Listen to the Ruth Gotlieb oral history

Ruth Gotlieb with Jane Hill and John Stears You can now listen to interviews with Ruth Gotlieb on our website, detailing her fascinating life; growing up in Ireland and emigrating to Australia then New Zealand. The oral histories include an in-depth discussion of her 27 year career serving as a councillor and board member, with the Wellington City Council, the Wellington Regional Council, the Wellington Harbour Board and the Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Ruth Gotlieb’s honours include having the library in Kilbirnie renamed Ruth Gotlieb Library, being awarded a Queen’s Service Order in 1995, and named Wellingtonian of the year in 2010. Ruth has contributed many hours volunteering with numerous organisations and as Justice of the Peace, and continues to do so to this day.

Check out the oral histories here – Ruth Gotlieb oral history page.

(Pictured: Ruth Gotlieb with Jane Hill (Manager, Community Networks) and John Stears (Libraries & Community Spaces Manager) at the page launch)


Short historical films available on our website!

Check out our new Heritage Films page for a selection of films from Wellington City Archives we have digitised.

The films were made to document council activities and at the time were only shown to a small audience. These short videos are an insight into some of Wellington’s history and include scenes from the opening of Khandallah Library in 1953, the Queen’s visit in 1954, the “Festival Of Wellington” in 1959 and a five minute film from 1947 about Wellington’s milk supply.

Alongside the videos on the Heritage films page you’ll find information on the Festival Of Wellington, publicity materials and photos.  We’ve also added the films to our WCL YouTube channel – check it out for storytimes and other videos we have created. We’d love your feedback!

Some highlights from our Wellington Music project in 2015

Our Wellington Music Project began properly around October in 2014, so this was the first full year of our page and blog on Wellington Music. Here are some highlights we wrote about during the year that you may have missed at the time.

Nicole Andrews2
[Nicole Andrews recording the piano tracks for her album In The Shallows at the New Zealand School Of Music]

We interviewed lots of people, and whether the interview was long or short, each offered up a unique perspective on what it is like for an artist making and recording music, and releasing albums as part of the eclectic Wellington music scene..
Lee Prebble
Vera Ellen
Nicole Andrews
Christopher Hill
Rhys Stannard
Matt Hyde
Orchestra Of Spheres
Bruce Brown

New (and old) Music from:
This year we added lots of new & older titles to our Wellington collection. Some of which included new albums from..
Trinity Roots
The Close Readers
The Labcoats
Head Like A Hole
French For Rabbits
Eb & Sparrow
The Phoenix Foundation
Reuben Bradley
Wayne Mason
Fat Freddy’s Drop
The Jac

New Zealand Music Month:
We caught up with a variety of local musicians, artists, writers & critics on what makes Wellington music unique for New Zealand Music Month. Some of which were..
Steve Francis from Bulletbelt
Grayson Gilmour
Damien Wilkins
Luke Kavanagh from Sunken Seas
Simon Grigg from Audioculture
Sophie Burbury
Matt Hyde of Beastwars
Norman Meehan
Jessie Finn from Towers

Photo of Nicole Andrews courtesy of Nicole & Bradley Garner Creative.

It’s time to start training for Round the Bays 2015!

Rounding FirstRegistration opens for Cigna Round the Bays today at noon. Be sure to visit the library to check out the amazing resources on offer after registering! Whether this is your first time participating or you simply want to beat your previous record, the library can help you achieve those goals.

Simply visit your local library and look under the call number 796.42.  There you will find everything you need from creating a training plan to preparation for race day.  We’ve got you covered!

Syndetics book coverThe complete running & marathon book / senior editor, Catherine Saunders.
“A one-stop guide for any aspiring runner, from the first step to the first marathon. The Complete Running and Marathon Book has everything you need to know, from choosing the right footwear to eating right and warming up. Train hard with one of the specific programmes for your distance. Invaluable tips can help you to gain a vital competitive edge, from goal-setting and motivation to running psychology and race tactics. Key pre- and post-run step-by-step stretches help you to protect yourself from injury and core and resistance-training exercises can help you to run faster and further. The Complete Running and Marathon Book is perfect for any new or aspiring runner looking to go the distance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Photo ( by Flickr user Tracy Lee Caroll, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license ( No changes made.

Free Gig: Maika at Wellington Central Library

Mahinarangi Maika
Mahinarangi Maika pours a lifetime of heart and an eternity of culture into her music. Performing as Maika, her music flows easily between Maori and English languages, reflecting the cultural heritage of her native Aotearoa/New Zealand, in a style that blends reggae, soul, R & B, and jazz.

