Thursday, 25 December 2014

‘May Christmas Mirth Wed New Year Joy’

A hand painted Christmas card almost certainly inspired by Louis Prang, sent in 1908
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
The first Christmas card which wished its recipient a merry Christmas and a happy New Year was sent in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole the founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Sir Henry was overwhelmed by the task of sending handwritten Christmas greetings to all his friends and family. He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to paint a card and had the Christmas wish printed on it. The card which depicted two acts of charity was a reminder to his wealthy friends to be generous to those less fortunate at this time of year.

The rise in popularity of the Christmas card was rapid and by the 1880s famous artists and writers were being enticed by substantial prize money to design artwork and compose poems for the Christmas card publishers of the day. However a serious challenger to the card emerged during the 1890s in the form of the Christmas postcard. The postcard was less expensive to send, costing only a penny to post in America.

Christmas postcard, printed in Germany for B.B., London & New York
Handwritten on reverse: ‘From Jessie to Mary with Love,’
Addressed to ‘Mary Stewart, Wharf Street, Tauranga,’ date unknown
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
The Tauranga Heritage Collection has an interesting Christmas card collection with approximately 150 cards that date from the 1870s. Included amongst the publishers of these cards are Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd, Ernest Nister and Louis Prang who is credited with being the father of the modern Christmas card in America.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Furious Riding and Threatening Language: Crime on the Strand

The Strand, Tauranga, looking south, c. 1910s, showing two of the three hotels (the Commercial and the Masonic)
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 99-70
On 16 October 2007, the Bay of Plenty Times reported that the Tauranga City Council was preparing a night management plan to curb brawling and drunkenness on the Strand. In the 19th century also, the typical Strand crime was being drunk and disorderly: as there were three pubs in less than 300 metres, this can be no surprise. In the 1870s the long-suffering Constable Thomas Whelan dealt with an endless string of drunks, who were brought before the magistrate and fined five shillings plus costs for a first offence, or 24 hours in Tauranga jail if they failed to pay up. For subsequent offences they would be stung for ten shillings (or 48 hours in jail). This was the fine paid by Eliza Rudd of Greerton, when she was caught for the second time in less than a month in 1878.

The use of obscene language was usually punished more sharply, though Joseph Faulkner in 1877 was let off with a nominal fine of one shilling. Not so Tuwhiti, a Maori, who in the same year had to pay a whole pound plus 15 shillings costs or endure seven days’ hard labour.

The Strand c. 1883, with a number of ‘loafers’
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 04-250
Maori names were conspicuous among the drinkers, and there were sanctimonious comments about this from Pakeha. ‘We are sorry to see so much drunkenness among the natives now in Tauranga; it is almost impossible to walk along the Strand at any hour without meeting one or two intoxicated aborigines’ (Bay of Plenty Times, 21 August 1878). The impact of alcohol on Maori communities was already serious in the 1870s (1), and Maori leaders expressed concerned about it. But since drinking dulled the pain caused by loss of land and mana, it was difficult to stop – especially when there were so many pubs.

Other offences were reported: thefts and assaults; exploding dynamite in the harbour; and traffic violations, such as riding a horse too fast or on the footpath. Te Kani was fined five shillings and costs for ‘furious riding’ in June 1877. In November of the same year, George Grant was charged with a curious breach of the Municipal Police Act, i.e. tying a rope across the Strand near Wharf Street. He denied the charge, which was dismissed.

Commercial Hotel c 1912, before it burned down in 1916
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 99-723
Although most crime on the Strand was at the lower end of the scale, there was one sad exception. In February 1892 Duncan Munro was found wandering there half-naked, singing hymns and covered in blood, after bludgeoning his wife and children to death. Munro had shown evidence of mental disturbance for some time and was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. He was taken to the Whau Lunatic Asylum in Auckland.

Excessive strolling along the Strand, although not a crime, was deplored by the Bay of Plenty Times. It was the mark of the unemployed, who were advised in 1876 to stop ‘loafing about the Strand’ and go up to Poripori to prospect for gold; or of the lazy, like those members of the Jockey Club who allegedly spent their time ‘talking horse and smoking infamous cigars’ instead of setting up a racecourse. Captain Hannibal Marks the harbour master, also frequently seen on the Strand, was in October 1878 accused of similar neglect of his duties. This is probably what led a few days later to Pascoe Spriddle Marks’ being charged with using threatening language (‘to wit, “I’ll give that d-----d little skunk of an Editor a b-----y good thrashing”’) to Alfred Stewart Rathbone, Editor of the Bay of Plenty Times. The threat was uttered on the Strand, where the editor must have spent quite a bit of time himself.

