Blog Stats
  • Posts - 80
  • Articles - 0
  • Comments - 24
  • Trackbacks - 1



Thursday, July 07, 2016

100 years of the New Zealand Labour Party

NZ Labour Party's Grand Ball 1918

This month the New Zealand Labour Party (NZLP) celebrates its centenary. It is the country’s oldest surviving political party and was formed at a conference of the United Federation of Labour, Social Democratic Party and local Labour Representative Committees in Wellington on 7 July 1916.
To coincide with the centenary, Special Collections has put together a small display which draws on its extensive holdings of NZLP records, publications and ephemera.
This photograph of NZLP members at a grand ball in October 1918 is not in the display but conveys a great sense of the occasion.1 The happy crowd includes men, women and children, many in fancy dress, including some featuring political slogans. We do not know the names of all those present but sitting fourth from the right in the second row is William Parry, MP for Central Auckland from 1919 to 1951. On the left, standing next to the second palm frond, is New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister, Michael J. Savage.
To learn more about the formation and early history of the NZLP and the ties between the Princes Street Branch and the University, visit the display outside the Special Collections Reading Room on the ground floor of the General Library until 18 August 2016.
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections.
1 Photograph of the New Zealand Labour Party’s Grand Ball, Trades Hall, 3 October 1918. MSS & Archives 2015/10. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

By students, for students: 125 years of AUSA

Photograph of students watching a band in the Quad, 1970s.

Students watching a band perform in the Quad, 1970s.
MSS & Archives 2007/10, 9/1/3/1. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
The 24th of June 2016 marks 125 years since the Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) was established. On that day in 1891, 27 students and graduates met in the library to begin an association that would become an integral part of university life.
Special Collections has put together a display of archival and printed material to mark this anniversary. The featured items, including photographs, ephemera and the minute book from the founding meeting, provide snapshots of the 125 years that AUSA has been in existence.1
The display runs until the end of June 2016 outside the Special Collections reading room on the General Library ground floor. It draws in particular on the Auckland University Students' Association records collection, which provides researchers with a wide range of primary sources covering the Association's history from 1891-1983. This and other University-related collections and publications can be viewed in the reading room.
Leah Johnston, Special Collections

 1. Minute book covering the period 1891-1902. Auckland University Students' Association records. MSS & Archives E-9, 1/1/1. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Special Collections Shakespeare display

Woodcut from Holinshed's Chronicles...
Woodcut from Raphael Holinshed’s 1577 Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande...

To mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare on 23 April 1616, Special Collections has mounted a small exhibition exploring just a few of the books which helped fire his imagination.

On show are some influential sources which Shakespeare and many others of his day drew on, including Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the historical Chronicles written by John Stow and Raphael Holinshed and Plutarch’s Lives...

Visit the display outside the Special Collections reading room on the General Library ground floor before 6 May 2016.

Jo Birks, Special Collections

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Holloway Press records and display

Type. Holloway Press records. MSS & Archives 2014/15. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services
Holloway Press type. MSS & Archives 2014/15, 8/1. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.

The Holloway Press was established in 1994 under the Department of English by poet and printer Alan Loney with Associate Professor Peter Simpson (English) as co-Director. It was set up in the library at the University of Auckland’s Tamaki Campus using equipment and materials generously donated by its namesake, Ronald Holloway, printer and publisher of The Griffin Press.1

Alan Loney left The Holloway Press in 1998 and it remained inactive until it was revived in 2001 by Peter Simpson in the role of publisher and renowned graphic designer and printer Tara McLeod as designer and printer.2

In 2014, after 20 years, the Press closed having produced 40 publications involving an impressive number of New Zealand artists, poets, writers, printers and designers.3

Archives relating to these printing projects were donated in batches to Special Collections and now form The Holloway Press records collection.4 After substantial processing, researchers can now use the online finding aid for the collection and access the records in the Special Collections reading room. To mark this, we are looking back at the history of the Press in a small exhibition outside the reading room. The display, which showcases a selection of archives as well as published works held in the New Zealand Glass Case, runs until 24 March.

As Francis McWhannell noted in 2014, ‘the Press has not only participated in the tradition of fine press printing in this country, it has furthered it considerably’.5

The archives and published works held by Special Collections make up a rich and comprehensive resource reflecting this important publishing legacy.

Leah Johnston, Special Collections

1. University of Auckland. (1994). Press keeps alive traditional printing techniques. University News, 24 (10), p.27.
2. Ibid.
3. Dart, W. (Summer 2007-08). Building on a tradition, Auckland’s Holloway Press. Art New Zealand, 125, p.56.
4. The Holloway Press records. MSS & Archives 2014/15. Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services.
5. McWhannell, F. (2014). The Holloway Press, 1994-2013 : a checklist of publications. Auckland : Holloway Press.