“Music is the language of the soul,” Maika says. “It is something that unifies us.”

Maika belts out that musical language without reservation. She has the vocal power of Melissa Etheridge or Pat Benatar, but with a different quality that makes her hard to classify. The music ranges across styles, her words and melodies reflecting the passion and pain of a life transiting the resurrection of a culture.
Maika is Ngati Porou and Te Arawa.

Performing for free and unplugged at Central on May 29th at 12noon.

Cultural go-between, colonial man: New perspectives on James Cowan

James Cowan at his desk, writing.. Ruscoe, Ivan, fl 1990s : Photographs relating to James Cowan. Ref: PAColl-5877-5. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

James Cowan at his desk, writing.. Ruscoe, Ivan, fl 1990s : Photographs relating to James Cowan. Ref: PAColl-5877-5. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

There’s an exciting symposium on James Cowan, planned for February, 2014.
Venue: National Library of New Zealand, Wellington
Day: 21 February 2014
Time: 9 am-5.30 pm

Co-hosted by: Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, University of Otago (Convenor:  Annabel Cooper) and Alexander Turnbull Library (Convenor:  Ariana Tikao)

This symposium coincides with 150th anniversary of the  Battle of Orākau, and will also highlight an exhibition of the extensive Cowan papers now housed at Alexander Turnbull Library.

But here, at Wellington City Libraries I have an added interest in the work of James Cowan, having been alerted, several years ago, to a chapter in the book of Patrick Lawlor:  Old Wellington days.  Whitcombe and Tombs, 1959: Chapter 8, p. 194.  James Cowan and his Wellington Place-names —  tells us that Cowan’s output whilst living in Wellington was relatively small, (but , for me, nevertheless, he pounamu) – consisting of  four chapters covering wars in Wellington, plus articles for the local press, along with his standout contributions to the New Zealand Railways Magazine.

“The journalist James Cowan was the magazine’s most prolific contributor to [New Zealand railways magazine] writing more than 120 historical and travel features, including 48 sketches of ‘Famous New Zealanders’.

But three articles published in the Evening Post, 1912: (Paperspast) on Wellington place names, form the basis of Chapter 8, in Lawlor’s book.

Evening Post, Volume LXXXIII, Issue 136, 8 June 1912, Page 10
Evening Post, Volume LXXXIII, Issue 142, 15 June 1912, Page 10

Evening Post, Volume LXXXIV, Issue 18, 20 July 1912, Page 10

“Many of the ancient names of the rohe that survive to the present day relate to the Ngai Tara, Rangitane, Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Ira histories of the Hataitai or Motukairangi (Miramar) peninsula – and indeed, the history of some of the names on the Poneke shoreline was retained only by the Ngati Kahungunu iwi.”
Rangi Te Puni, daughter-in-law  of Te Puni Kokopu, who, In 1912, lived in a small home close to the Pito-one Beach, was a source for much of Cowan’s information.  She was born in Waipa Valley and her iwi connections were to the Ngati Maniapoto.
Others who added their stories were Ngarimu Mawene of Whakahikuwai, Lower Hutt, –  said to be a chieftainess who danced on the shores of Pito-one, and chanted “Toia mai te waka ki te urunga” when the Tory dropped anchor in 1839, and Mere Ngamai, granddaugher of Rawiri Te Motutere and a former wife of Wi Tako.

Whitiora house and garden, Regan St, Stratford. McAllister, James, 1869-1952 :Negatives of Stratford and Taranaki district. Ref: 1/1-011917-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Whitiora house and garden, Regan St, Stratford. McAllister, James, 1869-1952 :Negatives of Stratford and Taranaki district. Ref: 1/1-011917-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Whitiora house and garden, Regan On the verandah stands James Robson, and his wife Mere (Mary) Ngamai but the oldest histories were given by Te Whatahoro, Ngati Kahungunu –

Hoani Te Whatahoro Jury. Ref: 1/2-024827-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Hoani Te Whatahoro Jury. Ref: 1/2-024827-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

and his information is the basis for Elsdon Best’s histories of Wellington Harbour – see: The Land of Tara and they who settle it / by Elsdon Best, 1919.

From Part II of James Cowan’s Evening Post articles, (15/6/1912, p. 10) comes information on lesser known places located between Wellington and the Hutt Valley — for example:

Kaiwharawhara – Māori used to climb the gully to collect wharawhara from the trees, for food.

