With many students settling into their University of Otago colleges, here are some flashbacks to colleges and halls of residence back in the day. Many were captured for the university’s marketing and publicity purposes, others were formal records.
Thursday, February 23rd, 2023 | Hocken Collections | No Comments
With many students settling into their University of Otago colleges, here are some flashbacks to colleges and halls of residence back in the day. Many were captured for the university’s marketing and publicity purposes, others were formal records.
Thursday, January 26th, 2023 | Hocken Collections | No Comments
Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Curator Music and AV Collections
October 2022 marked 50 years since the formation of Split Enz, one of the most significant bands to emerge from New Zealand, and one which launched the careers of Tim and Neil Finn, Phil Judd, Noel Crombie, and Eddie Rayner. Before the ‘Enz’, they were ‘Ends’, with their original line-up of Brian (Tim) Finn, Phil Judd, Miles Golding, Mike Chunn, and Mike Howard – a five-piece who favoured acoustic folk-pop music. Idiosyncratic, creative and unique, they were unlike anything in the Aotearoa New Zealand music scene. Time, exposure, and evolving music styles meant their sound and image changed over the years, moving through art-rock, prog-rock and post-punk with a distinctive flair for stage (and costume) theatrics.1973 was a key year for Split Ends and began on January 6 with a performance at the Great Ngāruawāhia Music Festival. To say they weren’t the favourite act on the bill is an understatement. Split Ends were booed offstage by 18,000 Black Sabbath fans who did not appreciate their sound, which, according to Phil Judd was (at the time) a “lightweight, puny-sounding acoustic affair” (RNZ, 2005). The experience at Ngāruawāhia was disappointing, but the band were on a trajectory, recording early songs ‘Split Ends’ and ‘For You’ at Stebbings Studios before starting a New Zealand tour. The band line-up was also evolving: Mike Howard and Miles Golding exited the band and were replaced by Geoff Chunn on drums, and Wally Wilkinson on guitar. Honing their sound for the rest of the year, Split Ends’ spot on the New Faces television talent show cemented them as a band to watch, although they came second to last in the final – one judge told them they would be ‘too clever’ to succeed. They may not have won, but they made an impression and were given a 30-minute concert feature on New Zealand television. At the start of 1974 they changed their name from ‘Ends’ to ‘Enz’, signifying a change in style and sound, a move which Tim Finn in 2005 noted as “graphically it sticks in your mind with a z at the end” (RNZ, 2005). A move to Australia, and an emphasis on band visuals (costumes, hairstyles, and movements) saw them sign with Mushroom Records, and they released their debut album Mental Notes in 1976. A glorious, strange album, Mental Notes was voted no. 1 on Rip it Up’s canonical list of 100 best New Zealand records in 2000. Band members including Eddie Rayner, Noel Crombie, Neil Finn, and Nigel Griggs joined at different points, while others including Phil Judd and Mike Chunn departed. The changing line-up and a continuing move towards a leaner, pared-back image and sound in the 1980s gave Split Enz hit singles and albums both in New Zealand and Australia. Their 1980 album True Colours was massively successful, charting locally at no.1 for eight weeks running. Split Enz were now an international success as True Colours also went double platinum in Canada, selling over 200,000 copies there. The lead single ‘I Got You’, a no. 1 single in Australia and New Zealand, also reached no.10 in the UK singles chart – the band’s performance on Top of the Pops seen by an estimated 11 million people. 40 years later, the 2020 reissue (and remix) of True Colours would again reach the New Zealand no.1 album chart position, confirming their place in New Zealand music history. While Tim Finn left the band in early 1984, Split Enz disbanded after their Enz with a Bang tour that same year, but occasionally reformed for one-off shows or tours around New Zealand and Australia. In 2022 Tim Finn and Eddie Rayner formed Forenzics, a musical project that took different melodic or rhythmic strands of Split Enz songs and created new works from them.
