Book Review Corner: ‘These Violent Delights’ by Chloe Gong

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post written by Collections Assistant – Publications, Gini Jory

 ‘The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.’

In this 1920s retelling of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, a blood feud between two rival gangs that has been going on for generations has swept Shanghai into chaos. The Scarlets, with their newly returned heir from America, Juliette Cai, have previously been almost unchallenged for power, except by their rivals, the Russian White Flowers. But now with the various colonial powers as well as the Chinese Nationalists and Communist party all vying for control of the ancient city, the lawless power of the gangs is being threatened. And when gangsters on both sides start ripping their own throats out, their strenuous hold on power starts to slip even more as the people start whispering of a madness, and a monster in the shadows. To figure out who is behind the madness and save her people, Juliette must team up with the heir to the White Flowers, Roma Montagov- her first lover, and her first betrayal.

Welcome back to the Book Review Corner of the Hocken blog! In this post we discuss New Zealand author Chloe Gong’s New York Times Bestseller These Violent Delights, a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920’s Shanghai featuring a horrible monster, political intrigue, queer characters, and a scathing takedown of colonialism. If you like Shakespeare, historical fiction and fantasy, this might be right up your alley!

Before we get into These Violent Delights, I want to take a moment to talk about its author, Chloe Gong. She is only 23 and finished writing this book at 19. NINETEEN. When it was released in November 2020 it debuted at no.3 on the New York Times Bestseller List and was on there for over six months, which is an incredible achievement for a first novel. The sequel Our Violent Ends came out in late 2021 to equal success, and Gong already has a spinoff series in the work with the first book being released this September, and an adult fantasy series due out 2023. Born in Shanghai, Gong grew up on the North Shore but went to university in America as she knew that was where she’d want to publish. She’s been writing since she was 13, and These Violent Delights was her eighth completed manuscript. And while many might think she’s a bit young to be so successful (most young adult authors are a lot further removed from the intended age genre), I think this is in part why she’s been so successful. She knows what young adults are looking at online, how they come across content and what will make them purchase a book. Gong’s own tiktok is a great example of her own marketing- she was creating videos of makeup looks inspired by the White Flowers, sharing quotes from her novels and inspirations for these, and following viral trends. And it worked- I heard about this book from an Asian-American ‘bookstagram’ creator I follow on Instagram, and the creator sounded so genuinely excited about it that I pre-ordered my personal copy that day. This is the kind of organic work of mouth marketing that Gong was aiming for, and it has obviously aided her success.

Back to the review. I really loved this book, and thought it was a great modernisation of such a classic story. Romeo and Juliet was never my favourite Shakespeare play but Gong has really taken it in a much darker direction. In this adaptation we no longer have two very young star-crossed lovers but two bitter and jaded eighteen-year-olds whose secret love affair when they were fifteen ended in disaster and betrayal. Juliette has recently returned from America a true flapper, with beaded dresses and gelled hair to take her place as heir to the Scarlet gang empire- an empire that is under threat from foreign powers. Roma is seemingly on the verge of losing his place as heir to the White Flowers as the gap between himself and his father widens. Both are on rocky ground when a madness starts to spread through Shanghai, affecting members of both their gangs as they are infected by some sort of insect and compelled to rip their own throats out. (Warning- there are a few very gory descriptions of violence in this book.) When they run into each other as they are both separately investigating the cause of the madness, they realise it is within their best interests to work together and use both of their connections to solve the mystery. But as their families have a rival blood feud, they must do so in secret, not even telling their closest friends.

The new family and friends Gong introduces was part of what really sold this book to me. There are the obvious adaptations- Tyler for Tybalt, Marshall for Mercutio, Benedikt for Benvolio- but Gong also introduces female cousins for Juliette, to give her someone her own age and gender to confide in. These cousins, Rosalind and Kathleen are the cornerstone of Juliet’s family life and give a view of how others in her family are treated in the Scarlet gang hierarchy. Roma is also given a younger sister, Alisa- perhaps to make him slightly less impulsive and willing to sacrifice his own life. These family and friends are given their own point of view chapters as well, so we get the story not only from the sometimes very jaded views of our main couple. It is also through these characters that Gong subtlety and naturally introduces queerness into an otherwise very straight world.

When Kathleen is introduced to us, waiting tables at a Scarlet club, the indication that she is trans is so subtle I completely missed it the first time through:

Rosalind used to tell her that someone was going to snatch such a precious stone if she wore it so obviously, but Kathleen liked it there. If people were to stare at her throat, she always said she would rather it be because of the pendant than the bump of her Adam’s apple underneath.

