Dunedin’s Hermit of Flagstaff

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Rudd and Maggie Watt, Box-027 PORT1303

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

… No one crossed his door,

No one crossed his path

For fear

Of sudden threat or oath.

 

And yet his single care

Was to keep at bay

All who might interfere

Coming to pry – …[23]

 

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

 

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

“I found these boots; these bloody boots;

And they’ve never been right.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[16] Held at Hocken Collections.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naming the Unknown Soldier

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

​Post by Anna Petersen, Curator Photographs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Cataloguing Charles – interning at the Hocken

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post researched and written by Lakin Wilton, HUMS 301 Intern

I have had the fantastic opportunity of interning at the Hocken through the University of Otago’s Humanities Internship, which offers students the chance to be placed in an organisation in Dunedin and undertake a project in place of a paper. The internship counts towards your degree, which is absolutely fantastic and I strongly encourage any student of Humanities to sign up.

Charles Brasch, MS-0996-012/094/010

Before starting my internship, Charles Brasch was a name I had heard, but not a name I knew anything about. I started at the Hocken at the beginning of August, and though I have only spent a short time here, I feel as though Charles Brasch and I have become great friends.

My project was a continuation of the project started by last semester’s intern, which allowed me to jump right in and get started. I worked with the Charles Brasch Literary and Personal Papers Collection, cataloguing photographs that he donated to the Hocken when he died in 1973. The background to the collection and how it has been catalogued is interesting, and it is amazing how archives can evolve over time when new developments come about.

The photographs in this collection were originally repackaged and catalogued in 2003. While they were listed on the Hocken database, not all of them were able to be identified. Now, there are more resources available to help with identification, such as Charles’ published journals, which have comprehensive biographical notes on many of Charles’ friends, family, and people he met during his life. The power of Google is another useful tool that can be used to identify people and places.

Some of the photographs in the collection are used frequently for publication, which is one of the reasons why the curator of the collection decided to add more detail to the catalogue. Having a more detailed catalogue improves findability, which for such a vast collection is extremely helpful. For example, I found a photo of Charles with authors C.K. Stead and Janet Frame looking more relaxed than the commonly published version of the photo.

Charles Brasch, Carl Stead, and Janet Frame MS-0996-012/159/001

Further, some of the photographs are already digitised, and having a more detailed listing will allow online access to those photographs. There is also potential for the further digitisation of images.

In terms of my project. I quickly learnt that cataloguing is not a matter of simply entering data into a spreadsheet…

Charles Brasch was an avid photographer and was something of an archivist himself. Charles’s photographs span decades, and the collection consists not only of his personal photographs, but also of family photographs handed down to Charles. Cataloguing such a mammoth collection is no small task, but it is an enjoyable one.

I quickly found that the most frustrating aspect of cataloguing photographs in this collection was trying to figure out who the people in the photos were. Charles did not inscribe all of his photos; in fact, finding one with an inscription that I could actually read was a feat in itself!

Thankfully, Charles kept personal journals, which the Hocken also has in its Collections, and some of these have been transcribed and published by the Otago University Press.  These have been essential in my quest to put names to faces. Charles was very detailed in his journal entries, and it was rare that I could not name someone. However, when I couldn’t name someone it was quite frustrating! On one particular occasion there was a woman who I could not identify, but later in my cataloguing journey she showed up again and Charles had inscribed that later photo so I could go back and name her in the photos I had previously seen. Being able to do so was extremely satisfying.

The woman who was hard to identify was Aunt Loulu (Louisa Hart, Charles’ Great Aunt). MS-0996-012/175/002

Tangible photographs are something we sadly rarely see anymore, so working with ‘proper’ photographs has been fantastic. Charles travelled often, and documented both the big and the small things. For someone such as myself, who has never travelled either the South Island nor ventured over the Pacific, these photographs allowed me to travel alongside Charles, and see things as he saw them.

I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with the Charles Brasch photographs. Having never done any archiving before, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world, and I am genuinely amazed at how much work goes into archiving. I have a whole new appreciation for archives, and I strongly encourage everyone to utilise them where they can. I am extremely grateful to both the University of Otago and the Hocken Library for allowing me to work with such an amazing collection.

