New Zealand Archaeology Week 2017

Monday, April 3rd, 2017 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Post prepared by Jacinta Beckwith, Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori 

Each of us is an epitome of the past, a compendium of evidence from which the labours of the comparative anatomist have reconstructed the wonderful story of human evolution. We are ourselves the past in the present.                                                           

H.D. Skinner, The Past and the Present

This year’s inaugural New Zealand Archaeology Week (1-7 April) offers an opportune moment to highlight some of the Hocken’s archaeology-related taonga. Examples include the Otago Anthropological Society Records (1960-1983), Anthropology Departmental Seminar flyers (most dating to 1997), and a wide variety of archaeological reports, notebooks, diaries, letters and photographs including papers of David Teviotdale, Peter Gathercole and Atholl Anderson. More recently, our collections have been enhanced by the ongoing contribution of local archaeologists such as Drs Jill Hamel and Peter Petchey who regularly submit their archaeological reports, for which we remain deeply grateful.

One of our largest collections relating to the world of archaeology and anthropology are the Papers of Henry Devenish Skinner (1886-1978). At 3.14 linear metres in size, this collection comprises folders full of handwritten research and lecture notes, letters, photographs, scrapbooks and newspaper clippings pertaining primarily to Skinner’s archaeological, anthropological and ethnological work with the Otago Museum and the University of Otago, and also to his school days and military service. It includes personal correspondence detailing the collection of Māori artefacts, letters with Elsdon Best, S. Percy Smith, Willi Fels, and other notable anthropologists and collectors. Skinner’s papers also include a significant series of subject files relating to not only Māori and Pacific archaeology but also to that of Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

H.D. Skinner is fondly remembered as the founding father of New Zealand Anthropology. He is particularly known for his development of the Otago Museum, for his pioneering work on the archaeology of the Māori and for his comparative studies of Polynesian archaeology and material culture. He was the first Lecturer of Anthropology in Australasia, appointed Lecturer in Ethnology at the University of Otago in 1919 (where he lectured until 1952). He was appointed assistant curator of the Otago Museum in 1919, later becoming Director of the Museum from 1937 until 1957. Skinner was also Librarian of the Hocken from 1919 until 1928. Much of the collection expansion in the Otago Museum, and the importance placed on the collection and display of Māori and Polynesian artefacts can be attributed to him. He also expanded the Hocken’s collections, most notably in New Zealand paintings and drawings.

Skinner’s research on the Moriori represents a milestone in the history of Polynesian ethnology as the first systematic account of material culture of a Polynesian people. He set new standards in description, classification and analysis, and he demonstrated how ethnological research could contribute to important historical conclusions. Professor Atholl Anderson, Honorary Fellow of Otago’s Department of Anthropology & Archaeology, describes Skinner’s analyses of Māori material culture as prescribing the method and objectives of the discipline for over 50 years and his teaching as inspirational for several generations of archaeologists, especially in southern New Zealand.

References:

Anderson, A. Henry Devenish Skinner, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography Volume 4, 1998

Skinner, H.D. The Past and the Present – Popular Lecture, in Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS 1219/071

Wells, M. Cultural appreciation or inventing identity? H.D. Skinner & the Otago Museum. BA (Hons) thesis, Otago, 2014

ITEMS ON DISPLAY

HOCKEN FOYER

Anthropology Department Seminar flyers from the late nineties. Hocken Ephemera Collection

DISPLAY TABLE

  1. Skinner, H. D. 1923. The Morioris of Chatham Islands. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Hocken Published Collection
  2. Letters from Elsdon Best and S. Percy Smith to H.D. Skinner, and envelope addressed to Corporal H.D. Skinner containing further letters and clippings relating to Moriori in ‘Letters, extracts, notes, etc. relating to Morioris’, Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/169
  3. Letter from J Renwick (1925) to H.D. Skinner in ‘Technology and Art of the [Moriori of the Chathams]’, Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/160
  4. Photos of Chatham Island artefacts in ‘Moriori Photos’ (n.d.), Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/168. Stone patu, bone fishhooks, blubber cutter, stone adzes and postcard map of Chatham Islands.
  5. Syllabus of Evening Lectures on Ethnology 1919 & University of Otago Teaching of Anthropology (n.d.) in ‘Anthropology at Otago University’, Skinner, Henry Devenish Papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-1219/022

