Monday, November 30, 2009

Newmarket traffic control box art

My friends Bill & Barbara Ellis sent this shot through this afternoon -- looks like the box is at the north-western corner of Mortimer Pass and Broadway. I'll have to take a closer look next time I'm in the neighbourhood.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Laurel Kerosene, and "Aussie" Ice Cream

Another find today at the Sunday Market -- a recipe book put out by Vacuum Oil under its Laurel kerosene brand, before Vacuum became Mobil. I have no idea as to date, but the booklet was printed in Wellington.

What intrigued me was this entry:

I asked two of my favourite West Islanders about this, Jayne from Our Great Southern Land, and Leechbabe from Stuff with Thing, why this particular recipe is an "Aussie" one. The answer's still uncertain, as one lead raised, the cornflour, seems to be fairly common in ice cream making (thanks, Jayne and Leechie for your help!)

Further suggestions as to the reason for the Aussieness of the recipe gratefully appreciated.

Update: The ice cream has been made at Jayne's place today. The results:
"Ok, ice cream isn't fully set yet but VERY yummy.
Has that decent 'real food' taste, no synthetic after-taste, if you know what I mean?
We'll be making this ice cream instead of buying any from now on."
 Cool. Glad my habit of gathering up old stuff at markets has helped trans-Tasman relations!

Further update (2 December 2009): Resulting post on Our Great Southern Land.

Another blog: I Love Retro Things

I stumbled across the I Love Retro Things blog just now -- and it looks like it will take me ages to go through all the great stuff there. Check it out, especially if the wet weather keeps up.

1950 Empire Games

A walk down to the Avondale Sunday Market this morning, and I find this: a 1950 Crown Lynn Empire Games commemorative beer mug. Thanks to a couple of small chips at the top, I got it for 1/3 the going Trade-Me rate.

According to another site, 10,000 of these were made. This was Auckland's first big post-war promo, eclipsed in the early 1950s only by the Queen's visit in 1953. The closing ceremony was held at Werstern Springs stadium -- and compared with such ceremonies these days. It's no wonder it isn't all that well remembered. This from the official programme, via Matapihi:


In their brevity and simplicity, the closing ceremonies of the 1950 British Empire Games will be typically British.

At the conclusion of the last Victory Ceremony at the Western Springs Stadium, all standard-bearers, flag-bearers and team-managers will take theirb places in alphabetical order of teams just off the cycling track and then march across the arena to the centre of the ground, assembling in a half-circle around a dais.

Each flag-bearer in turn will then return his country's flag to the Chairman of the Organising Committee, who will present same to the team-manager.

The Chairman of the British Empire Games Federation will then declare the 1950 British Empire Games closed.

A salute of four guns will be fired.

"Auld Lang Syne" will be played, the whole attendance being asked to join in the singing of same, and finally "God Save the King", during which all flags will be finally lowered.

Ah, the days before telly, and multi-national corporate sponsorship ...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shipwrecks of New Zealand

It isn't often I get an email from an author asking if I'd be interested in a new book which has come out. When Lynton Diggle emailed me this afternoon, and it was to do with his book released last month, Shipwrecks of New Zealand, a companion (and extension) to the effective Bible of NZ shipwreck history, the 8th edition of New Zealand Shipwrecks which he co-authored...

... I'll just have to start swearing off the buying of history books further on into December, I suppose. This one looks like a must-have, with 130 pages, illustrated, covering another 86 wrecks in our history previously not recorded.

A Titirangi resident, Lynton Diggle (according to last night's Western Leader) filmed underwater sites while working for salvage companies in the 1980s. His career path began at 17 with scriptwriter training and later cameraman work for New Zealand Broadcasting, followed by a 25 year stint with the National Film Unit, specialising in underwater filming. He co-authored New Zealand Shipwrecks (2007) with his wife, Edith.

The Western Leader quoted him as saying, "There's lots of romance about wrecks." Too right, Lynton.

Price: $45.50 includes GST and postage throughout NZ)
Orders: Lynton Diggle, 3 Ngaio Road, Titirangi, Auckland 0604

Gypsy Fair at Craigavon Park, Blockhouse Bay

Some shots of the Gypsy Fair at Craigavon park today. Other folks' photos here.









 I bought a couple of second-hand NZ history books (natch), and this:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Queen Street Christmas

I'm not a fan of Christmas -- but images of the new Santa which has caused some stir are interesting enough. (Image below, and link, courtesy Peter Hjorring).