Why preserving the original matters

Friday, April 7th, 2017 | Anna Blackman | 4 Comments

Post compiled by Dr Anna Petersen, Curator of Photographs

Now that such high quality digital copies of historic photographs are possible, people sometimes question why preserving the original matters.  There are actually many reasons that can be given to justify this core business at the Hocken but this blog post will just touch on a few in relation to one specific item, P2014-001, in the Photographs Collection.

What would prove the annual highlight of donations for 2014 arrived just after New Year, when a lady walked in holding an old Christmas card box containing a family heirloom.  Mrs Joan Miskimmin had been given the contents by her father, P.D.J. Cockerill, and decided to gift it to the Hocken for safekeeping.

Once the photograph had been carefully removed from the wrapping and traces of red glitter blown away, the portrait of a young man with a small child on his knee looked familiar.  The Hocken already had a copy print of the photograph on file and the image had been published over the years in a number of books, always identified as the well-known whaler and pioneer Dunedin businessman, John Jones.  The donor knew by then, however, that this information was incorrect.

Fig. 1 John Jones, copy print, S11-315.

Thanks to maritime historian Ian Farquhar, someone had thought to question this attribution and hunted down the original.  John Jones was born in 1808 or 1809, married Sarah Sizemore in 1828 and together they had eleven children.  This would have made John in his early 30s when Daguerre first patented the daguerreotype and Talbot developed the calotype process in 1840.  Though it is often difficult to define people’s age, things didn’t seem to quite add up so Ian invited Associate Professor Erika Wolf from the University of Otago to accompany him to the owner’s home and advise on the probable date by looking at the photograph itself.

Fortunately, the history of photography encompasses the rapid development and use of many different materials and technical processes and using her knowledge, Erika could quickly determine the portrait as an ambrotype.  Ambrotypes belong to the small category employing non-paper supports and are photographs on glass as opposed to daguerreotypes on polished metal, ferrotypes (commonly known as tintypes) on lacquered iron, and opaltypes on translucent white glass.  Like daguerreotypes, ambrotypes were often put into elaborate pinchpeck frames and cased for protection but can still be easily told apart when looking at the original by the fact that daguerreotypes have a mirrored appearance, turning from positive to negative when viewed from different angles.

Ambrotypes became popular around the world in the 1850s, so even though there is nothing on the artefact to say whether or not it was produced in New Zealand, enough information could be gleaned by looking at the original to rule out the initial identification.  The portrait is now thought to be of John Jones’s eldest son, John Richard Jones (1832-1911), and his eldest daughter, Mary Louise Sarah, who was born in August 1856.

Fig. 2 John Richard Jones and Mary Louise Sarah, ambrotype, c.1858.  Hocken Photographs Collection, P2014-001.

The Hocken Photographs Collection includes examples of all the early forms of nineteenth century photography.  Every year, classes of students at the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic come to visit and learn to discern the differences by looking at the originals, Hocken staff routinely use this knowledge to help catalogue items and members of the public, including artists and photographers, request to see the real objects which have survived the years and can only be fully appreciated at first hand.  A small selection of early photographs on non-paper supports are shown below.

Fig. 3 Mother and daughter, hand-tinted daguerreotype, Whitelaw family collection, 1840-1850s. Hocken Photographs Collection, P1997-120-001.

 

Fig. 4 William Mathew Hodgkins, ambrotype, 1853 (removed from frame).  Hocken Photographs Collection, P1984-017. (Inscription on the back of the frame: ‘Photograph taken while in London the spring of 1853, at any rate before he went to Paris. The hair is not fouled, It is dressed in the fashion of the day.’)

 

Fig. 5 Three young men, ferrotype, Whitelaw family collection, 1860s-1870s.  Hocken Photographs collection, P1997-120-002. (According to historian Bill Dacker, hats were quite a feature of society in Lawrence around this time).

Fig. 6 Ellen Brook and her two daughters, Esther and Jane, opaltype, c.1895.  Hocken Photographs Collection, P1991-026. (They are dressed in mourning clothes after the death of their husband/father in a quarry during the building of the Otago Central Railway near Naseby.)