Kathleen is never misgendered by any character, and her cousin and sister always come to her staunch defence if anyone even looks like they might insult her for being trans. But unfortunately her trans identity has not always been valid or easy. When her father finally accepts that she is trans it is only under very specific circumstances that he allows her to present as woman, and she must take on someone else’s identity, not the one she had chosen for herself. I think it can be difficult with queer characters to walk the line between overused and upsetting tropes (such as the bury your gays trope used in a lot of media, especially for lesbian characters) and acting as though their queer identity would be fully accepted, especially in a historical setting (there are absolutely settings where discrimination does not have to exist though). While Kathleen is given a tragic backstory she is also given important roles within the story by her cousin, has her own agency, and in the present text is never looked down on for her trans identity.

We also get gay representation in the form of Roma’s best friends, Benedikt and Marshall. Their relationship is very much a slow burn, and while we don’t get to see them admit their feelings for each other in this book, their POV chapters make it very clear how they feel about one another. They are extremely close and live together, but both are afraid of ruining their friendship and of the repercussions they would face from the leaders of the White Flowers if they were to come out.

Another great aspect of this adaptation is the historical setting of 1920s Shanghai. Not only do we get the glitz and glamour of the American flapper age through Juliette and her fantastic dresses and styled hair, but it is set against the very real colonisation that took place in China during this time after their loss in the Opium Wars. Juliette often makes remarks about foreigners taking parts of the city for themselves, and her family is constantly scrambling to make agreements with the Nationalists so they can still maintain a semblance of their power. Communism is spreading through the workers of the city, and historically there were thousands of strikes across Shanghai in 1926 due to the terrible wages and working conditions. The Scarlet gang is also loosely based around the Green gang, a secret society and criminal organisation prominent in the mid 20th century, and while there was no equivalent of the White Flowers, Shanghai was a free port and many Russians ended up there after fleeing from the civil war. I personally love a historical backdrop in any novel, and having this very real pressure of foreigners, Nationalists and Communists all fighting for the city is an integral part of the story.

Overall, this is a great book and I would really recommend it if you enjoy modern Shakespeare, the enemies to lovers trope, queer fiction, murder mysteries, monster hunting, and historical backdrops.

Interested in reading this? These Violent Delights is in our published collections and can be used on site in our reading room.

References:

Gong, C. 2020. These Violent Delights. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Zhang, S. 2020. ‘Chloe Gong is 21, she’s from the North Shore, and she just wrote a US bestseller’ The Spinoff. 24 December 2020. Accessed 2 September 2022. https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/04-12-2020/chloe-gong-is-21-shes-from-the-north-shore-and-she-just-wrote-a-us-bestseller

Stirring up the stacks #10: celebrity Sister O’Regan’s carrot salad

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Jen Anderson, Collections Assistant – Publications

People who work with heritage material often find themselves compelled to demonstrate its relevance to contemporary society. Some connections are obvious, and some require a little more lateral thinking. Initially I intended to justify this carrot-themed post via the Easter bunny, but having tasted the results of my carrot salad attempt, I realise that it more readily fits Lenten themes of mortification and repentance.

The recipe I tried comes from : Celebrities’ choice cook book : a unique collection of recipes from N.Z. celebrities / [compiled by the Canterbury/West Coast Region of the N.Z. Red Cross Society].

Vegetables, fruit, textiles and earthenware: the enticing cover of
‘Celebrities’ choice cook book : a unique collection of recipes from N.Z. celebrities’.

This book was published in 1991, but being a compilation of tried-and-true favourite recipes, it is a veritable time capsule from the pantheon of NZ’s illustrious. Ever wanted to try Geoffrey Palmer’s chili con carne? How about Judith Kirk’s fish bake? I was tempted by The Wizard’s microwave chocolate self-saucing pudding, but in the end there was only one possible recipe.

Deep breath.

Carrot salad.

Now, I’ve always had a troubled relationship with cooked carrots.  This is the legacy of childhood memories of carrot disks in casserole, the brimming-with-flavour carrots and white sauce, and – horror of horrors – mashed carrot and parsnip [a.k.a. rainbow vegetable]. Normally a carrot salad would bypass the cooking, but this recipe is a little different. It starts out reasonably; carrots, green pepper, onion, salt. It is in the second column of ingredients that you really start questioning the life choices that led you to this point.

