Archive for the 'New Zealand history' Category

Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories launched

Te Tai Settlement Stories: Ngāti Awa screenshot

On Friday 9 November 2018, Manatū Taonga along with Ngāti Awa launched Te Tai Treaty Settlement Stories at Te Mānuka Tūtahi marae in Whakatane. Te Tai is a bilingual multimedia web story project showcasing individual and collective stories about Treaty Settlements.

Ngāti Awa of Te Moana-a-Toi (Bay of Plenty) are the first iwi to share their story on Te Tai – you can read about their journey in te reo Māori or in English.

These are real human accounts – difficult and painful to tell, but also testament to the determination of many involved. Through them all New Zealanders can understand the events which have shaped modern Aotearoa.

Once you’ve immersed yourself in the story of Ngāti Awa on Te Tai, did you know that there are biographies to read in the DNZB? Wepiha Apanui, Ngāti Awa leader and carver who led a team of carvers to build the wharenui Mataatua. Carl Völkner and James Falloon who were killed. Chief Te Hura Te Taiwhakaripi who fought in 1865 and Ngāti Awa rangitira Eruera Mānuera, who tasked Hirini Mead with leading the Ngāti Awa Treaty claim.

We look forward to working on new stories in 2019.

25 new stories of trailblazing New Zealand women

Palaeontologist Joan Wiffen, transgender icon Carmen Rupe, politician Tirikatene-Sullivan, and writer Margaret Mahy, some of the women whose life stories have been published on the DNZB.

This week we’re publishing 25 new biographies of women in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB), to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women winning the right to vote:

Anderson, Amy Mona writer, rural memoirist

Bailey, Rona political activist, dancer, teacher

Bartlett, Patricia Maureen social morality campaigner

Blumhardt, Vera Doreen educator, potter, arts administrator

Clay, Marie Mildred teacher, developmental and child psychologist, literacy researcher

Donley, Joan Elsa midwife, home-birth advocate

Edmond, Lauris Dorothy poet and writer

Locke, Elsie Violet activist, writer

Mahy, Margaret May children’s and young adult writer

Paul, Joanna Margaret visual artist and writer

Raymond, Cherry broadcaster, journalist, feminist

Rehu-Murchie, Erihapeti researcher, health, human rights, and environmental campaigner

Rickard, Tuaiwa Hautai Kereopa (Eva) woman of mana, community leader

Rimmer, Eva Marion paraplegic athlete, disability rights advocate

Rupe, Carmen Tione drag queen entertainer, sex worker, entrepreneur

Sturm, Jacqueline Cecilia short-story writer and poet

Szászy, Miraka woman of mana, educator, leader

Te Atairangikaahu Korokī Te Rata Mahuta Tāwhiao Pōtatau Te Wherowhero Māori queen

Tinsley, Beatrice Muriel astronomer

Tirikatene-Sullivan, Tini Whetu Marama politician, fashion icon, wahine toa

TuiSamoa, Agnes Rosa social worker, community advocate

Wallace, Georgina Catriona Pamela Augusta judge, lawyer

Wark, Elizabeth Cecilia (Betty) community worker

Whitehouse, Davina actor, producer, broadcaster

Wiffen, Joan palaeontologist

These women came to prominence in their fields between the 1940s and the 1970s. It would be impossible for any group of 25 women to capture the complexity and variety of the lives of New Zealand women, but we hope this group will reflect some of the diversity of experience. It would be hard to find two more contrasting lives than those of social morality campaigner Patricia Bartlett and transgender sex worker and nightclub entrepreneur Carmen Rupe. The rest run the gamut from writers to judges, community workers to scientists, broadcasters to athletes, activists to actors.

The new entries have been written by subject experts, including Barbara Brookes, Sandra Coney, Tessa Duder, Margaret Tennant, Rebecca Priestley, Roger Robinson and Jill Trevelyan. The entries, which collectively amount to more than 50,000 words, include over 200 images, videos, and sound recordings, many drawn from private collections and not previously published. We plan to have te reo Māori translations of the entries relating to Māori subjects available in early 2019.

