The women of the D.I.C. – Part one: The knit & purl girls

Thursday, August 19th, 2021 | Hocken Collections | 1 Comment

Post researched and written by HUMS intern, Ceri Spivey

Amongst the business records held here at the Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena, are those from the eminent local and national department store chain, the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand (lovingly known as the D.I.C.). Established in 1884 by prominent businessman Bendix Hallenstein as a ‘wholesale family warehouse’, the D.I.C. quickly flourished with multiple locations nationwide, until the business eventually closed its doors in 1991, after over a hundred years of successful trading. While much has been written about the store’s revolutionary retail practices, economic successes and male leadership, little attention has been paid to women’s involvement. These hundreds of women worked the shop floor, ran departments, hired staff, dominated shareholding, and breathed life into the company from the moment its doors opened.

A Guy Morris photo of the Dunedin D.I.C. staff, pre-WWI. MS-5063/060, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Department stores revolutionised women’s lives at the turn of the twentieth century beyond retail alone, being female designated and dominated spaces. Women would shop aided by other women for household goods, intimate apparel, clothing and more, in a progressive female-orientated environment. Our own D.I.C. was one such example, having female facilities and toilet amenities, an important shift in the Victorian era, as public toilets were not available to the women of Dunedin until 1910[i]. Alongside amenities, the female staff of the D.I.C. were an integral part of the department store from the outset, becoming well-known personalities, celebrated, and showcased, as early advertisements highlight.

‘Our Miss Button’ advertisement, Otago Witness, 19 October 1910, p.5. [image from microfilm]

D.I.C. company picnic running race, c.1900. MS-5063/012/002, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

As imagery found in the D.I.C. archives illustrates, staff social activities were tied to the store, with women participating in company sports events, picnic races and clubs, alongside philanthropic groups like the D.I.C. Girls’ Patriotic Club. The staff of the D.I.C., like thousands of women nationwide, heeded the call of Lady Annette Louise Foljambe Liverpool, wife of New Zealand’s Governor-General, for the women of New Zealand to band together to provide care parcels packed with ‘necessaries’ for soldiers serving in the Great War.

D.I.C. Girls’ Patriotic Club postcard, 1917. MS-5063/023, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Headed by crockery manager and buyer Miss Frances Alice Button, over seventy ‘girls’ under the age of twenty from the D.I.C. became members, meeting regularly in the nearby Savoy Lounge. Using Lady Liverpool’s Her Excellency’s Knitting Book as a guide, held within our publications collection, the women of the D.I.C. would parcel necessaries- cigarettes, letters, and knitting, for brothers, colleagues, and troops at home and abroad.

Her Excellency’s knitting book (1915), by Annette Foljambe, Countess of Liverpool. Ferguson and Osborn Printers, Wellington. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Miss Button was unable to attend the club’s December 1917 meeting due to a severe illness. Poignantly, a letter was read on her behalf: “Although the sadness of this great war was responsible for the formation of our club, its outcome has been a mutual understanding and comradeship”.[ii] After a long and fruitful career at the D.I.C. (which we will cover in the next blog post on the women of the D.I.C.), Miss Frances Alice Button succumbed to her illness on the 18th of June 1918. The knit and purl girls of the D.I.C. continued their good works, headed by the talented dressmaker Miss E. Lawrence, until the end of World War One.

Frances Alice’s words were ringing true for thousands of New Zealand women, who took up their knitting needles to comfort their loved ones ravaged by war, but gained friendship, autonomy, and much more.

References

[i] St Clair, as a popular seaside destination, saw the first public toilet for women built in 1908, but it wasn’t until 1910 that the central city had “underground conveniences” for women. See Alison Breese’s digital thesis below for more information on the fascinating history of Dunedin’s public toilets: https://scalar.usc.edu/works/conveniences/chapter-one-public-conveniences-and-the-rise-of-undergrounds

[ii] Evening Star, 15 December 1917, Page 4

 

Octavius Harwood – a real “Wellerman”

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 | Anna Blackman | 5 Comments

Currently there is world-wide interest in the song “Soon May The Wellerman Come”. Social media is simply heaving with shanty mania. There is of course a Dunedin connection and a recent article in the Otago Daily Times explains the history of the Weller Brothers shore whaling station at Ōtākou and a little bit of background on the origin of the song. https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/wellerman-sea-shanty-global-hit

The song includes the line “And bring us sugar and tea and rum,” referring to essential treats distributed regularly to the whaling gangs employed by the Weller Brothers. This reminded me I had seen many references to sugar, tea and rum in of one of our most significant archival collections – the Octavius Harwood papers.

The Harwood papers are probably the best collection of archives still extant from a shore whaling station in New Zealand. Octavius Harwood was employed late in 1837 to run the store and oversee some of the station’s activities and he kept extensive records that were preserved by later generations of his family and eventually came to the Hocken in the 1930s with the papers of George Craig Thomson.

Octavius Harwood’s journals describe what life was like for those working in the 1830s whaling industry around Ōtākou and the Otago coastline. With our help from current HUMS 201 intern, Caitlyn Duff, I have transcribed and edited an extract from the start of Harwood’s 1838 journal.

To make the extract more readable I expanded abbreviations and corrected spelling to modern spelling and removed some capitals. I also used square brackets to annotate some terms and names in the text.

The close relationship of Māori and European working together in the settlement of Ōtākou is clear in the journal with regular reference to the work Māori did at the station and in the whale fisheries. Many whalers, including Harwood and his employer Edward Weller married local women and an extensive network of whānau was created along the Otago coast.