 

Shellal Mosaic : Fragments of Middle Eastern History at the Hocken

Friday, April 22nd, 2016 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs.

Housed in the Hocken Photographs Collection is an album compiled by a World War I soldier, Francis Leddingham McFarlane (1888-1948) from Dunedin, who occupied a short-lived but significant place in the long history of the Shellal Mosaic.

Sapper McFarlane of the New Zealand Wireless Troop was serving in Palestine in April 1917, when fellow ANZAC soldiers near Shellal stumbled across pieces of this sixth century mosaic.  The chance discovery was made during the second battle of Gaza on the floor of a captured Turkish machine gun outpost, located on a small hill overlooking the cross roads of what would once have been the main road between Egypt and Jerusalem.[i]

The soldiers reported their find to Senior Chaplain, Rev. W. Maitland Woods, who had a keen interest in archaeology and made a habit of entertaining the troops with stories about the Holy Lands where they were based.[ii]  Rev. Maitland sought professional advice from curators at the Cairo Museum and gained permission to organise a group of volunteers to uncover and remove the remains.[iii]  Sapper McFarlane was given the job of drawing what they uncovered (fig. 1).[iv]

Figure 1. The sketcher at work. P1993-024-012c

Album 213 includes three photographs showing sections of the Shellal Mosaic in situ (figs 2, 3 and 4), as well as a photograph of the sketcher at work and his completed drawing of the whole carpet-style design (fig. 5).

S16-070c P1993_024_012a

Figure 2. Mosaic floor discovered at Shellel. P1993-024-012a

S16-070h P1993_024_013a

Figure 3. Inscription and portion of border. P1993-024-013a

S16-070i P1993_024_013b

Figure 4. One of the circular designs. P1993-024-013b

A colour lithograph of McFarlane’s drawing was subsequently published in Cairo but, like the photograph, does not do full justice to the subtle hues.  An example of the lithograph can also be found at the Hocken, housed in the Ephemera Collection (fig.6).

MosaicSidebySide

Figure 5. Photograph of drawing of mosaic fragments. P1993-024-011a. Figure 6. Lithograph of mosaic found at Shellal, South Palestine on 23rd April 1917. Hocken Posters collection acc no. 816608.

The full significance of Sapper McFarlane’s drawing is explained in a booklet, written by A.D. Trendall and published by the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1942, some decades after the mosaic was handed over to the Australian government in 1918. Trendall relates how a second drawing, made by Captain M.S. Briggs six weeks later, reveals that during the interim, portions of the mosaic went missing.  Other soldiers probably took away pieces of the peacock and border in the lower right corner in particular as souvenirs and these proved impossible to recover.  Fortunately 8,000 tesserae survived from the top inscription written in Greek; enough to learn that the mosaic once decorated a church dating to A.D.561-2 and honoured a bishop and a priest called George.  Anyone wanting to learn the whole story plus an analysis of the imagery, technique and style, can read Trentham’s booklet, a later edition of which is housed with the album at the Hocken.

Frank McFarlane went on to serve as a war artist in the Middle East and continued to paint and draw after returning to civilian life. Other photographs in album 213 (all now available online via Hakena) help document McFarlane’s time during World War I in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).  These include a view of the Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad (fig. 7) and a soldier operating a pack set wireless in the field (fig. 8).  A sketchbook in the Hocken Pictorial Collections dates to the 1930s when McFarlane worked as a postmaster at Lawrence in Central Otago.  It includes pencil portraits of local people in Lawrence and remnants of the gold-mining days.

Figure 7. Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad. P1993-024-005a

S16-076f P1993_024_022b

Figure 8. Pack set wireless in the field, Mesopotamia. P1993-024-022b

Frank McFarlane married Bessie King and together they had two daughters who became professional painters with work also represented at the Hocken that reflects a shared interest in vestiges of the past.  Their paintings are not currently available online for copyright reasons but Heather McFarlane (1925-2011) married New Zealand diplomat, Sir Laurie Francis and a loose photograph in the back of album 213 shows her viewing the Shellal Mosaic on display at the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1965.  A drawing by Shona McFarlane-Highett (1929-2001) entitled ‘Dunedin-Palmyra’ (1965) depicts a quarter of the city that was once inhabited by Assyrians. A photograph in the Dunedin Public Library Collection at the Hocken (P1990-015/49-264) shows a similar row of houses, presumably named after the Syrian city of Palmyra and since demolished.