1kg carrots

1 green pepper

1 onion

1 (450g) tin tomato soup

1 cup sugar

½ cup cooking oil

½ cup vinegar

Pepper and salt

 

Instructions follow:

Cut carrots in rings and cook.

Chop the green pepper and onion and cook in tomato soup, sugar, oil and vinegar.

When cooked mix in the cooked carrots.

 

The recipe for the inimitable carrot salad

I’m not much of a chef, but looking at the recipe you’d think it wasn’t complex. What could possibly go wrong? I don’t know what I did, but my creation would not elicit the rapturous community response received by the author, Sister Pauline M. O’Regan.

“This salad is a great favourite of our Community, and one or other of us invariably brings it to pot-luck meals and barbeques in summer. People always ask for the recipe. It’s a great feeling.”

I trust Sister Pauline O’Regan implicitly. She sounds like an extraordinary person who did a lot of good for her communities while authoring some very well -regarded books. Going by this photograph on Te Ara, she also knew how to host a successful casual outdoor gathering. Surely the problem was not the recipe, but my execution.

Look at what I made. Empty your mind and just look at it.

The pièce de résistance

I tried some fancy plating, but it was irredeemable.

The salad, plated. Enough said.

I was left with a catering sized supply of cooked carrot salad which, under COVID restrictions, could not be shared with my delightful colleagues.

The thick layer of oil wasn’t even the worst of it. Nor was the tooth-aching amount of sugar. No, it was the sheer ratio of dressing to carrot. Believe me, I boiled 450 g of tomato soup and vinegar mix ferociously in an attempt to reduce it. The kitchen was filled with a vinegar-tinged miasma. The capsicum had lost structural integrity and the onion was slimy yet the mixture defied attempts at evaporation. Eventually I gave up and added the carrot (cooked al dente, although I know the original 70s version would have been for 30 minutes or until done).

The sound when I stirred it haunts me to this day.  I don’t know how to describe it. Loose wallpaper paste? Creamed corn with clumps? Whatever it was, it was eldritch. This looked and smelled like something that, if consumed, should be done so in private mortification while crying. Dear reader, I tried a tentative forkfull and was hit by sugary carrot overlaid with vinegar and an oily finish. It was Not Nice.

In a Hail Mary I tried following the recipe recommendation: “This salad is best prepared the day before use and kept in the fridge (it will keep in the fridge for several days).” The flavour may have infused overnight, but it certainly didn’t improve. Perhaps it is best described as entrenching. I left the salad in the fridge for several days and I can verify that it is a very low theft risk because no-one else in the household touched it.

I don’t doubt that this recipe can be executed well. I’ve talked with people who remember it fondly from their BBQ and salad days. Tell me, dear readers, how did I mess it up so catastrophically? Can someone explain how to cook this properly? Maybe a 450g tin of soup is inclusive of tin weight, so I measured out too much? Should I have chosen a better vinegar? Was the pepper and salt quantity lacking? Does anyone have any advice for attempt #2, the one where I make colleagues eat and review it? Tell me about your success stories. Or do you have a more entry-level carrot salad recipe to suggest?

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #9: two for the price of one! Macaroni soup and ginger pudding

Stirring up the stacks #8: Xmas Cake Recipe Recommended by “Buckhams”

Stirring up the stacks #7: Virginia pudding

Stirring up the stacks #6: Pumpkin pie

Stirring up the stacks #5: Sauerkraut roll

Stirring up the stacks #4: A “delicious cake from better times”

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

Kaleidoscope World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lights of the City

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

Post researched and written by Curator of Photographs Anna Petersen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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

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

[7] Ibid.

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

[9] ODT 8 November 1904.

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

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

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

Hot Shots from the ‘60s

Image

Post researched and written by Curator of Photographs Anna Petersen

Fig 1 Johnny Devlin at the Empire Ballroom, London, 1965-1966, P2004-044/2-082.

The Geoff Adams collection of slides, prints and negatives in the Hocken Photographs Collection stand out for their colourful, rather racy nature. 

Predominantly portraits of actors, artists, singers, TV broadcasters, dancers and sportsmen, they were all taken in London during the mid-1960s and tell of those swinging times when television had just come in and the Avengers, Twiggy and the Beatles ruled the airwaves.  The eyes of the women are heavy with black mascara and the men wear tight-fitting tops – why there are even two shots of Clive Revill and Raquel Welch, greatest sex bomb of them all.