PLINTH

  1. Freeman, D. & W. R. Geddes, 1959. Anthropology of the South Seas: essays presented to H. D. Skinner. New Plymouth, N.Z.: T. Avery. Hocken Published Collection
  2. Dr Henry Devenish Skinner at the Otago Museum (1951). D. S. Marshall photograph, Hocken Photographs Collection, Box-030-013
  3. Dr Henry Devenish Skinner and others get aboard the ‘Ngahere’ for Chatham Islands (1924). The others are identified as Robin Sutcliffe Allan, John Marwick, George Howes, Maxwell Young and Dr Northcroft. Photographer unknown, Hocken Photographs Collection, Box-030-014

PLINTH

  1. The Dunedin Causeway – archaeological investigations at the Wall Street mall site, Dunedin, archaeological site 144/469 (2010). Petchey, Peter: Archaeological survey reports and related papers, Hocken Archives Collection, MS-3415/001
  2. Beyond the Swamp – The Archaeology of the Farmers Trading Company Site, Dunedin (2004). Petchey, Peter: Archaeological survey reports and related papers, Hocken Archives MS-2082
  3. A smithy and a biscuit factory in Moray Place, Dunedin… report to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (2004). Hamel, Jill, Dr: Archaeological reports, Hocken Archives MS-2073
  4. Otago Peninsula roading improvements – Macandrew Bay and Ohinetu sea walls, report to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (2010). Hamel, Jill, Dr: Archaeological reports, Hocken Archives MS-4174/001
  5. Album of photographs accompanying Otago Peninsula roading improvements – Macandrew Bay and Ohinetu sea walls report (2010). Hamel, Jill, Dr: Archaeological reports, Hocken Archives MS-4174/002

 

Sketching a past : Susan Downing, Sister Mary Genevieve

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Debbie Gale – Archivist

The exciting discovery of an accomplished watercolour sketchbook within the archives of the Dominican Sisters of Aotearoa New Zealand held by the Hocken, was first assumed to be the work of a pupil at one of the Dominican Schools.  Instead, it has been found on closer examination to be that of one of its Sisters, Mary Genevieve.

Front page & Text knitted

Hocken Collections, Natural history work book, Susan Downing, Upton Hall. Records of the Dominican Sisters of Aotearoa New Zealand. AG-264-A-019/002. To see detailed image, right click, open in new tab and zoom in.

The first ten Dominican Sisters arrived in Dunedin from Sion Hill Convent in Dublin in 1871, accompanying Bishop Moran.   Under the conditions of the agreement, those chosen to move to New Zealand needed to be qualified to teach in both ‘A High School’ and ‘A Poor School’.  Sister Mary Genevieve’s maternal aunt, Charlotte (professed as Sister Catherine Hughes in 1857), was part of this first contingent.  Indicative that the Sion Hill community sent some of its outstanding members to New Zealand, Sister Catherine had studied under a pupil of Chopin and was a highly gifted musician.  She was sister-in-law to Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, Irish Nationalist, journalist, poet and Australian Politician (8th Premier of Victoria 1871-1872).  Duffy married her sister Susan Hughes in 1846[1].

The High School, opened very shortly after the Sisters’ arrival in 1871, accepted pupils from all over Dunedin for pianoforte lessons, singing, harp lessons, painting, flower making, art, needlework and languages such as French, Italian, German and Spanish[2].

By 1971, the number of Irish sisters who came out to New Zealand had risen to 80.  Like the first contingent, most were from privileged backgrounds, daughters of wealthy landowners who had received an education.  Dunedin’s successful immigrants sent their daughters to the Dominican Sisters for two reasons – to receive a good Catholic education and to acquire the ‘accomplishments’ (cultural studies of music and art and modern languages)[3].

Susan Downing appeared to fit the mould of a Dominican Sister perfectly.  She had an educated, upper class background and she was accomplished in the arts.  These attributes are evidenced both through her beautiful sketchbook, and from information held by the Dominican Sisters themselves.

