Wellington Girls’ College and Suffrage

The Dux, the Photographer and the Principal


Schools are a focal point for the history of communities — the past and present are bound together by the educational institutions that transmit knowledge between generations. Schools often play important and formative roles in historical movements and in the lives of important New Zealanders. Wellington Girls’ College (known as Wellington Girls’ High School until 1905) is one such hub of activity in our Wellington community.

In the late 19th century, a number of individuals connected with Wellington Girls’ College signed the 1893 suffrage petition, which directly preceded women gaining the vote in New Zealand. Three of these women are profiled below in this article. Their passion for their chosen vocation, their skill and influence on those around them is plain to see. With Suffrage Day on September 19th it is crucial to remember those women and the taonga of life stories.

Wellington Girls' High School, pre-1905
Pre-1905 photo of Wellington Girls’ High School. Calvert, L (Mr), fl 1963 :Postcards. Ref: 1/2-049813-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22790013
Group portrait of Form VI girls at Wellington Girls High School 1887
Connolly & Herrmann (Firm). Connolly & Herrmann (Wellington) fl 1887-1889 :Group portrait of Form VI girls at Wellington Girls High School 1887. Ref: PA3-0053. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23063637

Maria Elsie Allman Marchant

Above is a studio group portrait of Form VI, Wellington Girls College. Back row standing: Ada F Carrol. Amy Meek. Ethel Maud Wilson. Mary Grubb. Jessie Nairn. Seated from left: Margaret Paterone. Harriet Day. Ella Marchant. Georgina Stack. Photographed by Connolly and Herrmann (Wellington) in 1887.

Maria Elsie Allman Marchant, known as Ella, was a talented and extremely capable pupil of Wellington Girls College. In 1887, she became the dux of her school. Just a few years later, Marchant returned to Wellington Girls College as a teacher whilst also studying extramurally towards a BA and an MA from Canterbury University. In 1893, an ‘E A. Marchant’ signed the suffrage petition, making clear her commitment to extending suffrage to all New Zealanders.

Marchant went onto become the Principal of Otago Girls’ High School where she took an independent and insightful approach on a range of issues (which sometimes brought her into conflict with the board of governors).[1] She had a strong conviction to do the best for her girls. On Saturday nights, the boarders would gather at Marchant’s home to read from her well stocked bookshelf — they especially enjoyed her copies of Charles Dickens.[2] Her untimely death in 1917 curtailed her plans to establish a religious teaching order in Dunedin. The Evening Post noted that Marchant was “an eloquent speaker, and from her wide experience and knowledge often charmed and delighted audiences.”[3]

Louisa Marion Herrmann

In the photograph of Marchant above, it is important to note not just the individuals present, but also the photography business involved in the image.  Louisa Marion Herrmann arrived from the UK in New Zealand aboard the Piako in 1880.  Louisa worked in Wellington as an assistant for Herrmann photography studio on Lambton Quay.[4] She went onto marry Richard Herrmann, one of her employers. After his death in 1892, she took sole charge of the business, and for 16 years she ran the photographic studio, now based on Cuba Street, and employed many workers. Herrmann’s business was described as “the most up-to-date and complete studio in the colonies.”[5]

During this time, Herrmann became an advocate for suffrage by signing the 1893 petition. On her retirement, Herrmann offered for sale 35,000 photographic negatives of New Zealanders. Tragically, we no longer know where these are — at least for now, these images, and their stories, are lost.[6]  As Te Papa staffer Lissa Mitchell recently noted, “it is a sad reflection on New Zealand’s historical record that Louisa’s story of self-determination and resilience and her photographic work have been lost, and a strong reminder of the need to keep including the work and stories of women in our histories.”

Mary Jane McLean

Mary Jane McLean was one of New Zealand’s most significant educationists. Especially later in life, she was a prominent advocate for women’s rights. She signed the 1893 petition and went onto become Principal of Wellington Girls’ College in 1900.

Mary Jane McLean, circa 1925
Mary Jane McLean. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-7171-46. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22693323

McLean was an experienced teacher, but she had to face tough international competition to attain her role. She immediately took an independent approach, making her mark on the school, where her legacies continue to this day. McLean directed Wellington Girls’ College as it expanded from a small school for a wealthy elite into a modern institution with a roll of 850. As the roll swelled, McLean helped establish Wellington East Girls’ College in 1926.

