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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Orientation at the University of Auckland

Orientation activities held in the Quad (ca 1990)
During the early days of Auckland University College first year students were referred to as “Freshers” and their orientation experience would have been quite different from that of first year students today. In our Fun for Freshers! display we take a look back at past orientation activities through a selection of printed material and archives held here in Special Collections. Included are orientation programmes, early student handbooks, student magazines and photographs providing snapshots of Auckland University orientation from the early 1900s to the late 1990s.

As a relatively small college, with only 156 students in 1901, the social life at Auckland University College was not well established early on. 1 It wasn’t until the 1930s that clubs, associations and societies were formed and began to host events such as the Freshers’ Debate and Freshers’ Welcome.

From the 1960s onwards the term “Freshers” was used less and was instead replaced with the more familiar “Orientation”. Activities available to students were similar to those offered today. They included an Orientation dance or prom, clubs and society welcome events and film screenings. The 1968 Orientation Programme shows that the movie The Scream of Fear was being shown, but was “not recommended for nervous persons” and the German Students Society held a Frankfurter Evening to welcome new students. 2

The picture shown above is taken from a collection of Public Relations Division photographs and shows a typical scene of Orientation activities being held in the Quad during the 1990s. 3 If you look closely you can see that Mad Max was the lunchtime movie showing at the Maidment for which tickets were $1.00. By the 1980s and 1990s Orientation had become a well-established event on the University calendar and one that has continued to grow and evolve to the present day.

Leah Johnston, Special Collections

1. Sinclair, K. (1983). A history of the University of Auckland, 1883-1983. Auckland, N.Z. : Auckland University Press: Oxford University Press (p.33).
2. Auckland University Students' Association Orientation Programme, 1968. University of Auckland historical collection. Part 1. MSS & Archives E-8, box 7. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
3. Orientation activities held in the Quad (ca 1990). University of Auckland Department of External Relations, Public Relations Division photographic collection. MSS & Archives. 2007/10, item 9/1/3/1. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Remembering Aldus Manutius


Detail from 1554 Aldine edition of Demosthenes
The Aldine press device and a wood-cut from Demosthenes, (1554), Orationum, Venetiis : Paulo Manutio.

Pocket-sized books and the italic typeface are two enduring printing innovations introduced by the Italian Renaissance printer-publisher Aldus Manutius, who died 500 years ago. 
Born ca. 1450 near Rome, Aldus Manutius or Aldo Manuzio was a humanist scholar. He worked as a tutor before moving in about 1489 to Venice where he set up the Aldine press with backing from established printer Andrea Torresani (1451-1529) among others.  Aldus, who produced his first book in 1495, is perhaps most widely renowned for publishing the first printed editions in Greek of the works of many classical Greek writers, such as Thucydides and Herodotus.1
For his books in Greek, Latin, Hebrew and the vernacular Italian, Aldus commissioned several typefaces, including Bembo and the first italic typeface from the type designer Francesco Griffo.  The italic type was used in the small-format `octavo’ books Aldus introduced in 1501, which he called `libri portatiles’ or portable books. He also collaborated with leading scholars of the day, including Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas Linacre.  Following Aldus’ death on 6 February 1515, the Aldine press was carried on by Torresani (by then his father-in-law) and later his son Paulo Manutius (1512-1574) and grandson Aldus Manutius (1547-1597).1
The above images are from the 1554 Aldine edition of Demosthenes' Orationum, which was printed by Aldus’ son Paulo.2 This three-volume work in Special Collections is bound in ca. 19th century half-vellum. Each volume carries the armorial bookplate for William Henry Dutton (1827-1896), a lawyer and book collector of Hewcroft, Newcastle, England, whose library was sold in London by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge in 1903.3 One volume has the signature of an earlier Greek owner.  
Special Collections also holds a fine facsimile edition of Aldus’ most famous work, the 1499 Hypnerotomachia poliphili,4 which is hailed for its typographical design and its many exquisite woodcut illustrations.  
This year, numerous exhibitions and symposia will explore the legacy of Aldus Manutius 500 years after his death, including the 2015 conference of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Jo Birks, Special Collections
1 M. Davies, (1995), Aldus Manutius : printer and publisher of Renaissance Venice, Malibu, Calif.: J. Paul Getty Museum; M. Lowry, (1979), The world of Aldus Manutius : business and scholarship in Renaissance Venice, Oxford : Blackwell.
2 Demosthenes, (1554), Orationum, Venetiis : Paulo Manutio. Glass Case 885.6 A
3 (1903), Catalogue of the interesting library of books and manuscripts of the late William Henry Dutton, Esq. (of Hewcroft, Newcastle, Staffordshire) : comprising incunabula and other early printed and modern books illustrating the history of printing ... , London : Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge.
4 F. Collona, (1963), Hypnerotomachia Poliphili [facsimile], London : Eugrammia Press. Glass Case 093 C71

