Quiz: Kapa Haka

All you need is love

Living up to a romantic ideal: a 1944 cover of the Mirror

Ideals of love and romance: a 1944 cover of the Mirror (click for image credit)

You may have noticed that it was Valentine’s Day on Saturday. And no doubt on that happy occasion you were showered with bunches of red roses bought at an insanely inflated price, heart-shaped silver helium balloons bearing questionable messages, and teddy bears. Lots of teddy bears, possibly with pink or white fur, possibly clutching stuffed satin hearts embroidered with one of the aforesaid messages (‘I wuv you!’).

The custom of sending Valentines anonymously (oh god – was that card actually from Trevor in Policy?!) doesn’t seem to have caught on in New Zealand, but the rest of it has taken root and blossomed most fulsomely in recent years.

Romantic love is the kind of love that everyone goes on about, the kind of love extolled on Valentine’s Day, but actually, love comes in all kinds of varieties, some of them much underrated. You can – should! – love your friends, your family, your pets. Your neighbours, as famously suggested by Jesus. (I have great neighbours.) Your work, your creative life, the trees in your garden, the mountains you look out on from your front porch, the speeding view of fields on your train commute to work. You might love God, or food, or music, or – I don’t know – the brutalist architecture of the 1970s.

I looked for love on Te Ara, so to speak, and found the following:

Happy Valentine’s Day – or, if you’re really over it, you might want to try celebrating Singles’ Awareness Day instead.

Rangihou Reserve: a slice of New Zealand history in Parramatta

Signs of Parramatta's links with New Zealand (pic: Peter Clayworth)

Signs of Parramatta's links with New Zealand (pic: Peter Clayworth)

On a recent visit to Sydney I found traces of an important part of New Zealand history located in the suburb of Parramatta. Sydney has a long association with New Zealand. It is doubtful whether British colonisation of this country would have occurred without the initial convict settlement in New South Wales. The British invaders established Sydney on the land of the indigenous Cadigal people in January 1788. Ten months later the British colonists founded the town of Parramatta on the land of the Burramattagal clan of the Darug people.

Within a few years of British settlement in Australia, sealers and traders from Sydney began to visit New Zealand. New Zealanders, a term at that time applied exclusively to Māori, began visiting Sydney. They took careful note of the British systems of government, commerce and military organisation, and in particular the fate of the indigenous Australians under British rule.

Parramatta became of particular importance to Māori. It was the base from which Samuel Marsden, the Anglican rector of Parramattas St Johns church, launched the Church Missionary Societys mission to New Zealand. The landing of the first Church of England missionaries, at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands, occurred in 1814. Thomas and Jane Kendall, William and Dinah Hall, and John and Hannah King settled with their families to begin the long and difficult task of promulgating the Anglican version of Christianity to Māori. Marsden gave what is reputed to be the first Christian sermon in New Zealand on Christmas Day 1814.

Samuel Marsden (17651838) is an ambiguous and controversial figure in Australasian history. In New Zealand he is known for his role as the initiator of the first Christian mission to this country. He attempted to direct the mission from his base in Parramatta, but came into conflict with some of the New Zealand-based missionaries. In Australia he is seen by some commentators as a pillar of the colonial establishment, by others as the flogging parson. Marsden was assistant and later head chaplain of New South Wales. He was also a pioneer of sheep farming in Australia. In his role as a magistrate he gained a bad reputation among many of the convicts and other working people of the colony. Marsden became notorious for the severity of the sentences he imposed on offenders. He was also known for his bitter anti-Catholic prejudices, a significant factor when dealing with the high proportion of Irish Catholics among the convict and free settler populations of New South Wales.

Marsden was always interested in evangelism, but made little progress with either the local Aborigines or the nominally Christian convicts. His interest turned to New Zealand through meeting Māori visitors to Sydney and Parramatta. He began to regularly invite Māori leaders to stay at his Parramatta home. Returning from a visit to Britain in 1809, Marsden met the globe-trotting Ngāpuhi chief Ruatara, who encouraged him to establish a mission on his peoples land at Rangihoua. Ruatara stayed with Marsden at Parramatta for eight months, teaching him aspects of Māori language and culture.

With the establishment of the New Zealand mission, Marsden set up a seminary college and farm in Parramatta for the education of young Māori. He purchased around 100 acres (40 hectares) of land on the northern bank of the Parramatta River and built Rangihou College, presumably named after Rangihoua. The school provided accommodation for visiting Māori and missionaries, and taught practical skills such as agriculture and gardening. It remained open until the late 1820s. It is not clear exactly when Rangihou ceased to operate, but it appears it was deemed unnecessary once the mission in New Zealand was strongly established.