In 1929, after her retirement from education, McLean founded the Women’s Social Progress Movement which campaigned for women’s representation and provided aid and relief during the Depression in the early 1930s. McLean demonstrated a lifelong passionate commitment to improving the position of women, and Wellington remained McLean’s home till she passed away in 1946. Today, the year 13 Wellington Girls’ College prize for first in physical education is named after McLean.[7]

Marchant, Herrmann and McLean are just three of the signatories to the 1893 petition. All in all, thirteen separate petitions carried the signatures of 31,872 women. On the 19th of September, let’s celebrate all of those women with their unique lives, impressive achievements and their lasting influences upon us today.

Come along to Suffrage Day celebrations

We’ll be celebrating Suffrage Day at the Central Library on the 19th September. Come along and help us celebrate!

Library Planned activities

From 10am-2pm, you can:

  1. Have fun experiencing the times with our photo booth
  2. Try your hand at making a celebration camellia or badge
  3. Write some messages about what being able to vote means to you
  4. Watch a historical film (screenings are on the 1st floor)

Electoral Commission staff will also be with us from 12-2pm help you register for the electoral roll and answer any questions you have about voting in the present day!

Find out more about our celebrations

Kate Sheppard Ride

Another event happening in the city, is the Kate Sheppard Ride — see details below from the organisers:

Dress to impress and get your wheels spinning by joining us at 1.30pm on Saturday, 22 September 2018 (wet weather day will be the next day) at Old St Paul’s in Mulgrave Street. The Suffrage 125 bicycle ride will take you through the streets of old Thorndon and Wellington’s CBD.

Date: Saturday, 22 September, 2018
Time: 1:30pm to 4:30pm
Cost: 1 x Kate Sheppard $10 note
Location: Old St Paul’s, 34 Mulgrave Street, Thorndon ,Wellington

Learn more

Maori women and the vote / Rei, Tania
“In the last decade of the nineteenth century, Māori women were involved in two suffrage movements at the same time. Māori women supported the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in seeking the right to vote for members of the New Zealand House of Representatives, and they also sought the right to vote and to stand as members of the Māori Parliament – Te Kotahitanga. By the turn of the century both these goals had been achieved. Their involvement in the suffrage movements was a significant development in the story of Māori women and the ways in which they organised at a national level to deal with issues of importance to them and their communities.” (Summary from the Royal Society – Te Apārangi)

Read online with Bridget Williams BooksThe Women’s Suffrage Petition = Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, 1893.
“In May 2017 the exhibition He Tohu opened at the National Library in Wellington. This celebrates three founding documents in New Zealand’s history – He Whakaputanga: The Declaration of Independence (1835), the Treaty of Waitangi: Te Tiriti o Waitangi (1840) and the Women’s Suffrage Petition (1893). The originals of these documents are on display at the National Library, in a wonderful exhibition that tells the history of the times and the story of the documents themselves.” (Library Catalogue)

Women’s suffrage in New Zealand / Grimshaw, Patricia
“First published in 1972, Patricia Grimshaw’s account of the New Zealand suffrage movement remains the definitive study of New Zealand’s radical role as the first country in the world to give women the vote. In clear, lively prose, this revised edition tells the fascinating story of the courage and determination early New Zealand feminists demonstrated, focusing particularly on the remarkable leadership of Kate Sheppard, whose ideas remain relevant today.” (Catalogue)

References


  1. Te Ara online
  2. NZ History online
  3. DEATH OF A WELL-KNOWN TEACHER, Evening Post, Volume XCVIII, Issue 119, 17 November 1919
  4. ‘L M Herrmann’, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Aug-2018
  5. Lissa Mitchell, ‘Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Louisa Herrmann (1864-1955)’ Te Papa blog
  6. Lissa Mitchell, ‘Inspiring stories about NZ women photographers – Louisa Herrmann (1864-1955)’ Te Papa blog
  7. Information courtesy of Wellington Girls’ College Library

Special thanks to Ann Reweti for the blog concept and the research notes that she compiled.

Celebrating 125 years of Women’s Suffrage

Political cartoon of suffragette looking at politicians
“The New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal, 28 October 1893”; Cartoon by Ashley Hunter.