By accessing genealogy resources, making enquiries about Downing from the Dominican Sisters’ Archive and following up on clues in the sketchbook, we can piece together some of Susan’s early life in England.

England Census 1861:

Six-year-old Susan J. Downing is listed in the Downing household in the Parish of Birkenhead.  Her estimated birth year is 1855 and her birthplace is listed as Birkenhead, England.  She appears in the England and Wales birth index as Susan Jane Downing.

Father Samuel was born in Ireland about 1820, he was a physician, surgeon and general practitioner.  Mother Marianne was also born in Ireland about 1819. The family appears to be prosperous, with the household consisting of five siblings and two household staff whose occupations are listed as ‘domestic servants’.

England Census 1871:

There are two entries for Susan. She is listed within her household census, and also as a scholar at Upton Hall.

Upton Hall, then a Catholic convent school in Wirral, Cheshire, lies about 10kms away from Birkenhead. It was ‘designed to produce accomplished young ladies’.  This is where Susan would have begun her sketchbook, in 1876, at the age of 21.

Illustrations knitted

Hocken Collections, Natural history work book, Susan Downing, Upton Hall. Records of the Dominican Sisters of Aotearoa New Zealand. AG-264-A-019/002. To see detailed image, right click, open in new tab and zoom in.

The Downing household now has three domestic staff whose occupations are listed as ‘groom (domestic servant)’, ‘cook’ and ‘housemaid’.  Their immediate neighbours are an attorney and broker. William, the eldest son, is a merchant’s apprentice and two further sons a medical student and scholar.

No record of Susan is found in the 1881 or 1891 England census returns so we may assume that she had left England by this time. Susan’s personal record held by the Dominican Sisters indicates that she had been educated in Holland, France and in Dublin at the Dominican College, Sion Hill and arrived in Dunedin directly from Dublin in 1892.

Sadly, no Irish census information for these years survives as the original returns were pulped during the First World War, probably because of the paper shortage.  She left Upton Hall at some point after 1876 and moved to Dublin, but without the Irish census returns it is difficult to pin dates down.

Moving to the other side of the globe:

Downing passenger list

Archives New Zealand Passenger lists from 1892 show that Susan made the long voyage to New Zealand at the age 37, by herself, on the ‘S.S. Kaikoura’.

The journey was not without incident. Both the Otago Daily Times (15 July 1892) and Hobart Mercury (11 July 1892) reported on the ‘Kaikoura’ embarking passengers of a ship wrecked on its voyage to Melbourne, as well as the terrible weather conditions encountered by its passengers:

On the 6th June at Cape Verde, Africa, the ‘Kaikoura’ embarked passengers of the liner ‘Port Douglas’, which had been wrecked on the voyage to Melbourne. The passengers also encountered ‘terrific seas’ and ‘rain, hail and sleet were frequent…traversing the Southern Ocean’. However, ‘The usual concert balls etc., were organised to enliven the monotony…they were entered into heartily by all on board’.  I wonder, did convent girl Susan join in these proceedings?

Received into the Dominican Sisters on 15th January 1893, Susan took the name Sister Mary Genevieve and was professed on 8 November 1894. Dunedin electoral rolls of 1893 and 1896 list her teaching at St Dominic’s Priory on Dowling Street. Records show she eventually reached the rank of sub prioress in 1910.  Her death is given as 19 September 1923 aged 69.

For all that we can piece together the recorded fragments of Sister Mary Genevieve’s early life; there are a few questions that will remain unanswered:

What made Susan decide to move to the opposite side of the world, on her own, at 37 years of age? It seems likely that she decided to follow in her Aunt Charlotte’s footsteps and join her as a Dominican Sister, but what was her spur? Her parents would have been in their 70s at this point, maybe they had died and she wanted a fresh start?