Harwood’s original journal commencing in 1838, MS-0438/001 Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hākena

The original journal is hand sewn, probably by Harwood himself and bears the stains and scuffs of a hard life at the store. It is made of Downton Mill paper water marked 1834.

Harwood supplied provisions to the whaling gangs, who visited Ōtākou to pick up their supplies. The gangs picked up two or so weeks’ worth of supplies and dropped off the prepared oil and bone. On one occasion in this extract Taiaroa and Karetai delivered some supplies from Harwood’s store to the nearby Pūrākaunui whaling station.

The supplies almost always consisted of sugar, tea, grog (a rum and water mix), tobacco, flour and sometimes casks of salted beef or pork.  Whaling gear – rope, tools, casks or shooks (supplies for barrel making) and slops (cheap cotton canvas clothing) were also often supplied. Occasionally spirits were supplied to the whaling gang leaders. There seemed to be little fresh food distributed, perhaps the gangs supplemented their diet by trading locally, fishing, hunting and gathering.

The ship Dublin Packet was at Ōtākou at the time and Harwood spent much time unloading supplies and loading oil and bone on the ship. He also supplied a visiting French whaling ship.

Harwood supervised the cooper (barrel maker) at Ōtākou, and a team of usually six Māori who cleaned whalebone, and did other work such as building repairs, road repairs and fencing. He sometimes pickled pork in barrels and purchased potatoes from Māori.

He also issued provisions for “the House” – presumably the house where Edward Weller lived. Weller’s activities are mentioned occasionally. Edward eventually returned to live in Sydney when the business failed and further archival records of the Weller Brothers business are held at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, where they have been digitised and are available online. http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110364025?_ga=2.66028653.2102099567.1611630649-263552842.1611630649

 

THE JOURNAL

1838

April 24th. – Received from the Dublin Packet a quantity of rope – Whale line – Grass rope – flour in casks – Boat planks – Chests tea – Cans oil – Iron pots – Tin plates – Rag stones – Adze. Mincing knives – Cases Soap – Tubs – Paint brushes. Issued whaling gear to Mr. Brown – Mr. Prices – and Mr. Williams, Mr. Chaceland – and also provisions for 1 week to Mr. Chaceland’s gang – Employed six hands regulating provisions in store &c. Broached cask flour.

Wed. – 25th.  – Employed issuing provisions to gangs – storing cargo – stowing away slops in casks, &c. – the six hands still employed.

Thurs. – 26th. – Issued whaling gear to Angas, Williams, Hedges, Chaceland & Brown – victualled 14 Māoris belonging to Mr. Chaceland and Price’s gangs for 1 week. Served out grog to same gangs – Received a quantity of flour, sugar &c. from Dublin Packet – Stored the same – Broached cask flour & beef.

Frid. – 27th. – Employed issuing stores to Tonguers [the workers who cut up the whales] – receiving and stowing away in the stores cargo from the Dublin Packet – gave Williams tea for Headsmen for Upper Fishery for 1 week.

Sat. – 28th. – Gave Black and Tandy carpenters rum for 1 week.  G. Ryan, Cooper, Tea for a fortnight – Chaceland’s gang day’s grog – Boat gear to hedges, Angas and Chaceland – 2 hands employed rolling cargo from Dublin Packet into store, &c.

Sun. – 29th. – Gave Mr. Price 17 fathoms rope for Middle Fishery – Mr. Chaceland tobacco – Mr. Cureton 1 breaker of oil & 1 axe for Middle Fishery. Mr. Angas 2¼ yds of duck fisher, Muckleroy & Davis one lot grog each. Mr. Price received 2 days allowance grog for his gang – 1 Māori employed cleaning bone.

Mon. – 30th. – Mr Chaceland, Mr Williams drew whaling gear from store. Issued 1 week’s provisions to Mr. Cureton & Abbot received 16 casks flour from Dublin Packet 2 labourers employed Fisher and Davis. Mr Price drew 2 days’ grog 2 for his gang.

Tues. – May 1st. – Issued Provisions to Mr. Chaceland’s Gang and to Mr. Cureton’s Boat Crew of 5 Hands – Employed filling pork casks with fresh pickle, stowing flour in store, and serving out slops to Manuel – Black etc – Broached cask beef.

May 2nd. – Served out provisions to Mr. Price’s Gang of 25 White People and 7 Māoris for 1 week – slops to Davis and Hewit, Brown & O’Donnel – Provisions to Roberts. Received a quantity of whale bone from the Tonguers of Middle Fishery – filled up pork cask with pickle – gave Māoris their tobacco at the Middle Fishery for 2 weeks – to Mr. Chaceland’s Māori 1 week’s tobacco – Broached 1 keg & 1 Hhd [Hogshead?] of flour 1 tierce [a tierce of pork was around 136 kg of pickled pork] pork – Shipped 6 casks oil.

Thurs. – 3rd – Issued provisions to 7 Māoris in Mr. Chaceland’s gang for 5 days – & 2 bone cleaners – also 2 week’s tobacco – Employed drawing off liquor – putting slops in casks – setting stove &c. Shipped 6 casks oil.

Fri. – 4th – Issued provisions to Isaac – for 1 Week – 1 piece pork for House – finished setting stove, made Carey and Russel’s accounts out. 3 bone cleaners employed.

Sat. – 5th. – Issued Slops to Manuel & Russel, and provisions to house – Grog to Upper Fishery etc & 3 bone cleaners.

Sun. – 6th. – Received 1 head of bone from Upper Tonguers. Issued slops &c. – dined on board the Dublin Packet. – Grog to upper gang and three bone cleaners.