Friday, January 23, 2015

Auckland Anniversary Day

Enjoying the Auckland Regatta, an illustration from the programme for the 1890 anniversary celebrations

Yesterday I explained to my teenage son that he starts back at school next Tuesday because Monday is a public holiday.  “Why,” he asked.
 “Because it is Auckland Anniversary Day”, I explained.
 “Why,” he asked. 
So we looked it up and I was surprised to find that the holiday actually marks the day that Governor William Hobson landed in the Bay of Islands on 29 January 1840, not the founding of the European settlement of Auckland. Officially, Auckland was established on 18 September 1840 when Hobson’s deputy, Captain William Symonds, hoisted the Union Jack at Fort Britomart.  
The holiday was established in January 1842 when Governor Hobson directed that “Saturday, the 29th instant, being the Second Anniversary of the establishment of the colony…be held a general holiday, on which the Public Offices will be closed.”1  
This association of the holiday with the foundation of the colony is apparent in the introduction to the programme for the Auckland 50th jubilee celebrations in January 1890. The illustrated, 48-page programme, held in Special Collections, outlines a whole week of celebrations “on a scale of grandeur hitherto unknown in this part of the British Dominions” to mark the “proclamation of the Queen’s sovereignty over the islands of New Zealand”.  Events included a procession of Friendly and Trade Societies from the Ponsonby Reservoir, along Karangahape Rd and down Symonds Street to the grounds of Government House,  a horticultural show, athletics and swimming carnivals, rowing races, Maori canoe races, horse racing and of course a Jubilee Regatta.

Katherine Pawley, Special Collections


1. New Zealand government gazette. 26 January 1842, Vol. 2 , 4th edition, page 16.

'Auckland's first Anniversary Day Regatta', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 29-Oct-2014.

Auckland jubilee celebrations 1890: guide book and official programme for use of visitors and others (1890). Auckland, NZ. H. Brett. NZGC 042 7.

Monday, December 08, 2014

The joy of reading

Two girls reading in classroom.

Do your plans for the summer holidays include reading a good book or two?  I know mine do; but do you remember learning to read?  Perhaps one of the reading books currently on display outside Special Collections will jog your memory.

The books document some of the ways in which New Zealand children have been taught to read over the last 100 years.  Nearly all the books are illustrated and it is these colourful images, more than the text, which you may remember.  

Given the time of year we have included a copy of Christmas shopping from the New Zealand Education Department’s Ready to Read series of readers in the display.  Published in 1966 the book tells how Mark and his sister are taken Christmas shopping by Mother; they visit Father Christmas, buy a hose for Father and slippers for Grandma.  As you will see Mark looks suitably impressed.

The books are part of an extensive collection of school text books amassed over a period of 20 years by writer and publisher Hugh Price (1929-2009) and described in his 1992 publication School text books published in New Zealand to 1960.  In 2001, Price generously donated his collection to the Alexander Turnbull Library and the University of Auckland.  The books donated to the University are held in Special Collections as The Hugh Price Collection and are available for use in the Special Collections reading room.

