Naming the Unknown Soldier

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

​Post by Anna Petersen, Curator Photographs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Signs of COVID

Sunday, April 19th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Nick Austin. Nick is a General Assistant at the Hocken. He is also a practicing artist.

I spent my Easter break delving into a stack of issues of the Listener (ranging between 1987 – 1990) found in the garage during a lockdown tidy up. With the sudden closure of Bauer Media Group this month (the Listener’s most-recent publisher – and of many other household titles too, of course), I could only read with my Covid-19 glasses on.

Below is a selection of ‘clippings’ assembled to form a narrative of this moment, derived from this lockdown browsing. It is interesting to me how some images rhyme closely with issues now. (What lessons we might take from the economic turmoil of the late 1980s when forming Covid responses, though, it is not my intention here to suggest – as useful as that subject may be.) Others clearly have nothing to do with Covid-19 but I can’t help making associations. My selection reflects, I hope, the exhausting omnipresence of the virus and its implications right now.

*The Listener was published from 1973 – 2020. It succeeded the New Zealand Listener (1939-1973); N.Z. Radio Record: and Home Journal (1932-1939); The Radio Record (1927 – 1932). Hocken Collections has significant holdings of most of these titles. A former Hocken staff member posted this article in 2014, on the occasion of the publication’s 75th anniversary. Her conclusion still stands:

“Unfortunately, Hocken’s holdings of the Listener’s first three years are extremely sparse … and we also have many gaps in later years. We will gratefully receive donations of early issues – please contact the Periodicals team (serials.hocken@otago.ac.nz) for details of collection gaps.”

v.121: no.2526 (1988: July 30) p46

 

v.122: no.2543 (1988: Nov. 26) p136

v.116: no.2469 (1987: June 20) pp88-89

From a column by A K Grant on suggestions to convert of hospitals into State-Owned Enterprises. Drawing by Dave Johnstone. v.118: no.2489 (1987: Oct. 31) p60.

v.126: no.2606 (1990: Feb. 19) p31

v.123: no.2561 (1989: April 8) pp86-87

v.128: no.2642 (1990: Nov. 5) p18

v.116: no.2469 (1987: June 20) p61

v.116: no.2469 (1987: June 20) p78

v.121: no.2530 (1988: Aug. 27) p119

From an article by Sally Zwartz, “University challenge”, on Massey University’s broadcasting of programs to accompany extramural courses. Drawing by Simon Letch. v.120: no.2510 (1988: April 2) p29

v.122: no.2538 (1988: Oct. 22) p24

v.127: no.2623 (1990: June 18) p108

From a column by Denis Welch, “Airline fracture”, on the privatisation of Air New Zealand. Drawing by Trace Hodgson. v.122: no.2541 (1988: Nov. 12) p15

v.122: no.2545 (1988: Dec. 10) p25

v.123: no.2550 (1989: Jan 21) p16

From a column by A K Grant on the societal effects of ‘predictions’. Drawing by Dave Johnstone. v.126: no.2612 (1990: April 2) p93

From an article by Sue McAuley, recording another woman’s experiences of living alone. Original photograph by Peter Black. v.123: no.2554 (1989: Feb. 18) p45

From an article by David Barber, “Selling Labour”, on Finance Minister David Caygill’s re-election campaign. Original photograph by Jane Ussher. v.126: no.2607 (1990: Feb. 26) p22

Secret business: Cablegram codes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

[1] Wairarapa Age, 21 July 1909.

[2] Waikato Times, 29 June 1925.

[3] Clutha Leader, 3 May 1912.

[4] Press, 5 July 1926.

References

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

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

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

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

 

Kia ora koutou!

Thursday, March 26th, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Kia ora koutou,

Although Hocken is closed while Aotearoa manages the Covid-19 crisis, our catalogues and online resources remain available. Our staff will be working from home to respond to enquiries as best they can at a distance so let us know what we can do to help.

Use the staff contact information available on our website and check our Facebook page for updates and news.

https://www.otago.ac.nz/library/hocken/

For general enquiries hocken@otago.ac.nz

Researcher Services reference.hocken@otago.ac.nz

Pictorial collection enquiries photos.hocken@otago.ac.nz

Archives collection enquiries archives.hocken@otago.ac.nz

If you are unable to access Hakena email archives.hocken@otago.ac.nz

Requests that require access to our onsite collections or to our equipment are unable to be fulfilled until our premises reopen.

We are unable to accept deposits of either physical or digital material but we welcome enquiries about deposits in the future.

Besides answering your enquiries we will be using this time to work on other tasks that will enhance access to the Hocken Collections in the future, such as transcribing key archival texts and geotagging images on Snapshop.

If you need to get in touch with us please be patient — response times may be a bit longer than usual.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to the University of Otago Information Technology Staff for going way above and beyond to help an entire University move to online delivery of services.

Kia kaha, kia manawanui, kia tūpato, kia atawhai tētahi ki tētahi

Be strong in body and spirit, be careful and be kind to each other.

Timothy Peter Garrity, 1931-2020

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

With sadness we record the death of Tim Garrity. Moe mai ra e hoa.

Tim held the position of Curator of Pictures at the Hocken for almost twenty years, from 1978 to 1997. His background in philosophy and skills as an artist equipped him well to carry out the variety of duties in this role, and he developed relationships with the visual arts community which greatly benefited the Library, developing the collection and creating important links with key practitioners.

Born in London, Tim arrived in New Zealand in 1948. He began his career as a painter; this led him to travel extensively overseas after study in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. He worked with Colin McCahon between 1962 and 1963 and represented New Zealand at the 1963 Paris Biennale.

Tim administered the Auckland Gallery’s Research Library from 1975 until the end of 1977, when he left to come to Dunedin. As a respected artist with an international reputation, Tim could establish a rapport with other artists who then gave material to the Hocken Pictures Collection or involved him in supporting written or other projects. Tim’s own researches led to the writing of a chronology of Dunedin art collector and philanthropist Rodney Kennedy for the publication The Kennedy Gift: Rodney Kennedy (1909-1989).