S16-037e P1990_015_49_0264

Figure 9 Palmyra before demolition, 1971. P1990-015-49-0264

These days the Shellal Mosaic is internationally recognised as one of the finest sixth-century mosaics in existence and as we prepare to welcome more Syrian refugees to the city, it may be a comfort for them to know that the Hocken also preserves some memories and material of relevance to that part of the world.

 

[i] A.D. Trendall, The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial Canberra, Canberra, 1964, p.9.

[ii] General Sir Harry Chauvel, ‘Foreword’ in The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1964.

[iii] Trendall, p.9.

[iv] Ibid.

On the cover

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant – Reference

We’re always pleased to see images from our collections featuring on the cover of new books! Each year we put together a list of published items – from books to theses, blogs to journals, television series to exhibitions – which have made use of Hocken resources. Some of them relate to research carried out on our archives or publications, others have used our pictorial collections, and some have done both. So far we have tracked down over 200 items published in 2015 for our list, including 69 books. The variety of topics covered is remarkable, as demonstrated by the few examples featured here.

S15-533a MS_0975_234

MS-0975/234

The very handsome 4-volume set of James K. Baxter’s complete prose, edited by John Weir, involved lots of digging through Baxter’s archives, which are held here. The cover of the first volume features an amusing photo of Baxter with his coat on backwards in Cathedral Square, Christchurch in 1948, sourced from his archives. Another particularly handsome book that has drawn heavily on the Hocken Collections is John Wilson’s New Zealand mountaineering: a history in photographs. including many from our holdings of the New Zealand Alpine Club’s archives. Among them is the great cover shot of Syd Brookes and Bernie McLelland descending North Peak in the Arrowsmith Range in 1939, from an album compiled by Stan Conway.

011

We can’t claim the splendid cover picture for Simon Nathan’s biography James Hector: explorer, scientist leader – that comes from the Alexander Turnbull Library – but he has made very good use of Hector’s papers, held at the Hocken. Hector’s notebooks are notoriously difficult to read, thanks to faint pencil combined with illegible handwriting, but some of the sketches in them make very effective illustrations in the book. Simon has also done splendid work transcribing various Hector letters in recent years, making them accessible to others.

013

Hector’s sketches of Parengarenga Harbour and his Maori campanion, January 1866

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Another 2015 book which brings previously unpublished work to light is New country, a collection of plays and stories by James Courage, with an introduction by Christopher Burke. Some have been previously published, but one comes straight from Courage’s papers at the Hocken. The book also features some fascinating photographs from Courage’s papers. Genre Books, the publisher, also made good use of Hocken material in a 2014 book, Chris Brickell’s Southern men: gay lives in pictures. This includes numerous photographs from the archives of David Wildey, held in the Hocken largely thanks to Chris. On the cover is one of Wildey’s photographs, recording a visit to Waimairi Beach, Christchurch in 1960.

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Lest we leave you with the impression that all material from our collection is about recreation and enjoyment, another cover from 2014 shows a sober purpose. Presbyterian Support Otago’s report Out in the cold: a survey of low income private rental housing in Dunedin features one of our old photographs of the crowded suburbs of southern Dunedin. The Hocken really does have material for all sorts of purposes.

Postcards at the Hocken

Monday, January 25th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Anna Petersen (Assistant Curator of Photographs), originally published in Deja View 63 (February 2014), pp. 10-14  (Journal of the Photographic Collectors’ Association of New Zealand)

The Hocken Library has a good collection of early postcards available to researchers, as one would expect of an institution located in Dunedin – the centre of postcard production in Australasia during its postal heyday. There are approximately four thousand postcards in total housed separately in their own sequence within the Hocken Photographs Collection and digital images of about a third of these are currently available on the Hocken Snapshop website.   Hundreds more are housed within individual holdings named after their donors, as well as in albums and brief descriptions of these are given on the Hakena database, available online via the Hocken Library home page.  Countless more postcards are to be found in the Hocken Archives Collection though not collected as postcards per se and, due to the sheer mass of material and limited resources of the Library, only a mention of the format has so far generally been given on the Hakena database.