Fig. 2 Terry Callahan, 1966, P2004-044/2-045.
Fig. 3 Bridget Armstrong, 1964-1967, P2004-044/2-039.
Fig. 4 Paddy Frost in Battersea Park, 1964-1967, P2004-044/2-035
Fig. 5 Noel Trevarthan, 1966, P2004-044/2-080.
Fig. 6 Clive Revill and Raquel Welch on the set of Fathom, 1966. P2004-044/2-025

As the world ground to a halt with Covid lockdown, I took the opportunity to contact Geoff and ask him more about these photographs, which date from one of the busiest periods of his working life.

Geoff was living the dream of many young journalists at the time.  He first won a USA State Department journalism scholarship offered by the US Embassy in Wellington, which took him to the States for three months on an all-expenses paid tour of many of its main cities.  ‘That tour covered the two party conventions held before the LBJ-Goldwater presidential election, the World’s Fair in New York and the murder of civil rights workers in the Mississippi.’[i] 

From America, Geoff moved to London (and was joined by his wife, Helen and young family) to take up a three-year placement as solo resident correspondent in London for New Zealand Associated Press (NZAP).  Those three years, between 1964-1967, ‘included a few brief visits to Ireland, Scotland, France and Belgium for news stories or conference reporting, and also a fortnight’s tour of Russia (the latter ‘with Vladimir, my KGB escort, was very eerie but exciting’).[ii] 

The NZAP (not to be confused with the NZPA or New Zealand Press Association, which until 2011 offered a news service to all newspapers in New Zealand), was a consortium of the NZ Herald (Auckland), Evening Post (Wellington), The Press (Christchurch), and the Otago Daily Times (Dunedin).  While the NZPA dealt with hard news and the newspapers Geoff served wanted feature stories and photographs, ‘the two did occasionally compete’. [iii]

Geoff recalls how he enjoyed moments in his office at 107 Fleet St of racing with his secretary to get films developed and fine prints made within an hour at a studio close to his office in Ludgate Circus, and then cabling the stories to New Zealand ‘to meet the late edition for publication by lunch the next day’.[iv]

This was the period when papers were making the switch to colour and, though Geoff only carried a ‘rough and ready’ camera, there were times when his efforts made it to the front page or created a double-page spread in the centre of the New Zealand Weekly News, a big magazine (long defunct) that was started by the NZ Herald.

Fig. 7 ‘The New Johnny Devlin’, New Zealand Weekly News, 30 January 1967, pp.18-19.
Fig. 8 ‘Trooping the Colour’, New Zealand Weekly News, 27 July 1966, pp. 36-37.

Portraits in the Geoff Adams collection include such British celebrities as Diana Rigg, Patrick McGoohan, Noel Coward, Lynn Redgrave, Dudley Moore and Malcolm Muggeridge, but the newspapers and readers Geoff served were especially crying out for illustrated articles about New Zealanders who were making a splash overseas.  They could not get enough of Kiri Te Kanawa in particular, who went to study at the London Opera Centre in 1966. 

Fig. 9 Kiri on arrival in London, 1966, P2004-044/1-002.

Having a life-long interest himself in music, Geoff well remembers capturing Dame Kiri on the balcony of New Zealand House, together with Inia Te Wiata, who was a close friend of his.  Whenever Geoff visited New Zealand House and could hear Inia banging or singing as he worked in the basement on the carved pouihi (for eventual display in the foyer of New Zealand House), he would go down for a chat and they would often have lunch together at a pub over the road.

Fig. 10 Inia Te Wiata, 1965-1966, P2004-044/1-004.
Fig. 11 Pou Ariha [detail], 1965-1966, P2004-044/2-075.

While it was the journalist’s job to hunt out and pursue newsworthy stories by contacting agents of the more famous and arranging interviews, sometimes it was the journalists themselves who were called to provide much wanted publicity.  For example, Geoff was invited along with other Commonwealth journalists in 1966 to the opening of the new Playboy Club on Park Lane.  There he discovered 23-year-old bunny, Colleen Turner, all the way from Auckland.

Fig. 12 Colleen Turner, 1966, P2004-044/2-048.

The art-related slides include valuable records of artists, Melvin Day, Ted Bullmore and John and Warwick Hutton at work in their studios, as well as a series relating to the production of the first New Zealand decimal coins at the Royal Mint in 1967. 

Fig. 13 John Hutton and his son, Warwick, 1964-1967, P2004-044/2-112.

These latter document the whole process from the translation of James Berry’s designs to plaster models, to the making of the dies and striking the 165 million new coins.[v]

Fig. 14 Royal Mint, London, 1967, P2004-044/2-119
Fig. 13 Royal Mint, London, 1967, P2004-044/2-137
Fig. 16 Royal Mint, London, 1967, P2004-044/2-146.