An interest in McCahon’s work was maintained throughout his working life and he wrote the introduction to the Hocken Library’s publication listing all the McCahon holdings entitled A Tribute to Colin McCahon 1919-1987. Tim also produced James Brown, caricaturist: a complete catalogue of the paintings, drawings and lithographs by James Brown (1818-1877) in the Hocken Library, and wrote the note introducing John Buchanan as an artist, in John Buchanan: artist botanist and explorer, a catalogue of his pictures in the Hocken Library, which was published to accompany an exhibition of Buchanan’s work in 1988. Another publication from that year, Geometric, abstract and minimalist painting at the Hocken, shows Tim’s approach to curating an exhibition exploring aspects of the Hocken collection which are less well-known.

Tim’s enthusiastic encouragement of first-hand study of the collection meant that he was greatly appreciated by Otago’s artists as well as by researchers from further afield. Tim was always unstintingly generous with his own time and knowledge.

Image: Timothy Peter Garrity 1987. George Griffiths photographer, ref: 99-182/051B.

Miscreant Mollusks: A look into the relationship between Bluff Oysters and Typhoid Fever with reference to the Muttonbirding Industry.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

The second of our series from Practising History (HIST 353) students, this is Shinay Singh’s response to an Otago Preventive Medicine dissertation. An invaluable primary source of New Zealand medical and social history, the Preventive Medicine dissertation collection comprises more than three thousand public health projects written by fifth-year medical students from the 1920s to the late 1970s. Topics range from studies on current health issues, such as asthma, to health surveys of various occupational groups and of New Zealand towns and Maori. Permission is required to access the dissertations. An index to the dissertations is available.

Typhoid fever was and still is a serious illness for anyone to contract. In 1932 two fifth year medical students, L.P. Clark and R.J. McGill, conducted a public health survey of the Bluff township looking at the sanitary standards of industries associated with Bluff, specifically the oyster industry.

In 1929 news articles of six cases of typhoid fever outbreaks in Christchurch were suggested to link back to the consumption of Bluff oysters. The Bluff oyster industry was about to go international with refrigerated live and canned oysters. This potentially serious health risk, therefore, needed to be examined more closely.

Public Response

Strong denial was the response to the accusation that the source of the outbreak lay in the consumption of Bluff oysters. An Invercargill man called it all ‘bunkum’, that it was the housewives who “often keep them a week and expect them to remain good.”[1] The fact that the oysters were “kept in good salt-water”[2] at the wharves in Bluff Harbour was used to suggest they were healthy. Professor Hardman and Professor Boyce had done research into disease and oysters in 1899 and found that oysters could carry bacteria for up to 10 days. The lifespan of the bacteria could apparently be inhibited by pouring salt-water over them or storing them in pure water.[3] The fact that sewage contaminated the Harbour may have increased the likelihood of contamination.

Oyster Harvesting

The oyster season occurred from February 1st to September 30th. The students Clark and McGill were able to go on board the ‘Wetere’ oyster boat to observe the oyster harvesting process. An average of 80 sacks were yielded a day with each sack containing about 70 dozen oysters. The oysters were dredged up from the Foveaux Strait oyster beds and piled onto the deck of the boat. Clark and McGill noted the men standing all over the pile of oysters as a potential contamination point. The oysters were then brought back to Bluff Harbour and stored below the wharves in a pile for transportation to the local cannery or to buyers who wanted fresh oysters.

Oyster boat with fishermen standing on pile of oysters. ODT Collection. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/11281.

 

Canning Process

Oysters were brought in from the wharf on carts to the cannery. They were opened by employees, then sent to be washed in a kauri tub. They were then canned in half pound tins that held around 18 oysters per tin. In the tin they were sent through a hot box with steam pipes that both sterilised, and partially cooked the oysters. The tins were stored in an incubation room at 38°C. Clark and McGill noted that this was the most sanitary way of shipping oysters. Any water contamination was prevented by the high heat of the hot box steam pipes.

Muttonbirding

Muttonbird harvesting was and still is restricted to Māori who have claims to the industry. The season began on March 18th of every year and everyone must be off the islands by the end of May. Oyster boats took them to the Muttonbird Islands to harvest. In exchange for this, the captains of the oyster boats received a kit of muttonbirds. Each kit could hold about 3 dozen muttonbirds. They packed the birds into kits, inside these kits were kelp bags. The oils of the birds filled the bag, acting as a preservative. Clark and McGill were highly suspicious of contamination, but there was no evidence that anyone had been contaminated by muttonbirds. Thousands of muttonbirds were collected in the season. The kits were sent around New Zealand in cheese wagons to go to shops or individuals for sale.

 

Materials used in packing kits of mutton birds for marketing: kelp blades blown up to form bags, protecting the kits when full, 1927. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/16790.

Medical Students Findings

Clark and McGill found that sewage was being disposed of into Bluff Harbour at low tide. The high tide took the sewage by the flood tide to the Foveaux Strait oyster beds. Oysters are filter feeders and so they would consume the small particles of faeces and those who ate the oysters raw were at risk of getting infected with disease as this was how it was spread. The sewage of Bluff residents coming from the flood tide created a volatile combination that could potentially have allowed for the spread of typhoid.

Bluff Harbour. Hocken Collections Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/2155.

Medical Students Suggestions

Clark and McGill suggested holding the sewage for 13 days until diseased bacteria died. They also suggested heating the sewage to 65°C to sterilise it. They argued for some sort of sewage treatment before being released into the ocean. Diseases could survive in salt-water for 11-25 days. By treating the sewage this could be reduced to 3-5 days. Bacteria could survive in unsterilised seawater for 3 weeks and could survive in an oyster for 5-6 days.

The students suggested a water carrying system that would go to a pumping station located in the Ocean Beach neighbourhood to remove the town sewage. Then it could be pumped into Foveaux Strait well away from the Harbour. It wouldn’t be until the mid-1960s that Bluff would have a sewage pumping system that would do just as Clark and McGill suggested.[4] And it was much later, in the 1990s, that the sewage being released was treated.[5]

The Oyster Industry Today

There are higher sanitary standards in the Bluff oyster industry today. It is now the oysters themselves that are at risk of disease. Bonamia exitiosa is a waterborne parasite that was found in the Foveaux Strait in 1986. Between 1986 and 1992, 89% of the oyster population was killed.[6] The population was closed off in 1993 to let them repopulate and was opened again in 1996.[7] Since 2016 Bonamia infection levels have been low and oyster populations have been recovering with close monitoring by the Ministry of Fisheries.[8]

 

[1] “All Bunkum”, Evening Post, 17 October 1929.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Oysters and Disease”, Evening Star, 3 June 1899.