Parramatta is no longer a separate city geographically, having been absorbed into greater Sydney. Traces of Rangihou College and Marsdens mission can still be found in modern Parramatta. Part of the original land of Rangihou College is now a pleasant riverside park named Rangihou Reserve. Immediately north of the reserve is New Zealand Street, a street that has borne this name since at least the 1830s.

The Rangihou Reserve site is considered of great importance by the Māori community of Sydney. In addition to being the site of the college, it also contains the unmarked graves of 13 Māori children who died while attending the school. One tragic aspect of Marsdens project was that the Māori scholars at Rangihou were vulnerable to European diseases. The exact location of these graves is no longer known.

Celebrating Waitangi 175

Waitangi 175 logo

Waitangi 175 logo

On 6 February 2015 New Zealand will commemorate the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

A logo has been developed for the 175th, which depicts the kōtuku (white heron) in flight in a morning blue sky, representing the progress of the past 25 years while looking forward to the bicentenary in 2040.

Te Ara has an entry on the Treaty of Waitangi by acknowledged Treaty expert Claudia Orange.

It also has a large number of biographies of people involved in the signing of the treaty in 1840. A number of them can be seen in the biographies portrait gallery (scroll down the page to view), including Tāmati Wāka Nene, William Hobson, Te Ruki Kawiti, Rangi Topeora and James Busby.

NZHistory has the Treaty sheets and signing locations, and will be rolling out short biographies and biographical notes about signatories over the next few months, beginning on Waitangi Day.

The evolution of television

Glued to the goggle-box – a 2006 cartoon (click for image credit)

Glued to the goggle-box – a 2006 cartoon (click for image credit)

Yesterday I bought a cable to connect my computer to the television. Now I’ll be able to stream TV programmes on demand, and watch them on the big (well, 30-inch) screen. This isn’t new, but if you read my blog about going digital, you’ll know it takes a while for me to catch up.

It got me thinking about how much television viewing has changed since it was introduced more than 50 years ago.

Auckland was the first region to get television, in June 1960. The service began just one day a week, but by July had increased to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and to five weekday broadcasts in October. Services to Christchurch and Wellington started in 1961, with Dunedin following in 1962.

Schedules published in the NZ Listener in June 1960 for NZBS TV Channel Two Auckland record that a selection of British and American programmes  (opening with The adventures of Robin Hood) were broadcast in a two-hour slot from 7.30 p.m. Closedown was at 9.30 p.m! The line-up was interspersed with a couple of short studio items.  On opening night Studio Two featured the Howard Morrison Quartet, and on another night was ‘a musical interlude by Pat McMinn and the Crombie Murdoch Trio’.

News was flown in from the British Commonwealth International Newsfilm Agency (Visnews). Most other programmes were also imported, and as a Listener article reported, ‘A balance has also been struck between their places of origin. Nobody will be forced to listen to, say, American voices all night.’

However, Kiwi voices and local content were scarce in the early days of television. Māori programme content was even rarer, as Tainui Stephens outlines in the Māori and television – whakaata entry. Programmes featuring Māori were generally limited to light entertainment or were made from a Pākehā perspective. The establishment of a Maori Production Unit in TVNZ helped to change this with the production of series such Koha, Waka huia and Te karere in the 1980s.

There was a significant rise in the production of local content in the early 1990s, likely a result of the establishment of the television funding body NZ On Air in 1989. This was a time that local documentaries made by independent production companies flourished. The setting up of a third television channel  – TV3 – also provided an outlet for more local programmes and for competition.

In the Television entry, Trisha Dunleavy outlines the history of various genres of television, including our enjoyment of rural programmes such as our longest-running series, Country calendar.  She also describes three main eras of New Zealand television history – scarcity, availability and plenty.

That brings me back to the digital plenty now accessible to me through multiple platforms such as streaming from the internet. We are a small island nation, and personally I enjoy looking outward to what the rest of the world offers. Equally, I love to hear our voices on screen and to experience New Zealanders’ unique stories and perspectives.

This month Te Ara is highlighting its entries about television. I hope you enjoy reading about its history in New Zealand, marvel at how far it has come, and perhaps wonder how you’d like it to develop.

PS I would like to acknowledge Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision for collecting, preserving and making accessible our television history; also NZ On Screen for showcasing it.