Being threatened with violence on the Strand seems to have been an occupational hazard for editors of the Times. John Chadwick was charged with using threatening and abusive language to E. M. Edgcumbe in 1876 when the latter was editor. Mr Chadwick apparently said, ‘”You low-looking blackguard, I’ll teach you to put my name in the paper; I’ll make Tauranga so hot for you you’ll have to clear out”’, and ‘”You b-----y wretch, I’ll warm you yet”’ – this last being said ‘in a low hissing sort of voice, with the defendant’s fist lifted towards [Mr Edgcumbe’s] face’. In January 1877 Henry Sheldon used obscene language, lit matches and threw them about, ‘and threatened to punch the head of the Editor of the Bay of Plenty Times’: ten shillings’ fine plus costs of 6s 6d. The newspaper’s more recent editors may feel themselves lucky to have escaped such dramas – but then they probably spend less time on the Strand than their predecessors did.

(1) Megan Cook. 'Māori smoking, alcohol and drugs – tūpeka, waipiro me te tarukino - Māori use of alcohol', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 30-Jun-14

Friday, 12 December 2014

44 Brown Street, The Camp

44 Brown Street, Tauranga, home of William Walmsley, Tauranga's first librarian, c. 2007
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 08-001
This house built in about 1873 is another timber villa that has survived in central Tauranga.  It is a substantial two bay villa, clad with rusticated weatherboards in a design taken probably from an American pattern book. The roof is corrugated iron, with three chimneys and verandahs on two sides with decorative fretwork. Originally there were five bedrooms but the function of the house has changed over the years and modifications must have been made. It is a significant landmark and has been well maintained. When the house was built the area was known as The Camp.

William Cowan Walmsley
First Librarian Tauranga, 1870-1884, died Auckland 16th April 1913, 84 years
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library, Ref. 01-388
William Walmsley, who lived in the house with his family from the late 1880s, came from an English family but grew up in Newfoundland. He was living in Melbourne by 1857 from where he was recruited and joined the 1st Waikato Regiment as a private. The government raised four regiments of militia to keep order in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Walmsley received the New Zealand War medal as he was able to prove he had come under fire in battle.  In 1872 he was appointed librarian at the Mechanics Institute, the forerunner of the Tauranga Public Library. Mrs Sarah Ann Walmsley died in the house in 1901 and her husband died in Auckland in 1913.

The house is now the offices of MacKenzie Elvin, lawyers. In the 1940s it was a private and maternity hospital called Waimarie. Miss R Gallagher was the midwife and from 1951 Dr Mark took surgical patients. In 1960 it reverted to a private dwelling and was subdivided into flats. For a period prior to the law offices the building housed the Bottle Museum.

Moore, Barbara, William Walmsley; Tauranga’s first librarian, in Historical Review Bay of Plenty Journal of History, May 2007.
Matthews & Matthews, Rorke, Jinty et al. Central Tauranga Heritage Study (draft) 2007

Friday, 5 December 2014

Oleographs in Brain-Watkins House

Oleograph, Brain Watkins House
An oleograph was the precursor to the modern mass production of colour reproductions, and was the most popular method of colour reproduction until the end of the nineteenth century, when more efficient methods of colour multiple reprints were devised. It was invented by Alois Senefelder in Germany in 1798.

The technique was in use in England the 1830s, but was not used commercially until thirty years later. A chromolithograph was prepared by hand and colour applied; it was then printed on to cloth, to imitate an oil painting. A stone for each colour required was prepared, and  one colour over another was applied, sometimes using up to thirty stones for a single print. (1)

Oleograph, Brain Watkins House
There are two examples of Oleographs in the parlour at Brain-Watkins House, one on either side of the fireplace. Each depicts a man and a woman dressed in garments of circa 1874, and are possibly the oldest pictures in the House collection. They were valued in 1979 at $250.00.

When first invented, oleographs sold for under $10.00 American, and were advertised as ‘the democracy art for Middle class families.” Louis Prang of Boston became a very successful publisher of oleographs after the American Civil war. He produced still life, landscapes and classical subjects, and he also copied famous paintings, which were well received. He also commissioned artists to do work for him, and the product of their labour was sold from door to door. The most valuable oleographs were those specially commissioned and if in their original frames, are still reasonably valuable.