In September we will join in the celebrations of the 125 Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand. Some branches will display books to highlight this.

On the 19th September, at the Central Library
a) have fun experiencing the times with our photo booth from 10am – 2pm
b) try your hand at making a celebration camellia or badge from 10am – 2pm
c) write some messages about what being able to vote means to you.
d) watch a historical film on the First floor, screenings begin from 10am-2pm
e) chat to Electoral Commission staff who can help you register for the roll or answer your questions 12-2pm

During the two months between the Suffrage Bill passing and 1893 general election, women relished the potential power their vote would give them in deciding the next government. In this cartoon a woman, depicted as a fortune teller, invites leading Liberal politicians (humorously depicted as scared schoolboys), into her tent to have their political futures revealed. The central figure is Richard Seddon, clutching his arm is William Pember Reeves, crouching on the left is Joseph Ward and standing above him with a long beard is Robert Stout. Keep a watch out for the Urban Art footpath billboards around the CBD featuring more political cartoons like this from The New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal.

We are proud to be a part of the Suffrage 125 national event programme.

 

2018 Hugo Award Winners — plus, Worldcon coming to NZ in 2020!

The news that the 78th Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention, the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society) would be coming to Wellington in 2020 was greeted with excitement and no small amount of anticipation in our libraries! We hope you’re just as excited, and if you’re just coming to the news now, the icing on the cake is that master storyteller George R. R. Martin has been announced as Master of Ceremonies.

But, it’s not just the Master of Ceremonies announcement that has us salivating. All elements, strands and areas of the science fiction community will be catered for, and plans are afoot for the genre to be celebrated in style with events, workshops, signings and much, much more!

One aspect of Worldcon that has us the most excited, is that every year Worldcon hosts science fiction’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo Awards.  The Hugo awards are the science fiction world’s equivalent of the Pulitzers, the Oscars and the Grammys all rolled into one (we exaggerate, but only slightly!). It’s a wide and inclusive list this year. In past years, some of science fiction’s most loved authors have been recipients — Neil Gaiman, Isaac Asimov, Connie Willis, Philip K. Dick, and Ursula K. Le Guin, amongst others.

This year’s Worldcon was in San José, California, and below you’ll find this year’s celebrated authors and their wonderful novels — recommended loudly by librarians near and far. Choose any one for an immersive reading experience, ideas that will expand and entertain, and the best of the best science fiction has to offer. Have a browse and join us in our excitement for 2020 and Wellington’s very own host city experience!

2018 Hugo Award Winners

Best Novel:

Syndetics book coverThe stone sky by  N.K. Jemisin.
“The shattering conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed  trilogy that began with The Fifth Season, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2016, and The Obelisk Gate, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2017. The Moon will soon return — whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women. Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Best Related Work:

Syndetics book coverNo Time to Spare : Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K Le Guin. 
“In her last great frontier of life, old age, Ursula K. Le Guin explored new literary territory — the blog, a forum where she shined. The collected best of Ursula’s blog, No Time to Spare presents perfectly crystallized dispatches on what mattered to her late in life, her concerns with the world, and her wonder at it: “How rich we are in knowledge, and in all that lies around us yet to learn. Billionaires, all of us.”” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Best Graphic story:

Syndetics book coverMonstress. Volume two, The blood / Marjorie Liu, writer ; Sana Takeda, artist.
“The Eisner-nominated Monstress is back! Maika, Kippa,and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat.”
(Adapted from Syndetics)

Best Young Adult book:

Syndetics book coverAkata warrior by (the fantastic) Nnedi Okorafor.
(Sequel to Akata Witch)
“A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics)

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week

Nau mai, haere mai to Wellington City Libraries to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori
10th – 16th September

Kōhunga Kōrero i Te Wharepukapuka o Te Mahanga (Karori Library)
Monday 10th September 10:30 – 11:00am

Did you know that we have four te reo Māori story times each month.  These story times are called Kōhunga Kōrero.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Māori as the presenters make it fun for everyone.   So come along and celebrate Māori Language week with your nohinohi (preschooler) at Karori Library

Kōhunga Kōrero: Pakiwaitara i roto i te reo Māori. E 30 meneti pakiwaitara, rotarota, waiata hoki i roto i te reo Māori mō ngā kōhungahunga me ō rātou mātua kaitiaki.