Katherine Pawley, Special Collections


Price, H. (1992). School text books published in New Zealand to 1960. Wellington, NZ: Dunmore Press and Gondwanaland Press.

Roberts, M., & School Publications Branch, New Zealand. (1966). Christmas shopping. London: Methuen. (Price 25/193 1966).

Photo of girls reading – New Zealand Educational Institute Collection. Retrieved from

Friday, October 24, 2014

Labour Day celebrations

Auckland Labour Day Celebrations, Certificate of Merit. Boilermakers’ Union records

Auckland Labour Day Celebrations, Certificate of Merit. Boilermakers’ Union records. 2
On Monday many New Zealanders will celebrate Labour Day with a day free from work. Like most public holidays its origins are largely forgotten and it is viewed as just another day off. However, Labour Day used to be marked with public processions to celebrate the establishment of an eight-hour working day and people, like Samuel Parnell, who had made it possible.1
The image above is a Certificate of Merit awarded to the Auckland Boilermaker’s Union for ‘Most complete trades’ union working display’ during the 1921 celebrations. The item was found while processing the Auckland Boilermaker’s Union records here in Special Collections and provides a record of one of the many events which made up Labour Day festivities that year.2
The aim of the Labour Day Committee in 1921 was to put on the best Labour Day Auckland had seen, stating ‘The main idea is to give the women and children a really good day-outing’.3 Advertisements in the papers promised a procession of unionists and local businesses led by a bullock team along Queen Street.4 The procession finished at the Domain with a public picnic, sporting events, Highland dancing, tug of war and a baby show.5
The event was to be one of the last of its kind held in celebration of Labour Day. As more local businesses began to use the day as an opportunity to advertise, less and less union content was included. Eventually, the day became viewed as a day for the ‘bosses’ and the large public picnics and sports events began to die away.6 Archives such as the certificate remind us of the day’s origins and of the people who fought for our right to a day off.
Leah Johnston, Special Collections
1 Roth, H. Parnell, Samuel Duncan, from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 7-Jan-14.
2 Auckland Labour Day Celebrations, Certificate of Merit. Boilermaker’s Union records. MSS & Archives 2014/13, item 5/1. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
3 Labour Day. (1921, July 30). Auckland Star, p11.
4 Labour Day. (1921, October 22). New Zealand Herald, p8.
5 Advertisements Column 1. (1921, October 22). Auckland Star, p16.
6 Ministry for Culture and Heritage. (2014). Labour Day. New Zealand History, updated 5-Aug-14.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Franklin ship Erebus found after 169 years

Erebus and Terror in the Antarctic, 1839-1843
HMS Erebus and Terror during the James Ross Antarctic expedition1

Nearly 170 years after the Franklin Arctic expedition was lost, the HMS Erebus has been found 11 metres under the sea in the Queen Maud Gulf in the Canadian Arctic. The ship was found in early September by a Parks Canada-led team of marine archaeologists and other experts.2

To mark this historic discovery, Special Collections has mounted a small display outside its Reading Room featuring rare books on Arctic exploration. This includes works written by those who went in search of Captain Sir John Franklin and the other 128 men who were on the Erebus and Terror.

The expedition left London in May 1845 under the command of Franklin (1786-1847), a British naval officer and experienced Arctic explorer. They were exploring a section of the Northwest Passage and undertaking magnetic observations when the ships were caught in sea ice off King William Island.3

Since 1848, dozens of expeditions have searched for the ships and their crew. Until now, the vessels have remained elusive although by the 1850s searchers had located some graves and relics on Beechey and King William Islands, thanks in part to information and relics passed on by Inuit and notes left in cairns by the crew. One note, last dated April 1848, revealed that Franklin died in June 1847, more than 20 others were dead and the survivors had abandoned the ice-bound ships and planned to trek south.3

