116-003.

Looking back at the earliest images of our streets, dated between 1860-1861, it is not hard to imagine that in the beginning it must have been very dark and quite hazardous on a cloudy or moonless night. Some hotels might have had candle lanterns over the doorways, but for the most part, there were no street lights.  Even in the daytime, the first roads were dangerously uneven, with potholes and drainage ditches.[1]  A photograph of the main street taken c.1861 reveals how the road basically doubled as the footpath.

The early 1860s saw a period of rapid expansion, however, made possible through the formation of Dunedin Gas Light and Coke Company in mid-1862 and new-found civic revenue from the gold rush.[2]

Fig. 3 Princes Street, 1867. W. Burton photograph, Album 076, P1910-009-002.

By September 1863, pipes from the new gasworks in South Dunedin fed 150 gas lamps along Princes, George and Stuart streets, beside purpose-built footpaths.[3] This development made Dunedin the first settlement in New Zealand to have central city street lighting.

Fig. 4 Octagon, 1867. W. Burton photograph, Album 076, P1910-009-016.

Yet, of course, Dunedin was still a very small place in the great scheme of things and new technological advances continued overseas.  Thomas Edison patented the first commercially viable electric light bulb in 1878 and even as Dunedin’s public gas lights were being extended to the suburbs of Caversham, Mornington, Roslyn and St Kilda in 1882, major businesses like the Roslyn Woollen Mills were beginning to adopt electric lights on their premises.[4]  An Otago Daily Times (ODT) newspaper report about this advance at the Mill in 1885 noted the different quality of light that electricity generated.  ‘The first thing that attracted attention was the steadiness and brilliancy of the light as compared with the old system of lighting with kerosene lamps, which has been in vogue for the five years during which the mills have been working night and day.’[5]

By the turn of the century, electric light bulbs had become an important form of decoration and source of illumination, emitted through shop and office windows in the downtown area.  Evidently, when the Duke and Duchess of York visited in 1901, ‘there was scarcely a shop or office [on Princes Street] that did not help to swell the general brightness of the street in the evening.’[6]  The Council briefly set up a dynamo driven by a traction engine to power light bulbs decorating the Town Hall and welcome arches in the Octagon, making it ‘a scene of great beauty’.[7]

Fig. 5 Balmoral Arch, Dunedin, 1901. C.C. Armstrong photograph, P2001-027-003. Note the light bulbs above the arrowslit windows and along the castellations.

As evidence mounted to suggest electricity was the way of the future, the idea of funding the replacement of the public gas lights nevertheless met with some resistance.  In one heated letter to the editor of the ODT, J. Watt, a gas engineer in Balclutha, wrote ‘… We have been told times without number that great things have been done in America and elsewhere.  We don’t want to know what has been done in America or anywhere else… Electric light may be the coming light, but I think those who are likely to use it are entitled to know what it will cost before it does come, and not to be asked to assist in buying a pig in a poke…’.[8] Mr Watt had done the sums for operating 16, 20 or 25 lights at 70 candle-power (i.e. roughly 880 lumens).  He calculated the expense comparing other places in New Zealand like Gore, Patea and Stratford, where electric lights had been operating for some years at a rate of seven pence a unit, and found the gas lights in Balclutha operated at not much more than a fourth of the cost.

Concerns were also raised by citizens about the safety of electrical cables, yet there was no halting the global trend towards the adoption of electricity and ten arc lights were erected in Custom Square and along Princes Street as far as the Octagon at the end of 1904.  

Fig. 6 Dunedin Exchange, 1904-1905. Photographer unknown, P1990-015/49-274. Note the arc light in the foreground on the left.

These electric bulbs, suspended from sinuous iron frameworks, connected to the electric tramlines laid down in the area a year beforehand.  There was little fanfare at the time, but in a brief, untitled ODT article, the reporter described how ‘The effect was a beautiful one, and when these lights are at the maximum of 2000 candle-power each there will be no more brightly-lighted thoroughfare in New Zealand than Princes and George streets.  As it was, even the white lights from the incandescent gas lamps along the streets appeared last evening but a pale, sickly yellow in comparison.’[9]  The promise of more power came from plans to connect the lights to a hydro-electric station at Waipori, which happened in 1907.

Fig. 7 Octagon, Dunedin, 1913. S.T. Paterson glass plate negative, P2005-014/1-077.

All of the photographic evidence of the street lights in Dunedin up until this point had been taken during the day.  Photography itself is dependent on there being sufficient light and it was not until the 1890s that art photographers overseas began experimenting with capturing street scenes at night with the aid of artificial light.[10]  We know that members of the Dunedin Photographic Society used flash bulbs for photographs of interiors in 1894, but photographers generally seem to have been slow to address the subject of night scenes here.  Figure 8 is one of the earliest examples that we have.  This view of decorations on the Town Hall was probably taken in May 1920, when the building was lit up for the reception of Edward, Prince of Wales.  Thanks to the Waipori Power Station, Dunedin evidently provided ‘staggering illuminations, which completely eclipsed those of Christchurch.’[11]

Fig. 8 Town Hall at night, [May 1920?] Photographer unknown, P2015-011/4-030.