Wai-kiekie – just beyond Kaiwharawhara – “Stream of the plant  Freycinetia Banksii”

Paerau –“Many Ranges”- the steep hill just above Kaiwharawhara where the old track led to Johnsonville and Porirua.

Nga-uranga – “the landing place of canoes”

Piki-wahine – the hill above Ngauranga  where womenand children used to go exploring the bush for konini fruit and othe forest foods, and climbing kahikatea pines for the seed berries.

Paroro-rangi – “Cloudy Sky” –

Te Ana-puta – “Cave-opening” – a mile and a quarter north of Nga-uranga – this cave was full of skulls and skeletons and was extremely tapu.

Pari-karangaranga – “Cliff of Echoes” – Maori passing along the beach here, with the lofty rocky cliff towering above them, used to listen fearfully for the voice of a wairua, or spirit, in the heights as this was supposed to be the “reo” or voice of woman who had committed suicide at that place of many echoes.

Te Ahi-parera –“The-Fire-to Cook-a-Wild Duck” – is the name of those heights said old Rangi, pointing to the steep hilltops above Petone, on the northern and western side of the Tuara-whati Gully.  A fire (ahi) was kindled there by an ancestor of long ago to cook a wild duck (parera) which he had killed on a pool in the bush.

Te Raho-o-Te Kapowai –the range  of great hills rising above the Korokoro Valley mouth on the south side is named after an ancestor of Ngati Kahungunu who lived a great many generations ago.

Te Korokoro-o-Te-Mana – Te Mana, a chief of Ngati Mutunga, named the valley after himself, likening it to his throat (korokoro) in order to tapa or claim it as a possession for himself and his descendants.

Te Tuara-whati-o-Te-Mana- (Te Mana’s Broken Backbone) – The gorge above Pito-one railway station where a stream winds down  to the old Catholic Cemetery , also named after chief Te Mana is also the burial place for  Wi Tako Ngatata, and for Ngarimu Mawene.

These are just a few of the fascinating stories of place names recorded in three articles in the Evening Post of 1912, and in Chapter 8 of Lawler’s book, Early Wellington days.

Clark Spaggeerg’s Truth Hunt – A Webseries

A local webseries was recently shot by brothers Callum and Oli Devlin. First episode ‘The Call Of The Hunt’ caught our attention with the Kilbirnie Library playing a dystopian supervillain. We wanted to know more so got in touch with the creators for the lowdown.

Here’s the first episode, a link to their youtube channel, and the Q&A is below:

How did you get into making films?

Callum: We started making films on our parents home video camera when we were kids. Mostly they were morality tales or Monty Python rip-offs or fight scenes and what not. Just making them to amuse ourselves and get out of the house. It’s just a great way to tell stories.

Oli: Also, the Lord of the Rings, and the Matrix were pretty big childhood influences. We were exactly the right age for the Star Wars prequels too, so we’d be making little movies and animations with our action figures in the garden.

Can you give us a short bio about yourselves?

Callum: I’m studying Fine Arts at Massey in Wellington, and am a member of the theatre group PlayShop who performs at Paramount Cinemas every Friday night.

Oli: I’m at the NZSM doing Sonic Arts, which is pretty much musical composition – with computers.

We have watched the first episode and loved it. In your words could you please explain to us why you decided to make it?

Callum: We had this character of Clark kicking around from a film we’d made for our brothers 21st a few years ago. The original was an exposé about our brother that was really more about us. It was hands down the best thing we’d ever made, and we just couldn’t leave such dynamite comedy potential just sitting around like an idle duck. So we brought him back.

Oli: We wanted to do something huge, a vast web of conspiracy and intrigue, but seen through the eyes of hyper imaginative man-child. Like what happens when you take that crazy paranoid world Clark lives in, and make it real.

Once it was out there, did you get any unexpected reactions?

Callum: No kooky stories, just a lot of genuine surprise from people, even the cast. This series raises more questions than it answers, and Clark is just such a unique character that I think can be initially pretty baffling.

Oli: I expected people to be a bit baffled, yeah, but it seems there are some people who like it a lot, which is so great. It’s rather strong flavored.

Can you tell us a bit more about why you chose to film in a library; what’s your relationship with libraries?

Callum: Part of our show is set five years into the future, where Libraries are controlled and locked away from the public. Libraries are so often taken for granted as a public resource for information, so what was interesting for us is what happens when that gets taken away. They can hold secrets, and become as valuable and precious as a bank vault.

