Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A splendid heritage loo in Roskill South

On the way to visit a friend, I spotted this from the bus as it headed along Dominion Road, just past the intersection with Richardson Road. My friend was kind enough to drop me round after lunch to take some shots for the blog.

This is another of Louis Statham's artworks for local Community Board/Council projects, and features public transport in the early days of the district. A great touch is the inclusion of a piece of interpretive information, all part of the complete work.

So ... below is one of Roskills late 1920s community buses. These provided a link for residents in Roskill South with the tramlines north of Mt Albert Road. Some community bus services werre illegal, and ran in opposition with the then-Council contrlled trams all the way into the city. For a while, they got around the regulations by not charging fares, but instead encouraging "membership subscriptions" on a voluntary basis, so they could say they were simply providing a service for members, not the general public. It was a dodge which didn't last long in the courts.

Three Greenline buses which ran (according to the info) between Pt Chevalier to Otahuhu via Mt Roskill.

And ... a Dominion Road tram.

If you're in Auckland and haven't seen this before, stop by the Roskill South shops, and walk down the Richardson Road hill to spend a penny and take a look at this really quite marvellous piece of Auckland transport history.

St Ninian's 150th anniversary

St Ninians 150th anniversary flyer

Well, come rain or shine, the Avondale-Waterview Historical Society hope to be able to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of St Ninian's church building on 8 April 2010. (Showers and westerlies are predicted for that day -- I'm crossing fingers they either don't come between 10 and 11 that day, or the weatherman stuck the wrong finger out the utterly wrong window.)

Doesn't matter if there's only a few there on the day, just as long as awareness of our oldest building is kept up. And I, for one, keep reminding the powers-that-be that it's important to us here in Avondale.

The local Community Board have been brilliant -- they have granted the Society $720 towards the cost of printing the first 200 issues of a commemoration booklet I've pulled together. After those have gone, I'll publish the compilation online (link to come).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

die Mauer -- the Berlin Wall

Not NZ history, I know, but a find made at the Avondale Sunday Market today caught my fancy. When the Berlin Wall came down, chunks of the wall were sold off as souvenirs. Many of them don't have true provenance, so I can't say the two chunks I do have in the collection are really from Berlin. Or from a wall. Although the paint on them seems similar.

But when I saw this, I had to have it. Even just for a wry chuckle.

That looks, for all the world, like an East German Trabant, or "Traby". According to Wiki:

"With its mediocre performance, smoky two-stroke engine, and production shortages, the Trabant is often cited as an example of the disadvantages of centralized planning; on the other hand, it is regarded with derisive affection as a symbol of the failed former East Germany and of the fall of communism (in former West Germany, as many East Germans streamed into West Berlin and West Germany in their Trabants after the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989)"
Another view of the wee car.

So -- political comment, or just decoration on a piece of masonry? Considering I got it for a dollar, and it gave friends of mine a chuckle when I showed them down at the market this morning -- I'll go with the former. On the card that went inside the little display case was the Berlin bear (top of post), and an image of part of the mural on the wall before it came down.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Artists caught in the act on Auckland-West blog

Paul commented on the bullocks post today and let me know about this cool one from his blog -- always fantastic seeing the people behind the art. Take a look.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bullocks in Henderson

A wonderful example of what to do with rusted rubbish removed from our streams stands in Henderson beside a busy road, Vitasovich Avenue. In 1997, the rusted equivalent of this ...

was transformed to this ...

From the Waitakere City Council site:

"Local Waitakere artist and blacksmith Stuart Slater was presented with the challenge of creating "something great out of a load of old rubbish." The result is a pair of 3 metre long 1.8 metre high Bullocks formed from the skeletons of discarded shopping trolleys recovered from the Oratia stream ...

"Beginning in January 1997, after drawing the outlines of the bullocks on large pieces of paper, Stuart and his daughter Shelley used reinforcing steel to shape the profile and armature of each beast. They cut up the metal shopping trolleys and beat the mesh into shape with hammers before welding them into position. Five trolley bottoms were used for each head and eight bottoms for the bullocks' backs. The sides of the trolleys became the ribs.

"Fine black mesh was laid over the structures under a layer of chicken mesh, to shape the muscles and the haunches. Fibrous cement was then applied to build up the main body and to shape the fetlocks, hooves and horns, and to give the bullocks character. 

"The Council's parks department donated a railway sleeper for the yoke, which is placed at "dragging distance" behind the Bullocks.

"Community involvement with the project was. The local community became involved of the project and was genuinely proud and excited by what was achieved (evidenced by comments made in the on-site visitor's book). The Bullocks were completed in March 1997, with an official unveiling held on April 30, 1997."

The result is a sudden and wonderful find while walking up the road.

I told Trevor Pollard, President of the West Auckland Historical Society, that I was going to put the bullocks up on this blog today, and he gave me permission to include this image (below) of the bullocks, superimposed on a scene showing Mill Cottage (he had an idea to have something like the bullocks there, but the price was prohibitive). It would have been nice -- but instead, West Auckland went for their car park mural.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mystery trade mark

I'll put this out there to any readers passing by. At the Huia Settlers Museum, there is a case with heaps of items picked up from the Manukau Harbour coastline over the years, from Onehunga to Whatipu. Included is the above -- what looks like a three-funnel liner, with radio mast (?), and underneath "TRADE MARK REGISTERED".

Any help pin-pointing what this might be from or to do with, just out of interest, would be appreciated.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

West Auckland whimsy

Spotted and shot quickly while in a moving tour bus along Atkinson Ave in West Auckland. A much better shot can be viewed at the Auckland-West blog.

Moana the eel

There are attractive wetlands and stream views at the Corban Estate in Henderson (note shadow of blog photographer below...)