Built as bomb ships, the Erebus and Terror were previously pressed into service by Sir James Clark Ross during his expedition charting the Antarctic and southern regions in 1839-1843.1 Franklin and his second wife Jane (nee Griffin) were also associated with our region. Franklin was Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) between 1837 and 1843, during which time Lady Franklin twice visited New Zealand, the second with her husband on their return home. Auckland's Franklin county is named after Lady Franklin while mountains in the South Island are named after Sir John.4

Jo Birks, Special Collections

1 James C. Ross, A voyage of discovery and research in the southern and Antarctic regions, during the years 1839-43, London, 1847.
2 “Serendipity” led to Franklin find; It’s Erebus!, accessed from
3 R.M. McCoy, On the edge: Mapping North America’s coasts, New York, 2012; B. A. Riffenburgh, ‘Franklin, Sir John (1786–1847)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2012.
4 A.W . Reed and M. Cryer, The Reed dictionary of New Zealand place names, Auckland, 2002, p. 131.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Suffrage Day: The Woman's Place

Emily Gibson poem verse

Today marks 121 years since New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the vote.1 For some women however, this was just the start of a lifetime spent fighting for wider social reform throughout New Zealand.

One of these women was Emily Patricia Gibson, who emigrated from Ireland to New Zealand in 1891. Soon after her arrival Gibson joined the Auckland branch of the Women’s Franchise League. She was one of a group of women to vote for the first time at Army Hall in Auckland between “two rows of jeering men”. Gibson recalled “we were brave because we were together, but not one of us was not trembling and trying to hold back tears”.2

Soon after taking part in this historic event, Gibson moved on to become a founding member of both the Auckland Women’s Liberal League (later the Auckland Women’s Political League and Auckland Women’s Branch N.Z. Labour Party) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). After the decline of the Liberal Party she became a member of the New Zealand Labour Party at its formation in 1916, and was described as the “thread linking Auckland Labour Women’s branch with the early suffragette movement”.3

The image above is taken from a scrapbook Gibson created that is held in Special Collections. It is the last verse of a poem she wrote titled The Woman’s Place in reply to the assertion that the woman’s place was in the home.4 The poem is one of a variety of newspaper clippings, photographic prints, letters, articles and notes that have been pasted into the scrapbook. Alongside copies of clippings relating to political organisations, leaders and activists of social reform are articles and poems written by Gibson for publications such as the Maoriland Worker, the New Zealand Worker and the New Zealand Herald. The scrapbook reflects Gibson’s passion for peace and social justice, but also provides a snapshot of early social reform movements in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world.

Leah Johnston, Special Collections


1 Ministry for Culture and Heritage. (2014). 'New Zealand women and the vote'. New Zealand History, updated 17-Jul-14. Retrieved from

2 Hutching, M. (2012). 'Gibson, Emily Patricia', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 30-Oct-2012. Retrieved from

3 Purdue, C. (1975). Women in the Labour cause – The history of the Auckland Women’s Branch N.Z. Labour Party, 1925-1975. Abelard Press : Takapuna, New Zealand, p. 7.

4 The Woman’s Place. Emily Gibson scrapbook. MSS & Archives 2014/9. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Early Coxhead album

Photograph of Government House, Wellington (ca 1880-1889)

This photograph of Government House in Wellington is one of many in a photographic album titled Old N.Z. Views produced by Dunedin photographer Frank Coxhead.1 Taken from Lambton Quay, the image shows the original Government House situated where the Beehive is now positioned and the Parliamentary Library visible in the background.2 The grandeur of the stately building is contrasted against the modest parade of shops that run along Lambton Quay, showing a few Wellington residents going about their day.