According to her death notice, her forte was music, and information from the Dominican’s own records describes her as an ‘excellent linguist, speaking and reading several tongues’.   There appears to be no mention of her artistic gifts, however, and her sketchbook remains sadly unfinished.  Did she simply decide to discontinue her art once she arrived in New Zealand, or maybe she was just too busy with her teaching and religious duties?  This seems a shame, when we consider how evidently she was once attached to her sketchbook, so lovingly crafted and cherished, a travelling companion on her long journey overseas.

[1] McCarthy, 19-20

[2] Collins, 78

[3] Collins, 81-82

Sources:

Collins, Jenny.  Hidden lives : The teaching and religious lives of eight Dominican sisters, 1931-1961: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University, Palmerston North. 2001

McCarthy, Mary Augustine. Star in the South : The centennial history of the New Zealand Dominican Sisters. Dunedin St Dominic’s Priory, 1970

New Zealand Dominican Sisters Archives

Rombouts. Michael : Death notices in the New Zealand Tablet May 1873 to Apr 1996. Dunedin N.Z. : M.J.Rombouts 2000

Rombouts. Michael : Catholic death notices in the Otago Daily Times 1861-1950. Dunedin N.Z. : M.J.Rombouts 1998

Upton Hall School Census 1871. (Retrieved August 2015 ‘http://history.uptonhallschool.co.uk’)

Upton Hall School website (Retrieved August 2015, ‘http://www.uptonhallschool.co.uk/’)

England census returns (Retrieved August 2015. ‘Ancestry’)

England and Wales birth index (Retrieved October 2015 ‘Ancestry’)

New Zealand Tablet, 1923

New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger lists 1839-1973 (Retrieved August 2015. ‘familysearch.org’)

The Mercury, Hobart 11 July 1892 (Retrieved September 2015. ‘Trove’ http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/13295915)

Otago Daily Times, 15 July 1892 (Retrieved August 2015. ‘Papers Past’)

New Zealand Electoral Rolls, 1893, 1896

 

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

007

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.

015

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.

What’s that thesis about?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post prepared by Dr Ali Clarke (Reference Assistant)

University of Otago History theses at The Hocken Collections

University of Otago History theses at The Hocken Collections

It’s always encouraging to see the final results of research carried out at the Hocken, from books and interpretation panels to newspaper articles and television shows. But undoubtedly one of our favourite things is to see the dissertations that post-graduate students have been sweating over, often for several years. 2014 was a stellar year for graduations of people who spent many hours poring over the treasures of the Hocken for their dissertations. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, some of these can even be read on-line.

Nister Kabir came all the way from Bangladesh to study at Otago. He made extensive use of our newspaper collection for his PhD thesis, New Zealand media constructions of Islam and Muslims: an analysis of selected newspapers between 2005-2006.  Also from the Department of Media, Film and Communication at Otago was 2014 PhD graduate Donald Reid, who made good use of our serials and books collections for his thesis Solid to liquid culture: the institutional, political and economic transformation of New Zealand state broadcasting. He also found the Hocken a peaceful place in which to write! Another PhD graduate who made good use of our serials collection was Trudie Walters, of Otago’s Department of Tourism. Her dissertation, An analysis of media representations of the luxury in and of second home ownership in New Zealand 1936-2012,  revealed the value of all those old home and building magazines.

Archaeologists dig out information from archives, books and pictures as well as from the ground, and a couple of 2014 graduates from Otago’s Department of Anthropology and Archaeology used the Hocken while completing their dissertations: Peter Petchey’s PhD was titled The archaeology of the New Zealand stamp mill  and Megan Lawrence’s MA was Backyard historical archaeology: unraveling past lives through analyses of the archaeological remains from 26 St David Street, Dunedin.