Mon. – 7th. – 6 bone cleaners employed – Cooper at day’s work. Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang and bone cleaners – Gave slops to 4 of bone cleaners. – Provisions to House – Settled John Carey’s account – 3 glasses grog to Mucleroy, Davis, Fisher and Isaac each.

Tues. – 8th. – Issued provisions to Price & Chaceland’s gang – to 22 Māoris – Coe at his own work, stowed cleaned bone in store. Shipped 4 casks oil – Slops to Fowler – Broached 2 casks flour 1 cask pork – Provisions to House – Geo. Gray’s grog stopped by order of Chaceland, carpenter’s by Doctor – Cooper headed up cured fish.

Wed. – 9th. – 6 bone cleaners employed – Grog to Do [ditto] and Chaceland’s gang. Issued provisions to coopers and carpenters and 1 piece beef to House. Shipped oil on board schooner Dublin Packet. Blacked tanks and rolled 1 up into yard to keep bone in. Broached cask beef.

Thurs. 10th. – 7 bone cleaners employed. Issued grog to them and Chaceland’s gang. Provisions to House – Employed regulating accounts, &c.

Fri. 11th. – Issued provisions to Mucleroy and Isaac – House 1 piece pork – Black, Ryan and Tandy tea for 1 Week – Slops to two Māoris – Tobacco to people. Making people’s bills out. 6 bone cleaners employed – Geo. Smith’s grog stopped by order of Doctor. Stowed cleaned bone in loft – Mr Philippin one steer oar.

Sat. – Gave Mr. Williams tea for four for 1 Week – Grog to Chaceland’s gang. – 6 bone cleaners employed – finished cleaning bone – Tyro [Taiaroa] – Grog from this date.

Sun. – 13th. – 7 Māoris employed repairing fences – brought spare boat from fishery to be repaired – 14 lbs. flour for House, 1 lb. tea 2 pieces pork – 1 keg to Mr. Price.

Mon. – 14th. – 5 Māoris employed repairing shed for cooper – Employed making out people’s bills – issuing provisions &c. – Sent two casks peas, two casks flour aboard the French vessel “La Fawn” [“Faune” a French whaling ship that called in twice to Ōtākou in 1838] in exchange for rope, &c.

Tues. – 15th. – Issued provisions to 35 hands in Mr. Price’s Gang, to 28 people in Mr. Chaceland’s gang – to 6 Māoris bone cleaners – Provisions to Davis and Fisher – Slops to people – received four casks beef from the French vessel “La Fawn” – Māoris as yesterday – Gave Captain Bruce 20 lbs rivets – Whaling gear to Price, Hedges, Angas and Williams.

Wed. – 16th. – Provisions to carpenters and cooper – Grog to Chaceland’s gang & Māori bone cleaners – 6 – Employed drawing of spirits – 20 gallons – regulating store, &c. – returned the four casks beef received yesterday from on board “La Fawn” – and got in lieu 3 casks pork.

Thurs. – 17th. – Employed repairing fences – Cleaning bone 6 Māoris – Gave Captain Wells 4½ bundles hooping. Settled Mr. J. Russel’s account in slops – issued provisions to House – Grog to gang – Māori and coopers – Cooper made 2 Piggin, 1 Buckey, 1 Keg.

Fri. – 18th. 6 Māoris employed making a fence between the beach and Cooper’s Workshop with the Whales Head Bones – Making foxes to tie up bone with – Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang – coopers, carpenters and Māoris. Drew off twenty two gallons spirits for Captain Wells.

Sat. – 19th. 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – issued provisions to House – Mr. Weller shooting on the other shore with Captain Wells – Issued grog to Chaceland’s gang, Māoris, coopers, carpenters, cooks &c. Williams 1 pulling oar.

Sun. – 20th. – 6 Māoris employed fetching wood for fence, bringing bones from Upper Fishery, &c. – Gave the Captain Of “La Fawn” 25 pounds of 30 hundred hooping to repair his rudder. Issued provisions to House – dined on board the Dublin Packet.

Mon. – 21st. – Māoris as yesterday – Issued provisions to House – Grog to Chaceland’s gang, coopers, carpenters, cooks &c. Received ½ head bone from Upper Tonguers.

Tues. – 22nd. – Issues Provisions to Middle and Upper Gangs – Do. To 6 Māori bone cleaners – Received the other half head bone from Upper Tonguers – vice from French vessel – Māoris employed removing sand bank abrest carpenter’s House.

Wed. – 23rd. – Provisions issued to cooper and carpenters – to Mr Brown for Pūrākaunui &c. – 4 Māoris employed cleaning bone and received 30 bundles of shooks from the Dublin Packet – 2 Māoris left without permission.

Thurs. – 24th – Provisions to House. 5 Māoris employed cleaning bone – repairing road – fetching water &c. Issued slops to Chaceland – 1 Māori not returned – Drew off ten gallons spirits.

Fri. – 25th – Provisions to House. Issued slops etc to Mr Phillipine – Māoris employed making spun yarn for bone, bring bone from the Upper Fishery – to repair fence &c. – The Māori returned to his duty.

Sat. – 26th. – Provisions to House. 6 Māoris employed repairing cooper’s house, making fence, bring earth to repair road etc. – Mr Chaceland lost 40 fathom Whale Line & iron – Steward of Dublin Packet repairing the bellows – Killed a pig.

Sun. – 27th. – Sent three Māoris back to Mr Brown who had run away from Pūrākaunui – Māoris employed fetching grass for cooper’s house and fence – grog to gang, &c.

Mon. – 28th. – Issued slops to Davis & Fisher – Drew off 30 gallons spirits for Mr Brown – 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – set the bellows up.