During the University of Otago’s 2022 second semester, Humanities student intern Emma Aplin worked on a project examining Split Enz, and the materials across Hocken that relate to the band. As well as listing these sources, Emma worked with Music and AV curator Amanda Mills to create the current foyer display highlighting materials about Split Enz, from publications to recordings, posters and ephemera. We found many gems, including a scrapbook of 1980s music donated to Hocken’s archives, and the One Step Ahead newsletter which looks at Australian and New Zealand music and film in the early 1980s (Split Enz feature regularly). To compliment the display is an introductory panel, written as part of the student internship, and a Spotify playlist (curated by our intern and Music/AV curator) celebrating 50 years of the Split Enz, and the band members’ subsequent solo work, or work in other bands.
Footage of Split Ends’ 1973 performance on New Faces can be seen on NZ on Screen here https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/split-enz-new-faces-1973
The Hocken Collections’ 50 years of Split Enz Spotify playlist, curated by HUMS intern Emma Aplin and Hocken Music Curator Amanda Mills can be found here https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2SAIUZqig5ZFXjFy8lAC78?si=ad40406de0f84347
Music Curator Amanda Mills talked to RNZ in early January about the display, and the Hocken’s Collections of Split Enz material. The interview can be found here https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/summer-days/audio/2018873218/history-never-repeats-50-years-of-split-enz
RNZ, 2005. Enzology Part 1 – Beginning of the Enz (1950s-1975). Available online https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/enzology/audio/2534636/enzology-part-1-beginning-of-the-enz-1950s-1975
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments
Blog post researched and written by Kate Guthrie, Collections Assistant – Archives
Remember autograph books?
For those of us old enough to have had one back in the day, they were the Facebook of the pre-internet age; a little album to collect the thoughts and witticisms of your friends, family and occasionally even the famous. Sometimes kept and treasured for many years after the last entries were written in them, autograph books could become memory-holders too, for friends the album-keeper had lost touch with and older family members who’d passed away.
An autograph book tended to arrive sometime around the pre-teen/early teenage years – perhaps in a Christmas stocking – and the first autographs to grace the new album might well be the ‘rellies’ gathered for Christmas lunch. Everyone had a favourite verse or two they carefully wrote in – and the tricky part was coming up with something no-one else had written before you. It was a good idea to get in early, as Nelson Stockbridge’s father did back in 1945…
By Hook or by Crook,
I’ll be first in this Book
Dad, Xmas 1945
Nelson’s Auntie Ruby had some sage advice a few years later…
All the people o’er our town
Are always running people down
So let us turn to the Loving Cup
And do a little running up
Another personal favourite from Nelson’s album is this one from J. Hurn, dated 1946:
Mary had a little watch
She swallowed it one day
And now she’s taking castor oil
To pass the time away.
We don’t know much about Nelson Stockbridge, but there are one or two clues in the autograph book itself and in its provenance. The album was found in the loft of the hall of All Saints’ Anglican Church, Dunedin and donated to the Hocken by the All Saints’ vicar in 2009. It includes references to Terrace End School and Brooklyn School, suggesting Nelson lived in Palmerston North and Wellington as a boy.
Time to hit the search engines…
Births must have occurred more than one hundred years ago to be searchable on the Births, Deaths and Marriages historical database. Deaths, however, can be searched right up until the present day and often reveal a birth date or age as well. If you’re interested in family history research, it’s something worth remembering.
Nelson Stockbridge is a less-common name, which also makes a quick search worthwhile. And there’s a promising hit: Nelson William Stockbridge died in 2009 (coincidentally the year his autograph book came to light), and his date of birth is given as 23 January 1935, meaning he was soon to turn eleven when he was given that Christmas autograph book.
And how did that book make its way to All Saints Anglican in Dunedin? That faithful workhorse Google uncovers a document that lists Rev. Nelson William Stockbridge as a Methodist minister, revealing a likely clergical link in Nelson’s adult years.
Nelson’s autograph book is one of many in the Hocken archival collection – and some of them are stunning. A stroll through the collections (or a search on Hākena) shows there was much more to autograph books than witty rhyming ditties, particularly if we step back a little earlier in their history.