A visit to the Hocken provides an opportunity to view postcards by particular photographers alongside other examples of their work.  Bill Main chose to mention the E.A. Phillips collection of negatives, for example, in his brief description of the Hocken’s holdings in his book Wish You Were Here.[i]  The recent acquisition of Hardwicke Knight’s collection of photographs and archives currently being catalogued also contains some hundreds of postcards and looks set to bolster in particular the number of images from the Aotearoa series produced by Hugh and G.K. Neill.

GuyFigure1

Figure 1 Portrait of Guy Morris, F.L. Jones photograph.  S09-113b.

 

One favourite Dunedin photographer for curators at the Hocken over the years has been Guy Morris (1868-1918, see figure 1).  Guy Morris’s work was featured at an in-house exhibition in 2009, following the gift of over 100 original photographs from the estate of his eldest daughter, Marina. The show included postcards carrying his images as well as illustrated supplements from the Otago Witness newspaper which contain many published copies of Guy’s work from 1900 until his death during the flu epidemic in 1918.

Hardwicke Knight was the first to mention Guy Morris in his histories of New Zealand photography.[ii]  He explained how the Morris name was well known in Dunedin at the end of the nineteenth century as John Morris, Guy’s elder brother, headed a thriving photographic business.[iii]  John Morris (1854-1919) rose to prominence as a portrait photographer, and, in competition with the Burton Brothers, his prints of Dunedin streets also proved popular, possibly as Hardwicke Knight noted, because he included so much life.  Guy and another brother, Hugh, began as John’s apprentices and then ran branches of the firm around the city before Guy struck out on his own in 1900, trading under his first name.[iv]

Bill Main has published a couple of articles specifically about Guy Morris’s postcards in Postcard Pillar in 2007 and 2011, well-illustrated with examples of his colour and real photo cards.  A useful list of cards in Bill’s private collection reveals how Guy’s images appeared in a number of different series and though mainly devoted to the Dunedin and Otago region, he also photographed other corners of New Zealand. [v] The Hocken holds cards by Guy of places as far south as Stewart Island and north to Bluff Hill in Napier.   Bill Main focused on Guy’s work as a press photographer, putting him on a par with Joseph Zachariah and S.C Smith in Wellington and F.N. Jones in Nelson, and noted  how  his street scenes were ‘refreshingly different’ for the choice of subject matter in people going about their business and the manner in which they were taken  ‘with Dunedin’s trams playing a very important part in his ordered compositions’. [vi]  Another aspect of this is that his subjects can often be matched and dated accurately with photographs in the Otago Witness.  We can therefore know that his ‘Naseby Snow Series’ was a record of a heavy fall in July 1908, for example.

GuyFigure2

Figure 2 ‘Lawyer’s Head Dunedin NZ’, Standard Series postcard, Guy photograph, c.1908.  S14-006b.

I would like to draw attention to Guy’s early postcards that at first sight might not seem as interesting or exciting to collect in terms of action.  These include colour lithograph views of sunsets and largely empty shorelines like that shown in figure 2, now such ubiquitous subjects in the postcard market with its modern printing techniques.  During the first decade of the twentieth century, however, such mechanically reproduced scenes were about as close to a real colour photograph as was possible.  Moreover, the subject of unspoilt nature in the form of uncrowded spaces, unpolluted water and clear skies was very topical (as indeed is still the case), as people in Europe looked to escape their over-populated, smog-bound cities and local authorities sought to attract the discerning public to Dunedin.