Oleographs can be identified by the publishers label pasted on the back of the picture. The labels on the ones owned by the Tauranga Historical Society have been covered by layers of paper pasted over them to protect the picture, and should be revealed when the works are able to be restored and reframed in their original frames. Today, oleographs have been forgotten, but they are  interesting prints and give us a glimpse into the culture of the late nineteenth century.

(1) Encyclopaedia Britannica

Friday, 28 November 2014

Charlie Haua: A Tauranga Legend

Charlie Haua's Cap
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
This cap, worn by Charles Haua (known as Charlie) is just one of several items in the Tauranga Heritage Collection which belonged to this well known and popular Tauranga resident. The cap is thought to be connected to the Cadet Old Boy’s Rugby Football Club. Charlie was the Club’s first captain and represented the Bay of Plenty in 1929. Later he became a life member of the Tauranga Rugby Association. A talented sportsman he was greatly involved in the local sporting scene; competing in rowing, rugby, hockey, sailing and gymnastics.

Charlie Haua outside his Blacksmith Shop Grey Street, 1965
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
Born in Tauranga in 1903 Charlie attended Tauranga District High School and went on to become one of the towns best known and longest serving blacksmiths. Working for forty-nine years as a smithy, in ‘retirement’ he made thousands of horseshoes for visitors to the Tauranga District Museum and Historic Village. In 1976 he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to the community.

Charlie Haua working his trade at Tauranga Historic Village
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Marineland, Moturiki (Leisure Island)

Marineland, Moturiki Island, undated postcard
Image courtesy of Justine Neal
In 1964 a Tauranga entrepreneur put forward the idea to create a large outdoor aquarium on the old quarry site on Moturiki Island. In 1965/66 drilling took place on the old quarry floor, explosives were set and detonated. When the loose material had been excavated there remained a large open shape. This was filled and stocked with dolphins and other marine life and Marineland was established. it was very popular at first but gradually patronage began to decline, possibly because the permanent population of the district at the time was not enough to support it, there was not enough variety in the exhibits and the deaths of several of the dolphins led to  questions about the care of the animals.

Marineland, Moturiki Island, undated postcard
Image courtesy of Justine Neal
By 1981 the steady decline in takings led to its closure and eventual sale.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Tauranga’s Past Captured on Tape

In 1988 James Hartstonge, broadcaster, Village Radio volunteer, and founder of the Tauranga District Museum Oral History Unit, wrote:
Already too much time has elapsed for us to collect invaluable material firsthand, but that is all the more reason to press on and make sure we capture what still remains in the memories of our older citizens.”
The Oral History Unit consisted of a small group of volunteers: James Harstonge, Graham Birkett, Reg Spence and Kel Raine. Other interviewers included Maureen Wood and Gypsy McKenzie. This group did not work in isolation. An advisory panel including Jinty Rorke, E. Morris and Alan Bellamy guided the selection of suitable interviewees. The Unit's primary focus was recording the memories of Tauranga's older residents with the hope of capturing their unique account of the past.

Wynnton Poole as a baby with his father William and grandfather Duncan Poole
Image courtesy of Tauranga City Library Ref. 04-065

From late 1988 to 1992 a total of 75 recordings were made - quite an achievement given the small team of volunteers and the amount of time needed to research an interviewee’s life and establish a rapport. Questions asked ranged from what they had eaten for breakfast as a child to their earliest recollections of Tauranga. Often personal stories would emerge. Reverend Wynnton Poole grew up in Tauranga and farmed in the area. When he retired he began a new path as an Anglican minister. In his recording he recalls stories from his childhood that have a uniquely Tauranga flavour.
You know I was an attractive child and the old ladies used to goo over me while I was in my pram. Later as I got a little bigger I became a terrible wanderer and finally my mother thought she had solved the problem. She put a belt on me with a ring at the back and a ring on the clothes line and a long line so I could play around the yard and not escape. I fairly quickly found out that if I removed my pants that I could slip off the belt and I didn’t necessarily stop to put my pants on again.”

The Faulkner family home in Beach Road, Otumoetai with Eric and Connie Faulkner standing at the front door
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection

Topics such as local government and the Tauranga Harbour were also of interest. A good example of this is the interview with Eric Faulkner. Mr Faulkner was the great-grandson of trader John Lees Faulkner and was born and raised in Tauranga. His love of the town saw him become involved in local politics serving both as Deputy Mayor and Mayor of Tauranga. In his recording Mr Faulkner discusses the development of the harbour bridge.