Oli: I love the idea of Librarians in the future being supervillains.

What’s the future for your webseries and film-making?

Callum: We have two more episodes of Clark Spaggeerg for this season (episode #2 comes out on Thursday [7/11], #3 the week after) which is the focus for now. We’ve planned a full kind of series arc, with plenty more story to tell, so hopefully this season is intriguing enough for people to want to see more. Otherwise, we’re always writing and developing new projects that excite us.

Oli: Our next film is a psychological horror-short we made with a small crew of guys from this film, and we’ll be letting that one out in December.

Do you have any music/films/blogs recommendations?

Callum: I just rewatched Billy Wilder’s Sabrina which is just a lock as my favourite film ever. Also, if you’re looking for honest, entertaining and critical discussions about film and television check out

Oli: Definitely Baddass Digest and Film Critic Hulk, also which is really consistently good – all the great free stuff on the web. I also listen to a lot of podcasts, Nerdist Writers Panel, WTF with Marc Maron, and Harmontown.

Anything else to add?

Callum: Making films is a lot easier than you think it is and just completely the most fun ever. I don’t understand why everybody isn’t doing it. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and you don’t need permission, just go do it.

Latest Zines We Love

We have some new zines to share with you! Lovin’ these at the mo:

photo_1.JPGa RIDE Issues 1 – 4 by Word Collective / Outa Here Productions
I encountered Ride for the first time today and it is awesome. Each volume contains a series of sketches of Wellington bus passengers. Along with showing off some serious sketching skill (each drawing must be completed ON THE BUS), it’s also highly entertaining as each volume also includes a snippet of (invariably hilarious) conversation overheard on the bus. A quick read and a recognisable experience for anyone who’s ever been on a Wellington bus.

photo_3.JPGaI Am Very Busy and Important, Issues 1, 2 & 3 by Sophie
This zine is just entertaining. Featuring photographs, interviews, observations, tips, wee stories… entertaining. Read it.



photo_5.JPGaMr Ray’s Grave Thoughts by M Pearson
I love the illustrations in this zine… they kind of remind me of Rug Rats (still a huge fan) and I can totally imagine it as a mini-cartoon all of its own. Mr Ray is also strangely endearing, considering the somewhat grim subject matter. Am hoping there’ll be more to follow this!

photo_2.JPGaNontoxic Housecleaning by Raleigh Briggs
As you may remember, I really love practical zines that help you get stuff done!! This zine is all about making your own products for cleaning the house… genius!! As a natural and cheap alternative to buying commerical products, I’ll def be trying some of these out.

photo_4.JPGaHeartbroken and Horny 1 by Zo Watt
This zine is the diary of a relationship break-up… gritty in some parts and hilarious in others, I think most people will relate to at least one conversation relayed in this zine.

The Great Harbour of Tara – G. Leslie Adkin

ngaurangaPublished in 1956 and written by amateur archaeologist, cartographer, pioneering photographer and farmer, Leslie Adkin, this book explains many of the Maori place names and sites around Wellington and what these areas where used for. Cultivation and occupation sites are listed alphabetically and the explanations are supported by maps of Wellington, Terawhiti Head and Lower Hutt Valley illustrating the positions of pa, kainga, cultivation areas and other geographical areas of interest. Here is a excerpt about Ngauranga: “Nga Uranga” canoe-landing and kainga. ‘The spot where canoes were landed [as the name literally signifies] at the mouth of the [Waitohi] stream…A small Te Ati-Awa kainga (village) located nearby was the dwelling place of the chief Te Wharepouri; he was buried at Petone but a cenotaph…was erected to his memory on the hillslope on the east side of the Waitohi stream by Rawiri Te Moutere in 1848. The name Nga Uranga was, according to S.P. Smith a Ngati Ira name. It was for many years mis-spelt ‘Ngahauranga’ and this erroneous form furnishes a good example of how the wrong spelling of a name can have a false meaning assigned to it. A Mr Tirikatene is reported to have translated Nga-hau-ranga as ‘beaten by strong winds’.”

[Image courtesy National Library of New Zealand: Brees, Samuel Charles, 1810-1865 :N’Houranga. Drawn by S C Brees. Engraved by Henry Melville. [London, 1847].. Brees, Samuel Charles, 1810-1865 : Pictorial Illustrations of New Zealand. London, John Williams and Co., Library of Arts, 141, Strand, 1847.. Ref: PUBL-0020-02-3. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.]