Geoff subsequently brought his talents back home to Dunedin and spent the rest of his career working for the Otago Daily Times, first as deputy editor for 11 years and then as editor from 1988-1997.  His collection of 171 prints, 124 film negatives and 196 slides from the 1960s form a distinct body of work, available under the reference number P2004-044, but also represent just part of the strong association that the Hocken holds with our major local newspaper, the Otago Daily Times.


[i] Email correspondence, 9 April 2020.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Telephone conversation, 8 April 2020. 

[v] ‘New Zealand adopts decimal currency’.  URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/nz-adopts-decimal-currency,(Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 3-Aug-2017.  https://www.royalmint.com/discover/uk-coins/making-the-coins-in-your-pocket/, (viewed 15 April 2020).

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.

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft Party starters

Monday, May 6th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 4 Comments

Post cooked up by Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian and Curator of Ephemera

There was never going to be a problem deciding which of Hocken’s amazing collections to use when it came to my turn for ‘Stirring up the stacks’ – it had to be Ephemera hands down! But the major dilemma was choosing from the hundreds of advertising flyers and leaflets in the collection featuring recipes.

I finally settled on a little recipe leaflet, dating to ca.1960s, promoting Bycroft cracker biscuits as “Party starters” that “set parties off with a bang!” In 1961 Bycroft merged with Aulsebrooks to become A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd manufacturing both biscuits and confectionery. Their product lines included Huntley Palmer biscuits, Mackintosh toffees and Oddfellows. Unfortunately big losses in the confectionery market led to the closure of their Dunedin factory in Maclaggan Street in 1976. In 1977, while the parent company continued to be A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd, their trading name changed to Aulsebrooks, and in 1978, a private Nelson based company, Moana Estates, made a successful partial takeover of the company.

 

Bycroft Party starters! Recipes. Bycroft, [1960s]. Ephemera Collection, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.)

My next big decision was which of the eighteen toppings and dips featured in the leaflet to make and test on Hocken staff, who include vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances. Eventually I concluded five spreads and one dip was the best way to ensure that there was at least something for everyone.

I decided against the Worcester spread and Gherkin scramble as being too last minute to make and the idea of flavoured scrambled egg was off-putting! The current exorbitant price of avocados made the Avocado dip off limits – I wonder how easy these were to find back in 1960s New Zealand? The liver paste, needed for the Liver and bacon spread, was unobtainable in 2019 and the Creamy cheese spread seemed too safe an option. So I settled on Minty spread; Ham and pineapple spread; Peel spread; Savoury egg spread; Crunchy spread; and Mushroom dip.

Some of the recipes specify which Bycroft cracker should be served with each dip – there were six pictured on the leaflet; but I selected a fairly similar range from today’s options at the supermarket, including rice crackers for the gluten intolerant and a new cracker chip that I thought would make a good dipper.

All the recipes were easy to make, although I had to make two servings of the Savoury egg spread to provide a similar amount to the others. Apart from the crunchy spread and finishing the Mushroom dip, all were assembled the night before which required one departure from the recipe – I was concerned the mint in the Minty spread might turn brown overnight so added a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Thanks to a previous Hocken staff member, Val Parata, I had a great set of authentic brown ramekins to serve the spreads in, and an old Christmas gift set of bread-themed spreaders seemed a fitting final touch.

Recipes

Minty spread

1 cup tinned green peas, well drained; 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint; ½ teaspoon salt; shake pepper

Mash peas until smooth. Blend in chopped mint, salt and pepper. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers, top with fresh mint sprig.

 

Ham and pineapple spread

2 slices cooked ham; 1/3 cup crushed, well-drained pineapple; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Trim fat from ham. Chop ham finely. Blend in pineapple, mayonnaise and mustard. Spread on Bycroft Savoury Crispbread, top with more chopped ham if liked.

 

Peel spread

¼ Cup finely chopped peel; ½ cup peanut butter; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; about 4 tablespoons opf cream

Place chopped peel in bowl. Blend in peanut butter and lemon juice. Stir in enough cream to make a spreading consistency. Spread on lightly buttered Bycroft Imperial Crackers. Decorate with more chopped peel if liked.

 

Savoury egg spread

1 hard boiled egg; 2 tablespoons butter; 1 tablespoon tomato sauce; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard; ½ teaspoon curry powder; 1 teaspoon sugar; 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Shell hard boiled egg while still hot. Mash well with butter. Blend in remaining ingredients. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers.