The last interview was recorded in 1992 and the Tauranga Library was given copies of the tapes. The originals became part of the Tauranga Heritage Collection and have recently been digitized.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Inside the Shakespeare Hut? The Kiwis and the Bard in WWI

Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series 

Shakespeare Hut, NZ YMCA Centre, London
Inside the Shakespeare Hut? The Kiwis and the Bard in WWI

Dr Mark Houlahan
Wednesday 5 November, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential Email or phone 027 286 7454

The memory of Gallipoli casts a long shadow over our perspective of WWI. Yet if we focus exclusively on grim reports from the front, we settle for an uncomplicated picture of this war. For throughout 1916 New Zealanders round the globe embraced the 300th anniversary commemorations of Shakespeare’s death. In January, 1916, British forces abandoned the Dardanelles after the catastrophic Gallipoli campaign. At home in New Zealand space was found amidst the battle news to celebrate Shakespeare’s anniversary.

About the Presenter
Mark Houlahan is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Waikato and currently President of the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association (ANZSA). He has published widely on issues of Shakespeare, adaptation and cultural formation.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

New Zealand and the Gallipoli Campaign

Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series 

Gallipoli Peninsula

New Zealand and the Gallipoli Campaign

Dr Cliff Simons
Wednesday 29 October, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential Email or phone 027 286 7454

The outbreak of war in 1914 offered a promise of adventure, and young New Zealand men clamoured to enlist. However, their first taste of battle in the Gallipoli campaign shattered that illusion, and our troops struggled to survive in that harsh peninsular, against a well organised Turkish defence. This presentation examines the Gallipoli Campaign from a New Zealand perspective, highlighting activities of some of our soldiers from Tauranga Moana.

About the Presenter
Works at the New Zealand Defence College, in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and teaches about New Zealand’s colonial wars. Cliff will travel to the 2015 Gallipoli Centennial Commemorations as a Military Historian.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Street Numbers

Houses which did not need numbering: "Barbreck"
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 02-558
We take it for granted now that even rural properties will have numbers, making them easier to find, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries addresses were much less precise. The big houses had names – ‘Fairlight’, ‘Barbreck’, ‘Taiparirua’ – which with or without the street name were sufficient to identify the place. But for the ordinary little houses, you just had to know where people lived. As towns grew, this made for difficulties.

Letterhead of Easy Find House Numbering Company
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries
On 24 August 1931, the directors of the Easy Find House Numbering Co. of New Zealand wrote to the Town Clerk of the Tauranga Borough Council from their head office in Worcester Street, Christchurch. They asked the Council to grant the company sole rights to manage a house numbering project from start to finish: calling on householders, explaining the advantages of the system, soliciting orders, doing the work, and collecting the payments. The Council would get ten per cent of the moneys taken – ‘to be given to the unemployed fund, or to any other fund the Council deems fit’. The number of each house would be painted on the kerb in front of the gate, facing the centre of the road, using ‘a black uniform type on a white background (averaging 10” x 6”)’ so that they would be easily seen at night under the street lamps. The Town Clerk’s reply to Easy Find does not survive, but it’s doubtful if the system would have suited Tauranga in 1931, when houses were scattered, gates far from universal, and kerbs less than ideally smooth for having numbers painted on them. It’s doubtful also that the Council would have signed up to a deal that would have returned it only ten per cent.

Houses which did not need numbering: "Fairlight" and surroundings
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 10-123
Seven years later, street numbering was still an issue in the town. The Very Rev. T. H. Roseveare, newly arrived minister of the Presbyterian Church, wrote to the Mayor in 1938 about the inconvenience of not having the houses numbered. His letter is polite, but he refers the matter quite pointedly to the consciences of the Mayor and Councillors, ‘feeling sure that you will take what course appears to you to be right’.

By 1939 some progress had been made: a report states that 313 houses had been numbered – and paid for, at 1/6d each. 50 or 60 were to be called on again. But every system has its failures, and a stalwart four refused to have anything to do with the scheme.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Last Battle: Perception and Representation of the Liberation of Le Quesnoy 4 November 1918

Stained Glass, St Andrew's, Cambridge, NZ
Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series

The Last Battle: Perception and Representation of the Liberation of Le Quesnoy 4 November 1918

Dr Nathalie Philippe
Wednesday 22 October, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential Email or phone 027 286 7454

This presentation looks at how New Zealand soldiers were able to liberate the French town of Le Quesnoy in Northern France and also how the First New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s last battle has been depicted using various media: photographs, drawings, paintings and stained glass.