[4] “Sewage treatment and disposal”. Invercargill City Council, accessed 3 August 2019, https://icc.govt.nz/infrastructure/sewage-treatment-and-disposal/.

[5] Ibid.

[6] H.J. Cranfield, A. Dunn, I. J. Doonan, K.P. Michael, “Bonamia exitiosa epizootic in Ostrea chilensis from Foveaux Strait, southern New Zealand between 1986 and 1992”, Journal of Marine Science 62, no.1 (2005): 3.

[7] K. P. Michael, J. Forman, D. Hulston, D. Fu, “The status of infection by bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in Foveaux Strait oysters (Ostrea chilensis), changes in the distributions and densities of recruit, pre-recruit, and small oysters in February 2010, and projections of disease mortality,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2011/5, (2011): 5.

[8] K.P. Michael, J. Bilewitch, J. Forman, D. Hulston, J. Sutherland, G. Moss, K. Large, “A survey of the Foveaux Strait oyster (Ostrea chilensis) population (OYU 5) in commercial fishery areas and the status of Bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in February 2018,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2019/02, (2019): 2.

 

Bibliography

“All Bunkum”. Evening Post. 17 October 1929.

Clark, L.P. and McGill, R.J.  “A public health survey of the Bluff with special reference to the Oyster industry” (5th Year Medical Diss. The University of Otago. 1932).

Conn, Ailsa. “The Importance of Norovirus and Cadmium in Shellfish and Implications to Human Health”. (MA. Thes. University of Canterbury, 2010).

Cranfield, H.J.  Dunn, A. Doonan, I. J. Michael,K.P. “Bonamia exitiosa epizootic in Ostrea chilensis from Foveaux Strait, southern New Zealand between 1986 and 1992”. Journal of Marine Science 62, no.1 (2005) 3-13.

“Oysters and Disease”. Evening Star. 3 June 1899.

“Sewage treatment and disposal”. Invercargill City Council. Accessed 3 August 2019. https://icc.govt.nz/infrastructure/sewage-treatment-and-disposal/.

Michael, K.P. Bilewitch, J. Forman, J. Hulston, D. Sutherland, J. Moss, G. Large, K.

“A survey of the Foveaux Strait oyster (Ostrea chilensis) population (OYU 5) in commercial fishery areas and the status of Bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in February  2018,” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2019/02, (2019).

Michael, K. P. Forman, J. Hulston, D. Fu, D. “The status of infection by bonamia (Bonamia exitiosa) in Foveaux Strait oysters (Ostrea chilensis), changes in the distributions and densities of recruit, pre-recruit, and small oysters in February 2010, and projections of disease mortality.” New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2011/5. (2011).

Images

Oyster boat, ODT Collection. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin,

https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/11281.

 

Oyster boats, Bluff, Southland, 1935. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New

Zealand, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/30657435.

 

Materials used in packing kits of mutton birds for Marketing: Kelp leaves blown up to

form bags, protecting the kits when full, 1927. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/16790.

 

Bluff Harbour. Hocken Library, University of Otago, Dunedin, https://hocken.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/2155.

 

 

 

 

 

Stirring up the stacks #6 – pumpkin pie

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Andrew Lorey, Collections Assistant (Researcher Services)

I faced a daunting challenge as I started thinking about what to cook for my contribution to the Hocken Collections ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’ series. Over the last year my colleagues have fermented sauerkraut from scratch, deciphered German-language cooking notes, recreated 1960s party starters, provided a perfectly prepared peach parfait, and concocted lovely jelly-stabilised variety salads for vegans and omnivores alike.

I would describe myself as an unskilled cook at even the best of times, and as such, I struggled to think of a dish that I could contribute to a morning tea or lunchtime without subjecting my workmates to bland tastes and unpalatable textures. As you might expect, I ended up thinking about the types of foods that I enjoy, and particularly the types of dishes that my parents and grandparents cooked when I was a child growing up in America.

 

Figure 1 – Two Hocken Collections cookbooks offering recipes of ‘American Dishes for New Zealand’.1, 2

Different Cultures and Different Cuisines

It is an indisputable fact that all of us have our own personal favourite foods, whether they come in the form of hāngī, vegetarian dishes featuring perfectly cooked tofu or after-dinner treats like ginger nuts and vanilla ice cream. But food plays a much more important role in our lives than simply providing us with nutritional nourishment and energy. I think Emma Johnson captures the multi-dimensional importance of food in her introduction to Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa:

Food is a confluence of things: a web of weather systems; the lay of the land; stories of arrival, trade, economics and politics; histories and empires; domestic and urban practices. It is all connected and culminates in each of us. All of these systems, stories and politics become deeply personal, as food becomes part of us.3 (emphasis added)

In an increasingly global world, it may come as no surprise that people are consuming increasingly global foods. Recent census statistics published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa show that 27.4 per cent of the people residing in New Zealand during the 2018 Census were born outside of the country4, and it follows that most New Zealand immigrants have transported their home countries’ cuisines along with them. When reflecting upon my own identity as an immigrant, I realised that it would be interesting to search for cookbooks at the Hocken Collections that provide instructions for dishes that may not traditionally be associated with New Zealand.

Figure 2 – This adaptation of a figure published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa illustrates the proportions of New Zealand immigrants as reported during the 2018 Census.5

I am pleased to say that I did not have any trouble finding cookbooks related to the immigrant experience here at the Hocken Collections. Interestingly, I found a series of cookbooks published by Wellington’s Price Milburn publishing house between the late 1950s and early 1970s that provided recipes from a wide variety of international cuisines. The two American recipe books shown in Figure 1 come from this Price Milburn series, but the publisher also included volumes dedicated to Chinese, Turkish, French and South East Asian dishes.