Monthly story times in te reo Māori are available at Miramar, Newtown, Johnsonville and Karori libraries. Open to anyone, these free thirty minute sessions feature stories, rhymes and waiata in te reo Māori, and are perfect for 2-6 year olds and their caregivers

Check out your local Kōhunga Kōrero session:

1st Tuesday of each month at 10.30am
Omāroro (Newtown) Library
13 Constable Street, Newtown

2nd Monday of each month at 10.30am
Te Māhanga (Karori) Library
247 Karori Road, Karori

3rd Tuesday of each month at 10.30am
Waitohi (Johnsonville) Library
5 Broderick Road, Johnsonville

4th Tuesday of each month at 2pm
Motukairangi (Miramar) Library
68 Miramar Avenue, Miramar

Check out the Library event calendar for specific dates.

Māori Language Parade and Entertainment at Te Ngākau (Civic Square)
Monday 10th September 12:00pm – 1:45pm

On Monday 10th Wellington City Libraries will be participating in The Wellington Māori Language Parade.  The theme for this years Māori Language Week will be ‘Kia Kaha te Reo Māori’ following on from the success of last years theme ‘Kia Ora te Reo Māori’.

Click here for Māori Language Week resources

The hīkoi will start at 12:00pm at Parliament grounds and continue through the center of town to ‘Te Ngākau’ the (Civic Square).  Keep an eye out for the Wellington City Libraries Book Bike and come and find us in ‘Te Ngākau’ where we will have some te reo Māori book giveaways.

The parade floats should be arriving at Te Ngākau at approximately 12:45pm and the entertainment will continue on to 1:45pm.  When the entertainment ends come up to the library and pick up some Māori language resources.

Baby Rock & Rhyme in te Reo Māori at Central Library

Wednesday, 12 September 9:30- 10:00am  &

Thursday, 13 September 2:00 – 2:30pm

The two regular Baby Rock & Rhyme sessions held at Central Library will be in te reo Māori during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.  These are enjoyable no matter what level of te reo Māori you have.  Baby Rock & Rhyme is for parents and carers to interact with their babies through rhymes, finger-plays and stories delivered by experienced presenters.   These free, weekly interactive sessions are a great opportunity to have fun, socialise and spend quality ‘one-on-one’ time with your tot and for this week to have fun with te reo Māori.

Pre-school storytime in te Reo Māori at Central Library

Tuesday, 11 September 10:30- 11:00am  &

Friday, 14 September 10:30- 11:00am 

The two regular pre-school storytime sessions held at Central Library will have lots of te reo Māori during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.  These are enjoyable no matter what level of te reo Māori you have. Storytime runs for about half an hour, with stories and songs. Pre-school storytimes are fun and free – there’s no charge, and you don’t have to book. Storytime is aimed at pre-school age children (three and four years old) – but younger siblings are always welcome so come and have some fun with your pre-schooler and learn some te reo Māori.

Māori Language Resources at Wellington Libraries

From beginner to expert we have some great learning resources no matter where you are on your journey to learning te reo Māori.  Check out these great te reo Māori language resources that can help you as you learn.


First hundred words in Māori / Amery, Heather
“A companion to 2006s First Thousand Words in Maori. Big, brightly-coloured pictures engage young learners and are accompanied by clear illustrations, with the Māori word underneath.  There is also a guide to pronunciation and counting. Learn Maori with Huia’ is an on-going series of books and resources to inspire and help anyone who is interested in learning Maori. You can go to the Huia website www.huia.co.nz and connect to a link where you can listen to a native Maori speaker to learn how to pronounce every Maori word correctly. You can also download picture puzzles and games for free.” (Catalogue)

A Māori word a day : 365 words to kickstart your reo / Kelly, Hēmi
“A Māori dictionary for all New Zealanders. Through its 365 Māori words, you will learn the following: English translations; word category, notes and background information; Sample sentences, in both te reo Māori and English”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Māori made easy : for everyday learners of the Māori language / Morrison, Scotty
“The complete and accessible guide to learning the Maori language, no matter your knowledge level. While dictionaries list words and definitions, and other guides offer common phrases, Maori Made Easy connects the dots, allowing the reader to take control of their language-learning in an empowering and effective way. By committing just 30 minutes a day for 30 weeks, learners will progress at their own pace and adopt the language as best suits their individual needs. Maori Made Easy proves that learning the language can be fun, absorbing – and easy Also available as an eBook.” (Catalogue)