 

Crunchy spread

½ cup grated carrot; lemon juice; 1 stick celery; ½ cup roasted peanuts; ¼ teaspoon salt; shake pepper; 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Sprinkle carrot with a little lemon juice. Chop celery finely. Chop peanuts a little. Mix all ingredients together. Spread on lightly b uttered Bycroft Savoury Crispbread.

 

Mushroom dip

1 packet mushroom soup; 4 tablespoons ginger ale; 8 oz. reduced cream

Soak soup overnight in ginger ale. Next day add cream. Blend thoroughly and leave in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

 

Hocken staff were excited by the final array presented at morning tea time and eagerly tucked in. They were asked for feedback on their most and least favourite spreads, and overall the reaction was positive but, as can been seen in the photographs, “The most delicious spreads weren’t the most visually appealing though haha!”

Minty spread proved the most popular with seven votes and was described by one staff member as “unexpectedly good and refreshing”, but another rated it their least favourite saying “cold cooked peas reminded me of being made to finish my dinner as a child. It took so long the peas went cold.”

Savoury egg spread was the next most popular with a nostalgic taste that took one “back to Nana’s house”. Mushroom dip and Peel spread were third equal favourites: “LOVE the mushroom dip. Definitely making it at home to impress my vego friends, as nice alternative to onion dip”; “Peel – my favourite, interesting flavour combo that worked – mostly nuttiness coming through”.

Crunchy spread and Ham and pineapple spread were the least favourite overall, the latter for one staff member being “better than expected as I avoid Hawaiian pizza” but Chloe declared “Ham and pineapple for life!”

My own personal favourite was the mushroom dip: I was wary of the overnight ginger ale soaking of the mushroom soup mix but it was not noticeable in the eventual tasty product. But I think the Minty spread has star potential if the tinned peas were exchanged with fresher tasting frozen peas and some mashed feta was added for a delicious 2019 update.

Stirring up the stacks #3 was a fun trip back to the recent past that proved nostalgic (in a good way) for many Hocken staff, and the recipes were, as promised by the Bycroft leaflet, “Easy, economical, imaginative ways and means of getting the gathering going.”

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Stirring up the stacks #1: Variety salad in tomato aspic

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Kari Wilson-Allan, Collections Assistant, Archives

Food. We all need it, and many of us love it. We love to try new tastes, new textures, know what’s on trend and what’s on its way out. (Time to see yourself out, salted caramel?)

But what about the old food fads? Is there value in revisiting them? Have our palates shifted; can we stomach the ingredients?

‘Stirring up the stacks’ is a new and occasional blog series coming to you from the kitchens of the Hocken staff. By finding and preparing long-forgotten, curious, or delectable sounding recipes amongst our varied collections, we aim to entertain, inspire, delight or, perhaps, disgust, you with our concoctions.

So, let’s get into it!

I’ve been perpetually intrigued and grossed out by the concept of jelly salads since I first heard of them. Meat and/or veges, suspended in elaborately shaped goop, and usually photographed with the colour balance all out of whack. Images I’d seen tended to be American in origin, and seemed to date from the 1950s until maybe the 1970s. But meals of jelly had hit the culinary scene far earlier on, here in New Zealand and many other parts of the globe. Emeritus Professor Helen Leach, a well-known face in our reading room, had me nearly fall off my chair in surprise when I read in her 2008 book The pavlova story: a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history, that the first pavlova, dating from 1926, was in fact a layered jelly, with nary an egg white in sight! The Davis company cornered the market, from 1913 producing a gelatine that opened up options in the kitchen. Previously, dishes with gelatine had been the preserve of those with time, resources and great expertise.

Evidence indicates that the Davis company promoted their product vigorously. We hold eleven of the recipe books they published in New Zealand, ranging from 1926 through to the 1980s.

Desserts, salads and savoury dishes the Davis gelatine way (n.d.)

I browsed through a couple, and quickly realised I was going to need a recipe with an illustration to understand how exactly I was to construct my masterpiece. The book above proved to be a boon. Not only did it have a recipe I thought I might have some chance of executing, it was pictured in full colour on the rear cover. There’s no year of publication, but I suspect it is from the late 1950s or early 1960s – elements of it indicate that it predates decimal currency.

My choice of recipe, variety salad, requires me to to make tomato aspic too. For those not in the know, or who (like me) only associate the word aspic with cat food, an aspic is a savoury jelly, traditionally made with meat stock.

What better to do than put on some sixties pop and hit the kitchen?