Figure 3 – Wellington-based publishing house Price Milburn published a series of cookbooks catering to international tastes between the late 1950s and early 1970s.6, 7, 8, 9

Although it is uncertain whether actual New Zealand immigrants were involved with the creation of this Price Milburn series or whether the recipes were put together by New Zealanders who were simply interested in international cuisines, it is clear that an appreciation of international flavours and food literature has persisted in the decades following the Price Milburn publications. For example, recent books like Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar10, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific11 and “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book12 celebrate and explore the many layers of meaning that exist within the flavours of immigrant experience.

Bringing together dishes from countries as diverse as Rwanda, Chile, Sweden, Vietnam and Vanuatu, books such as these showcase the many vibrant culinary cultures that exist both inside and outside New Zealand while also telling the stories of particular people from particular places. As Therese O’Connell states in her introduction to Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar, “food, the preparation and sharing of it, consistently plays a fundamental role in each of the cultures we encounter.” It was precisely this fondness for sharing that led me to prepare a dish that pays homage to the culturally American cuisine that I grew up with – the not-too-savoury and not-too-sweet pumpkin pie.

As American as… Pumpkin Pie?

Pumpkin pie is a popular American dessert during autumn, particularly during the months of November and December, when many people observe holidays like Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November) and Christmas. During my recipe search, I consulted three separate cookbooks that included recipes for pumpkin pie in a quest to discover the finest list of ingredients and the most fool-proof instructions. Although one of the recipes came from a ‘foods demonstration’ undertaken by the University of Otago Department of University Extension13, I ultimately decided to use a recipe for ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ that appeared in one of the Price Milburn booklets shown in Figure 1.

Figure 4 – American recipes for Thanksgiving, including the instructions used for the ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ eaten recently at the Hocken Collections.

Hot Pumpkin Pie

8 oz [227 g] flour
2 oz [57 g] butter
2 oz [57 g] lard
½ teaspoon salt
cold water
1½ cups [368 g] mashed cooked pumpkin
2 eggs
6 oz [170 g] brown sugar
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup [237 ml] milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

METHOD:—Sift flour with salt and rub in butter and lard. Cut in just sufficient cold water to bind to a stiff paste. Turn out and roll and line a pie plate with one inch overlapping. Turn overlapping edge under. Prick the bottom and bake for ten minutes in a fairly hot oven, then fill and return to bake for a further three-quarters of an hour in a more moderate oven, until the filling is set and browned. To make the filling, steam pumpkin until tender and sieve enough to make 1½ cups puree. Beat in eggs, brown sugar, spices, and milk. Turn into pie shell and dust with additional nutmeg.

 

As you can see, the recipe provides instructions for making both the pie crust (using the first five ingredients) and the filling (using the final eight ingredients). The instructions do, however leave some things open for interpretation when it comes to the quantity of cold water necessary to create the perfect crust and the cooking temperatures that should be used in the oven (I could not locate settings for ‘fairly hot’ or ‘more moderate’ on my oven at home…). Where possible, I have calculated metric conversions for the ingredients and included those above.

Although the recipe does not explain this portion of pumpkin pie preparations, I began my cooking by washing my pumpkins under cool water, slicing them in half, scooping out the seeds and roasting them for about 60 minutes at 170˚C. To decide whether they were ready to be sieved, drained and pureed, I tried to pierce their rinds with the tines of a fork.

Waiting for your pumpkins to soften in the oven provides ample time to make the pie crust, although I must confess that I had saved some pre-made shortcrust in the freezer for this occasion. If you have a tried-and-tested family recipe for pie crusts, then you should feel free to use that too!

After pre-baking your pie crust if you wish (see the recipe method above) and creating your pumpkin mash puree, then the rest of the recipe is quite straightforward. Just beat in eggs, brown sugar, milk and spices (I doubled the suggested amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger), fill up your pie crust with this mixture and then cook for about 60 minutes (or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean) at 175˚C.

Figure 5 – One of the two pumpkin pies cooked as part of this instalment of ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’.

Reactions from colleagues about the pumpkin pies that I prepared were generally favourable, although several comments did remark that sweet pumpkin dishes remain somewhat foreign to the New Zealand palate:

“Transcendent”
“Delicious! A lovely blend of spices”
“Texture was a fluffy dream!!”
“Is it a main? Is it dessert? Could be both. All day eating.”
“I still find the concept of pumpkin as a sweet dish hard to wrap my head around, but this pumpkin pie was delicious!”
“Best pumpkin pie!”
“Yum!”

It seems fitting that this blog post has been published only shortly after Thanksgiving, and I hope that many of you who read it decide to give this recipe a try!

Figure 6 – I think one of my colleagues put it best when she said, “Yum!”.

[1] Elizabeth Messenger’s American Dishes for New Zealand (1962). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[2] American Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[3] Johnson, Emma (2017). Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa. Christchurch: Freerange Press.
[4] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). 2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights. https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/2018-census-totals-by-topic-national-highlights[5] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). New Zealand as a village of 100 people. https://www.stats.govt.nz/infographics/new-zealand-as-a-village-of-100-people-2018-census-data[6] 50 Chinese Dishes you can make (1958). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[7] Harris, Patricia (n.d.). Fit for a Sultan: Turkish Food for Other Kitchens. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[8] French Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[9] Heuer, Berys (n.d.). South East Asian Dishes for New Zealand. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited
[10] Reid, Robyn (1999). Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar: refugees and immigrants talk about their lives and food. Wellington: Wellington ESOL Home Tutor Service Inc.
[11] Oliver, Robert (2010). Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific. Auckland: Random House New Zealand.
[12] Refugee and Migrant Service (1998). “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: Refugee & Migrant Service.
[13] University of Otago Department of University Extension (n.d.). Ideas from Overseas American Food. Foods Demonstration. Dunedin: University of Otago.

What else have we cooked up?

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

 

Soothing Springs or Putrid Pools?