About the Presenter
Dr Nathalie Philippe is a senior lecturer in French at the University of Waikato. Her research focuses on the plight of civilians during World War One and New Zealanders on the Western Front.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Brain Watkins House

Brain Watkins House, c.1906
The house has stood solid and square on a corner in Tauranga for 133 years. The square villas featured in many New Zealand towns from the 1880s were practical and utilitarian and the Brain Watkins House is no exception. Like The Elms, the Brain Watkins House attempts to fulfil the gap in Tauranga, the city which lacks a civic museum.

Built entirely of kauri by Joseph Denham Brain for his family, the house follows the typical pattern of a central corridor from front to back door with rooms opening on each side. Fire places in two living rooms, a coal or wood stove originally in the kitchen, and a fireplace in one bedroom provided heating in an otherwise house cold in winter. Weatherboard cladding and an iron roof with a central front door and windows on either side shows an affiliation to the neo-Georgian style.

Brain Watkins House, after 1957
This is a house derived from a pattern book rather than an individual design and the joinery, verandah fretwork, balusters, verandah poles and gate being factory made. A feature unique in Tauranga is the encaustic tiled front path and steps.

Brain Watkins House, 1969
The house remains furnished with the possessions of the Brain family who were the only people to live in the house, ending with the death in 1979 of Elva Phoebe Brain Watkins, the youngest daughter. It is a veritable treasure house of china, linen, crochet and embroidery and the nick nacks collected by a family during their hundred year occupancy.

Brain Watkins House, 2011
Elva Brain Watkins left the house to the Tauranga Historical Society after her death and they have protected and preserved the house since. Through the City Partners scheme the Tauranga City Council has entrusted the care of the garden and lawns to City Care who do this well.

Due to the limited numbers of members available to be House Guides the house is only open on Sunday afternoons from two to four p.m. but arrangements can be made for group or class visits on week days. Volunteers who could help as guides are very welcome.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

All Quiet on the Western Front: the Mundane Realities of Trench Warfare 1914-1918

Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series

All Quiet on the Western Front: the Mundane Realities of Trench Warfare 1914-1918

Dr Damien Fenton
Wednesday 15 October, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential Email or phone 027 286 7454

One popular myth today about WWI is that life in the frontline trenches was an unmitigated nightmare of mud, blood and madness, which few survived. This is simply not true, and is based on a selective populist memory of a few key battles – the Somme in 1916 and Passchendaele in 1917 – which were the exception, not the norm, when it came to trench warfare realities on the Western Front. Damien Fenton will discuss these realities in this presentation.

About the Presenter
Dr Damien Fenton is Honorary Research Fellow, First World War Centenary History Series, College of Humanities & Social Science, Massey University. His latest publication is New Zealand and the First World War (Penguin NZ, 2013).

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Miners in Khaki: New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company (NZETC)

NZ Tunnelling Company
Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series 

Miners in Khaki: New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company (NZETC)

Sue Baker Wilson
Wednesday 8 October, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential Email or phone 027 286 7454

During WWI miners and employees of Public Works Departments throughout New Zealand were recruited to form the New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company. Their skills were needed on the Western Front where the stalemate on the surface forced parts of the war underground. This talk provides insights into the lives of those who responded to the ‘Empire’s Call’ for miners to serve a hazardous underground war.

About the Presenter
Sue Baker Wilson is a member of Waihi Heritage Vision, and the key driver of the group’s
New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company project.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Visiting Price's Corner Studio on The Strand

Joseph and Kate Brain with their five daughters
Cabinet card portrait by Thos. E. Price of Tauranga, taken c.1898
Image courtesy of the Brain Watkins House Collection
When Joseph Brain took his wife Kate and five daughters into Thomas Price's newly commissioned and lavishly appointed studio on the corner of Harington Street and the Strand in the late 1890s, it was with the expectation equivalent to a special event.  Although only a fifteen minute walk from their house on Cameron Road, the streets were unpaved and they were dressed to the nines, so they would have taken care to avoid getting their clothes dusty en route.  The pre-printed card mount shows "Masterton" crossed out and "Tauranga" written below in black ink, indicating that he was still using the remnants of old card stock.

Victoria Wharf and The Strand, Tauranga, c.1902
Photograph by Henry Wright, Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library
Thomas Edward Price (1838-1928) arrived in Tauranga in early 1897, having sold his photographic firm in Masterton in December the previous year, and announced on 31 May in The Bay of Plenty Times that his new studio was now open for business.  It was conveniently located on the waterfront, immediately opposite the Tauranga Hotel at the head of the Victoria Wharf, on what would subsequently become known as Price's Corner.  The town's previous resident photographer, Charles Spencer, had left around 1893, and in the interim residents had been reduced to taking the steamer to Auckland to have their portraits taken.  Bartlett's Studio in Queen Street was a regular advertiser in the Times.