Māori at home : an everyday guide to learning the Māori language / Morrison, Scotty
“An introduction to the Māori language … covers the basics of life in and around a typical Kiwi household”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

The Raupō phrasebook of modern Māori : the user-friendly guide for all New Zealanders / Morrison, Scotty
“The Raupo Phrasebook of Modern Maori is the most up-to-date, versatile and relevant resource for using Maori language in everyday life.  Whether you’re a novice or emergent speaker of te reo Maori, or a complete beginner.  Written in a user-friendly manner, with everyday New Zealanders in mind, and with a focus on modern-day language, The Raupo Phrasebook of Modern Maori is the guide that no home should be without.” (Catalogue)

Te hikuwai : launch yourself into te reo Māori : a complete foundation course for Aotearoa’s own language / Cormack, Ian
“Te Hikuwai is a bilingual course in Te Reo Maori for learners of all backgrounds. It aims to present Maori as a vibrant language for today’s world and with dynamic prospects for the future. Te Hikuwai (the stream) is the first of two levels in a foundation course. Te Moana Waiwai (the open sea) is the second. Te Hikuwai is designed for learners with little or no previous experience of Maori, and aims to equip them with the basics of the language.” (Catalogue)

Mai i te kākano / Jacob, Hēni
“Do you feel like your Maori language proficiency has plateaued? Are you looking for alternative, more Maori, more fun ways to say things in everyday situations? Do you have trouble sustaining lively and meaningful conversations with your kids and grandchildren, your friends and colleagues? Written entirely in Maori (excpt for some Maori to English translations at the bottom of some pages), this book includes sections on Maori idiom and metaphor, common errors, and examples of language in use in a variety of settings.   It provides a unique, “more Maori”, more fun way to say things in everyday situations.” (Catalogue)

A Māori reference grammar / Harlow, Ray
“Based on a third-year university course Ray Harlow taught for a number of years, this grammar reference book is intended for people whose knowledge of Māori is at that level or higher – advanced learners, native speakers and teachers of Māori. It guides readers progressively from the simple to the more complicated, starting with words and particles, proceeding through simple clauses and sentences to transformations of these and to complex sentences with elaborate internal structure”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

He pātaka kupu : te kai a te rangatira.
He Pātaka Kupu- te kai a te rangatira is a taonga – a landmark Māori-only language resource, compiled out of seven years’ research by the Māori Language Commission. Containing almost 24,000 entries, it is a comprehensive and authoritative dictionary of the Māori language, for proficient Māori speakers. For each entry, the dictionary gives the ātua category, parts of speech, definitions, examples of the word used in context, and an etymology of the word, drawing on a wide corpus of written material in te reo.” (Catalogue)

 

Fiction showcase: The origins of the Ripping Yarn novel

Ripping Yarns map graphic

Our featured fiction showcase of books for September is called Ripping Yarns in which we have selected novels that share the common thread of being rip-roaring, adrenaline pumping tales of action and adventure, and are usually tales of daring and heroism. Today we have interpreted the term to cover a wide selection of authors, genres and writing styles.

The genre originated in the Victorian times with authors like Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle and was subsequently continued by writers like H. G. Wells, Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Buchan. Now the term is so wide it covers everything from science fiction to crime and general fiction and a whole host of sub-genres. The only linking factor is the author’s commitment to tell a rattling good adventure story. So with all that in mind, we thought we would feature a selection of the classic authors in this selection. These selections can also be found on Overdrive and in the physical library collections in the fiction section.