Unsurprisingly, some of our biggest users are the post-graduate students of Otago’s History and Art History Department. We were delighted to see the completed PhD theses of Grace Bateman (Signs and graces: remembering religion in childhood in Southern Dunedin, 1920-1950),  Sarah Carr (Preserving decency: the regulation of sexual behaviour in early Otago 1848-1867), Daniel Davy (Lost tailings: gold rush societies and cultures in colonial Otago, New Zealand, 1861-1911),  Jill Harland (The Orcadian odyssey: the migration of Orkney Islanders to New Zealand 1949-1914 with particular reference to the South Island)and Jane McCabe (Kalimpong kids: the lives and labours of Anglo-Indian adolescents resettled in New Zealand between 1908 and 1938) last year, and also the MA theses of Nic MacArthur (Gold rush and gold mining: a technological analysis of Gabriel’s Gully and the Blue Spur, 1861-1891)  and Christine Mulligan (The Dunedin Hospital art collection: architecture, space and wellbeing).  All delved into our archives and publications collections – we saw a lot of Daniel, Jill and Nic in particular. Then there were all the BA (Hons) dissertations. History and art history students found material in our collections on a wide range of topics for these in 2014: pensions, shipboard writing, Smithells and physical education, women in the police, Philip Trusttum, Maori divorce, surveyor John Turnbull Thomson, US intelligence, female assisted migrants and Robin Morrison.

Of course, not all our student researchers are from the University of Otago, or even from New Zealand. We have met postgrads from Canada, the United States, Japan, England, Australia and the Czech Republic over recent times. In 2013 Hocken researchers completed dissertations in several Canadian and Australian universities. We aren’t aware of any who graduated in 2014, but we’re keeping an eye out!

Several students from other New Zealand universities completed theses based on significant research at the Hocken. Genevieve De Pont read lots of Hocken diaries for her Auckland PhD, ‘Tourists like ourselves’: New Zealanders’ international travel diaries and their journeys, 1919-1963,  and Joanna Bishop used our archives for her Waikato PhD, The role of medicinal plants in New Zealand’s settler medical culture, 1850s-1920s.  Claire Le Couteur also delved into our archives for her Canterbury PhD, Dentist, doctor, dean: Professor Sir Charles Hercus and his record of fostering research at the Otago Medical School, 1921-1958. Rachel Patrick of Victoria University of Wellington based her entire thesis – An unbroken connection? New Zealand families, duty, and the First World War  – on our large collection of archives of the Downie Stewart family. We’ve seen quite a bit of Vic post-grad students in recent years; others who graduated in 2014 were Nicholas Hoare (New Zealand’s “critics of empire”: domestic opposition to New Zealand’s Pacific empire, 1883-1948) , Erin Keenan (Maori urban migrations and identities, “Ko nga iwi nuku whenua”: a study of urbanisation in the Wellington region during the twentieth century),  Rebecca McLaughlan (One dose of architecture, taken daily: building for mental health in New Zealand)  and Richard Thomson (At home with New Zealand in the 1960s).  Material from the Hocken also appeared in the dissertations of a couple of Massey University graduates, Tupu Williams (Te Poihipi Tūkairangi: te poutokomanawa o Ngāti Ruingārangi/the central support post of his hapū Ngāti Ruingārangi)  and Annabel Wilson (From Aspiring to ‘Paradise’: the South Island myth and its enemies. A critical and creative investigation into the (de)construction of Aotearoa’s Lakes District).

Our hearty congratulations to everybody who graduated in 2014! We salute your hard work, your contribution to knowledge and the creative use you have made of our collections.

Hocken Collections in the news!

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Well actually not so much the Hocken in the news but the work of some of the wonderful researchers who use the Hocken Collections.

Firstly Professor Judy Bennett of the Otago History Department and Tim Bayliss-Smith of St John’s College Cambridge have published a very readable book based on the diary of William Crossan, which is held here at the Hocken. Crossan was a copra trader in the Solomon Islands in 1885-6. Read about it in the Otago Bulletin. And you can download and read the book from the Australian University E-Press too.

Next two stories on our own staff member Dr Ali Clarke, Ali works for the Hocken part-time as a Reference Assistant, and is also an historian with three monographs and several journal articles and book chapters to her name.

We are very pleased that Ali has been appointed to research and write the University’s history in time for the sesquicentennial celebrations in 2019. Read all about it in the Otago Bulletin and the Otago Daily Times

And don’t forget to check out Ali’s research blog University of Otago 1869-2019 – wiritng a history.

And there is also Dr Jenny Burchell who has been researching the history of the City Choir Dunedin for a book to be published next year. See the story in the Otago Daily Times.

