Today's post is from Brian Marshall, Geography and Environmental Science Subject Librarian and his recent work with maps in the collection in the Map Room on Level M of the General Library and how he has had to manage changing boundaries when cataloguing the maps.
As a young lad growing up in Palmerston North, I was always aware of the eastern boundary of my environment. The Tararua and Ruahine Ranges, dominating the eastern skyline, not only trapped the clouds to make the Manawatu seem like a perpetually cloudy place, they always seemed like a formidable barrier to whatever lay on the other side. Bicycle journeys to the top of the Ranges, along the gravelled Pahiatua Track, emphasized just how much of a barrier these mountains were. Later on I became aware that a variety of administrative boundaries also used the peaks of these mountains – to demarcate provinces (Wellington / Hawkes Bay), counties, and a variety of other units as well.
To the west of Palmerston North, the boundaries were either the Tasman Sea, or the Rangitikei River. I knew for example that players for the Manawatu rugby team lived east of the Rangitikei River. A player living to the west of the river would play for Wanganui, not Manawatu. Boundaries to the south were less easy to define, but I knew that by the time I got to Levin I was in Horowhenua. Horowhenua had its own rugby team, so it was a different place from the Manawatu, but whenever international rugby teams came to play in Palmerston North, Manawatu and Horowhenua put out a joint team, usually masquerading under an odd name such as Manawhenua (and usually with 14 Manawatu players, and a token player from Horowhenua).
Somewhere along the line, this instilled in me an interest in the demarcation of boundaries. Lately, I have been giving classification numbers to the regional sequence of New Zealand maps in our Library map collection. I have found this to be a fascinating exercise, not only because of the pleasure of handling all the maps. The classification numbers we are using are a combination of Dewey Decimal numbers to indicate place, plus Library of Congress letters and numbers to indicate subject. Also added are indicators of authors (Cutter numbers) and a date. Our maps had been arranged according to an old version of the local body boundaries used in New Zealand, and largely matched my mental picture of which parts of the New Zealand belonged to which territorial units.
In 1989 however, the Local Government Commission came up with a new set of district boundaries. These replaced the old county boundaries which had served New Zealand, with modifications over time, since 1876. The new boundaries were based on river catchment boundaries.
There are three areas in the North Island where this causes quite different outcomes. The first is in the Manawatu. The Manawatu River rises in the east, and flows westwards through the ranges. The Manawatu Gorge marks the boundary between the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges. The Gorge was always a narrow and twisting place, inducing car sickness for many a traveller. As a youngster I remember it as being part of the eastern barrier to the Manawatu, rather than a gateway to the Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa. The use of river catchment boundaries by the Local Government Commission however, meant that, because the Manawatu River rises along the eastern slopes of the Ruahine Ranges, a large junk of territory beyond the great divide was now part of the "Manawatu". Indeed, the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, administered by the Horizons Regional Council, stretches from the west coast of the North Island all the way to the east coast. Areas that were never part of my Manawatu as a kid are now administered from Palmerston North.
The other two areas where I have had to shuffle the map collection are in the central North Island. There has always been a linkage in my mind between Rotorua and Taupo. The eminent geographer Ken Cumberland, in his regional geography booklets, always placed them together as part of the "Volcanic Plateau". Geologists still place them together as part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone. We have lots of maps that link them together. The Local Government Commission, however, places Rotorua in Bay of Plenty, and Taupo, because it is part of the Waikato River catchment, in the Waikato.
The other area is the King Country. This, in my mind, stretches from Otorohanga and Te Kuiti all the way south to Taumarunui, at the confluence of the Ongarue and Wanganui Rivers. As a youngster I can remember the King Country rugby team playing in either Te Kuiti or Taumarunui when it had a home game. We have a fair number of maps showing this wide-spread area as one unit. The Local Government Commission however, drew a clear line between Waitomo District (part of Waikato), and Taumarunui, which is now part of Ruapehu District. Ruapehu District is in turn part of the Wanganui-Manawatu Region, administered by the Horizons Regional Council. Although Taumarunui is part of the old Auckland Province, the boundaries based on river catchments mean that it is now part of the Wellington Province sequence of Dewey numbers. A community of interest divided in two!
As we had a lot of maps covering the Volcanic Plateau, and a lot covering all of the old King Country, the obvious solution was to invent new Dewey numbers for these regions. This we have done, and it seems to work well.
Below: Brian Marshall and Elva Leaming, Map Librarians