Wellington Heritage Week – 22nd to 28th October

Ever since Kupe first followed the wheke a Muturangi (a giant squid) to Te Moana-a-Raukawa (Cook Strait), the history of Wellington and the people who have lived here has been told, researched and retold. Wellington Heritage Week 22nd to 28th October is an opportunity to experience Wellington’s people, places and stories. Check out the Wellington Heritage week program here.

If you would like to do some of your own research into your Wellington people, places and stories then here at the library we have many resources to help you in your research.  A great starting point is our Heritage and Local History page, with tips and links to help you get started.

Local Māori History Resources

On the Te Whanganui-a-Tara resources page you’ll find digitised resources, including: Māori deeds of land purchases, a list of Māori tribes and chiefs circa 1878, and many more resources.  Check out these resources on the local Te Whanganui-a-tara Māori history available here.

We have the 4 volumes of Ngā Tūpuna o te Whanganui-a-Tara in our collection.  These 4 volumes were a collaboration between Wellington  City Council and Wellington Tenths Trust and our Māori subject specialist Ann Reweti was part of the writing and editing team.

Ngā tūpuna o Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Volume 4 / Clarke, Sandra

“Short biographies and some portraits of Māori associated with the sale of Port Nicolson land in the 1840s.” (Catalogue)

 

Wellington City Recollect Database

Have you visited the Wellington City Recollect website yet? You will find a database of heritage photos, books, maps and related ephemera reflecting the Capital’s past. The database is administered by Wellington City Libraries and our local historian specialist Gabor Toth recommends having a look at some of the great new additions to this database.  The latest project is the ongoing digitisation of Wellington school jubilee and centenary publications.  These school publications are a great source of Wellington heritage information and you can see the ones that have been digitised so far, click on the Publications tab  here.

Wellington City Recollect is a great place to spend some time during Wellington Heritage Week.  Wellington City Libraries are very proud of our role in Wellington local history and some of the great things you can find on Recollect are postcards like the one below of  Wellington Public Library  C.1925 or browse thru the souvenir opening guide produced for the 1940 opening to find out about the library building that now houses the City Gallery here.

This image has been downloaded from https://wellington.recollect.co.nz/ and may be subject to copyright restrictions. Please verify the copyright status before any reuse of this image.

Exploring Early Colonial Life in Wellington in books

The following three books are good examples of how you can gain an interesting  perspective of colonial life in Wellington from our collections.  As for most colonists this new life started with the journey by ship to Wellington. The first book  “No simple passage” tells of such a journey on board the “London” in 1842.  The life and sights of Wellington in 1859 are the topic of the second book  “An indescribable beauty” told with letters sent back home.  Finally in the third book Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington from 1888 -1903 is detailed in Wellington’s own Redmer Yska’s  “A strange beautiful excitement”.  (For some background information into the research of this third book, check out the story on Wellington City Recollect here

No simple passage : the journey of the “London” to New Zealand, 1842 : a ship of hope / Jones, Jenny Robin
“No Simple Passage tells the story of the passengers on board the London, 1842, undertaking a four-month journey from London to Port Nicholson at the end of which they will begin the process of becoming New Zealanders. The author imagines herself on board and records ship life using the journals of the ship’s surgeon and a cabin passenger.” (Catalogue)

 

An indescribable beauty : letters home to Germany from Wellington, New Zealand, 1859 & 1862 / Krull, Friedrich
“This unique book is a small but priceless addition to the historical record of early New Zealand, published to recognise New Zealand’s guest of honour status at Frankfurt Book Fair 2012.On January 27, 1859, an adventurous young German arrived in Wellington after a four-month voyage on a Swedish ship. With great alacrity we helped the sailors weigh anchor, and with what suspense did H and I stand on the foredeck to get the first view of the town which was to become our new home, Friedrich Krull writes. After we entered through the narrow straits a beautiful harbour lay before us, surrounded by high hills, and behind it more hills ascending to the snowline. In the east we saw Wellington itself, stretching along the coast for a mile. We were amazed: we had not expected the place to be so big.’So began the first of many letters Krull would write at the behest of the German naturalist and historian Ernst Boll – published in English translation in this outstanding book.” (Catalogue)

