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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Twilight of Empire display

Photo, WPHC 10/XV/325/009. Western Pacific archives. 1875-1978. MSS & Archives 2003/1, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services
Detail from `Preparation for a feast at Santa Anna', ca1939-49.1

Items from the Western Pacific Archives are on display outside Special Collections in the General Library until early October.
The Western Pacific Archives (WPA) contains the records of the British colonial administration in the Western Pacific from 1877-1978. This covers the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, Pitcairn, and Kiribati and Tuvalu, and was transferred from the UK in 2002.
Its historical and research significance was reflected in the UNESCO Memory of the World Regional Register for Asia/Pacific award which was presented to Special Collections in 2014. This award was in recognition of the great importance of the archive to the whole region, and justifies its return to the location where most research is likely to be undertaken.
Spanning more than 760 linear metres (about 2,800 archive boxes), the WPA was transferred to the University Library in 2002, following negotiations with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and with the consent of all interested governments in the region.

Since the transfer in 2002, the WPA has attracted local and international researchers who have ranged across such diverse topics as the history of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, the interface between native medical practitioners and the colonial administration, German migrants in Tonga, the history of coastwatchers, children of servicemen in World War Two, and numerous family history projects.
For more information on the collection, see this Special Collections webpage.
Stephen Innes, Special Collections
1 WPHC 10/XV/325/009. Western Pacific archives. 1875-1978. MSS & Archives 2003/1, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

Friday, July 10, 2015

No Bombs South of the Line

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (NZ) flyer for 1963 petition.

Special Collections have put together a small display to mark the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. Rather than focusing on the actual events of 10 July 1985, the display explores the history of New Zealand campaigns against nuclear testing in the Pacific from the 1950s to the early 1980s.  
The title for the display comes from the New Zealand Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s 1963 petition for a nuclear free Southern Hemisphere which was signed by over 80,000 New Zealanders.  This flyer outlining the aims of the petition is featured in the display along with other items from Special Collections’ extensive holdings of material relating to New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance. These holdings include the records of the New Zealand Peace Council covering the period 1948 to 1971, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (NZ) from its formation in 1957 to 1994 and the Auckland Hiroshima Day Committee for Peace from the 1960s.
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament petition, 1963. New Zealand Peace Council records. MSS & Archives A-287, item 4/3. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Emplaned at Whenuapai

1953 emplaning check from Kenneth Cumberland papers.

Special Collections has recently completed processing the papers of the University of Auckland’s first Professor of Geography, Kenneth Cumberland. Born in Yorkshire in 1913, Cumberland came to New Zealand in 1938 to teach at Canterbury University and was appointed Senior Lecturer of Geography at Auckland University College in 1946.  During his first year at Auckland, Cumberland was the Geography Department’s only member of staff; however the new subject proved so popular with students that two more staff were appointed in time for the 1947 academic year.  In 1950 Cumberland was made chair of the Department and remained its professor until his retirement in 1978.

During his academic career and retirement Cumberland travelled a great deal both within New Zealand and overseas. Beginning in the 1950s he retained all his tickets, itineraries and other travel ephemera, carefully arranging the collected material chronologically by decade.  Among the material from the 1950s are a number of emplaning checks issued by the New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC); which was New Zealand’s main domestic carrier between 1947 and 1978.  In 1978 the airline was merged with Air New Zealand, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

Issued for a flight from Auckland to Dunedin in November 1953, the emplaning check above is part ticket, part boarding pass. Besides being entranced by the term ‘emplaning’ I was intrigued to see that rather than checking in at the airfield; passengers reported to the NAC Office in the city centre and were transported to the airport by the airline. Professor Cumberland obviously made his 8.00 pm flight as the bottom of the check has been neatly stamped ‘Emplaned at Whenuapai’.

Katherine Pawley, Special Collections.


Kenneth Cumberland papers. MSS & Archives 2013/4, item 10/1/2. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

A brief history of Air New Zealand, focusing on highlights and major events’. Retrieved from

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Orientation at the University of Auckland

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.