So how long have autograph books been around? At a guess, I’d have said a century or so.
I’d have been wrong.
Autograph books originated in the mid-sixteenth century in Europe when travelling university students carried these small, leather-bound albums and collected the sentiments and comments of their patrons, mentors and companions – a bit like a pre-internet LinkedIn. In those times when only male offspring were deemed worth educating at universities, collecting autographs would have been a male-only occupation.
The first true autograph books appeared in German and Dutch linguistic regions, possibly originating in Wittenberg. (Thank you, Wikipedia).
Known as an album amicorum (‘book of friends’) or stammbuch (‘friendship book’), the oldest autograph book on record is that of Claude de Senarclens, an associate of John Calvin, and dates back to 1545. By the end of the century, they were common among students and scholars throughout Germany.
The Germans and Dutch may have invented the autograph book. But, from the evidence I’ve seen in the Hocken’s own autograph book collection, it was the women of Victorian and Edwardian times who took autograph collecting to a whole new artistic level.
Margaret Simon, or Peggy as she was known, was one of eight children of James and Ellen Simon. The family owned a business, Simon Brothers, which imported and manufactured footwear, and their home was in Mornington, Dunedin.
A beautiful autograph and sketchbook was kept by Peggy Simon from 1905 until around the time of her marriage to Rudolph Wark in 1910. Peggy and Rudolph settled in Christchurch after their marriage and the autograph book, along with a family photograph, was donated to the Hocken in 2010 by Peggy’s nephew, Herbert William Tennet.
Autographers (is that even a word?) put a lot of time, skill and thought into creating their small piece of posterity in a friend’s autograph book. Just look at the illlustrations in these examples from Peggy Simon’s album.
Definition of a friend
A friend – one human being whom we can
Trust always, who knows the best and the
worst of us, and who loves us in spite of
23-9-07 Jep Cameron, Dunedin
I’ll not deny women are foolish
God Almighty made them so
To match the men.
Flowers often appear in autograph illustrations and pansies seem to be a favourite. At first, I wondered why pansies, rather than forget-me-nots or rosemary (for remembrance). Was it because pansies are pretty, colourful and fun to paint?
A contributor to Isabella Blair’s autograph book revealed the answer – a phrase linked to Ophelia, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
There is pansies, that’s for thoughts…
Another contributor to Isabella’s album had a slightly different version of the same sentiment…
Dusky pansies, let them be for memory
Anne D. Craig
And of course, forget-me-nots do make the occasional appearance in these floral tributes.
Men are often capable of greater things
than they perform. They are sent into
the world with bills of credit, and
seldom draw to their full extent
Isabella Blair (later to be Isabella Tily) was a student of Dunedin Teachers’ College and Otago University and many of the contributors to her autograph album have added the abbreviations OU or TC after their names. Like many others of the Victorian/Edwardian period, the album is a reflection of Isabella’s early adult life. One friend has even sketched what seems to be a portrait of Isabella at that time.
Compare the sketch with this photograph of Isabella Tily in later years, when she and husband Harry Tily were keen members of the Dunedin Naturalists’ Field Club and Isabella wrote regular articles on birds for Dunedin’s Evening Star. (The bird in the photograph is a kererū fledgling which she raised after finding it fallen from its nest.)
After completing her teacher training, Isabella went on to teach at Green Island School, just as the First World War was ending. She took her autograph book with her and collected the autographs, photographs and thoughts of her fellow teachers in 1918.
A few years later, Dunedin schoolboy Jack Smith was also a keen collector of autographs. Jack was an Otago Boys High School first eleven cricketer and avid sports fan. Picture a schoolboy, pen and autograph book in hand, racing across the playing field, collecting the signatures of his heroes at the end of the game. But Jack was more than an autograph collector. He also illustrated his album pages with schoolboy enthusiasm.