Cutting my work out for me

You might notice I’ve got both gelatine (Davis brand, naturally), and agar agar powder.  Why’s that? I’m (probably foolishly) making two discrete aspics – one for the omnivores and one for the herbivores, of whom I’m one. Curiously, around a quarter of Hocken staff are vegetarian or vegan, and I want a good range of willing tasters  – as much as I’m leery  of trying it myself.

I’ll admit here I cheated a little. The day prior to cook day, I did a trial aspic, to get an idea of how it came together – had I converted pints to millilitres accurately? I also wanted to see if I could get the veges in the mould to behave as they should, to figure out how quickly the gelatine would set (the answer: forever), if there was enough liquid (there wasn’t – must double the mix come Show Day!) and if I could get it out of the mould. I’m an impatient one at the best of times, and tried too soon. The tomato aspic, freshly tipped out of its bowl, cleaved itself as if it were the Red Sea. Lesson learned. Well, maybe.

Chop chop!

Leach and others have pointed to the time-consuming nature of this type of dish as one reason why it eventually fell out of favour. I’m not surprised to read this: as I was wielding my knife I was feeling certain that, were I transported back to the the 1960s as a housewife, I would not fare well in the role. I’m realising nor will I ever be a Michelin-starred chef. I’ve diced my vegies, cooked my peas and rice (rice??), and juiced the lemon that’s not listed in the ingredients but features in the method. It’s a hot day, I’ve got my first aspic brewing, and I’m knackered.

Best to not think about being knackered when prepping gelatine…

Now things are getting tense. I have to pour a little aspic in my bowl, allow it to set a little, then artfully place my ‘garnish’ (slices of tomato and capsicum), then pour over a little more aspic.

Jusqu’ici tout va bien, as the French would say

Time for the fiddly bit, the bit everyone wanted to know about – how did I get the gherkins and carrots to stay put? It’s a game of dip the strip (in partially set aspic), stick the strip  (against the wall of the bowl at an angle), then repeat with the next.  The fun continues as you discover half are falling off, and the others aren’t doing so well at staying parallel. Come half time, your language is becoming as colourful as the salad itself.

Excuse my French

Finally, I’m reasonably satisfied with the alignment, and the rest is plain sailing. On top of the peas, I pile the seasoned rice and diced celery. I have surplus carrot and gherkin, so in they go too. Once I’ve poured over the aspic, I’ll be done. But do I mix the aspic through the ‘variety’ mix? The instructions don’t specify, and I’m not sure there will be adequate seepage through to lower layers to avoid a rice eruption when I unmould. I give it a desultory stir, then leave it as it is.

Come the big reveal, I’m nervous as. Will my salads unmould in one piece, and will anyone actually try any? It’s scary stuff.

Ta da! The agar agar version, still in its bowl on the left, pleads with gravity to help it along. Meanwhile, the gelatine has held its own.

To my great shock, both were persuaded fairly easily from their nests. The agar agar came out most cleanly, and had a beautiful sheen. It takes some time, though, to convince my workmates that they want to taste them.

The first cut is not for the squeamish

Archivist Tom eventually made the first move, and once he consumed a little and didn’t collapse, others tentatively followed suit. As we’ve learnt from reality cooking shows, nothing counts until the feedback is given. Tasters had the opportunity to submit their thoughts, anonymously or otherwise, and these, along with their facial expressions, gave me almost as much delight as the successful up-ending of my concoctions.

The aforementioned Tom declared it to be ‘very surprising, & unexpectedly good’. Jacinta, Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori, found it ‘delightfully refreshing’. Another said ‘very tasty once you get past the texture’. Emma (Collections Assistant, Publications), had textural misgivings too, saying ‘it is like eating tomato sauce as the main meal’. Jennie, also from Publications, thought it ‘visually splendid’, but noted ‘I don’t trust food that wobbles’. Understandable – I have similar reservations.

Megan, a CA from Researcher Services deserves a special medal for summoning the courage to take the plunge, but said ‘I hope to never be that starving’. She was not a happy chappy. Others felt they’d been transported to the past – Archives Curator Anna said ‘just like Grandma used to make’. More than one staffer suggested the addition of vodka. Bloody Mary salad, anyone?

Publications Curator Pete summed it up for most of us though: ‘I can honestly say this is the best salad in aspic I have ever tasted’. And what did I think? It was a fun culinary experiment I probably wouldn’t repeat (I chose not to finish my serving), but it was far less horrific than I had imagined.