This is the first substantial group of new biographies to be released since 2011, as I discussed in my November 2017 Signposts blog. It is the beginning of an ongoing publication programme, in which we aim to publish at least 20 new biographies each year on an ongoing basis.

This week we are also launching a new-look DNZB homepage, reflecting the DNZB’s renewed vigour and focus on the future. We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to sharing many more New Zealand lives with you in the years to come.

‘Take it easy – take the train’

Auckland commuters arrive at the Britomart Transport Centre during the morning rush hour

Auckland commuters arrive at the Britomart Transport Centre during the morning rush hour

Record growth in the number of commuters using public transport in Auckland highlights how quickly information and trends can change – a challenge for any encyclopedia. Te Ara’s entries on Public Transport and Railways aren’t that old; they were published in the Economy and the City theme in 2010, and acknowledged that public transport patronage had rallied since the 1990s and early 2000s. Over the last decade, though, that revival has become a revolution – especially in a city most assumed was as car-crazy as Los Angeles, and always would be.

In August 2015 Auckland Transport reported that the city’s rail journeys over the previous 12 months had reached 14 million – the highest total ever recorded and 21% up on the previous year. Since the early 1990s, when barely a million Aucklanders rode a run-down, neglected suburban rail system, growth has been spectacular: the 2014/15 total was more than double the 2007/08 figure of 6.8 million, which was itself more than twice the 3.2 million recorded in 2002/03. As this chart illustrates, the surge in Auckland commuter numbers means that more New Zealanders are taking the train today than at any time since the early 1960s.

While the most dramatic recent growth has been on the rails, more people are also travelling on Auckland’s much more extensive bus network, with 57 million journeys in the year to March 2015, an 8.5% increase over the previous year. Numbers using the Northern Express busway were up 17%. Even ferry services recorded a 5% increase, with a total of 5.4 million trips. Overall, Auckland’s public transport journeys to March 2015 totalled 78 million, an increase of 10% on the year before.

Rather than just being an exercise in updating statistics, significant changes like this invite us to reassess the way we think about our cities. As Te Ara’s Public Transport and Railways entries explain, all major New Zealand cities experienced a significant decline in public transport patronage during the second half of the 20th century, an era when the car was king. As a result, in the 1990s and early 2000s New Zealand, and Auckland especially, had one of the lowest rates of public transport use in the world. Most people still commute by car of course, and we shouldn’t overstate the rise of public transit. But the recent turnaround is historically significant, and is one of a number of trends that are reshaping New Zealand’s largest city.

Similarly, for decades we’ve thought of Wellington as New Zealand’s rail-commuter capital. Patronage there has also grown since the early 2000s, and with more than 12 million rail journeys in 2014/15 it’s still well ahead on a per capita basis. But in absolute terms Wellington’s commuter numbers are unlikely to top Auckland’s again. With 55% of all New Zealand’s public transport journeys happening there, we need to recognise Auckland as the country’s new commuter hub.

Like most revolutions, this one has a variety of causes. Public transport patronage jumped around 2008 as petrol prices rose, but has accelerated even as pump prices have fallen Traffic congestion, travel times and parking costs are all major influences; for some, concern over fossil fuels and climate change is a factor. New migrants may be more used to public transport and rail travel has also benefited from our growing dependence on smartphones, tablets and laptops, which allow commuters to work or play during their journey. Arguably the primary driver has been long-overdue investment in infrastructure and improvements to the quality and frequency of services, which have clearly unlocked significant latent demand for public transport.

The opening of the downtown Britomart Transport Centre in 2003 was a key first step, and over the last decade central government has invested heavily in upgrading and electrifying the network, duplicating tracks, building new stations, reopening the Onehunga branch line (closed since 1973) and purchasing new Spanish-built electric multiple units, the first of which entered service in April 2014. With main construction work on the 3.4-km underground Auckland City Rail Link due to start in 2018, further growth is expected.