Last night, I thought I'd give taking shots of Smith & Caughey's display window a shot. The photos came out rather well, to my surprise.



Herons by the Park

The traffic control box beside Heron Park is another one of those difficult-to-photograph ones. Mainly because it's on the busy intersection of Great North and Blockhouse Bay Roads. There is always a risk of getting in the way of traffic taking an image of this piece of art.

Still, I'm glad it's there, and reminds people (hopefully!) that Heron Park on the Avondale-Waterview border is named after the bird, and not some Mr. Heron.

Update, 14 January 2011: On 5 December 2010, the box was replaced as part of an upgrade by a larger box, and the art is gone. See comments below.

Pt Chevalier Memories 1930s -1950s

Likely to be the first major publication about Pt Chevalier's past since A H Walker's Rangi-Mata-Rau in the 1960s, the book Pt Chevalier Memories 1930s-1950s was launched yesterday at the Pt Chevalier Community Library. Padmini Raj and her team, along with staff at Auckland City Libraries, have worked like trojans to put together not only a collection of 60 contributions, diagrams and photographs to create a reference volume using archival paper, but they've also gone that extra step further and made copies for public sale (233 pages, b/w, $20, contact the library, stocks are limited).

Padmini has also worked very hard to compile an index for the book, adding research value to what was already a trove of information. The library was packed yesterday afternoon -- I'd say that another volume may eventually be called for by the community, especially considering the photographs and info I'm receiving all the time for inclusion in the Point Chevalier Times for the local history group (which, by the way, gained new members yesterday, even though the function wasn't ours.)

It is great that our History Group there at "Point" has such a close association with the local library, over and above the fact that Padmini was the main encourager late last year. Auckland City Libraries, I find, have a very good awareness of both each area's heritage and the groups and societies enthusiastically promoting same. This has helped a great deal in continuing the boom in interest in things past in our region.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Devonport changes

This image, and the next two, are by courtesy of my dear friend Liz of Mad Bush Farm. Earlier this year I went on about the theft of the beautiful bronze horses of the fountain at Devonport's Windsor Reserve.

More images ...


Well, as at this month, the fountain is still in a fairly sorry, horse-less state.

Very sad to see. However, a resident there says that a replacement is in the pipeline. I'll keep an eye on it.

Meanwhile, with the demise of the Jackson's Muzeum in Devonport, I was wondering what would happen to the building there. Actually, I think it's improved. It was once the Post Office. Today, I reckon it looks great.

Below is another of Liz's shots (thanks, Liz!)

Here is the building now, transformed to a Salmond Reed design (which earned a heritage award). Now, it's restored to its original 1938 Art Deco features.

I even like the way they've paid attentiion to fine details.

Chelsea Sugar Refinery

Image from Wikipedia

I can see this view from a distance, across the Waitemata Harbour. Hard to miss the buildings which seem pink and stand out from the verdant green of the bush around it.

The Chelsea Sugar Refinery has been going since 1883. Its history is intimately tied up with that of Birkenhead.

Last Saturday, my friend Molly took me on a spontaneous vehicular tiki-tour of that part of Birkenhead -- so I got to see the refinery buildings and site close-up for the first time ever. These are the resulting (also spontaneous, quick-grab of the camera) photos.


Auckland Birthday Carnivals 1950-1961

Images courtesy Mrs. J. Jones.

I'm gathering up information on these events at the moment (contributions and memories from readers of this blog always appreciated), but here is what I know so far in summary.

In 1947, the Auckland Provincial Public Relations Office was inaugurated. The first challenge for the new organisation, linked with thye Auckland City Council and Chamber of Commerce, was the 1950 Empire Gamers held in Auckland. In conjunction with that event (held mainly at Eden Park but the closing event was at Western Springs), the first birthday carnival was organised.

In 1951, a second was held in January to early February at the Epsom Showgrounds -- then in 1952, it shifted to Western Springs Stadium and nearby open areas beside the old pumphouse. The following year, the PRO took out a 50 year lease with the City Council for the Western Springs Stadium and surrounds, and intended creating a sports and pleasure park, including conversionn of the pumphouse into a restuarant. Fortunately for those of us which like the pumphouse as it is today, the gem of MOTAT, the plans didn't go ahead. The carnival ruptured money in its declining years, and by the middle of 1961 the PRO pulled out of the lease, operning the way for MOTAT and the Western Springs Park we know today.