Tues. – 29th. – Issued provisions to Price’s & Chaceland’s Gangs – to 6 Māori labourers – Māoris employed cleaning up bone – Quin once of Mr Price’s gang fell from a cliff and killed himself.

Wed. – 30th. – Issued provisions to Black, Tandy and Ryan – to Mr Brown 240 lbs sugar 30 gallons rum 6 pounds tea & 100 figs of tobacco – to Māori cook of Big House – 6 natives employed cleaning bone, repairing cooper’s house, building fence &c. Buried Quin in the ground behind Carpenter’s Workshop.

Thurs. – 31st – Had the honour of being threatened by Mr Angas that he would smash my bloody head – cautioned him against so doing – and told him if he did not succeed I should not make a light business of it – 6 Māoris employed as yesterday – sent provisions from Dublin Packet to Pūrākaunui – Grog to gangs, &c.

Fri. June 1st. – 6 Māoris employed cleaning bone, rolling provisions to beach for Tyro [local Chief Taiaroa] to take to Pūrākaunui, but did not go – scraping boat – finishing making fence by Cooper’s house – received 400 blades bone from Pūrākaunui by Tyro and Jackey White [local Chief Karetai] – as also a receipt from Mr Brown for having received 14 casks provisions – issued 30 lbs sugar to Dublin Packet.

Sat. – 2nd – 6 Māoris employed repairing chimney of cooper’s house, cleaning bone, scraping boat &c. Issued provisions to 1 Māori for Mr Cureton’s boat – clothes etc. – Mr A and – C. tea. Stopped Māori’s grog for not coming earlier in the morning.

Sun. –  3rd – 5 Māoris employed cleaning bone – Issued provisions to House – Tea to Mr Williams and Hedges. Slops to Fowler and Chaceland – Mr Weller out shooting and dined on board the Dublin Packet.

Mon. – 4th – Issued slops &c. to Mr Manuel & provisions to house. Māoris employed as yesterday.

Tues. – 5th Issued provisions to Price’s and Chaceland’s gang – To 6 Māoris – Bone cleaners. Māoris employed cleaning bone, rolling water up from and bringing lie [lye?] from tryworks – issued whaling gear to Chaceland – provisions to David and Fisher, and Mucleroy and Isaac Porter.

Wed. – 6th. – Issued provisions to cooper and carpenters – whaling gear to Mr Cureton, 6 Māoris employed cleaning bone.

Thurs. – 7th. – Māoris employed cleaning bone – sent three Māoris away in boat to Hobart town fishery with Lowe to bring up plank for to make a trough for lie [lye] – to clean bone in. Engaged a cooper of the name – John Clarke – to make casks at the rate of 20/- per ton on labour at the rate of £6 per month.

Fri. – 8th. – Māoris employed as yesterday – issued whaling gear to Mr Manuel Goombs and tobacco to himself and boat’s crew – also 1 lb of tea to Mr Brind – received 2 kegs 1 line tub and 1 old repaired piggin from cooper.

Sat. – 9th – Māoris employed clearing bone – shipped a Frenchman from the ship “La Fawn” of the name Victor Hobé  – Issued provisions to the same and to John Clarke (Cooper) Tea to Mr Williams and Hedges – Carpenter made trough for bone – Issued tobacco to Roberts – Williams, &c.

In preparing this blog I consulted the following sources on Harwood family history, the Wellers, Ōtākou and whaling:

http://www.toituosm.com/collections/smith-gallery/wall-1/octavius-harwood

https://ngataonga.org.nz/blog/nz-history/octavius-francis-harwood-a-journey-of-family-discovery/

https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1w13/weller-edward

http://www.toituosm.com/collections/smith-gallery/wall-1/edward-weller

Church, Ian (ed), Gaining a Foothold : Historical Records of Otago’s Eastern Coast, 1770-1839, Friends of the Hocken Collections, 2008.

Church, Ian, Opening the Manifest on Otago’s Infant Years, Shipping Arrivals and Departures Otago Harbour and Coarst 1770-1860, Otago Heritage Books 2001

Harwood, Mac, Octavius Harwood, Titopu, Piro, Janet Robertson, published by Mac Harwood, Upper Takaka, 1989.

King, Alexandra, The Weller’s whaling station : the social and economic formation of an Otakou community, 1817-1850. https://ourarchive.otago.ac.nz/handle/10523/5533F

Tod, Frank, Whaling in Southern Waters, published by Frank Tod1982

West, Jonathon, The Face of Nature : An Environmental History of the Otago Peninsula, Otago University Press, 2017

Representations of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

AG-047-7/004. Photograph of unnamed performers. Folk Proms Concert Capping, 1967. Otago University Folk Music Club: Files. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Post researched and written by HUMS 301 intern Kayli Taylor.

How power (im)balances mean minorities are not adequately represented, including in archives.

Gordon Spittle’s Beat Groups and courtyard parties provides a broad snapshot of the underground culture of the Ōtepoti Dunedin music scene in the 1960s. The book offers a raw depiction of collectives of artists, musicians and performers who set the stage for the city’s emerging Dunedin sound. The book also contains a distinct lack of representation of women. Therefore, one might be forgiven for thinking that there were no women performing in the 1960s. An in-depth analysis of the Hocken archives, as I did for my HUMS301 internship, tells another story. Women did perform but were simply represented less than men. This has implications for how historians and archivists discuss women in the Dunedin music scene, and how we can do research to understand their lives and experiences.

The research I undertook at Hocken was broad, looking at publications and archives. In particular, the archival material on the Otago University Folk Music Club AG-047/7 provided different representation of women. Publications such as student magazine Critic, the Otago Daily Times and Playdate also provided interesting points of analysis.