Well done everyone!

 

 

Pacific Island Treasure and Mystery at the Hocken

Friday, August 2nd, 2013 | Anna Blackman | 4 Comments

Post prepared by Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs

Rapa Nui (Easter Island) has never exactly been a popular topic for researchers at the Hocken as far as I know but in 2009, Dr Paul Horley of Yuri Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University in Ukraine wrote to inquire as to whether we had any photographs of rongorongo tablets from this small island on the other side of the Pacific.  I began my search feeling far from optimistic and was surprised to find that we hold ten albumen prints of Easter Island artefacts.  What is more, one of them turned out to be of exactly what Paul Horley was looking for.

Keiti, albumen print, Pacific Islands Collection, SO9.274a

Little over two dozen rongorongo tablets have been documented around the world (some are of questionable authenticity).  They are remains of a unique script thought to have evolved on the island sometime between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries.[1]  Catholic missionaries in the mid nineteenth century first recognised their value as evidence of an advanced Polynesian civilisation.[2]  By then the indigenous people no longer knew the meaning of the glyphs carved on wood but they called these tablets ‘kohau rongorongo’ or ‘singing wood’[3] and scholars continue to debate their translation.

Dr Horley identified the Hocken photograph as being of the tablet known as Keiti, which has been interpreted in relation to the Rapa Nui lunar calendar in three recent papers published in the Journal de la Societe des Oceanistes in 2011.[4]  The original artefact, which measured 39 x 13 cm, was sent by Tepano Jaussen, Bishop of Tahiti, to Europe in 1888 and destroyed in a fire during World War I at the library of l’Université Catholique at Louvain, Belgium.[5]

Just a few original photographs of Keiti remain and how the Hocken came to hold one remains a mystery in itself.  Paul Horley, who continues to research the subject, knows of two sets of photographs taken before the tablet was destroyed. ‘One set of photographs was made under direct light with the glyphs filled in with a white substance to improve the contrast (these images are in the collection of the Congregation of the Sacred Hears of Jesus and Mary, Rome).  The second set of photographs was made under slanted light, and the photograph that you have, showing the recto side of the tablet, belongs to this set.  The other copies of these pictures can be found in the National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution; Library and Archives of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu; Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.  Some of these images are later prints…’.[6]

One piece of information that we have been able to add to the store of knowledge is that the Hocken photograph of Keiti may have been taken by the photographer Charles Spitz (1857-1894), who had a studio in Papeete.  As mentioned above, the print is one of a collection of ten and the mounts of some of the others are stamped with the words ‘Collection of J.L. Young’.  James Lyle Young (1849-1929) lived in Papeete from 1882 to 1929 while working in the trading business.[7]  He collected and later gave most of the other Easter Island artefacts recorded in the photographs to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu in 1920 and they also hold prints of these.   Several of the Hocken photographs reveal parts of Spitz’s studio mark either showing through from the back or shining on the surface.

Rapa Nui Figurines, albumen print, Pacific Islands Collection S13-201

The collection of Easter Island photographs at the Hocken bear no old accession numbers so one can only guess about how they entered the collection.  A possible source was H.D. Skinner, best known as a past Curator and Director of the Otago Museum but also one-time Librarian of the Hocken (1919-1926).  The Museum then housed the Library and is another Dunedin institution fortunate enough to hold a Rapa Nui treasure in the form of a moai (large stone statue), registered in 1929.[8]


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rongorongo (accessed 22 July 2013).

[2] For a comprehensive history see Steven Roger Fischer, Rongorongo, the Easter Island Script: history, tradition, texts, Oxford, 1997.

[3] Werner Wolff, ‘The Mystery of the Easter Island Script’, Journal of the Polynesian Society, 54, no.1 (1945), p.1.

[4] Rafal M. Wieczorek,  ‘Astronomical Content in Rongorongo Tablet Keiti’, Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 132 (2011), pp. 5-16; Paul Horley, ‘Lunar calendar in rongorongo texts and rock art of Easter Island’, Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 132 (2011), pp. 17-37; Konstantin Pozdniakov, ‘Tablet Keiti and calendar-like structures in Rapanui script’, Journal de la Société des Océanistes, 132 (2011), pp. 39-74.