The album in which the photograph is located recently came to light whilst processing collections of older archival material held here in Special Collections. It was created by prominent Dunedin photographer, Frank Coxhead, and contains 52 albumen prints of natural and urban New Zealand landscapes circa 1880-1889. During the 1870s Coxhead worked alongside his elder brother, Harry Coxhead, from their gallery in Moray Place, Dunedin. By 1885 the brothers closed their business and Coxhead continued operating under his own name in premises near the Octagon.3 His photography focussed predominantly on landscapes and he travelled extensively both in New Zealand, and abroad, to capture a wide variety of scenery.

Although not much is known about this particular album’s origins, or how it came to be part of Special Collections, it is typical of albums compiled by Coxhead. These albums were often put together for customers based on their personal selection at Coxhead’s Octagon gallery “from a collection of views” said to be “the best in the Southern Hemisphere”.4 The chosen photographs were then mounted in albums either provided by Coxhead or supplied by the customer. As a result, no two of these albums are alike.5 Those that have been preserved can be found in a number of libraries throughout New Zealand and each provides a unique snapshot of 19th century New Zealand.

Leah Johnston, Special Collections


1 Photograph of Government House, Wellington. (ca 1880-1889). Old N.Z. Views, MSS & Archives 2014/11. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

2 Martin, J. (2012). History of Parliament’s buildings and grounds. Parliamentary Library :  Wellington, New Zealand. 

3 Knight, H. (1998). Coxhead, Frank Arnold (1851-c1919). In J. Thomson, J. (Ed.), Southern people : a dictionary of Otago Southland biography (pp. 107). Dunedin, N.Z. : Longacre Press in association with the Dunedin City Council 1998.

4 Otago Daily Times, Page 3 Advertisements Column 3, 23 November 1888

5 Knight, H. (1996). Coxhead Brothers Photography. The University of Otago Printing Department : Dunedin, New Zealand.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Lest we forget

Minutes of 1915 meeting of Auckland University College Students' Association

To coincide with the launch of the Special Collections First World War centenary website, we have prepared a display of original archival material which explores the creation of the Auckland University College Roll of Honour. 

The Roll, which is the centrepiece of the website, comprises three ring-bound volumes of loose-leaf pages, one for each of the 720 Collegians who enlisted for military service.  The details on the handwritten pages were meticulously compiled by members of the Auckland University College Students’ Association with assistance from the College Council from information supplied by the College, family and friends, and from newspaper reports and official sources.  The extract from the Student Association minutes, seen above, records the decision in early 1915 to compile “a complete list of members … serving with the Expeditionary force”.

Earlier this year, the three precious volumes which make up the Roll of Honour were digitised and can now be viewed as a searchable flip-book on the website.  In addition to the Roll, the website investigates the wartime experiences of some Collegians, the history of the Roll and life at the College in 1914.

The display, which includes two volumes of the Roll, can be found outside the Special Collections reading room on Level G of the General Library until the end of September.

Katherine Pawley, Special Collections.


AUCSA minute book 1909-1917, Auckland University Students' Association records.  MSS & Archives E-9, item1/1/2, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Remembering Dame Dorothy Winstone

Photograph of the 1941 Auckland University College Student Executive.
Former University Councillor and alumni Dame Dorothy Winstone passed away last week aged 95.  Her long association with the University of Auckland is well documented in her personal papers held by Special Collections. 
Dorothy Fowler, as she was then, first attended Auckland University College as an undergraduate in the late 1930s. In 1941 she was the Vice-President of the Student’s Association and can be seen third from the left in the front row of the photograph above. Other items in the collection dating from her time as a student include:  student magazines, menus, invitations and a folder of essays completed as part of her BA and Dip Ed degrees.  The 29 neatly handwritten essays reflect the dedication and attention to detail Dame Dorothy applied to all she undertook in life.  For example, for one third year history paper marked by Professor James Rutherford she received 9/10 and the commendation; “A thoroughly excellent answer, well informed, and most intelligently arranged and argued”.  
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections.
Dame Dorothy Winstone papers. MSS & Archives 2003/5, items 1/5/2 and 1/4/1. Special Collections. University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.