Monday, November 18th, 2019 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Practising History (HIST 353) student Sam Bocock wrote this blog in response to reading an Otago Preventive Medicine dissertation. An invaluable primary source of New Zealand medical and social history, the Preventive Medicine dissertation collection comprises more than three thousand public health projects written by fifth-year medical students from the 1920s to the late 1970s. Topics range from studies on current health issues, such as asthma, to health surveys of various occupational groups and of New Zealand towns and Maori. Permission is required to access the dissertations. An index to the dissertations is available.

Soothing Springs or Putrid Pools?

Imagine a bone rattling, teeth chattering, miserable winter afternoon. Chicken soup may be for the soul, but a natural hot pool warms the mind, body and spirit. Welcome to Rotorua – a thermal wonderland. The central North Island settlement offers a cornucopia of natural hot water springs and pools. These have and continue to draw visitors from across the world since the 19th century, simply to relax.

Scene at the Blue Baths in Rotorua, circa 1935, showing the pool, and three women in bathing suits. Photographer unidentified.[1]

Although these pools and baths feel good, I wonder if they are actually good for you. Two University of Otago medical students explored this in 1938. J.R. Hinds and S.E Williams wrote a Preventative Medicine Dissertation titled ‘A public health survey of the swimming baths of Rotorua’. Here are three questions to consider: What caused the southern students to conduct this study? What did they find? What are the broader themes hidden within the text and its wider significance?

I suggest that geothermal tourism had national significance, interest, and influenced this study in a number of ways. Rotorua was, and is, a huge contributor to the growth of tourism in New Zealand. However, the baths were not always the focus. The Pink and White Terraces were world renowned in the nineteenth century. Tourists flocked to view this ‘eighth wonder of the world’.[2] On the 10th of June 1886, Mount Tarawera Volcano erupted and obliterated the terraces, greatly modified the nearby hydrothermal features, and destroyed tourism facilities.[3] After the volcanic destruction of the terraces, the focus of geothermal tourism shifted to Rotorua township.[4] For most of the last century Rotorua had been New Zealand’s main tourism centre and for the first half of that period the principal attraction was geothermal activity, especially bathing in mineral water, either for pleasure or for medicinal purposes.[5]

The government’s investment in the development of the Rotorua township, associated sanatorium and spas led to the establishment of the world’s first government tourism department in 1901.[6] The Department of Tourist and Health Resorts marketed geothermal tourism,[7] as seen below in the booklets and brochures.

An example of the Department of Tourist and Publicity’s attractive brochures of the 1930s.[8]

A montage of illustrations of activities and facilities available at Rotorua in New Zealand Railways Magazine.[9]

Looking through a scientific lens, a hot topic of the day was the emergence and treatment of epidemics. The study of epidemic outbreaks coupled with discoveries of bacteriology, emphasised the importance of water as a medium whereby organisms can readily and quickly spread throughout a community.[10] From the late nineteenth to early twentieth century there was a focus on balneological and therapeutic properties of hot geothermal waters, with the development of sanatoriums and spa facilities intended to be of national significance.[11] Hinds and Williams wanted to examine the bacteriological safety of the Blue Baths, and make recommendations to the establishment on how to improve hygienic measures.

They found that the water supply was clean, the real problem was human pollution. The bulk of the water came from an actively boiling spring proven to be bacteriologically sterile.[12] During the busy summer season, 800-1000 persons used the baths daily. After a few hours of exposure to human pollution (hair, skin, mucus, open wounds, etc) and excellent temperatures for bacterial growth, outgoing water showed an alarmingly high bacterial count.[13] This could lead to eye, ear and respiratory passage infections.[14]

The methods of purification in Rotorua were out of date and sub-standard. The most pernicious mistake was the belief that the frequent changing of the water would maintain healthy standards.[15] No effort was made to maintain pure water apart from emptying and cleaning every 48 hours, which was insufficient in the face of counts such as 25,000 organisms per cubic centimetre.[16] The students recommended that a continuous purification system and chloramine treatment be implemented. To keep the water sterile and avoid irritation chlorine content had to be between 0.3-0.5 parts per million.[17] Observations in the past indicated that below 0.3 bacteria are not killed sufficiently quickly, and above 0.5 eye irritation was marked.[18]

Photo gives some indication of their popularity for recreation at that time, and the layout of the facilities in relation to the hygienic problems. Photographer unknown, circa 1959.[19]

The students advised changes to the Blue Baths’ facilities. Bathers should not be allowed to walk around the edge of the pool before going to the dressing room and should have a proper shower and foot scrub. Pathway detritus also resulted in contamination of the bath water.[20] The dressing rooms should be kept spotless and towels and costumes should be properly sterilized or provided by the facility.[21] Authority should be given to bathing attendants to refuse admission to people with skin infections, the common cold, sore throats, or those wearing bandages.[22] The students put thought into every effort that should be made towards directing the public to follow general hygiene principles.

Certain disadvantages made the choice of purification system difficult. The sulphur dioxide present  was a powerful dechlorinating agent, and acted as a reducing agent on chlorine, complicating treatment processes.[23] The acid and mineral content caused corrosion of all metal pipes except lead, and siliceous deposits on pipes and other apparatus created constant trouble for engineers.[24] Advantages the baths offered included free water that did  not require heating, and (arguably) enough of it for practical needs.[25]

Although it is a preventative medicine dissertation, this study highlighted resource exploitation can be linked to the increase of tourism. In the 1930s, residents of Rotorua began using geothermal wells to heat residential, commercial, and government buildings. Over the decades, increasing demand on the geothermal resource resulted in the failure of a number of hot springs.[26] Originally there were 63 boiling features at Whakarewarewa, but, by 1985, only 38 were still boiling, and only 4 of 16 geysers erupted on a daily basis.[27] I am suggesting that government investment in Rotorua and the opening of the Blue Baths in the 1930s were catalysts for future thermal resource exploitation. In 1986 the New Zealand government ordered the closure of about 40% of the geothermal wells in Rotorua City.[28] There is an obvious link between the growth of tourism, and the depletion of natural resources.

Carl Leonard, a guide at Whakarewarewa, poses at the site of the extinct Papakura Geyser, 1986. Photographed by Merv Griffiths.[29]

Notes

[1] Blue Baths at Rotorua, ca 1935, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22656675.