Guy’s career as a photographer covered the Edwardian period, often referred to as ‘The Age of Innocence’ before World War One.  Dunedin was a safe haven even by New Zealand standards and residents actively promoted the city as a good place to raise a family.  The Otago Witness newspaper published a weekly column espousing the teachings of local hero, F. Truby King and ‘Dunedin became the Citadel’ of the Plunket Movement.[vii]  The newspaper also supported the Dunedin Expansion League’s quest to attract industrious, skilled workmen with large young families to bolster the population, further business interests and regain the position of foremost city in New Zealand.[viii]

The golden beaches lying literally at Dunedin’s doorstep, which had been largely neglected by photographers until this point, constituted a major selling point and Guy’s photographs and postcards served an integral part in advertising the fact.  While the focus of photographers during the late nineteenth century had been on promoting the material progress of the colony and Muir and Moodie’s extensive stock of postcards concentrated on built-up areas of the city, Guy offered a change of scene and rather different set of values.  Along with his postcards of other public beauty spots like the Botanical Gardens and Outram Glen, Guy’s images of the open coastline spoke of a romantic closeness to nature and wealth of wholesome leisure activities which held universal appeal.

GuyFigure3

Figure 3 Original photograph of an image included in ‘Scenes on the Beach at St Clair, Dunedin’, Otago Witness Christmas Annual, 1905, p.40.  S09-096g.

A critical aspect of the message was that the sandy stretch was accessible to all and, by in large, this appeared to be the case.  The trams that Bill Main noted as integral to Guy’s cityscapes, now linked the suburbs more completely to the business centre making it easier for everyone to travel and bathe in the salt water, walk along the esplanade, picnic and take in the fresh air.  Crowds of people made their way there each Labour Day when the weather was fine, and over the summer months as documented in Guy’s photographs published in the Otago Witness Christmas Annual (for example, see figure 3).  Copies of the Christmas Annual made their way across the world courtesy of the New Zealand Government Department of Tourist and Health Resorts.  Of course the very idea of being on the beach around Christmas time was a novelty for adults of European origin.  One copy of the Guy postcard in figure 4 (a photograph reproduced in at least four different postcard series including F.T. Opalette, F.T. Domed Glossine and Industria) was sent by one local resident as a Christmas card to a friend just down the Otago Harbour at Broad Bay.

GuyFigure4

Figure 4 ‘St Clair, Dunedin, N.Z.’, Guy postcard, c.1909. S14-006a.

Yet then, as now, it was still possible to find the beach virtually to oneself and judging from his output, Guy spent hours photographing beside the sea.  Purely from an aesthetic point of view, Guy found an ever-changing play of light and form in the vista of earth, sea and sky between Lawyer’s Head and St Clair known as Ocean Beach, the warren of curious volcanic rock formations further south towards the expanse of sand looking out to Green Island and drama of the waves of the South Pacific Ocean hitting land.  Amongst the original prints by Guy in the Hocken Photographs Collection are many studies (figure 5) that obviously constituted a library of images to choose from for his postcards.

GuyFigure5

Figure 5 St Kilda, Guy photograph, undated. Marina Morris Collection. S14-006d.

By working productively and spending the time, Guy established a personal relationship with the Dunedin coast, making it his own.  Though some other postcard images of the area by different photographers can be seen on the Hocken Snapshop site, Guy appears to have produced the largest number.  Guy’s postcards and published photographs comprise both public as well as more private views, perhaps none more so than those that include his own children enjoying themselves.  The card entitled ‘Ocean Beach, Dunedin. A Summer Seascape’ (figure 6) may well feature his three young daughters just above his signature, a portrait of whom is also reproduced here from the Hocken Photographs Collection (figure 7).

GuyFigure6

Figure 6 ‘Ocean Beach, Dunedin.  A Summer Seascape’, Guy postcard, undated.  S14-006c.

Guy Figure7

Figure 7 ‘Gathering Wild Berries’ [Portrait of Jean, Dorothy and Marina Morris], original photograph reproduced in Otago Witness Christmas Annual, December 1912, p. 39.  S14-008.

Studying postcards of the closest beaches at the Hocken, we are left with a record of Guy’s vision of a healthy city environment and people―fresh, clean, full of natural beauty and promise.  What were once new views of Dunedin are now old, but over a century later, they remain relevant.  The same virtues that Guy and other citizens valued continue to satisfy local residents and attract foreign families to the city.  Providing just a sample of the postcards held at the Hocken, Guy’s postcards are undoubtedly worth collecting and preserving.  They represent just a fraction of the postcards held at the Hocken but speak of the potential the collection holds for researchers as a whole.

[i] William Main, Wish You Were Here, Wakefield, 2005, p.114.