In the 1960s, folk music expanded across Ōtepoti Dunedin and the world.[1] A key aspect of folk music was the role of women.[2] Through the archival records of the Otago University Folk Music Club, we can see that women played a key role in the organisational management of the group. This includes Diane Baird, Wendy Clark, Catherine Monthieth, Di Looney, Liz Somerville, Lyn Jeffcoate, and Bronwyn Patterson. Women also performed in concerts organised by and connected with the group, including Di Looney, Val Murphy, Lea Stevens, Christine Smith, Brownyn Patterson and Ann Wigston.

An article published in student magazine Critic in 1961 recognised this phenomenon, saying there was a shift to women performing in concerts on the basis that if women are good enough to perform behind the scenes, they are deserving of performing.[3]

The representation of women in the music scene in Dunedin in the media is also of interest to our analysis of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s. Critic, for example, includes discussion of women and their role in the Dunedin music scene. In particular, Critic shows that folk music has quite extensive representation of women. Women, such as Diane Baird and Juliet Scott, also wrote for Critic about music – showing another way that women could speak into the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s.

AG-047-7/001. Photograph of unnamed performer. Folk Proms Concert Capping, 1967. Otago University Folk Music Club: Files. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Expanding to look at women musicians across Aotearoa New Zealand, we can see that women both performed – and were represented. Musicians such as Sandy Edmonds, Dinah Lee, Maria Dallas and Kiri Te Kanawa were regularly represented in Playdate. The way they were represented is still of note, however. They were often used in advertising, such as for hair product Napro. These products were advertised by Dinah Lee (seven times), Anne Murphy (one time) and Sandy Edmonds (nine times).

Analysing the representation of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s shows common threads of the representation of minorities. David Thomas’s Silence in the Archive argues that archives are not neutral or natural, but hold particular stories and reinforce particular discourses.[4] He argues that though archives should be beacons of light to the stories of history, that is not always the case.[5] We can see this playing out in the lack of representation of women in the Dunedin music scene.

The Ōtepoti Dunedin music scene has an interesting history of its presence and representation of women. The 1960s, in particular, was a key point of flux and transition. Women played an increasingly role in the music scene but were rarely recognised in the media of the day. For historians, this poses a challenge to how they perceive and understand women and their involvement. Thomas argues that as historians seek stories of minorities, there is not always the archival material to assist their research.[6]

AG-047-7/003. Photograph of unnamed performers. Folk Proms Concert Capping, 1967. Otago University Folk Music Club: Files. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

While I found some representation of women in the Dunedin music scene in the 1960s, I believe there were more women performing than the archive represents. David Thomas argued that archives silence some stories, and I believe this is the case in this instance. This encourages us – as historians and people – to act more consciously to find and represent the stories of women and minorities in the archives, and to make space for their stories in our everyday lives.

Dunbar, Julie C. Women, Music, Culture: An Introduction. Second Edition. ed. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Thomas, David, Simon Fowler, and Valerie Johnson. The Silence of the Archive. London: Facet Publishing, 2017.

[1] Julie C. Dunbar, Women, Music, Culture: An Introduction, Second Edition. ed. (New York: Routledge, 2016), 364.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “More Women Take An Active Part in Concert”, Critic, 4 May 1961, 8.

[4] David Thomas, Simon Fowler, and Valerie Johnson, The Silence of the Archive (London: Facet Publishing, 2017), 1.

[5] Ibid., 22.

[6] Ibid., 17.

Letters of antifascist and biochemist Marianne Angermann to her parents published

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Marianne Bielschowsky, photographed in Brussels, 1939. MS-1493/036, Bielschowsky papers.

On this blog we last met Marianne Bielschowsky (nee Angermann) as the author of a delicious cake recipe in this post by Ali Clarke.

On the day that the cake was made and served to Hocken staff I was unfortunately a little late to morning tea and missed out, all I could do was scrape some of the scrummy custard butter cream filling from the plate!

So today it is especially sweet to say I’m delighted that thanks to the efforts of our colleagues in the Languages and Cultures Programme that some of Marianne’s letters to her parents are now easily available online for researchers to access and that more will be available soon in subsequent issues of the journal.

The letters have been transcribed from old German script (Deutsche Schrift or Kurrentschrift) to modern script and then translated from German to English. The first tranche of the letters are published in issue 29 of the open journal Otago German Studies.

At least these transcriptions and translations will last longer than the cake!

The work has been completed by Dr Peter Barton in collaboration with Dr August Obermayer.

The story of Marianne and her husband Franz Bielschowsky’s lives as biochemical and cancer researchers parallels the upheavals and difficulties of the early 20th century Europe.

A detailed biographical introduction and detailed annotations have been provided with the translations to provide historical context. Briefly Marianne was born and trained as a biochemist in Germany at a time when it was unusual for women to study science at University. After graduating she worked in Germany, and then traveled to Spain in early 1936.  There she was reunited with her soon to be husband Franz Bielschowsky who had left Germany in 1933 as persecution of Jewish people escalated. Franz and Marianne had positions at the University of Madrid but were soon caught up in the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War. After three years they left Spain for Sheffield in England, and in 1948 came to Dunedin where Franz had been appointed Director of Cancer Research.

 

Secret business: Cablegram codes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

[1] Wairarapa Age, 21 July 1909.

[2] Waikato Times, 29 June 1925.

[3] Clutha Leader, 3 May 1912.

[4] Press, 5 July 1926.

