While the main focus of our work at Te Ara is on producing new material for the Te Ara website, there is a small group of us who also work on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB) which, a year ago, was incorporated into Te Ara.
We celebrated the event with ‘the publication of 11 new biographies of some of the movers and shakers of this country in the last half century,’ as we announced on our blog at the time, and a number of new biographies are on their way.
Alongside this, we regularly receive images of people already in the DNZB, some of whom we have found images for, but most of whom don’t have images at all.
We have just updated 13 biographies with new images. These folk cover the gamut from early settler to aviator.
They are not all movers and shakers, but all do have interesting tales. Like world champion pedestrianist Joe Scott, who wasn’t able to escape bankruptcy even after pawning his championship belt. Or Horowhenua midwife and centenarian Hannah Retter.
Others include pioneer aerial photographer and surveyor Piet van Asch, who started the New Zealand Aerial Mapping company, and marine biologist and reviver of the Portobello Marine Laboratory, Betty Batham.
As someone with an interest in the history of photography it has also been interesting to see the changes in portrait photography over the years from whaler James Jackson to architect George Allen to choirmaster Robert Parker to broadcaster Herb Mullon.
If you have photos or paintings or illustrations of anyone in the DNZB, whether they’ve already got an image or not, do please send them through because it not only improves the biographies, it makes for a fascinating time for me too.