[ii] For example, see Hardwicke Knight, Photography in New Zealand:  A Social and Technical History, Dunedin, 1971, p.108.

[iii] Hardwicke Knight, The Photography of John Richard Morris: An Appreciation of his contribution to New Zealand portrait and view photography in the nineteenth century, Dunedin, 1995.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] William Main, “Guy” Guy Clayton Morris 1868-1918’, Postcard Pillar, issue 79 (August 2007), pp. 16-17.

[vi] Main, p.15.

[vii] Erik Olssen, A History of Otago, Dunedin, 1984, p.151.

[viii] See, for example, ‘Dunedin The City Beautiful’, Otago Witness Christmas Annual, December 1912,  back cover.

Busy lead-up to ANZAC Day

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs

Hocken Album 512 has seen a busy time these past few weeks with University of Otago Art History students opting to study it for an assignment and images copied for an exhibition at Fraser Island in Australia to commemorate the part the hospital ship ‘Maheno’ and its crew played in World War One.

The album first became available to the public in 2001 when it was purchased for the Hocken Photographs Collection at a local auction.  Some years later, Sandy Callister featured whole pages from it in her book The Face of War: New Zealand Great War Photography, Auckland University Press, 2008, partly singling it out from the many war albums dominated by images from the Gallipoli Campaign because of the excellent quality of the images.  Callister also found the content and arrangement of the photographs revealing in her quest to uncover the public understanding of the sacrificial cost of the war.

The four different pages shown below include rare snapshots of life on board the HS Maheno, glimpses of people from other countries who toiled to provide coal for the mighty, steam-powered ship as it traveled to the other side of the world, and images of soldiers at ANZAC Cove.

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S15-108a P2001-009/2 Page 8

 

S15-118a   P2001-009 Page 15

S15-118a P2001-009/2 Page 15

 

S15-118b   P2001-009 Page 17

S15-118b P2001-009/2 Page 17

 

S15-118c   P2001-009 Page 19

S15-118c P2001-009/2 Page 19

 

No supplementary information came with the album regarding its creator or provenance but clues contained within it have led researchers to conclude it was most likely compiled from photographs taken by Lieutenant Howard Beecham Pattrick (1884-1962).  Pattrick first enlisted as a medic in 1915 when living as a student at Knox College, Dunedin.  He later became part of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and suffered a serious wound on the Western Front in 1917.  According to the Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (p.251)

During operations lasting several days, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  On one occasion he was blown up by a shell and badly shaken, but he declined to retire, and carried on with his men.  When all the officers had become casualties, he took command of the company, and it was largely owing to his fine and resolute leadership that the objective was quickly reached.  He set a splendid example to his men.

Pattrick was awarded the Military Cross in August 1918 for the acts described above, and was finally discharged from service on 25 November 1919.

Album 512 is available to patrons upstairs in the Pictorial Collections Reading Room under the accession number P2001-009/2.

Gigatown’s First Wireless Mast

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Assistant Curator (Photographs), Dr Anna Petersen.

With all the talk about Dunedin winning the fast broadband competition to become New Zealand’s first gigatown, my unplugged brain had to search back to remember how ‘wireless’ used to be what people called the radio.

Almost 80 years ago now, the city got its first wireless mast and a recent donation of photographs (ref.code P2015-004/1) documents its instalment by Hillside Workshops staff on the hill at Highcliff in 1936.

Poet and founding Landfall editor, Charles Brasch noted the advance in his memoirs. He returned to Dunedin in 1938 to find ‘The view had changed, in six years.  The harbour waterfront, before you reached the wharves, was now decorated with groups of huge light-silver oil drums announcing in giant letters EUROPA, PLUME, SHELL.  At first sight I thought : Hideous! but then began to like them, although they gave the waterfront the air of a Near Eastern port.  Two tall wireless masts had been set up on the highest near point of the Peninsula, beyond Highcliff….’ (Indirections, p.296)

The following sequence of photographs shows the setting up of the first wireless mast.