[5] Fischer, pp.435-6.

[6] Paul Horley to the writer, email correspondence 10 April 2013.

[7] Biographical note, James Lyle Young – Papers, 1879-1929, State Library of New South Wales online catalogue.

[8] Moira White to the writer, email correspondence 3 May 2013.

Some sources for southern Maori dialect

Thursday, July 7th, 2011 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

As this week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori a post on Te Reo in the south is timely. The Hocken Collections is privileged to care for several taoka (treasures) documenting the unique words heard in various parts of the South Island.

James Watkin’s small notebook includes word lists he compiled as he struggled with learning the language at Waikouaiti in 1840. He was already fluent in Tongan and had studied texts supplied to him that had been written in the North Island and was disappointed to find how difficult he found it to understand the language spoken in the South Island when he arrived on 15 May 1840. By 5 June he had compiled 400 words in the notebook with the assistance of the local chief, Haereroa. The notebook was part of his attempt to make sense of the local dialect and is undoubtedly influenced by his knowledge of Tongan. The original was given to Dr Hocken by a descendent of Watkin and photocopies are available for research use.

As a result of Watkin’s struggles with the language, he compiled He Puka Ako I Te Korero Maori which was printed at the Wesleyan Mission at Mangungu in 1841. Surviving copies of this publication are extremely rare, of the 3000 printed we know there is one in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington and one in the National Library of Australia in Canberra. Hocken holds photocopies only, butiIf anyone knows of other original copies of the booklet we would love to know! In 1994 Ray Harlow and Otago Heritage Books published an extremely useful facsimile of He Puka Ako I Te Korero Maori, and this is more widely distributed in libraries. Harlow’s little book also includes discussion and translation of the features of the language documented in Watkin’s booklet.


James Watkin’s word list (MS-0031) and Ray Harlow’s book reproducing He Puka Ako I Te Korero Maori

Ray Harlow has also published a more extensive book, A Word List of South Island Maori, which draws on wider sources to create an annotated list of distinctively southern Maori words. On pages xxiii and xxiv Harlow gives a list of sources for southern dialect words including:

The journal of John Boultbee

Boultbee was a young man who spent much time with sealing crews in and around Fiordland and Foveaux Strait in 1826-1828. Hocken holds a microfilm copy of the original manuscript (held at the Alexander Turnbull Library) but most readers may find the published versions more accessible. There is Journal of a rambler : the journal of John Boultbee, edited by June Starke, and The World of John Boultbee by Drs A.C. Begg and N.C. Begg. Both of these books include transcripts of Boultbee’s vocabulary list. The Beggs note that Boultbee’s phonetic spelling echoes that of George Forster, who recorded the Maori names of the natural history specimens he drew and painted at Dusky Sound in 1773. Probably Forster’s is the first attempt to phonetically record southern Maori words.

Edward Shortland’s journal of his trip through the South Island in 1840

This was published as –The Southern Districts of New Zealand : a Journal, with Passing Notices of the Customs of the Aborigines – and is available online from the NZ Electronic Text Centre, as well as in many libraries. This includes a vocabulary of the “Kaitahu” dialect starting on page 305. The original journals were acquired by Dr Hocken and photocopies are available for research at the Hocken.

Octavius Harwood’s papers

These include two items of interest. Firstly a short letter that appears to be written by “John White” or the chief Karetai, addressed to Te Raki concerning a boat. The letter is undated but Karetai died in 1860. The second interesting item is a list of parts of the body in one of Harwood’s notebooks (MS-0438/005). The list appears after several pages of notes from Kendall’s 1820 grammar and phrase book and features spelling more akin to Boultbee’s than Kendall’s. For example the word for hair – usually “huruhuru” – is spelt “huduhudu”, and that for nails – usually “maikuku” – is spelt “muttacook” giving some indication that the words Harwood was hearing were pronounced differently at Otakou than in the North Island. This notebook dates from 1839-1840.