The new technologies for photographing colour (i.e. refracted light) that emerged in the twentieth century would similarly lag behind advances in coloured electric lighting.  The first neon lights appeared in Dunedin in the 1920s.  Jim Sullivan has described how the Arthur Barnett ‘Can’t stop’ sign of the man on a horse was created in 1930 and David Murray has written about the Barton’s signage in one of his blog posts.[12]  While there were photomechanical ways of producing colour used in the manufacture of postcards of Dunedin from the early 1900s, and hand colouring was always an option, it was not until the development of Kodak’s first Kodachrome film in 1935 that people could really get into colour photography.  Even then, it remained an expensive pursuit until about the 1970s.  A 35mm slide taken by the much-celebrated George Chance records the decorations for another royal occasion – the Queen’s visit in 1954.

Fig. 9 Dunedin Chief Post Office decorated for the Royal Visit, 1954. George Chance slide, P1991-023/19-4618.

Turning finally to evidence of developments over the last 50 years, the Franz Barta studio collection of commercial negatives, includes two images of the Octagon Theatre in 1965 by night and another of unlit neon signs in the vicinity during the daytime.

Fig. 10 Octagon Theatre, 1965. Franz Barta film negative, P1997-156/09-292.
Fig. 11 Galbraith’s Building, 1962. Franz Barta film negative, P1997-156/09-034.

A few years on, engineer Edward Dwyer made his own private study of lighting in the central city c.1967-1970. These photographs were taken during the period before weekend trading began, when locals would go shopping on Friday night. 

Fig. 12 Exchange and Princes Street, 7am, July 1967. Ed Dwyer photograph, P2017-013/3-004. Note the Kingston lanterns on spun concrete poles that were new in 1964. Where they appeared as pairs (as in the bottom of this photograph), they provided approximately 35,000 lumens per 100 feet. (See P1997-156/03-009 for lumen specifications.)
Fig. 13 Princes Street on a Friday night, 8pm, c.1967-1969. Ed Dwyer photograph, P2017-013/3-005.

With two contrasting shots of the same area taken in the dark of early morning and evening (figures 12 and 13), one begins to see negative effects of light pollution, which has become more of a concern in recent times. 

On a more positive note, another of Ed Dwyer’s photographs (figure 14), taken at dusk on George Street during Festival Week in 1970, records the Christmas candle decorations that delighted children growing up in the 1970s and captures something of the upbeat mood described in the lyrics of the popular song, ‘Downtown’, by Petula Clark (1964):

[Pre-Chorus]
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares

[Chorus]
So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
No finer place for sure, downtown
Everything’s waiting for you

Fig. 14 Friday night shopping, Festival Week, Dunedin, January 1970. Ed Dwyer photograph, P2017-013/1-001.

Most recently, a collection of 35mm slides taken by the late John R. Lamb and dating from the start of the new millenium, focus on neon signs and floodlit buildings around Dunedin.  Clearly, by the beginning of the 21st century the city no longer needed the event of a royal visit to highlight its significant architectural heritage and express civic pride in light. The use of dramatic colour on the Town Hall continues to this day. 

Fig. 15 Dunedin Town Hall, c.2000. John R. Lamb 35mm slide, P2017-033-049.

Even a brief overview of Hocken photographs focusing on lighting technology and its use in the heart of Dunedin over the last 150 years, illustrates the efforts made and resources spent over the generations to develop a safe, attractive and prosperous urban environment, and provides evidence of the enduring joy and wonder that light can bring.


[1] ‘Street lighting’, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand https://teara.govt.nz/en/streets-and-lighting/page-5 (accessed 12/6/2019).

[2] Karen Astwood, IPENZ Engineering Heritage Report, Dunedin Gasworks, 2014, pp.5-7.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] ‘The Electric Light at the Mosgiel Factory’, Otago Daily Times, 3 October 1885.

[6] ‘Decorations and Illuminations’, Otago Witness, 3 July 1901.

[7] Ibid.

[8] For example, see ‘Gas v. Electricity’, Otago Daily Times (ODT), 11 August 1904.

[9] ODT 8 November 1904.

[10] Michel Frizot, A New History of Photography, 1998, p.285.

[11] ‘The Illuminations at Dunedin’, The Mercury 20 May 1920.  See also ‘The Illuminations on the Town Hall, Dunedin’, Otago Witness, 1 June 1920.

[12] Jim Sullivan, ‘Time to get Can’t Stop restarted’, Otago Daily Times, 29 January 2019, https://www.pressreader.com/new-zealand/otago-daily-times/20190129/281788515283549 (accessed 22 January 2020) and David Murray, ‘Bartons Buildings (Stafford House)’, https://builtindunedin.com/2013/08/14/bartons-buildings/ (accessed 22 January 2020).

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.

John Prouse and the Maiden of Morven

Monday, November 4th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Stirring up the stacks #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 | 1 Comment

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.