Friday, October 30, 2015

From the collections

Extra-illustrations from Paxton's botanical dictionary. GC 580.3 P34.

An 1849 botanical dictionary in Special Collections provides a fascinating insight into the pursuits of a keen Victorian gardener who has personalised it with sketches, notes and pressed specimens.1

That gardener was one Richard Suter of Castle Hill, Maidenhead, based on an ownership inscription in the dictionary which matches the handwriting of most of the annotations.2 Richard Suter (1798-1883) was a London architect and surveyor whose work includes St Peter's Almshouses in Wandsworth. Suter and his first wife Ruth Anne Burn (c1804-1854) were the parents of Andrew Burn Suter, the second Anglican Bishop of Nelson, New Zealand from 1867-1891.3

This annotated copy of A pocket botanical dictionary : comprising the names, history, and culture of all plants known in Britain ... is one of only a few held in New Zealand libraries. A popular guide which reached multiple editions, the dictionary was compiled by Sir Joseph Paxton with assistance from botanist John Lindley (1799-1865).4 Paxton, perhaps best known as the architect of London’s Crystal Palace, was also a renowned gardener, author, publisher and MP.5

Catering to the strong Victorian interest in botany, the dictionary listed scientific and general information about plants in Britain, including recent introductions from distant lands. Paxton (1803-1865) told readers that with the dictionary in hand, `… the possessor or cultivator of plants may perambulate his own garden, visit those of his friends or public establishments, and attend floricultural exhibitions, in the full assurance that if any particular object engage his attention, he may at once derive every fact of interest…’6

It seems Richard Suter did plenty of perambulating. In notes dating primarily from the 1860s-1870s, he recorded plant sightings in and around Maidenhead, London and further afield, including a cuckoo flower `on the sloping ascent South Side of Poplar Station Nov. 27 65’. Suter also detailed who supplied cuttings, `geranium from Mr Shadwell of Slough Oct 24. 67’, from which countries plants originated, how they fared in his garden and tips such as `Mr John Higgs recipe for poisoning field mice.’

Suter’s annotations, drawings, watercolours and pressed specimens are on specially-inserted blank leaves and relate to the printed entries on the facing pages. These markings wonderfully bring to life some of the dry botanical listings, reveal a little of Suter’s life and times and ensure that this copy of the dictionary has research value beyond its text.

Jo Birks, Special Collections

1J. Paxton and J. Lindley, (1849), A pocket botanical dictionary : comprising the names, history, and culture of all plants known in Britain : with a full explanation of technical terms, London : Bradbury and Evans. Glass Case 580.3 P34.
2The handwriting also matches Richard Suter’s letters at the Alexander Turnbull Library and architectural plans at the London Metropolitan Archives.
3J.S. Curl, (2006), A dictionary of architecture and landscape architecture (2 ed.), online edition, Oxford University Press; Katherine W. Orr. 'Suter, Andrew Burn', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 26-Feb-2014; The Blain biographical directory of Anglican clergy, retrieved from
4Richard Drayton, ‘Lindley, John (1799–1865)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16674
5John Kenworthy-Browne, ‘Paxton, Sir Joseph (1803–1865)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/21634
6Paxton and Lindley, (1849),

Friday, October 23, 2015

UNESCO World Day for Audio-visual Heritage

The 27th of October will mark the tenth World Day for Audio-visual Heritage. The day was established at the 2005 UNESCO General Conference as a way to acknowledge the importance of audio-visual archives and to raise awareness of the need to preserve them. 1The slogan for this year’s World Day for Audio-visual Heritage is ‘Archives at Risk: Protecting the World’s Identities’. 2
Here at Special Collections we hold a wide range of AV material, including poetry readings from the Alan Brunton and Sally Rodwell papers (MSS & Archives 2009/4), oral history interviews of   University of Auckland women alumni by Toby Harfield (MSS & Archives 2008/16), sound recordings of Auckland University Students’ Association carnival performances (MSS & Archives E-9) and American Samoa Community College video recordings from the Samoan Studies Institute (MSS & Archives 2009/5).
As the slogan ‘Archives at Risk: Protecting the World’s Identities’ implies, audio-visual archives are particularly vulnerable to deterioration, damage and obsolescence. It is estimated that most of these archives have a 50 year life span which is generally much shorter than that of paper records. 3 In order to ensure they are preserved for future use preservation work is a necessity. This includes storing them in acid free containers which help prevent environmental damage from light, dust and moisture. The containers are then kept in a stable, cool and dry climate to further slow the rate of deterioration. Once the material is organised and safely stored, transfer to digital media offers the best means of ensuring continued preservation and easier access for researchers.
Leah Johnston, Special Collections

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.