References

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post cooked up by Ali Clarke, Collections Assistant, Archives

When we started this challenge of testing recipes we had found in the Hocken stacks, I immediately thought of the archives of scientists Franz and Marianne Bielschowsky, whose lives took several unexpected paths. Marianne’s recipe books – some handwritten, some full of clippings and some published – are mostly in German, so that added to the challenge! My German language skills are pretty basic, but with the help of a good dictionary and a fluent German speaker I was able to figure out the technical instructions in my chosen recipe.

The cover of Marianne Bielschowsky’s book, ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’ (an illustrated cook book), compiled c.1946, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

 My attention was grabbed by Marianne Bielschowsky’s handwritten heading “Leckere Kuchen aus besseren Zeiten!” for some printed recipes she pasted into one of her recipe clippings books. This translates as “Delicious cakes from better times!” That has a poignancy which reflects the times – the clippings book was probably compiled about 1946, when she was living in England. A cake like this, featuring butter, sugar and 6 eggs, would have been beyond the capacity of most people during rationing – when an adult’s weekly rations were 2oz of butter, 8oz of sugar and 1 egg. No doubt this distinctly German recipe also served as a reminder of a happy childhood there.

Recipe for Frankfurter Kranz, pasted into ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

I’ve written about the Bielschowskys previously, in a post about the Spanish Civil War for the University of Otago 150 years history blog. Franz Bielschowsky (1902-1965), the son of a distinguished German neurologist, was dismissed from his position as a medical researcher in Dusseldorf early in 1933 because he was Jewish, and fled to Amsterdam. In 1934 he relocated to Madrid, where he became a lecturer in the medical faculty; in 1935 he was appointed director of the biochemistry department of the new Institute for Experimental Medicine at the Central University of Madrid.

Marianne Bielschowsky, photographed in Brussels, 1939. MS-1493/036, Bielschowsky papers.

Marianne Angermann (1904-1977), a German biochemist who had worked with Franz Bielschowsky in Dusseldorf, joined him at the Institute in Madrid late in 1935; they were to marry in 1937. Angermann was born in Dresden. She was not Jewish herself, and her family appears to have been in comfortable circumstances; her father was at one time the Burgermeister (Mayor) of a small town. She studied in Koln (Cologne), Bonn and Freiburg im Breisgau, where she obtained her PhD. Marianne described herself and her parents as ‘Antifaschisten’ – opposed to fascism.

Angermann and Bielschowsky refused offers to leave Spain when the civil war began there in 1936, but as the siege of Madrid lengthened, research became impossible. Franz joined the republican medical service and worked at a military hospital in Madrid. They fled Spain early in 1939, as Franco’s forces prepared to enter the capital. They were now refugees for a second time, and as war took over Europe they ended up in England. Both worked at the University of Sheffield until 1948, when they arrived in Otago, where Franz had been appointed director of the cancer research laboratory; Marianne worked alongside him. She was especially known for her development of various special strains of mice, used worldwide for medical research.

My first attempt at the cake was a hit with my family.

An English translation of Marianne Bielschowsky’s recipe:

Frankfurt Wreath

For the cake:

4 eggs

200g sugar

100g potato flour

100g wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 packet vanilla sugar (I substituted 2 tsp vanilla essence)

Whip the egg whites until stiff (“like snow”). Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add to egg whites alternately with the sifted flours and baking powder to make a soft dough. Beat well. Bake for 1 hour in a greased and floured ring tin. When the wreath is cold, cut it through twice [making 3 layers]. Fill with the following cream, then spread cream over the outside and sprinkle with the almonds.

For the cream:

2 eggs

100g sugar

3 heaped tbsp flour

½ litre skimmed milk

125g butter

toasted chopped almonds

Mix the eggs, 3 tbsp of the sugar, the flour and milk together well [in a pot]. Heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to the boil. Remove from heat and continue stirring until it is cold. Mix the remaining sugar and softened butter together and stir into the custard mixture.

Hints

I couldn’t find potato flour in my usual supermarkets, but it is available in health food stores and Asian grocery stores.

No oven temperature is given – I found it took just 30-40 minutes in a moderate oven (180°C).

I made the cake twice. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the consistency of the cake in my first test run, so I changed the method a little on my second try. Instead of adding the yolks/sugar/vanilla to the egg whites, I slowly folded the whipped egg whites into the well beaten yolks/sugar/vanilla mixture, then added the flours/baking powder – this worked better and made a lovely light sponge.

The cream was more successful on my first attempt – it curdled slightly on my second go when I added the butter/sugar. I recommend making sure the butter/sugar mixture is really well creamed, and cold, before stirring it into the cold custard.

The secret to any custard is stirring to prevent lumps – I use a hand whisk to stir the entire time it is cooking. This recipe recommends stirring while it cools as well – I put the pot into a sink of cold water to speed that process.

I used whole almonds I had chopped into big chunks, then toasted in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes.

The second attempt disappeared quickly from the Hocken staffroom!

Results

This cake was a big hit with the tasters both times I made it! It isn’t strongly flavoured, but the contrast in textures between the fluffy cake, smooth cream and crunchy almonds is delicious, as many commented. There was universal approval from the Hocken staff: “those ‘better times’ must have been amazing”, suggested one. The delicious custard/nuts made it “quite different to most of my modern cake experiences”, wrote one reviewer, with others also noting its distinctly Germanic style. A warning – it’s messy to eat, as one reviewer pointed out!