Karetai’s letter (MS-0438/163)

Octavius Harwood’s list of the names of parts of the body (MS-0438/005)

It is worth noting here that Maori orthography was not completely standardised in the 19th century and varying phonetic spellings were common in written Maori throughout New Zealand.

James Herries Beattie

Beattie’s notebooks contain word lists, place names lists etc. Beattie donated his extensive collection of research papers to the Hocken in several batches during the 1950s, 1960s and in 1972. Beattie collected his information during the 20th century by conducting extensive interviews with many informants, and perhaps documents a different era from the earlier sources. For more information on Beattie’s work see Athol Anderson’s biography in Te Ara – http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4b16/1. The Hocken hold copies of Beattie’s publications as well as his papers.

Soldiers diaries and letters

Thursday, April 21st, 2011 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Behind the downstairs reference desk at the Hocken are some shelves where each week’s newly acquired books are kept for staff to familiarise themselves with what is newly published. In the lead up to Anzac Day each year there are often books relating to New Zealand’s experience of war, and in particular the First and Second World Wars. The stand out book on the shelf last week was Glyn Harper’s latest, Letters from Gallipoli : New Zealand Soldiers Write Home. Professor Harper has collected together and edited the letters of many soldiers to tell the story of Gallipoli in a kind of collective first person account.

Letters from Gallipoli includes letters that are held at the Hocken Collections. We are grateful to many Otago soldier’s letters and diaries which have been generously donated by families. We would welcome further donations of soldier’s papers and photographs, not just relating to the First and Second World Wars but all wars that New Zealanders have experienced. These kinds of papers are the primary sources for books such as Professor Harper’s, and they are also regularly used by University of Otago students for their studies. Apart from post-grads researching and writing theses, Professor Tom Brooking’s HIST 105 paper focuses on the ANZAC’s and their legacy, students of this paper make intensive use of some of the soldier’s papers cared for at the Hocken.

A selection of soldiers papers from the Hocken Collections

To hear more about Professor Harper’s research and the book listen to Radio NZ online
2009 interview (half way through research)
2011 interview (project finished)

War is almost certainly the most popular topic for historical research in New Zealand after family history. And so often family history is entertwined with war history. This keen interest is undoubtedly because of New Zealander’s close personal involvement in these wars. Almost every NZ family in the early to mid 20th century had at least one or more family member(s) in the armed forces and even if they didn’t their daily lives were greatly effected by what was happening.

The Hocken Collections is well resourced to meet this interest and has produced a series of subject guides to assist researchers. The guides are available in PDF form from the Guides page of our website. There are five guides covering the NZ Wars 1840s, NZ Wars 1860s-1870s, South African War, World War I and World War II.

Post prepared by Anna Blackman, Curator of Archives and Manuscripts

Hocken Snapshop of photographs from the Library’s collections goes live

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

The Hocken has just launched a new online service making the photographic collections housed at the Hocken Library more accessible to remote users.

Over 33,000 images have been digitized, relating to people and places from all over New Zealand.  A small portion of the Hocken’s large shipping collection is also included.  Copies of the images are available for purchase over the internet and a zoom function greatly assists in the use of the photographs for research purposes.

Emails from readers are already arriving on a daily basis confirming that the site is proving an instant success.  Coupled with the fact that the Photographs Collection database is also now available online, people are more able to see for themselves what we hold and direct specific questions and requests to staff.

The Hocken Snapshop link is as follows:

http://hockensnapshop.ac.nz/

Children from Milton School visiting Thomson & Co. factory in Dunedin by E.A. Phillips, Dudley Collection, Photographs, Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago. S10-243c.

Post prepared by Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs.

Interesting use of photographs of Cargill’s Castle

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

The Otago Daily Times recently published the story of Warren Justice and his scale model of Cargill’s Castle

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/119111/cargills-castle-model-completed

Warren based his model on historical photographs of the well known landmark (also known as the Cliffs) which he found at the Hocken. While researchers use information from the Hocken for a wide variety of purposes this is probably one of the more unusual. It’s good to hear that the Cargill’s Castle Trust may be able to use the model in its’ work towards the preservation of the Castle.