The image above is from the 1952 float parade at Western Springs. Below is the carnival grounds that year (this expanded rapidly in ensuing years).

I hope to write a more in-depth piece for the Point Chevalier Times soon.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The great wasp battle of Henderson, 1954

From the Auckland Star, 13 January 1954.

An estimated 10,000 wasps were brought down in a sharp engagement at Henderson yesterday afternoon. Two of our apiary instructors were damaged.

Equipped with a car-load of wasp-killing instruments, the instructors carried out the raid on a wasp colony's 5ft x 6ft nest on the Henderson farm of Mr. R. J. Hardie.

Fifteen people -- the Hardies, neighbours and friends -- watched as the instructors, Mr. E. Smellie and Mr. D. Roberts, prepared for action.

The instructors took off their coats, donned overalls and cloth arm protectors, pulled their socks up over their trouser cuffs, put on gauze head guards and rubber gloves. Then they ran up an extension ladder to the big nest hanging over 10ft high in a tawa tree. Mr Smellie mounted the ladder with a smoke bomb, placed it in the nest and got his first stings.

The smoke filled the nest and formed a film outside it to contain the wasps.

Next the wasps were treated to a tin of cyanide gas.

Some wasps fought their way out of the smoke-choked nest and attacked the instructors, swarmed round their heads, stinging through their clothing.

Spectators moved back as the wasps went on the warpath. They turned up the collars of their coats, covered their faces and hid behind trees.

Then the nest caught fire. The smoke bomb had ignited the papery walls of the nest -- though it wasn't supposed to. Wasps fell dead in a shower. After a few minutes the men slashed the nest with a spade and its burning pieces fell to the ground.

The wasps kept on fighting. They stung the instructors dozens of times, followed them wherever they went. They stung them through their shirts, even through their rubber gloves. Mr. Smellie's hand ballooned with the effect of the stinging.

Mr. Roberts, nonchalantly saying, "That one got me," was picking clinging wasps off his hands. The wasps were walking up his arms, their stingers working like sewing machines.

When it was all over -- when all that was left of the nest was burning wreckage at the bottom of the tree -- a swarm of wasps which had been out on patrol returned to find their home gone. That's when your photographer and reporter left.

Digital storytelling

Digital storytelling, the sound-and-vision version of oral history, is starting to be all the rage at the moment, it seems. A firm putting an archive together in the Coromandel area has set up this website with samples to view. The cost per story is expensive (around $400-500 each, counting in workshops cost) but the system has attracted considerable interest, including at Blockhouse Bay (I have a copy of the result, thanks to Gail Fotheringham).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pt Chevalier History Group site

Ian Elsom of the Linking Local History site asked about a site for the Pt Chevalier History Group, so ... here it is. Very basic, Google sites based (my sincere thanks to my friend Liz from Mad Bush Farm for the heads up on that) but it'll do (mainly 'cause it's free).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Linking Local history

I woke up this morning to an interesting email from the compiler of a new internet directory for those with a local history bent, Ian Elsom. His Linking Local History page mainly shows NZ and UK links at the moment.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Richard Quinn

I've just seen in the Western Leader (17 November) that Richard Quinn of Avondale passed away on 11 September this year, aged 63. The obituary the paper published was brief, but quite good. Quinn "fought to preserve an important part of West Auckland's history" as he was on "the committee that helped restore and preseve a brickmaking kiln fromm the old Crown Lynn Potteries site in New Lynn during the 1980s," (they associate Quinn with the Ambrico kiln which was on the other side of Rankin Ave from the main Crown Lynn works) "spent nine months" looking for Crown Lynn artefacts, and was also involved with restoration at Limeburners Bay. Mayor Bob Harvey of Waitakere City referred to Quinn as a "champion".

Not exactly what Bob Harvey may have been calling Quinn nine years ago, according to old Brian Rudman articles in the Herald, like this one, and this.

"A year ago the council had all 2300 items photographed and catalogued. Then, with a security guard at the door, they were packed and secreted away in containers to hidden storage.

Mr Quinn was outraged. Offered a catalogue to identify his treasures, he refused. The mayor waded in with a letter calling for "an end to this emotional blackmail and nonsense which gives you both pleasure and pain."

The slanging continues. Mr Quinn says the council is demanding receipts to prove ownership. The council's manager of public affairs, Wally Thomas, denies this, saying that other than items known to have been donated by others, Mr Quinn can "tell us what is his and take it away."