I searched online for modern versions of this recipe – the English-language versions, such as this one translate the name as Frankfurt Crown Cake. They add jam to the filling between the layers, coat the almonds in caramel, and include cherries and other fancy decorations so the cake resembles a jewelled crown. They also use packets of vanilla pudding instead of making the custard from scratch! The older version I tried is less extravagant, but still delicious, and I encourage you to try it at home. We don’t know if Marianne Bielschowsky made this cake once she had settled in Dunedin, but in any case it has been a pleasure to make it as a tribute to her.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Louise Menzies: In an orange my mother was eating (16 February – 30 March 2019)

Monday, April 1st, 2019 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Nick Austin, a General Assistant at the Hocken. He was the 2012 Frances Hodgkins Fellow and presented the exhibition The Liquid Dossier (16 February – 13 April 2013) at the Hocken Gallery.

Sitting and reading. These verbs take on a vocational significance at the Hocken; users of our material are called ‘readers’, after all. Louise Menzies’ exhibition at the Hocken gallery, called In an orange my mother was eating turned aspects of her research activity, as the 2018 Frances Hodgkins Fellow, into a ‘family’ of related artworks. Some of these works are paper-based, and most have text in them. Every one, though, is a kind of ‘material meditation’ variously on artists and their legacies – and other items of ephemera – some of which she encountered over the twelve months she lived in Dunedin and read at the Hocken.

In the main gallery, a sky-blue shelf ran the full length of the longest wall. On its ledge,  24 individual sheets of paper, hand-made by Menzies. Adhered to each of these sheets is a risographed facsimile of one of two intimately related texts. One of these is a colouring-in book called The Lone Goose by the artist Joanna Margaret Paul (1945 – 2003). Published in 1979 by Dunedin-based McIndoe Press, it is an elliptical sort of story about the imagined friends of a goose waddling around our city’s Southern Cemetery. Paul complements her text with suitably – and wonderfully – provisional line drawings.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (detail) 2019 Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper Book pages: The Lone Goose by Joanna Margaret Paul, (Dunedin: McIndoe, 1979). With thanks to the Joanna Margaret Paul estate; Correspondence relating to The Lone Goose: MS-3187/058, Hocken Collections – Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (installation view) 2019, Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper

While researching Hocken’s holdings of Paul material (we have quite a lot[i]), Menzies mistakenly requested a manuscript from our archives stack. Serendipitously, it contained correspondence between various players on the subject of The Lone Goose’s distribution. This cache of letters is the second text in Menzies’ work. On one hand, representatives from McIndoe’s distributors, Reed, just do not ‘get’ Paul’s book: “I fear the reps are going to be laughed out of the shops if they try and sell it.” But in response, Brian Turner (yes, the poet) in his capacity as Paul’s editor, is clearly peeved: “… I guess we [at McIndoe] do not move in the real world, as your reps do, and can hide our embarrassment at being ‘arty’.” While the letters present a bleakly familiar story of an artwork’s failure to lift-off in the marketplace (that the book is not exactly an artwork, does not really matter here), Menzies’ work is not depressing – it represents a significant new generation of Paul admirers.

Louise Menzies, The Lone Goose (detail) 2019 Inkjet and risograph prints set in handmade paper

It is easy to sense Paul’s importance to Menzies. (The title of the exhibition is a line from a Paul poem.) Both artists use language as a material to give form to thought. The way Paul’s work – her drawing, painting, film-making, writing – absorbs and reflects the places, people, things around her, is of high interest to Menzies. Paul was a Frances Hodgkins Fellow in 1983 so there is a kind of genealogical thread that connects them, too.

Frances Hodgkins. Given the reflexivity of this exhibition, it was sort of a no-brainer for Menzies to use Hodgkins (1869 – 1947) as a subject. It is surprising, though, how she did it. In one of the gallery’s side rooms sat three chairs: one a type you would see in halls and meeting rooms, dating from possibly the 1980s; one, a three-legged stool from about the 1960s; the other a contemporary type of adjustable office chair, with the brand name Studio on the rear of its back. This furniture shares the same provenance – all three were relocated from the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship studio, which is just across the road from the Hocken – and Menzies re-upholstered them in identical fabric.

Louise Menzies, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925 (installation view) 2018 Digital print on textile

Louise Menzies, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925 (detail) 2018 Digital print on textile

In the 1920s, Hodgkins was actively considering her return to NZ when, after years of struggle, she was offered a financial reprieve: a job in Manchester as a textile designer. While there are few extant examples of actual Hodgkins textiles (a silk handkerchief is held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery), several of her gouache sketches are held at Te Papa. Menzies has printed the chairs’ fabric with one of these (digitally adapted) designs. Her work is named after its source, Untitled (textile design no. II), 1925. While the chairs serve as a memorial to the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship’s titular artist, they’re also a reminder of the stationary fact that every artist needs to make a buck somehow.[ii]

One thing that is different for an artist’s viability in the 21stCentury is the sheer number of residencies available to them. While the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago remains one of the most generous offered in NZ (12 months on a Lecturer’s salary; free studio), this country’s artists frequently travel the world to participate in residency programs. In 2014, Menzies was invited to do a residency and exhibition at the University of Connecticut Art Gallery. During her six-week visit, she worked with the Alternative Press Collection (one of the largest collections of its type in the USA) within the Thomas J. Dodd’s Research Center. Over a much longer period, a resultant publication gestated. In fact, Menzies used the first part of her Hodgkins Fellowship to complete it.

Image: (publication cover) design by Narrow Gauge, images courtesy of Allan Smith, George Watson, Alternative Press Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library.