Jack’s album not only provides a glimpse of the sporting highlights of that period. He was also there on the spot when Byrd’s Antarctic Expedition set forth from Dunedin in 1930.
Finally, there’s one more autograph album that absolutely deserves a mention. It’s perhaps my personal favourite and dates back to that late Victorian period when young ladies – or at least those of upper/middle-class upbringing – had time for leisurely pursuits like autograph-collecting and an education that included skills in sketching and the use of watercolours.
Kathleen Creagh was one such young woman. Born in Oamaru in 1882, she compiled her autograph album during her young adult years and, from the similar style of many of the sketches, seems to have illustrated many of the pages herself after collecting the autographs and thoughts of friends and family.
Take a closer look at the detail in some of Kathleen’s sketches. These illustrations are tiny – only a couple of centimetres square. It’s interesting to note they also have a somewhat ‘English’ feel to them, given that Kathleen herself was born and raised in Oamaru.
Not all Kathleen’s illustrations were romantic country scenes, however. A Halloween-esque verse shows she also had a keen sense of fun.
Kathleen went on to marry Charles Napier in 1906 and the couple had a daughter, Mary, who was also a talented artist. Mary Napier specialised in mosaics and worked as a theatre producer. She married sculptor John Middleditch and, in later years, donated both her mother’s autograph album and a Creagh family photograph album to the Hocken, along with papers relating to the Middleditchs themselves.
So not only did Kathleen keep the autograph book of her youth for her own lifetime; it later became a treasured possession of her daughter, ultimately being entrusted to the care of Hocken. It illustrates a longevity in autograph books that far outlasts the modern-day postings made on Facebook.
Maybe it’s time to revive that autograph book tradition, so that others in the future can catch a glimpse of our own modern-day social lives. A Christmas stocking-stuffer perhaps?
Wednesday, October 19th, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments
Post researched and written by Christopher Meech, Head Curator Publications, Hocken Collections
Every now and then a find quite unexpected and novel comes through the doors at Hocken. A small book titled Original Poetry, by Mrs C. Fulton, to which are added a few Poems by her Father Mr James Dods, is such a remarkable find. This modest publication has been largely forgotten by history and has a unique and special tale behind it.
Written in 1867 and published and printed in the goldfields frontier town of Lawrence, Otago, this wee gem of a volume has evaded public collections for more than 150 years. Original Poetry, by Mrs C. Fulton is not recorded in the Bagnall’s monumental New Zealand National Bibliography to the year 1960, nor is it mentioned in any subsequent print or electronic bibliographies. It is a lost book recovered.
Original Poetry is the first poetic offering by colonial settler poet Christina Fulton and was greeted with favorable reviews in national newspapers when it was published. It includes poems inspired by the local environment such as Dunedin in the early part of 1863; Collision at Port Chalmers, 1863; The Clutha and Tuapeka. Fulton’s poems record her thought and experience as a woman in settler society. Some poems celebrate the natural environment and domestic life, others speak to a sense of separation from family, others still to exotic lands and people. The book is dedicated to Christina’s father, John Dods, and also includes a selection of his poetry. The following year, in 1868, Fulton published a second poetic offering Lella: a poem. It was the last book she would write.