Syndetics book coverThe mysterious island / Jules Verne ; with an introduction by R.G.A. Dolby.
Jules Verne (1828-1905) is internationally famous as the author of a distinctive series of adventure stories describing new travel technologies which opened up the world and provided means to escape from it. The collective enthusiasm of generations of readers of his ‘extraordinary voyages’ was a key factor in the rise of modern science fiction.
“In The Mysterious Island a group of men escape imprisonment during the American Civil War by stealing a balloon. Blown across the world, they are air-wrecked on a remote desert island. In a manner reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe, the men apply their scientific knowledge and technical skill to exploit the island’s bountiful resources, eventually constructing a sophisticated society in miniature. The book is also an intriguing mystery story, for the island has a secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bottle imp : in English and Samoan / Robert Louis Stevenson ; introduced by Roger G. Swearingen ; edited by Robert Hoskins.
“Robert Louis Stevenson considered his supernatural short story ‘The Bottle Imp’ one of his best. A Faustian folktale transplanted to the Pacific, ‘The Bottle Imp’ was the only one of Stevenson’s works to be translated into a Polynesian language in his lifetime, as the Samoan O le Fagu Aitu. Featuring an extensive introduction by Stevenson scholar Roger G Swearingen, and accompanied by the original illustrations, this edition is the first to publish the English and Samoan versions together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe return of Sherlock Holmes ; & His last bow / Arthur Conan Doyle ; with an afterword by David Stuart Davies.
“Three years after his supposed death at the Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock Holmes returns to 221B Baker Street, to the astonishment of Dr Watson and the delight of readers worldwide. From kidnapped heirs to murder by harpoon, Holmes and Watson have their work cut out for them in these brilliant later tales. This collection also includes His Last Bow, a series of recollections from an older Sherlock Holmes of further adventures from his life. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe thirty-nine steps / John Buchan ; with and introduction and notes by Sir John Keegan.
“Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot which could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTarzan of the apes / Edgar Rice Burroughs ; edited with an introduction and notes by Jason Haslam.
“Tarzan first came swinging through the jungle in the pages of a pulp-fiction magazine in 1912, and subsequently in the novel that went on to spawn numerous film and other adaptations. In its pages we find Tarzan’s origins: how he is orphaned after his parents are marooned and killed on the coast of West Africa, and is adopted by an ape-mother. He grows up to become a model of physical strength and natural prowess, and eventually leader of his tribe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe time machine / H.G. Wells.
“Late in the nineteenth century, a Victorian scientist shows his disbelieving dinner guests a device he claims is a Time Machine. Respectable London scarcely has the imagination to cope with him. A week later they reconvene to find him ragged, exhausted and garrolous. The tale he tells is of the year 802,701 – of life as it is lived in exactly the same spot in what once had been London. He has visited the future of the human race and encountered beings that are elfin, beautiful, vegetarian, and leading a life of splendid idleness. But this is not the only lifeform that exists in Eden – in the tunnels beneath paradise lurks man’s darker side.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ripping Yarns promo iamge

New audio gear you can borrow: PreSonus StudioLive AR12

Libraries are no longer just places to get books. Need a PA system for a party, a speaking engagement, or a wedding? Playing a live or studio gig? Need to do some recording in the field, or hook up some gear to your laptop and make a new album at home? The new WCL Music Equipment collection has what you need. We love Wellington music at Wellington City Libraries and we are here to help you make it.

The PreSonus is a 14-channel Hybrid Mixer that makes it simple to mix and record live shows, studio productions, band rehearsals, podcasts and much more, and is the latest addition to our Music Equipment Lending Collection. The full specs can be found here.

Mixer/Recorder Kit:
Case Contents:
• 1x PreSonus StudioLive AR12
• 1x USB cable
• 1x Power Cable
• 1x Shure SM57 Mic
• 1x Shure SM58 Vocal Mic
$50 rental fee for 4 days
Overdue charge: $10 per day

Terms and Conditions to borrow this equipment are in place to ensure the safe use of the equipment and its timely return. A library fee ($50) will be payable to borrow for this equipment and borrower discounts (e.g. Community Services Card) do not apply. If the equipment is returned late, overdue fines will be payable ($10 per day).

To make a booking, fill out the Music Equipment form, telling us your details, specify the PreSonus Kit (agreeing to the terms and conditions) and a staff member will contact you to confirm your pickup time.

We have tablets available to borrow at most libraries

Customer tablet with booksSince earlier this year, adult customers have been able to borrow   iPad minis for 3 weeks from the Second Floor desk at the Central Library. They are now also available at the following libraries: Miramar, Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie), Newtown, Island Bay, Mervyn Kemp (Tawa), Johnsonville, Karori and Cummings Park (Ngaio)!