T.E. Price's Corner Studio, Harington St/The Strand, Tauranga, c.1905
Image © and courtesy of Tauranga City Libraries Ref. 04-257
Price was an experienced photographer, having been in the business for well over 20 years, operating in Otago and on the West Coast in the heady gold rush days of the mid- to late 1860s, in Timaru in the 1870s, and then in Masterton for seventeen years from 1879.  His showroom opened out onto The Strand, with a wide variety of framed and glazed portraits and landscape views visible through the window and open doorway in this view from c.1905, courtesy of the Tauranga Library Collection.  The studio itself was located behind the main building (to the left, in this image), clearly identifiable by the large, curtained windows and shuttered glass skylights which were designed to allow plenty of lighting control by the photographer.

Tauranga Hotel, Price's Corner Studio and Victoria Wharf, The Strand, Tauranga, c.1905
Image © and courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection
Another copy of this print deposited with the Tauranga Heritage Collection by Price's daughter Elsie Hulse is annotated to show that she was born in the house attached to this studio in 1898.  Despite a flurry of initial work, business appears to have been sporadic, because he temporarily closed the studio several times between 1898 and 1901 while investigating opportunities in Te Aroha, Auckland and Waihi.  However, by the time Price's second daughter Leila was born in 1905, the family appear to have been firmly settled in Tauranga, and Thomas became a very respected member of the community, meriting a lengthy obituary full of praise for his good deeds for the community when he died in February 1928.

Reverse of cabinet card portrait by Thos. E. Price of Tauranga
Image courtesy of the Brain Watkins House Collection
The cabinet portrait, mounted on glossy maroon card with a plain back, has a label from The Medallion Art Company, portrait enlargers and fine art dealers of 67 & 69 Vivian St., Wellington pasted on the reverse, presumably some years later.  This has been filled in with black ink, and gives instructions from Miss B(essie) Brain of Cameron Rd/Elizabeth St, Tauranga ordering a "bust" portrait of "elderly lady and gent" (her parents) to be enlarged from this photograph and mounted in a passe partout frame, at a cost of £2/10/-.

Framed portrait enlargement of Joseph and Kate Brain
Image courtesy of the Brain Watkins House Collection
Also in the Brain Watkins House collection, gifted to the Society by the youngest Brain daughter, Elva, is this framed and glazed portrait enlargement of her parents.  It appears to be that same one originally ordered by Bessie from Wellington.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Omokoroa Point, by Alf Rendell

Omokoroa Point, Bay of Plenty, undated, probably c. early 1950s
Hand-coloured black-and-white photographic print, by A.H. Rendell, Tauranga
This charming aerial view of Omokoroa Point was found in a cupboard in the Katikati Heritage Museum, sadly hidden from view, but ironically this protection from the ravages of sunlight has preserved the vivid colours of the hand-colouring.  Fiona Kean from the Tauranga Heritage Collection thinks it likely that the colouring work was carried out by Alf's talented sister.

Matua Peninsula and Mauao, c.early 1950s
Black and white print by A.H. Rendell, courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection

Alf Rendell published several series of aerial views of Tauranga and environs in the late 1940s and 1950s, after returning from war service, and taking advantage of a friend who owned a Tiger Moth.  He revisited some of these views half a century later to show what a different place Tauranga had become.

Matua Peninsula and Mauao, c. 2007
Colour print by A.H. Rendell, courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Imperial Camel Corps in WWI: from the Diaries of a Bay of Plenty Camelier

A.H. Watson
Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series

The Imperial Camel Corps in WWI: from the Diaries of a Bay of Plenty Camelier

Stephanie Smith
Wednesday 1 October, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential Email or phone 027 286 7454

The Imperial Camel Corps, founded in 1916, was a multinational force, including two New Zealand companies, the 15th and 16th. The Corps distinguished itself in the Sinai and Palestine campaigns by helping to protect the Suez Canal from the Ottoman Empire. This presentation reveals the fascinating journey of Arnold Henfrey Watson, a farmer from peaceful Pongakawa, who joined the Corps in 1916.