[2] Shirley Barnett, “Maori tourism,” Tourism management 18, no. 7 (1997): 471.

[3] Kenneth A. Barrick, “Geyser decline and extinction in New Zealand- energy development impacts and implications for environmental management,” Environmental Management 39, no. 6 (2007): 790.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ian Rockel, Taking the waters: early spas in New Zealand (Government Printers, 1986), 20.

[6] Melissa Climo, Sarah D. Milicich, and Brian White, “A history of geothermal direct use development in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand,” Geothermics 59 (2016): 218.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Mitchell Leonard Cornwall, Rotorua and New Zealand’s thermal wonderland, ca 1930-1937, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23063926.

[9] New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch, “Rotorua, nature’s cure. Thermal waters, health and recreation. Best reached by rail, New Zealand,” issued by the New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch, ca 1932, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23179795.

[10] J.R. Hinds and S.E. Williams, ‘A public health survey of the swimming baths of Rotorua’, 1938, 1.

[11] D.M. Stafford, The founding years in Rotorua: A history of Events to 1900 (Rotorua District Council, 1986), 448.

[12] Hinds and Williams, 87.

[13]Ibid, 88.

[14] Ibid, 94.

[15] “Below Standard,” Auckland Star, 13 August 1938.

[16] Hinds and Williams, 108.

[17] Ibid, 109.

[18], J.A. Braxton Hicks, R. J. V. Pulvertaft, and F. R. Chopping, “Observations On The Examination Of Swimming-Bath Water,” British medical journal 2, no. 3795 (1933): 603.

[19] The Blue Baths, thermal baths in Rotorua, ca 1959, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22779571.

[20] Hinds and Williams, 110.

[21] Ibid, 111.

[22] Ibid, 112.

[23] Ibid, 107.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Kenneth A. Barrick, “Environmental review of geyser basins: resources, scarcity, threats, and benefits,” Environmental Reviews 18, no. NA (2010): 222.

[27] Ministry of Energy, The Rotorua Geothermal Field — A report of the Rotorua geothermal monitoring programme and task force 1982–1985, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1986, 48.

[28] Barrick, “Environmental review of geyser basins: resources, scarcity, threats, and benefits,” 222.

[29] Carl Leonard, a guide at Whakarewarewa, at the site of the extinct Papakura Geyser – Photograph taken by Merv Griffiths, Dominion post, National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23173714.

Bibliography

Barnett, Shirley. “Maori Tourism.” Tourism Management 18, no. 7 (1997): 471-73.

Barrick, Kenneth A. “Environmental Review of Geyser Basins: Resources, Scarcity, Threats, and Benefits.” Environmental Reviews 18 (2010): 209-38.

Barrick, Kenneth A. “Geyser Decline and Extinction in New Zealand—Energy Development Impacts and Implications for Environmental Management.” Environmental Management 39, no. 6 (2007): 783-805.

“Below Standard.” Auckland Star. 13 August 1938.

Blue Baths at Rotorua. Ca 1935. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22656675.

Climo, Melissa, Sarah D. Milicich, and Brian White. “A History of Geothermal Direct Use Development in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand.” Geothermics 59 (2016): 215-24.

Cornwall, Mitchell Leonard. Rotorua and New Zealand’s thermal wonderland. Ca 1930-1937. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23063926.

Hicks, JA Braxton, R. J. V. Pulvertaft, and F. R. Chopping. “Observations On The Examination Of Swimming-Bath Water.” British medical journal 2, no. 3795 (1933): 603-606.

Hinds, J.R. and S.E. Williams. ‘A public health survey of the swimming baths of Rotorua’, 1938.

Leonard, Carl. A guide at Whakarewarewa, at the site of the extinct Papakura Geyser. Photograph taken by Merv Griffiths. Dominion post. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23173714.

Ministry of Energy. The Rotorua Geothermal Field — a report of the Rotorua geothermal monitoring programme and task force 1982–1985. Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1986.

New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch. “Rotorua, nature’s cure. Thermal waters, health and recreation. Best reached by rail, New Zealand.” Issued by the New Zealand Railways Publicity Branch. Ca 1932. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23179795.

Rockel, Ian. Taking the Waters. Government Printing Office Publishing, 1986.

Stafford, D. M. The Founding Years in Rotorua: A History of Events to 1900. Ray Richards, 1986.

The Blue Baths, thermal baths in Rotorua. Ca 1959. National Library of New Zealand Website, https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22779571.

 

 

John Prouse and the Maiden of Morven

Monday, November 4th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Curator Music and AV

Every year when World Audiovisual Heritage day comes around, we are always struck with the wonderful, intriguing recordings that are made available for the public to hear a little bit of a forgotten past. This year, to celebrate World AV Heritage Day at Hocken, we are looking back to the very early days of recording, and focussing on one New Zealander in particular – John Prouse, and his 1905 recording of Maiden of Morven (Gramophone and Typewriter Company 3-2359 ). This recording is one of the first recordings of a New Zealand artist, after the extremely rare Violets by Thomas Mandeno Jackson. Hocken Collections’ copy of Maiden of Morven is also thought to be the only copy that survives, although others may exist in private collections.

John Prouse was born in Wellington in 1856, the fourth of Richard and Janet Prouse’s twelve children (sadly, three died in infancy). Richard Prouse was an early settler to the Wellington region, arriving at age ten on the Duke of Roxburgh. Prouse senior established a sawmill business in Wainuiomata (later moving to Silverstream), before retiring to Wellington in the late 1880s until his death in 1894.  Two of Richard and Janet’s sons (James and Richard) established Prouse Brothers Sawmills in Levin, and a joinery factory and timber yard in Wellington. John, however, did not enter the family business. From his youth he possessed an excellent singing voice, and was a member of the Taita and Wainui church choirs (where the Prouse family lived). His public debut on the Wellington stage came in 1885, at age 29, and his career bloomed from then. He won much praise for his performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Israel in Egypt during the 1888 New Zealand Festival of Music in Wellington. In the early 1890s, Prouse, wife Lena, and their four children left for England, where he studied with Wilheim Ganz and T. A. Wallworth at Guildhall in London. Prouse also studied with Sir Charles Santley, who helped launch his professional career with engagements at The Crystal Palace, and The Royal Albert, and St. James’ halls in London (Main, 1990, p. 27). Prouse returned to New Zealand in 1892, joining the family timber business, and managing sales in Wellington, but also kept performing around New Zealand, including at the 1894 New Zealand Festival of Music in Wellington. He toured in 1902-1903 with visiting French soprano Antonia Dolores, before returning to England in 1903 with his family for a longer stay, where he could perform alongside some of the most well regarded vocalists in England and Europe. Violinist Jan Kubelik and pianist Wilheim Backhaus assisted Prouse in some of these performances.