The Dunedin character, pamphleteer, and politician J.G.S. Grant recounts in his Dunedin newspaper the Saturday Review the tale of how Christina Fulton’s Original poetry came to be published:
“The history of this little volume of 131 pages is a romantic episode in literature. About seven months ago we made a tour of Otago, and among other places, we paid a visit to Blue Spur. It was a very wet morning when, in company with Mr. Greig, Tuapeka ‘Press,’ we started from Lawrence, and proceeded, via Wetherstone’s village, along the ranges of the Blue Spur. After inspecting the sluicing operations at the head of Gabriel’s Gully …we entered a pretty little cottage, and being perfectly saturated with wet, warmed and dried ourselves over against a roaring fire, and partook of an elegant repast, hospitably spread out before us by the polite lady of the cottage. She — having learned our name from the gentlemen accompanying us — brought out from her desk a beautiful album, and modestly requested us to favour her with our opinion of the merits of sundry poems therein elegantly engrossed. On opening the album before the cheerful fire, after having refreshed our languishing frame with the good things of this life, our spirits began to revive, and we forgot that we were in the midst of a waste howling desert, and began to scan the verses of the manuscript. After a pause of meditation, we closed the book, gave it to the lady, and inly exclaiming “Eureka ! Eureka !” like the ancient sage, importuned our fair hostess to hand it over to Mr. Greig for publication. Reluctantly, on the strength of our commendation she assented, and so we, accompanied by Mr. Greig, retraced our steps to Lawrence…”
Christina Dods was born in Edinburgh in 1838 to James Dods and Helen Sinclair. She and the family migrated to Melbourne in 1853 and soon moved to the goldfields of Bendigo. In 1856 Christina married Robert Gammell Fulton. Christina and Robert were lured to Otago by the promise of gold and settled at Blur Spur, Otago. By 1868 the Fulton’s cottage at Blue Spur had been virtually sluiced out from under them. This, coupled with the bitter southern winters led to the Fultons move to Fiji that year. The Fultons sailed on the ‘Banshee’ on 20 September 1868 and established a plantation at Valaga in Savu Bay on Vanua Levu, together with Christina’s father, mother and brothers. Christina was only to live another six years, by 1874 she had passed away, a victim of the insalubrious Fijian climate. Christina and Robert had no children together.
Original Poetry, by Mrs C. Fulton, to which are added a few Poems by her Father Mr James Dods was generously donated to the Hocken Collections by the great-great-grandson of Mrs Catherine McNab, the Rev. Michael Wallace, in April 2021. It is the only known extant copy and bears a dedication on the title page to Mrs McNab from Mrs Fulton. Flowers and leaves have been pressed between the book’s pages. Thanks to Rowan Gibbs for his excellent research and article ‘Christina Fulton, 1838-1874’.
Original Poetry, by Mrs C. Fulton is available to be viewed at Hocken Collections.
 Bagnall, A.G. (Eds) New Zealand national bibliography to the year 1960
 Bruce Herald, Volume IV, Issue 168, 10 July 1867, p.6 https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/BH18670710.2.26
 Saturday Review, 25 May 1867 pp.543-4
 Poetry notes, Win 2017; v.8 n.2:p.1-7 https://poetryarchivenz.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/poetry-notes-winter-2017.pdf
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.
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
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.
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.
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!”
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
Wednesday, November 17th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | No Comments
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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’)
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).
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).
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.
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.
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 […]”.
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.
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.
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.
Monday, December 21st, 2020 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments
Post researched and written by Curator of Photographs Anna Petersen
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.
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. 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.
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. This development made Dunedin the first settlement in New Zealand to have central city street lighting.
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. 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.’
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.’ 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’.
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…’. 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.
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.’ The promise of more power came from plans to connect the lights to a hydro-electric station at Waipori, which happened in 1907.
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. 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.’
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. 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.
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.
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.
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):
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
So go downtown
Things will be great when you’re downtown
No finer place for sure, downtown
Everything’s waiting for you
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.
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.
 ‘Street lighting’, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand https://teara.govt.nz/en/streets-and-lighting/page-5 (accessed 12/6/2019).
 Karen Astwood, IPENZ Engineering Heritage Report, Dunedin Gasworks, 2014, pp.5-7.
 ‘The Electric Light at the Mosgiel Factory’, Otago Daily Times, 3 October 1885.
 ‘Decorations and Illuminations’, Otago Witness, 3 July 1901.
 For example, see ‘Gas v. Electricity’, Otago Daily Times (ODT), 11 August 1904.
 ODT 8 November 1904.
 Michel Frizot, A New History of Photography, 1998, p.285.
 ‘The Illuminations at Dunedin’, The Mercury 20 May 1920. See also ‘The Illuminations on the Town Hall, Dunedin’, Otago Witness, 1 June 1920.
 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).