These tablets are perfect if you would like to become more familiar with the library’s eResources such as free eBooks (Overdrive), newspapers (PressReader), magazines (RBdigital), and other online resources. Loans are $5, and community card discounts apply.  Tablets are reset between each customer and renewals are not possible.

Please make a booking if you would like an introduction to the library’s eResources, and a staff member will contact you to confirm your tablet pickup time. Alternatively, ask one of our staff at the libraries above about borrowing a tablet, and if one is available you will be able to borrow it immediately.

Take a look at our Tartan Noir

Scottish crime novels cover a wide diversity of styles and themes. Ranging from gritty neo-realistic urban crime novels, exemplified by writers like Stuart McBride, to a much more genteel pastoral style from M. C. Beaton and Joyce Holm. There are also mavericks in the genre, people like Christopher Brookmyre, who taps into a rich and deep vein of black Scottish satirical humour in his thrilling works. Another person who explores different aspects of the genre is Paul Johnson, whose body politic merges the genres of crime and science fiction in a peculiarly Scottish fashion. Perhaps one of the best indicators for the popularity is the large variety of works translated into film and television series, such as M. C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth. 

If you’d like to give these authors a try, check out our Tartan Noir display in the Fiction area at Central Library on the ground floor. Our displays change around frequently, so now is the perfect time to come and browse these Scottish crime authors all in one place.

Keen to try some of these authors online? Wellington City Libraries’ collection on Overdrive has a Tartan Noir list with audiobooks and eBooks free to download or listen to online.

Wellington is welcoming Scottish crime author Denise Minain a LitCrawl event in early September. This will be a chance to hear one of Scotland’s great contemporary writers, don’t miss out!


Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
From Edinburgh Castle to the Fourth Bridge these short stories from a range of authors will introduce you to well known Scottish places through the voices of Scottish crime writers including Val McDermid, Doug Johnstone, Stuart MacBride and more.

Death of a nurse / Beaton, M. C
“James Harrison has recently moved to a restored hunting lodge in Sutherland with his gorgeous private nurse Gloria Dainty. When Hamish visits Mr Harrison to welcome him to the neighbourhood, the old man treats him very rudely. Gloria apologises for her employer’s behaviour, and Hamish invites her out for dinner. Hamish waits for Gloria at the appointed restaurant. And waits. But Gloria never shows up. Four days later, her body washes up on the beach near Braikie. Hamish must find out who killed the beautiful new resident of Sutherland, and why, before the murderer strikes again.” (Catalogue)

Want you gone / Brookmyre, Christopher
“What if all your secrets were put online? Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.” (Catalogue)

Missing link / Holms, Joyce
“A puzzling new case for sparkling detective duo Fizz and Buchanan. Always in search of a good story, Fizz Fitzgerald finds it hard to hide her impatience when elderly Mrs. Sullivan is shown into her office. Genteel and motherly, Mrs. Sullivan can only spell one thing: boredom. Fizz is more than shocked, therefore, when Mrs. Sullivan asks Fizz to help prove her guilty of murder. Could this story be too good to be true? Fizz is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and ropes in long-suffering partner-in-crime, Tam Buchanan.” (Catalogue)

Skeleton blues : a Quint Dalrymple mystery / Johnston, Paul
“Independent Edinburgh, spring 2034. The weather’s balmy, there’s a referendum on whether to join a reconstituted Scotland coming up — and a tourist is found garotted. As usual, maverick detective Quint Dalrymple is called in to do the Council of City Guardians’ dirty work. For the first time in his career, Quint is stumped by the complexity of the case. An explosion at the City Zoo is followed by the discovery of another body, and the prime suspect is nowhere to be found.” (Catalogue)

The long drop : a novel / Mina, Denise
“William Watt’s wife, daughter, and sister-in-law are dead, slaughtered in their own home in a brutal crime that scandalized Glasgow. Despite an ironclad alibi, police zero in on Watt as the primary suspect, but he maintains his innocence. Distraught and desperate to clear his name, Watt puts out a bounty for information that will lead him to the real killer. Based on true events, The long drop is an explosive, unsettling novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference.” (Catalogue)

Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist announced

The Water Cure book cover

…and the longlist includes a graphic novel!