Portrait of the New Zealand singer, John Prouse – Photograph taken by Marceau, Los Angeles.. White, Harold Temple, 1881-1972 :Photographs relating to Temple White’s musical career. Ref: PAColl-8018-2-6. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

While still in London in June 1905, Prouse made twelve recordings for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company (forerunner to His Master’s Voice). William Main, in his 1990 article on Prouse, suggested that until the late 1980s it was unknown if these recordings were ever commercially released (p.27). However they were assigned catalogue numbers, so it is possible they do exist in private or institutional collections. Three of the titles Prouse recorded were test pressings with few copies known to exist: Pilgrim’s Song (composed by Tchaikovsky), There are no more like thee (composed by Temple), and Maiden of Morven (a traditional composition arranged by Malcolm Lawson).

Maiden of Morven survives at Hocken Collections, donated to us in 2002 as part of a larger collection of 78rpm discs. Maiden of Morven itself is a love lament from a bereaved Ossianic hero to his deceased love, with lyrics by Harold Boulton, and musical arrangement by Lawson. Prouse did not use Boulton’s full lyrics, cutting a third verse that refers to Ossian (the narrator and purported author of a cycle of Scottish epic poems) and his writing. The below lyrics are those sung by Prouse for his recording of Maiden of Morven.

Moan ye winds that never sleep,
Howl ye spirits of the deep,
Roar ye torrents down the steep,
Roll ye mists on Morven.
May the tempests never rest
Nor the seas with peace be blest
Since they tore thee from my breast,
Maiden of Morven!

Fairer than the flowers that grow,
Purer than the rills that flow,
Gentler than the fallow doe
‘Mid the woods of Morven;
As the leaf is to the tree,
As the summer to the bee,
So wert thou, my Love, to me,
Maiden of Morven!

Oft I chased the deer of yore,
Many a battle-brunt I bore,
When the chiefs of Innistore
Hurled their might on Morven.
Blunt my spear, and slack my bow,
Like an empty ghost I go,
Death the only hope I know,
Maiden of Morven!

(Harold Boulton, Maiden of Morven lyrics. Date unknown.)

The performance is of its time – formal, with clear diction and enunciation with a piano accompaniment that is, while not spartan, not overly florid, and does not overpower the vocalist. Prouse is in fine, robust form on the recording, and it is easy to understand why his performances were highly commended with his “cultured style and melodious voice”, as noted in The Kent Times, and re-reported in the Poverty Bay Herald (unknown author, 1912). Here is the 1905 recording of Maiden of Morven.

 

John Prouse. Maiden of Morven (Gramophone and Typewriter Company G.C-3-2359). 1905. Hocken Music Collections Rec-M 972. Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.

The 10”, 78rpm shellac disc is in good condition for being 114 years old. There is surface wear and minor scratching, but this is to be expected on a disc this age. The centre label is in good condition and clearly indicates the artist, title, composer, catalogue number, and the Gramophone and Company label image, but not the lyricist. The reverse side has the company name, and an etching of the label image – a cherub writing on a disc. Due to the age and fragility of the disc, we made the decision to digitise the content for preservation and access, and the original disc is no longer available for issue. By making this digital copy of the recording available for World Audiovisual Heritage Day, we are celebrating Prouse’s career and highlighting how very early recordings survive and thrive in collections.

And what of the remainder of Prouse’s career? On returning to New Zealand  later in 1905 (Wellington newspaper The Evening Post lists him performing in August) he continued to be in great demand as a vocalist, and hosted friends such as Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Clara Butt at the family home. In 1908 he performed in Rossini’s Stabat Mater, and the reviewer for The Dominion was complimentary, calling his performance “thoroughly enjoyable”, and noting his singing and enunciation of the Latin text were “beyond criticism” (unknown author, 1908).  Prouse toured again with Antonia Dolores in 1911, and continued to perform widely until his death in August 1930, including some radio broadcast recitals in April of that year. Prouse’s legacy lies in being one of the first recording artists from New Zealand – one with a particularly fine voice.

References:

A Clerk of Oxford (2012, May 19). Thou’rt the music of my soul: Maiden of Morven [blog post]. Retrieved from https://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.com/2012/05/thourt-music-of-my-soul-maiden-of.html

Mail, W. (1989). John Prouse (1856-1930): New Zealand’s first commercial recording artist. Music in New Zealand 5:9, 26-27.

Unknown author. (1908). Stabat Mater. Dominion, 15 August. Retrieved from https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DOM19080815.2.47?query=%22john+prouse%22+stabat+mater&items_per_page=10&start_date=01-01-1856&end_date=31-12-1930&snippet=true

Unknown author. (1912). Gisbourne liedertafel. Poverty Bay herald, 6 July. Retrieved from https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/PBH19120706.2.7?query=%22john+prouse%22+voice&items_per_page=10&page=4&start_date=01-01-1856&end_date=31-12-1930&snippet=true

Wallingford, N. (2014, December 3). The houses of the Prouse brothers [blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.qwerty.geek.nz/ProuseHouses/

 

Stirring up the stacks #5 – sauerkraut roll

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Alex Scahill, Collections Assistant, Publications

I came up with this idea upon spotting a recent children’s book by Gavin Bishop, Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook, appear on the new arrivals shelf at the Hocken. What caught my eye was that the cook in question, John Thompson, only had one hand. What a challenge it must have been for Thompson, attempting to prepare meals for dozens of men, on a ship being rolled around by the merciless ocean, using 18th century technology and ingredients that often did not store well or were opportunistically harvested along the way, many of which most of us would turn our noses up at today (anyone keen for penguin, seal or turtle?). Actually, I think that’d make for a great contemporary cooking show. Let’s chuck Gordon Ramsay into a cramped little box that pitches and rolls around like a ride at an amusement park, and make him cook haute cuisine for dozens of amused onlookers using an assortment of random (and questionably fresh) ingredients using nothing but a woodfire oven… with one hand tied behind his back. I’d watch that!

Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Hocken G246.C7 BH57 2018

What attracted me to cooking something in the realm of what may have been served on board these voyages was that at the time I spied this book I was also (temporarily) one handed, having recently broken my elbow. So I endeavoured (insert cheesy dad joke grin) to become a one handed cook myself and see if the food served aboard the ships was really as bad as it sounds. Admittedly, extended preparation time of my dish, combined with a rather unfortunate mishap which set me back a few weeks (keep reading), meant that by the time it actually came to serve my dish to my colleagues my elbow was fully healed.

So what type of fare was typical on board Cook’s voyages to New Zealand? Cook set out with provisions for a two year voyage, unsure of where and when they may have the opportunity to resupply with fresh water and food. Eighteenth century sailors were a hardy bunch, and there was little room for fussiness when it came to food. Eat what you were served or perish.

Provisions list from Cook’s journal for July 1772 for the Resolution and Adventure (total 201 men). Burkhardt et al. 1978. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

While Cook had loaded his vessels with a variety of livestock, this was primarily for leaving behind on islands they encountered during the voyage, and generally only those animals which did not survive the voyage were consumed on board. What meat was available for consumption was usually subjected to heavy salting in order to prevent the meat from spoiling, thus extending the shelf life for long trips. Other protein came primarily from what birds or sea creatures could be caught along the way.  The same was said for produce, with unknown plants harvested for food from islands along the way. Consumption of some poisonous species in the South Pacific resulted in the deaths of a pig and a pet parakeet, although no sailors suffered the same fate (Burkhardt et al. 1978: 132).

However, due to the large number of Hocken staff who are vegetarian or vegan, I wanted to prepare a dish which would cater for as many of our staff as possible, so I opted to use two of the absolute staples from Cook’s galleys: bread and sauerkraut. The third major staple on board these voyages was booze, which was consumed regularly in lieu of fresh clean water, although I decided that serving beer at work during morning tea was perhaps unwise.

Sailors and Sauerkraut. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

In the stacks I found a book called Sailors and Sauerkraut (Burkhardt et al. 1978). The authors of this volume scoured the journals of Cook, Banks and others for references about the food and beverages which were consumed during their voyages to New Zealand, and subsequently produced a recipe book inspired by those references. I chose to recreate their recipe for Sauerkraut Roll.

This was perhaps a little ambitious considering I’d never even tasted, let alone tried to make sauerkraut before. The recipe seemed straightforward enough. Just cabbage and brine. But it does take several weeks to ferment. My first batch appeared to be going well and after a while began to take on the characteristic sauerkraut smell of ‘sweet farts’ (I’m really making this sound appealing!).

Enter catastrophe. After several weeks of waiting it came time to have a taste test. As I moved my container to the kitchen bench for tasting my clumsiness got the better of me and I ended up with my entire batch of sauerkraut pasted across the kitchen floor. So I started again.

Once the sauerkraut was ready it was time to prepare the rest of the dish for morning tea. I opted to double the following recipe.

The sauerkraut is ready

FOR THE ROLL

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • yeast, sugar, salt, water
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk

Mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk and add the flour. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, then put in a warm place to rise until double in volume. Roll out the dough to a size large enough to wrap around the filling.

FILLING

  • 500g sauerkraut
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • cracked pepper
  • 5 large onions
  • 2 cups croutons

Wash the sauerkraut under running water and drain. Fry one of the onions in a little oil until golden and then add the sauerkraut and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for a while. While the sauerkraut is cooking slice the remaining onions into rings and fry in oil until golden. Also prepare croutons.

Spread half the onions and croutons on the dough and cover with a layer of sauerkraut. Repeat. Carefully roll everything up, sealing the ends of the roll so that nothing will leak out during cooking.

Adding the filling

All rolled up (like a “sauerkraut calzone” according to my feedback)

To make it look a little less rustic (debatable) I prepared some caramelised onion as a garnish.

On the morning of serving I arrived at work with the rolls raw, gave them a quick glaze with olive oil, garnished with the caramelised onion and popped it in the oven first at 220˚C for 10mins, and then at 180˚C for a further 30mins until nice and golden.

Looks delicious!

They came out looking much better than I’d anticipated, but the real test would come down to taste. My personal opinion was that it tasted fine, but certainly better than expected. I just don’t think sauerkraut is really my thing. The following are a selection of comments left in the anonymous comments box during tasting:

visually appealing, which was surprising”

“this was so nice it gives me a false impression of what ships meals were like”

“…would definitely be great with a beer”

“Delicious! What were the sailors complaining about?”

“smells divine!”

and my personal favourite:

“tasty, and the perfect meal to prevent shipboard romance on long trips”

Overall, certainly a reasonable tasting novelty which provoked some decent discussion, but given the effort I think it’s fair to say I won’t be attempting this one again any time soon.

 

References:

  • Beaglehole, J. C. (ed.) 1955-1974. The journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery. Cambridge: published for the Hakluyt Society at the University Press.
  • Bishop, G. 2018. Cook’s cook : the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Wellington: Gecko Press.
  • Burkhardt, B., McLean, B. A., and Kochanek, D. 1978. Sailors & sauerkraut, or, Recipes from Paradise, or, Making do with what you have : a reading cook book with extracts from the journals of William Anderson, Joseph Banks, James Cook, Thomas Edgar, Alexander Home, James King, David Samwell and recipes interpolated therein. British Columbia: Gray’s Publishing.

 

What else have we cooked up?

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

 
Anna Blackman anna.blackman@otago.ac.nz
 

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