Chaos out of order

General Assistant Nick takes the last word. He said ‘visually arresting, perfect for Christmas, delicious with Emerson’s Morning Star Pale Ale’. So, what are you waiting for – get it onto your menu for Christmas dinner. It’s sure to be a memorable dish.

Sources

Australian Dictionary of Biography: Davis, Sir George Francis (1883-1947)

Leach, Helen. The Pavlova story : a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history. Dunedin, Otago University Press, 2008.

Serious Eats: A social history of Jell-o salad: The rise and fall of an American icon

 

Lel, Father Christmas, and ‘The Sun’s Babies’

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by David Murray, Archivist

One of the cutest Christmas messages in the Hocken Collections is found on a postcard in the papers of Dunedin poet and editor Charles Brasch.

The front of the postcard shows the picturesque St John’s Anglican Church, Waikouaiti. The message on the reverse reads:

Mr Father Christmas
D.I.C.
Dunedin.

Dec 3rd

Dear Farther Christmas.
please will you give me these things
the “Suns Babys” and a doll.
love from Lesley Brasch
adress is 99 London St.
Dunedin

Lesley Brasch, known in her family as ‘Lel’, was Charles’s younger sister. Their father was the lawyer Hyam Brasch, and their mother Helene (née Fels) was related to the Hallensteins, a prominent Jewish family associated with the New Zealand Clothing Company and other businesses.

Born in 1911, Lel lived with her parents and brother at ‘Bankton’. Originally the home of Rev. Thomas Burns, and later of Sir Robert Stout, its address was 99 London Street when the postcard was used. The property was later subdivided and other houses have since been built in front of it. Its address is now 4 Stoutgate.

Lesley with her brother Charles at ‘Manono’, London Street, the property of their grandparents, Willi and Sara Fels. Bankton was a little further up the street, on the opposite side. E.A. Phillips photographer. Ref: Hocken Collections MS-0996-012/100.

We don’t know what year Lel wrote her request, but it was when she was a little girl in the 1910s.  She addressed it to Father Christmas at the D.I.C., or to give it its complete mouthful of a name, the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Limited. Her own great-grandfather, Bendix Hallenstein, established the business some thirty years or so before.

The Dunedin department store was a logical place to send a message to the jolly red-suited man. From 1902 children could visit him every afternoon before Christmas, and in the 1910s the company advertised: ‘Father Christmas is at Home at the D.I.C.’. In 1917, the store advertised ’20 big busy departments full of Xmas gifts’, and a Toyland for Children. It invited parents to bring their children to see Father Christmas in his quaint old chimney corner. Admission was sixpence and children were given a present. Seventy years later children still visited the D.I.C. to see Santa. Its later attractions included Pixie Town, now on display at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. The D.I.C.’s Dunedin store closed in 1991, after the company was taken over by Arthur Barnett.

Advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 15 December 1917 p.2. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand: https://goo.gl/nCBBvo.

Lel asked Father Christmas for a popular and particularly beautiful children’s book, The Sun’s Babies by Edith Howes. Even at a young age the Braschs were supporting New Zealand writers! Born in London in 1872, Howes came to New Zealand with her family when still an infant, and became known as a teacher, writer, and educationalist. She lived in a variety of places around the country, including Ashburton, Wanganui, Makarewa, Gore, Wellington, and Christchurch. In later life she lived in Dunedin, where she died in 1954.

The Sun’s Babies, published in 1910, is set in a mythical fairy world. It includes stories and poems about plants, animals and fairies in the different seasons of the year, incorporating life lessons. The first of Howes’s children’s books, it met with both critical acclaim and popular success. Hocken holds three editions of the book, including Cassell & Co’s original 1910 edition and the 1913 edition shown here. The illustrations are by the English artist Frank Watkins (1863-1929).

Howes, Edith. The Sun’s Babies. London: Cassell and Company, 1913. Hocken Publications, Bliss YO How.s.

Illustration by Frank Watkins from The Sun’s Babies. The caption reads: ‘When she saw Tinyboy she hid her face shyly in her curls’.

Did Lesley get her book and doll? We don’t know but like to think so. Perhaps the answer awaits discovery in the Brasch papers,

There are thousands of postcards in the papers and they are less studied than many other parts of the collection. This particular card can be found in the item: ‘Envelope labelled “Loose postcards” including postcards from family and de Beer, Fels, Hallenstein and Brasch families’ (Charles Brasch papers, Hocken Archives, Uare Taoka o Hākena, MS-0996-012/521).

Merry Christmas from the Hocken Collections.