About the Presenter
Stephanie Smith is a librarian specialising in local history, archives, and the rare book collections at Tauranga City Libraries; she is current president of the Tauranga Historical Society.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Reginald Watkins

Reginald Watkins in his Salvation Army Uniform
Image courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection Watkins Archive

The exhibition ‘From Tauranga to the Trenches’ tells the story of Reginald Watkins (Reg), a Salvation Army Officer who enlisted from Tauranga during the First World War. A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet Val Watkins the nephew of Reg and I was struck by the pride and love that Val felt for his uncle, despite having never met him. Val told me with passion that Reg had never been forgotten and over the last year I have been fortunate to meet many more members of the Watkins family who carry on that remembrance.

Reg was a son and a brother. He was a Captain in the Salvation Army, a farmer and a fisherman. He was a fine sailor and owned a launch. He loved photography, taking and developing his own photographs and turning them into postcards for his collection. He spoke fluent Maori and lived and worked on Rangiwaea Island, his home was often a tent at Rangiwaea Pa. When war was declared Reg had been living in Tauranga since 1911, the second of two spells assisting Captain Moore with Salvation Army Work.   

For Reg the decision to enlist was a difficult one. He wrote to Commissioner Hodder of the Salvation Army, “I am the only one free in our family who is able to volunteer for the war, and my people regard it as a stigma upon the family that they are not represented”. He put forward the case that “all single young men are strongly urged to go and his St John’s Ambulance Certificate would make him useful.

‘From Tauranga to the Trenches’ exhibition
He embarked from Wellington, January 1916, with the Ninth Reinforcements on HMNZ Transport “Maunganui”. On arriving in Egypt there was little action and when an appeal for stretcher bearers was made Private Watkins stepped forward. On 12 July he wrote a few lines in the trenches “to let you know that I am safe and sound here in France… My work consists in dressing and carrying the wounded from the firing line to the first field dressing station where the Red Cross men deal with them afterwards. We need all the nerve and moral courage we possess at the task and we hope and pray that our services will soon be not required… I hope I may soon be privileged to return to New Zealand to continue the work that I relinquished”.

His dream to return to Tauranga and the people of Rangiwaea was not to be. On Thursday 20 July Reg went to the aid of a wounded soldier and while attending to him was hit by shell shrapnel. As he was rescued and taken to the Casualty Clearing Station he sang hymns in both English and Maori. A Chaplain at his beside scribbled a note to Reg’s father ‘He is badly wounded and anxious for me to send word. He sends his love to you and all”. Reginald Watkins died of wounds at 1.30pm Sunday 23 July 1916. He was 30 years old.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Public’s Opinion: Letters to the BOP Times 1914-1918

Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series 

Opening of the Tauranga Domain Memorial Gates, 11 December 1921
The Public’s Opinion: Tauranga’s Wartime Concerns Expressed through Letters to the Editor of the Bay of Plenty Times 1914-1918

Fiona Kean
Wednesday 24 September, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential. Email or phone 027 286 7454.

Religious disharmony, accusations of sedition, politicking and personality clashes sprinkled with fear, encouraged by war, were publically aired in letters to the editor of the Bay of Plenty Times during WWI. Fiona Kean shares some of these letters as she summarises what was worrying Tauranga during WWI.

About the Presenter
Fiona Kean is the Cultural Heritage Co-ordinator of the Tauranga Heritage Collection; she is a member of the Tauranga Historical Society, editor of the Bay of Plenty Historical Review Journal, and secretary of WW100 Tauranga.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Hairini Bridge

Hairini Bridge
Image courtesy of Justine Neal
The first pile of the bridge at Hairini, to connect Tauranga with the southern side of the Bay of Plenty, was driven on Friday 7 October 1881. The townspeople were asked to regard the day as a holiday from 1.00pm and to attend the ceremony.  The completed bridge was opened on 6 April 1882 by the County Engineer, Captain Turner. It was the largest structure of its kind in the country.

By 1912 its dilapidated state was causing concern and the Tauranga County Council agreed it needed replacing. It seems some things never change ........ by January 1920 its state was regarded as dangerous and the Council was going to have to make temporary repairs while waiting for the Government to make good its pledge to undertake the construction of a new bridge at the cost of 6,000 pounds (without approaches).

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Killen Harmonium

The Killen Harmonium
Courtesy of the Katikati Heritage Museum, Killen Collection
Made in Dublin in 1877 to an American design, this four-stop Mason & Hamlin harmonium, which still has all its keys, reeds and pedals and can still be played, was brought out to New Zealand by John and Ellen Killen a year later in 1878.   John Killen, Justice of the Peace, Councillor for Tauranga City Council and the Katikati Road Board, was an elder of the Presbyterian Church (helping to establish that denomination in Katikati), a farmer, business man, and father to four sons and two daughters.  His wife Ellen Orr Killen née Wilson was the sister of Martha Gilbert, née Wilson, one of whose sons married a Lockington.