Time to think like a mountain, the finished book, was a segue into a publication-project that marked Menzies’ time as the Hodgkins Fellow. Coinciding with her Hocken exhibition and the end of her residency, Menzies and designer Matthew Galloway produced a calendar with source material from the Hocken’s Ephemera Collection. Each of Menzies’ calendar’s pages features an image of a calendar page from a past year whose dates fell on the same days as the present month’s. In yet another reflexive nod, Menzies’ calendar runs from February 2019 to January 2020 (the chronology of months over which the Fellowship takes place)… but the elegance of the idea is better explained with images:

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

Louise Menzies 2019 (detail) 2018 12-page calendar

It is fascinating how Menzies rematerialised different sources from the Hocken Collections as art; how she used her Fellowship as a subject; how she shows that time is not linear.

A video work that shares its title with the exhibition’s the video has many, intriguingly related, parts: an image of Paul’s son, Pascal, sitting for the camera; a soundtrack of the Ornette Colman song, The Empty Foxhole, featuring his then-10-year old son on drums; intertitles that contain a transcript of the complete Paul poem from which the exhibition took its name; an anecdote involving Menzies’ daughter…

Louise Menzies In an orange my mother was eating (installation view) 2019 Digital video, 3 min 21 sec

All photography unless otherwise credited: Iain Frengley

[i] We have nearly five hundred Paul items, including her paintings, drawings and sketchbooks.

[ii] Or, as another expatriate NZ artist has put it, “The artist has to live like everybody else.”

 

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.

Mourning cards at the Hocken

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 4 Comments

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

One of the more poignant collections held in the Hocken archives is a small number of papers relating to the Kaitangata coal mine disaster (Misc-MS-0840). On 21 February 1879 a miner entered some old workings with a naked light and the firedamp (methane) within exploded. 34 men and boys underground died, some from the explosion and others from the afterdamp (the toxic gases left in a mine after a methane explosion, including nitrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide). It was, at the time, New Zealand’s largest mine disaster; sadly there have been larger ones since, at Brunner in 1896 and at Huntly in 1914.

The collection includes some newspaper clippings and photographs, but perhaps most interesting are the mourning cards for nine of the people who died in the disaster. These small cards (around 115 x 75mm) each bear the name and age of the person, along with a memorial verse; the verses vary slightly. Five of the cards are for members of the Beardsmore family: James Beardsmore senior, his sons Edward and James, his son-in-law Caleb, and his brother Joseph. Two other men in the family were also miners, but off work at the time of the accident. The Beardsmores had arrived in New Zealand as assisted migrants in an extended family group of 22 aboard the ship ‘Oamaru’ just two years before the disaster; they hailed from Lancashire. Four of the family were left widows with young children through the mine explosion.

James Spiers, who died in the mine disaster (left), his widow Elspeth Spiers (right), and mourning cards for their son James. Misc-MS-0840-1.

The Clutha Leader reported that, overall, the disaster left 25 widows and 105 fatherless children. Another of the men for whom we have a memorial card, and also a photograph, is James Spiers, who was a father of eight. His youngest was just a baby who died himself soon before his second birthday; the collection also includes memorial cards for that child. The community raised funds to support the families bereaved by the disaster, but it was not easy for a widow to support a family in an era before government social support payments. Many remarried fairly quickly. Joseph Beardsmore’s widow Caroline married Harry Denson later that year – he subsequently died in 1896 in the Brunner mine disaster.

The oldest mourning card identified at the Hocken. Ephemera collection.

Preston family papers, MS-1272/039.

The Hocken also has a wide variety of other mourning cards, or in memoriam cards as they were sometimes known. Some are in family papers and others are in our ephemera collection. The earliest I have located is dated 1859 and is for Hannah Longfellow, who died in Yorkshire. It has an elaborate cutout design and is mounted on velvet fabric for framing. The earliest card for a New Zealand death that I have located so far is a much simpler design, for John Edward Preston, who drowned in a creek on his family’s sheep station on the Maniototo in 1877.

Lyttelton Times, 1 December 1855.

Northern Advocate, 24 December 1898.

New Zealand Tablet, 19 August 1920. Clippings from PapersPast, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/, courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

Quertier family papers, MS-3001/062.

Quertier family papers, MS-3001/062.

From the Blue Spur House of Treasures photograph album no.1, AG-683/056.

Mourning cards were popular in Britain from the early 1800s, and there is advertising for them in New Zealand papers from the 1850s. The cards were imported into New Zealand, with local printers – often newspaper offices – supplying them and adding the personal details required. Embossed flat cards, like those from the Kaitangata disaster, were common at that time, but during the 1880s and 1890s small folded cards became more common, with decorative covers and personal details inside. Another style of card popular during the 1890s and early 1900s was a large flat card in black, with text and decorative features in gold. Some, like the Arthur Brook Quertier card shown, were manufactured in Australia by the Memorial Card Company; the personal details would have been added locally. Occasionally memorial cards included a photograph. A rather unusual one in our collection is a 1901 card for Fred Hancock of Lawrence, produced by Wellington photographer David Aldersley, with a photograph of Hancock and a flower border. Most cards carried some sort of imagery, and many were beautifully designed.

A selection of In Memoriam card covers from the H.S. Tily papers, MS-3153/005.

Frank Tod papers, MS-3290/114.

The messages on cards varied between people and through time; many carried religious messages such as Bible verses, hymns, or poems with a spiritual flavour reflecting on death and the afterlife. Twentieth-century Catholic memorial cards frequently included a prayer readers could offer for the deceased person. The simple verses on the cards for the Kaitangata mine disaster victims reflected the shock of their sudden deaths; they refer to their grieving wives, children and friends, and some referred to the hope “we’ll meet in heaven again”. Today, exactly 140 years after the mine disaster, we remember the victims and their families.

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A Brief Glimpse at Chinese Immigration to Otago

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

Post researched and written by Emma Scott, Collections Assistant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gang & Co, Hocken Posters Collection.

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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