A strange beautiful excitement : Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington, 1888-1903 / Yska, Redmer
“How does a city make a writer? Described by Fiona Kidman as a ‘ravishing, immersing read’, A Strange Beautiful Excitement is a ‘wild ride’ through the Wellington of Katherine Mansfield’s childhood. From the grubby, wind-blasted streets of Thorndon to the hushed green valley of Karori, author Redmer Yska, himself raised in Karori, retraces Mansfield’s old ground: the sights, sounds and smells of the rickety colonial capital, as experienced by the budding writer” (Catalogue)

 

 

We think 175 years of public libraries in Wellington is a great reason to celebrate!

Pop in to your library this Saturday, 21 November, for this special anniversary. It all started with this advertisement in The NZ Gazette and Wellington Spectator, 27 November 1840:

Public Library and Reading Room: A meeting will be held at Barrett’s Hotel at 11 o’clock precisely, on Tuesday next December 1st 1840 to take steps for the formation of a Public Library and Reading room; when the attendance of those interested in the undertaking is requested.

A highlight on Saturday at 11:30am is this fascinating talk:

Libris 175 : From Serial Murders to a Public Library Service.

What could connect a series of horrific murders in early 19th Century Scotland with New Zealand’s first public library? Local History specialist Gábor Tóth will explain the origin of Wellington City Libraries and some of the fascinating characters who were involved in its history and development as we celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our predecessor institution in 1840. This free talk will also include a presentation of items selected from the library’s collection of rare books.

What else is happening?

Librarians are dressing for the occasion, with Central Library staff taking on the earliest era – Victorian; Newtown and Island Bay – Edwardian; Karori, Cummings Park and Khandallah – 1910–1930s; Johnsonville and Tawa – 1940–1950s; Kilbirnie and Miramar – 1960–1970s. Why not take a selfie with a librarian from years gone by and tweet it to @wcl_library, #selfie175 and #libris175 ?

There are will be competitions to enter and if you come along, there may just be a surprise for you!

If you’re not a member, join now and choose a special edition 175 anniversary library membership card. If you’re already a member, you can swap your current card for an anniversary card for $2. (Please note that your card number will change, so tell librarians if you use our eLibrary services).

Fabulous commemorative calendars are on sale now for $25 at all of our libraries, just in time for Christmas. A series of historic photographic banners will be making their way around branches after the 21st.

libris175

New Ohariu Valley Oral History: Seton Nossiter

Stretching for 15 kilometres from Makara in the south to Tawa in the north, Ohariu Valley is a rural district on Wellington’s urban doorstep. Feeling that the social history of the area deserved to be more widely known, Wellington City Libraries have captured some of the memories of current and former valley dwellers as part of the Ohariu Valley Oral History Project.

The most recent addition to this heritage project is a vintage analogue recording of Seton Nossiter being interviewed by Vivian Harris. Wellington City Libraries wish to thank and acknowledge Vivian Harris and Gill Pratley (the daughter of Seton Nossiter) for allowing us to digitise the recording and to make it available via this collection. Vivian and Gill have also contributed their own stories to our archive and these can be listened to by clicking the named links on the main page of the Ohariu Valley Oral History Project.

Who was Seton Nossiter?

Seton Nossiter was one of Ohariu Valley’s most notable personalities of the 20th Century. He came to live in the valley aged five in 1914 when his parents purchased what was to become one of the first dairy farms in the area. He began farming as soon as he left school and later inherited the family farm but became best known by the wider community for his involvement in local body politics. He won a seat on the Hutt County Council representing the Makara “Riding”, then became a City Councillor when Makara and Ohariu Valley were absorbed into Wellington City. He served in this role for many years under the mayoralties of Sir Francis Kitts, Sir Michael Fowler and Ian Lawrence. He also sat on the Wellington and the Hutt Valley Milk Boards and was elected to the Johnsonville Liquor Licensing Trust where he was instrumental in the establishment of the Burma Lodge and the Broderick Inn. Shortly after his death in 1989, Seton Nossiter Park in Paparangi was named in his honour.

You can listen to the recordings over on the project page for Seton Nossiter.