Public transport is a fast moving environment, especially in New Zealand’s largest and most dynamic city. On current trends, 20 million rail journeys will be taken in Auckland in 2016. We may need to revisit these entries sooner rather than later.

A forgotten cartographer and artist

Augustus Koch's illustration of carved figures at Ōhinemutu, Rotorua

Augustus Koch's illustration of carved figures at Ōhinemutu, Rotorua

Augustus Koch is one of the obscure figures of 19th-century art and cartography. Apart from a brief entry in Una Platts’ Nineteenth century New Zealand artists, little has been written about him. I had heard of Koch as the artist who accompanied Ferdinand Hochstetter on his epic explorations of the central North Island in 1859, but few of his illustrations seemed to have survived.

In a new book, Augustus Koch – mapmaker, Rolf Brednich has put Koch back in the historical record with a thoroughly researched biography, illustrated by a selection of his cartoons, drawings and maps. I did a quick check in Te Ara, and discovered that three of Koch’s images are reproduced – all from John White’s Ancient history of the Maori, drawn late in the artist’s life.

The basic outlines of Koch’s life come from two autobiographical manuscripts, written for his family, that are now held in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Born into a middle-class German family, he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Berlin. His student years coincided with widespread political upheavals, and during the riots in 1848 he defended the barricades against the Prussian army. His cartoons, published in revolutionary newssheets, brought him to the notice of the authorities. He was advised to leave Berlin, and spent the next eight years as a sailor on merchant ships, travelling the world. Meeting his future wife on an emigrant ship travelling to New Zealand, he set himself up in Auckland in 1858 as a freelance artist and draughtsman. Soon afterwards he was engaged by Hochstetter to make a pictorial record of his expedition through the central North Island.

Mapmaker and artist Augustus Koch

Mapmaker and artist Augustus Koch

It was believed that most of Koch’s illustrations of the journey had disappeared, but by a wonderful coincidence they were recently discovered by researcher Sascha Nolden in an archive collection in Switzerland. Nolden has contributed the chapter on the Hochstetter expedition, illustrated by some of Koch’s drawings, unseen in New Zealand for over 150 years.

Later in 1859 Koch was offered the post of chief draughtsman for the newly established Hawke’s Bay Provincial Council, based in Napier, where he stayed for a decade. When Vogel’s ‘Think Big’ policies were getting under way in the early 1870s, Koch joined the Public Works Department in Wellington as a senior draughtsman, and stayed in that position until he was made redundant in 1887 as part of cutbacks during the long depression. In his memoirs Koch says very little about these years as a cartographer – the bulk of his working life – and few of his maps have been previously identified. Rolf Brednich has assiduously searched map collections and archives throughout New Zealand, and managed to identify an impressive number of maps bearing Koch’s name. There are probably more that are unsigned. The second half of the book consists of colour reproductions of a selection of Koch’s maps, showing the variety of work he undertook. It includes maps of roads, railways, construction projects and new town subdivisions from Thames to Naseby. Koch’s skill in design and lithography was clearly recognised by his superiors because he was responsible for a number of coloured maps intended for public display, including maps of Stewart Island, county boundaries, proposed railways, shipwrecks, lighthouses, and a geological map of New Zealand (below) displayed at the 1873 Vienna exhibition.

Koch's geological map of New Zealand, 1873

Koch's geological map of New Zealand, 1873

After losing his job in 1887, Koch must have had a difficult time, as he still had a growing family to support. He undertook whatever work he could pick up, including illustrations for books, most notably White’s Ancient history of the Maori, Mackay’s Manual of grasses and the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute. He was involved in the artistic life of Wellington, and was secretary of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts for many years.

Because of the need to reproduce maps, this is a large-format publication, slightly bigger than A3, which needs to be examined on a table. This is a book to treasure – it has put Augustus Koch back on the map as a significant 19th-century artist and cartographer. But I can make a confident prediction that this is not the final word on Koch, because more of his illustrations are likely to be identified now that we recognise his importance.