So polish your reading glasses people, or if you’re not occularly enhanced, get comfy and prepare to join the judges’ dilemma of who wrote it better. Or with the most finesse, or used the most raw material. In short, which of these will be the one to grab you?

Author (country/territory) –  Title (imprint)
Belinda Bauer (UK) – Snap (Bantam Press)
Anna Burns (UK) –  Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Nick Drnaso (USA) – Sabrina (Granta Books) (Graphic Novel)
Esi Edugyan (Canada) – Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Guy Gunaratne (UK) – In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)
Daisy Johnson (UK) – Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA) – The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Sophie Mackintosh (UK) – The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada) – Warlight (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA) – The Overstory (Willian Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK) – The Long Take (Picador)
Sally Rooney (Ireland) – Normal People (Faber & Faber)
Donal Ryan (Ireland) – From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

There are some clear favourites amongst Wellington readers.  Warlight by Michael Ondaatje has been one of July’s most popular library lends.  Ondaatje recently received the Golden Man Booker for The English Patient.


Warlight / Ondaatje, Michael
“In a narrative as mysterious as memory itself – at once both shadowed and luminous – Warlight is a vivid, thrilling novel of violence and love, intrigue and desire. It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz and years of war. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth.  A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all he didn’t know or understand in that time, and it is this journey – through reality, recollection, and imagination – that is told in this magnificent novel.” (Catalogue)

The water cure / Mackintosh, Sophie
Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia, and Sky kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.” (Catalogue)

Snap / Bauer, Belinda
“On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother… ” (Catalogue)

The overstory / Powers, Richard
The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond… There is a world alongside ours – vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

In our mad and furious city / Gunaratne, Guy
“For Selvon, Ardan and Yusuf, growing up under the towers of Stones Estate, summer means what it does anywhere: football, music, freedom. But now, after the killing of a British soldier, riots are spreading across the city, and nowhere is safe. While the fury swirls around them, Selvon and Ardan remain focused on their own obsessions, girls and grime. Their friend Yusuf is caught up in a different tide, a wave of radicalism surging through his local mosque, threatening to carry his troubled brother, Irfan, with it. Provocative, raw, poetic yet tender, In our mad and furious city marks the arrival of a major new talent in fiction.” (Catalogue)

The long take : or, a way to lose more slowly / Robertson, Robin
“Walker, a young Canadian recently demobilised after war and his active service in the Normandy landings and subsequent European operations. Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and unable to face a return to his family home in rural Nova Scotia, he goes in search of freedom, change, anonymity and repair. We follow Walker through a sequence of poems as he moves through post-war American cities of New York, Los Angles and San Francisco.” (Syndetics summary)
You can find this title in the Wellington City Libraries poetry collection.

Research your Ancestry in August

To celebrate Family History Month, Wellington City Libraries is holding ‘Ancestry in August’, a series of events for anyone interested in learning more about researching their family history.   There are events for those who are just starting out to research family history and also for those who may already have some research experience.

A Public Talk: Wellington Local History Resources
Friday 3rd August, 12:30pm -1:30pm

Come along to the Central Library ground floor and listen to our local history expert, Gábor Tóth, as he gives an overview of some of the lesser known sources available to research ancestors who may have lived in Wellington. This talk is free and you don’t need to book.

An introductory tour:  Genealogy Resources
Friday 10th August, 10:00am – 11:30am

Join Gábor for a tour of the family history resources available at the Central Library.

Learn about how to begin your family history research and the strengths and weaknesses of each resource. The talk will conclude with morning tea, when Gábor will demonstrate some of the online resources and talk about finds he has made. There is no charge for this event but numbers are limited and registration is required.
** UPDATE: This tour is now fully booked **

Preserve and research your family history
Tuesday 14th, Wednesday 22nd and Friday 31st
10:00am – 4:00pm

Register to reserve a librarian: for the final three weeks of ‘Ancestry in August’ we have some times that will be available for you to book in with a librarian to help you with family history research. During your appointment you can choose to:

  • Digitise some family documents and photos.
  • Get help with your family search.
  • Discuss your whakapapa research with the Māori Specialist, Ann Reweti.

There is no charge for these appointments but registration is required.
** UPDATE: these events are now fully booked **