Mason & Hamlin trade card, 19th Century
Dr Barbara Mary Smith, whose grandmother Mary Elizabeth Smith née Killen was a daughter of John and Ellen, donated the harmonium, together with a gown, clothing and various war items to Katikati Heritage Museum.

Illustrated Catalogue of the Mason & Hamlin Organ Company, 1880

Working Bee at the Katikati Cemetery on 15 April 1889, courtesy of Tauranga Memories Kete

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Monstrous Anger of the Guns: Poetry, Protest and WWI

Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series
Under Fire on the Western Front
The Monstrous Anger of the Guns: Poetry, Protest and WWI

Dr Kirstine Moffat
Wednesday 17 September, 6.30pm
Venue: Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104
Bookings essential Email or phone 027 286 7454

The launch of this eight-part series includes a brief introduction by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato Professor Alister Jones, along with the President of the Tauranga Historical Society, Stephanie Smith.

In Anthem for Doomed Youth Wilfred Owen evokes the horror of the World War One trenches in which the Monstrous Anger of the Guns are the constant reality. This talk explores how English poets such as Owen, and his Canadian, Australian and New Zealand contemporaries, praise the courage of soldiers, nurses, and doctors, but increasingly protest against the cost of war.

About the Presenter
Dr Kirstine Moffat is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Waikato where her research and publications focus primarily on nineteenth and early 20th century New Zealand settlement writing and culture.

Sons of Empire, Tauranga Public Lecture Series

From the utmost end of the Earth: New Zealand and World War One.

Sons of Empire is an eight-part public lecture series commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War One. Each weekly presentation focuses on delivering a unique New Zealand perspective of WWI: the voices of our soldiers, from the battles and the trenches to their legacy of literature; the diaries, the images and the poetry that remain.

This series is brought to you by the University of Waikato in collaboration with the Tauranga Historical Society.

Sons of Empire will be launched at the Tauranga Bongard Centre with a brief introduction by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato Alister Jones along with the President of the Tauranga Historical Society, Stephanie Smith. The audience will have an opportunity for questions which will be followed by light refreshments.

All series will be held at the Tauranga Bongard Centre, Lecture Theatre 104. Each lecture will occur on a Wednesday evening from 6.30pm onwards.

17 Sept - Dr Kirstine Moffat – “Poetry, Protest, and WW1”
24 Sept - Fiona Kean – “Public Opinion in Tauranga from ‘Letters to the Editor’”
1 Oct - Stephanie Smith – “The diary of a BOP Camelier”
8 Oct - Sue Baker Wilson – “NZ Engineers Tunnelling Company”
15 Oct - Dr Damien Fenton – “The Mundane Realities of Trench Warfare”
22 Oct - Dr Nathalie Philippe – “The Liberation of Le Quesnoy”
29 Oct - Dr Cliff Simons – “The Gallipoli Campaign”
5 Nov - Dr Mark Houlahan – “Kiwis and the Shakespeare Hut, London”

Registration: Bookings are essential for this free series so please register by emailing  For any enquiries please phone 027 286 7454.

From Tauranga to the Trenches


A well illustrated book, From Tauranga to the Trenches accompanies the exhibition and is available for sale. Compiled by Fiona Kean, Tauranga Heritage Collection coordinator, the publication is a fascinating social history of the effect WW1 had on those serving in the war and their loved ones at home. Alongside photographs and memorabilia there are excerpts from letters and diaries written by men serving overseas which give an insight into their thoughts and experiences. The Tauranga community joined together to provide parcels containing food, knitted socks and scarves for troops, while many innovative fundraising ventures were held to support both the servicemen and provide for the welfare of their families. From Tauranga to the Trenches vividly shows the impact the war had on the servicemen and women, their families and the Tauranga community.

It is for sale at Books A Plenty for $25. All proceeds go towards further exhibitions.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Masonic Hotel

You can see the Masonic Hotel in this photograph. This was taken in the early 1900s.
Photo courtesy of the Tauranga Heritage Collection

Not everyone knows that Masonic Park is named after a hotel . I didn’t until I looked it up. The Masonic Hotel was there for a very long time, more than a 100 years, before it was pulled down in 1993. This was before I was born!

If you visit the park you will see this!
When they were digging in the park a few months ago they found some bricks and stones. These were used to bake bread in a Bakery. It’s good they have kept the stones and bricks where they are.