Bill Oliver, 1925–2015

Historian and editor Bill Oliver, complete with pipe (pic: Massey University)

Historian and editor Bill Oliver, complete with pipe (pic: Massey University)

It’s sad to record the passing on 16 September of William Hosking Oliver, one of the pioneers of the teaching of New Zealand history in New Zealand universities, and the founding editor of the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (now part of Te Ara).

Bill was born in Feilding and attended school there and in Dannevirke. He was proud of his Cornish ancestors and his roots in middle New Zealand. He studied at Victoria University College in Wellington, where he came under the spell of History Professor Fred Wood. He went off to complete a doctorate at Oxford University (on British Millennialists) before returning to teach at Canterbury and Massey universities.
It was at Massey that Bill established the first course that focused on New Zealand history, and he published a pioneering history, The story of New Zealand (Faber and Faber), almost simultaneously with Keith Sinclair’s History of New Zealand
(Penguin). Sinclair’s book came to be reprinted many times, and Bill’s was not, possibly because of its more discursive and essayistic style, cast in elegant prose and avoiding the Great Men and Great Events school of historiography. It still reads beautifully.

Oliver and Sinclair were longtime colleagues and friends, both poets and essayists as well as historians of New Zealand. They mingled with other writers and artists in their youth, and fruitfully sparred with each other on DNZB committees.

In the early 1980s Bill Oliver took on the role of founding editor of a new dictionary of national biography for New Zealand. He was determined as ever to make this, usually the most nationalistic of historical monuments, as representative of the actual makeup of the country as possible. This was a difficult challenge, especially in the selection of biographies for inclusion in the first volume, which covered the years in which the islands were discovered by Europeans, the British colony founded and settlement begun. The historians and other interested parties whom Bill consulted and formed into working parties had definite views and firm ideas about who was to be ‘in’ and who was not. Bill’s democratic plan was to include many Māori and many more women than were usually encountered in such compilations. This didn’t leave as much room for the pale patriarchal people and many noses were put out of joint. Bill stuck to his principles and a unique and memorable collection of lives enriched New Zealand’s historiography.

Alongside this achievement was the publication of a parallel volume of Māori-language lives of Māori people. This bicultural initiative was another pioneering achievement, assisted and continued by Bill’s successor as general editor, Claudia Orange.

One of the distinguishing features of Bill’s editorship was his guiding hand in matters of structural editing and style. Staff were treated to Bill’s handwritten comments on their editing, in terms of the balance and structure of a life as well as in identifying detailed (in Bill’s hand, always ‘detailled’ – he never could spell that word) points of fact and nuances, drawing on his immense knowledge of New Zealand history and the primary sources of information. These comments were expressed in economic and graceful prose. (Bill’s editorial principles and practices have been outlined in a previous post to this blog).

Bill was awarded a CBE for this achievement, and the project was fortunate to have his ongoing interest and attention, as he continued to provide advice and detailled [sic!] commentary for all future volumes of the DNZB after his retirement.

I suspect that all who worked alongside Bill (not ‘for’ him – he seldom pulled rank) will count it among the most satisfying, stimulating and rewarding periods in their lives.

In recent years Bill’s activities have been compromised by ill health, though his mind and interest have remained active. Few people, and certainly not Bill himself, had anticipated he would live to such a ripe old age, but those who have had the pleasure of his company will cherish the memory of the gentle and wise man who was happy to discuss all manner of contemporary subjects, and also to share the details of a long and full life. He’d had to give up most of his ‘vices’ over the years, but his memories of them were animated and cheerful. Recently he told me about his time manpowered into the broadcasting service at the end of the Second World War, and chortled over the jazz records he ‘borrowed’ from the service and took home to enliven student parties. He’d been reading to me from Rachel Barrowman’s recent biography of Maurice Gee, enlivened by erudite and amusing commentary. I’m going to miss his quiet charm and wise conversation. Nice that he’s left an enduring legacy and a cohort of friends and colleagues to celebrate knowing him.