Earlier this year, this menu came to light in an archive of material relating to the history of The University of Auckland. At the time it was the food that was served at the Heitiki Club Dinner on 7 June 1920 that was of interest, but the signatures on the back of the menu were just as intriguing.
The Heitiki Club was a Cambridge University social club for expatriate New Zealanders studying or working at the University. During the 1920s, the Club boasted around 40-50 members, including Sir Ernest Rutherford, whose signature is clearly recognisable on the back of the menu.
While Rutherford might be the most familiar name among the 18 signatures, many of the others who signed their names that night were to become New Zealanders of some note, including Percy William Burbridge, Professor of Physics at Auckland University College 1920-1956; Auckland lawyer and President of the Auckland University College Council, William Hollis Cocker; ophthalmic surgeon, Howard Vincent Coverdale; astronomer and computational scientist, Leslie John Comrie; and Te Awamutu doctor and historian James Basil Wilkie Roberton.
Many of these men, including William Cocker, had survived the horrors of the First World War and had been awarded New Zealand Expeditionary Force scholarships to study at Cambridge before returning to civilian life in New Zealand. Among Cocker’s papers, MSS & Archives A-7, are two attractive albums of photographs which cover his war service and time at Cambridge.
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections
University of Auckland. History Series. MSS & Archives E-8, box 3, folder 5. Special Collections, University of Auckland Library.
Cocker, William Hollis, 1896-1962. Papers. MSS & Archives A-7, Special Collections, University of Auckland Library.