The reality is, Mr Quinn has nowhere to take them. Not that that seems to be the issue any more. The issue now is self-esteem.

"I'm unemployed. They thought they could do what they liked. I don't count."

Mr Harvey is similarly spitting the dummy. "I have been terrorised by experts and I refuse to be intimidated for one more month by Mr Quinn of New Lynn."

Says Mr Quinn: "I'm from Avondale."

(NZ Herald, 15 May 2000)

Quinn eventually received a $130,000 payout from Waitakere City Council in July 2002 at the end of the  seven year dispute.

Time heals all wounds, I guess. Pity that it has taken Waitakere City so long to recognise Quinn's passing, though.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Street Stories 13: Jomac Place

Last month, the Avondale Community Board endorsed the naming of a new street through the development of the old Connell Brothers property on Rosebank as "Jomac Place". I did offer four alternatives to better reflect Avondale's heritage and the nearby geography (when I found out by reading the agenda a few days before the meeting), but these were turned down. Deputy Mayor David Hay felt that the developers were entitled to name the street after themselves, and that was that. The majority of the Board went along with that. (Board Chairman Duncan Macdonald liked the idea of the first two options I suggested, though).

The alternatives suggested were:
Motu Manawa Place (as the Motu Manawa/Pollen Island reserve is right alongside);
Hayward Wright Place (we have yet to see any part of Avondale named after our pioneer nurseryman)
Daniel Connell Place (first of the Connell family to own the property. This option was an outside chance, as there is already a Connell Street in Blockhouse Bay -- no relation);
Robert Chisholm Place (the 19th century owner. Again, an outsider of a chance).

In terms of local street naming, historical societies are rarely consulted. Which is a pity, as then they'd have some local feedback. We are the ones who will live with this street name far longer than the developers will. Ngati Whatua o Orakei were consulted -- and they didn't mind Jomac Place. A pity.

To be fair to Jomac Construction Ltd, they did suggest early on a name linked to Robert Connell, the member of the family who sold the just over 10 hectare property for a reported $12.5 million, but ran into the Blockhouse Bay street name conflict.

So, we're stuck with Jomac Place. At least, this post will tell you why, and who Jomac is. I'd say give it about 10 years or so, and Jomac will become just like Honan Place, also onn Rosebank -- a case of "Who was that?"

Dr. Thomas Moore Philson

While I was having a bit of a look around part of Symonds Street Cemetery last month, I came upon Dr. Philson's gravestone -- a column with cloth draped over it (see below). The name I recognised instantly. Thomas Moore Philson was one of Auckland's leading medical practitioners, if not the leading one, for most of the colonial period of the 19th century, especially in his position as medical superintendent for the developing Auckland Hospital. Even the Cyclopedia of New Zealand, published after his death, honoured him.

I was delighted to realise last night that I also share my birthday with him.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kauri and Kaitaka

In October this year, Brian Rudman of the NZ Herald wrote:
" ... you only have to wander past the sad kauri prison at the bottom of Queen St to know that what the city considers "healthy" is not necessarily the same as the rest of us.

If the Britomart Square kauri were cows, the SPCA would be dragging the city through the courts on charges of malnutrition and cruel and unnatural imprisonment. Has no one at the council noticed that the trees closest to the sea breezes are either dead, or giving a very good impression of it."

Well, I grant that the kauri garden at Queen Elizabeth Square is as artificial as anything conceived by mankind and Council planners, but ... the trees live. I spotted some female kauri cones today.

According to Te Ara, kauri grow both male and female cones (male ones are long and thin). I've never seen kauri cones before -- might be a sign that the trees live after all.

The "kaitaka" part of this post is to do with the late Molly Macalister's sculpture, looking out toward Queen's Wharf and the harbour, "A Maori Figure in a Kaitaka Cloak" (1964-1965). More on her work here.

The art of Caroline Robinson

Image from Western Leader, 20 April 2001.

The image to the left is Caroline Robinson, a gifted sculptor who, I'm delighted to say, now and then crosses paths with me on my journey. Here she is with her steel waka sculpture which today takes pride of place outside New Lynn Community Centre. The list of her work, though, is long, and usually incorporates, somewhere along the line, an artistic reflection of heritage as oner of the threads of a place's story.

Recently, I received an email from Caroline regarding her latest project, and her new website. More info on Caroline and her work here.