S15-043a S15-043b S15-043c S15-043d S15-043g S15-043i

 

 

 

Winifred Betts – botany pioneer

Monday, September 8th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Post prepared by Dr Ali Clarke, Library Assistant (Reference)

This year the University of Otago Department of Botany is celebrating its 90th anniversary. In honour of the occasion, I’ve been looking back at the beginnings of botany, as revealed in the university’s archives here at the Hocken. Although the “department” is generally dated from 1924, when John Holloway began as lecturer, botany was taught as early as the 1870s. In the university’s early decades, when student numbers were small, there were very few teaching staff and they had a wide brief. The first professor of “natural science” – F.W. Hutton – taught geology as well as biology. The 1877 University Calendar offered a general introductory course called “Principles of Biology,” as well as papers in zoology and botany. This pattern was to continue for several decades. The 1877 botany course covered “the structure, functions, and distributions of the orders of cryptograms, and the principal orders of phanerogams,” as well as “the use of the microscope.”

Geology and biology were separated into two positions after Hutton left in 1880. Thomas Parker held the chair in biology from 1880 to 1897 and William Benham from 1898 to 1937. Both were brilliant scientists, but their chief research interests were in zoology rather than botany. As the university grew, the workload of teaching all aspects of biology to science, medical, dental and home science students became increasingly burdensome. Professor Benham managed to get an assistant – Winifred Farnie – to help with biology teaching from 1916 to 1918. In 1918 he suggested that it was time for the university to appoint a lecturer in botany, but the Council decided to delay for a year. The 1919 calendar notes that instruction in botany “is not provided at present” – presumably Benham had decided he was over-stretched and could no longer offer the course. He repeated his request for a botany lecturer to the council that year, and this time approval was granted. Benham already had somebody in mind for the post – his former student Winifred Betts.

OU Review 1917

Otago University Graduates of 1917, including Winifred Betts and Winifred Farnie

Rather than simply appointing Betts, the council decided to advertise the post of botany lecturer. Were they, perhaps, reluctant to appoint a woman? As it turned out, they received three applications, all from women, and selected Betts as Otago’s first botany lecturer. For Benham, this was a long overdue development. In 1919, writing in honour of the university’s jubilee, he commented: “It is a curious fact that in each of the four colleges in New Zealand it has been expected that one man shall undertake to teach efficiently those two subjects [zoology and botany], which in England, even in fourth-rate educational institutions, have for many years been entrusted to two distinct individuals.” He was happy to report that Otago had now “set the example to the other University Colleges by appointing a lecturer in botany”.

Winnie Betts was just 25 years old when she commenced her new position at the beginning of 1920. Born in Moteuka, she was educated at Nelson College for Girls, receiving a University National Scholarship in 1911. She then came to Otago, graduating BSc in 1916 and MSc in 1917. She was clearly one of the more capable students of her era, and by 1915 Benham had selected her as a demonstrator in biology. On completing her MSc she received a National Research Scholarship – one was awarded at each university each year. This provided her with an income of £100 a year along with lab expenses so she could carry out independent research. In 1919, at a lecture to an admittedly partisan audience in Nelson, distinguished botanist Leonard Cockayne described Betts as “the most brilliant woman scientist in New Zealand.”

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Winifred Betts

 

In December 1920 Winnie Betts married another brilliant Otago graduate, the mathematician Alexander Aitken. Aitken, whose studies were interrupted by war service (he was badly wounded at the Somme), was by then teaching at Otago Boys’ High School. This was an era when most women left paid employment when they married, so it is intriguing that Winnie Aitken continued working as botany lecturer for some years. She joined a handful of women on Otago’s academic staff. As well as the women of the School of Home Science, there were Isabel Turnbull in Latin, Gladys Cameron in Bacteriology and Public Health and Bertha Clement in English; others came and went during Winnie’s years at Otago.

Winnie Aitken’s career as botany lecturer came to an end in December 1923. Her husband had been awarded a scholarship for postgraduate study and they moved to Edinburgh, where he had a long and distinguished academic career as a mathematician. Alexander died in 1967 and Winnie in 1971; they had two children. Various women have since taught botany at the University of Otago; indeed, it has been one of the more gender-balanced of the academic departments. As the department celebrates its 90th anniversary with Prof Kath Dickinson at its head, it seems an appropriate moment to remember the woman who pioneered it all!