I've wanted to take a photo or two of Moana  the eel for quite some time. Yesterday, down there on the Estate during the 2010 NZ Federation of Historical Societies Conference, held at West Auckland, I got the opportunity in the morning, before the jam and scones were rolled out for the punters.

From the plaque (which, by the way for those who did the installation -- the plaque is VERY difficult to read if you're not down on one knee on the grass ...):

"Moana the eel sculpture was unveiled to the world on 28th November 2007. Her metal skeleton was first made by local artists Dave McCracken and Al Green some years ago. Project Twin Streams Opanuku Stream, the Pacifica Mamas, Waitakere Pacific Art and Cultural Trust and Waitakere City Council worked with artists Janet Holt, Bruce Courtney, Norbryn Eyre and young people from Henderson High School, Liston College, Mother of Divine Mercy and Beautiful Daughters to create Moana as she now stands.

"A corner stone from the original Henderson Town Hall and an old local piece of tramline have also been incorporated.

"May these wonderful creatures, born many miles away in the Pacific Ocean and ttravelling great distances to reach Aotearoa live in peace in our beautiful Opanuku Stream."

You can see the piece of tramline just to the right of the sculpture above. This was from a bus tramline, the kind which conveyed logs down from the timberlands in the Waitakeres. Together with the piece from the old local town hall (probably the block they used to put the plaque against, see below to the right of Moana) -- this installation is a nice marriage of heritage with the environment.

The inscription made out in ceramic letters: "Look after our streams, and they'll look after you."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Friends of the Auckland Suffrage Memorial on Facebook

Further to this post.

Just received an invite from Cr. Cathy Casey, so I've dipped my toes in the water and joined the Facebook group: Friends of the Auckland Suffrage Memorial. It's time, although I'm wary of all things Facebook and such, to take a stand. Heritage can't just be brushed aside for someone's opinion on aesthetics.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Western Springs Speedway history

I've just received an email advising that Western Springs Speedway have an online petition running, apparently against Auckland City Council moves to shut the speedway down (at the moment, I'm not aware of any immediate moves, although who knows what will happen with the Super City thing. Note the last entry on the page dates from 2008). I don't have strong opinions either way, but I'll include the link to their heritage page (with some interesting archival photos).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A fading mural in Silverdale

Perhaps I'm just imagining it -- but I'm sure Silverdale up in Rodney District was once noted for having quite a few heritage murals in its town centre. Today, I was there on business, and took time while waiting for the bus back to the Big Smoke to look around the township. This was the only mural I spotted -- and it has seen better days. The artist, according to a name and phone number at the bottom left of the mural, was John Fisher, in 1994.

Well, at least here's the digital version. Click to enlarge images.

Latest St Matthews billboard

Seen this morning, while I was on the way through the city -- the latest St Matthews-in-the-city billboard, from the folks who brought you this and this. As usual, click to enlarge (and see the caption at the bottom).

Ferndale House, Mt Albert

The Mt Albert Historical Society had a function yesterday at Ferndale House, on New North Road in Mt Albert. I went along for a listen to the guest speaker (who talked about Sarah Elizabeth Jackson), and to look at the house.

Ferndale was built by the Garlick family, in two stages -- a small cottage in the 1860s, ("Fern Villa") and the enlarged version seen today in 1881. It was transferred to Mt Albert Borough Council after Mrs Garlick's death in 1947, and is used today for community meetings, private functions, with an early childhood centre at the rear.

Some of the interior features:

The house is also home to the Mt Albert Jubilee Wall Panels, designed by Joyce Ross and presented to Mt Albert City Council (all now part of Auckland City) in 1987. The embroidery and assembly were by a team of people: Valerie Candy, Faith Donovan, Diane Faull, Beth Jenner, Alice Hetherington, Noeleen Kealey, Veda McKay, Eileen Marsden, Ivy Marshall, Betty Rehn, Graham Ross, Joyce Ross, Margaret Woods, and Les Rehnm, over a total of 519 hours.

The first panel features Wairaka, one of those credited as the origin of the name Owairaka, the mountain after which the suburb is named.

The second panel shows the crest of Mt Albert City Council, absorbed into Auckland City in 1989 (just two years after this work was completed.)

The third shows, (from the bottom): Ferndale House, Mt Albert War Memorial Hall, Alberton, and the former DSIR building.

And I also finally found a photo on one of the walls of the house which I was looking for back when I was putting together Wairaka's Waters: the pumphouse on the Asylum grounds which supplied water for Mt Albert until 1922.

If you get a chance to come by Mt Albert and see Ferndale House, I'd recommend it.

Weetbix controversy rolls on

Back in February 2009, I did a post: Who invented Weetbix? This was followed, after a lot of international sleuthing, by the sequel in September last year. 

Now ... the British version is to be banned in New Zealand due to accusations of trademark infringement.
A British culinary institution loved by expat Poms is disappearing from Kiwi shelves after a legal row over the name.
Supplies of Weetabix, long regarded as a staple of the British breakfast, are running out after Sanitarium wrote to the manufacturers saying it had New Zealand copyright on the terms Weetabix and Weet-Bix.
Sanitarium spokeswoman Kim Stirling said importing Weetabix to New Zealand was a trademark infringement on the company's brand.
"We're quite a big brand in New Zealand and they're quite a big brand in the UK. We feel it's quite an important thing just because we've built up the intellectual property [of Weet-Bix] here."
And ...
Sanitarium has been trading in New Zealand since 1900 and started making Weet-Bix in 1932.
Weetabix was introduced to Britain by two South Africans who formed the Weetabix Food Company in 1932. The company declined to comment.
Bennison Osborne has been fairly well established, via this blog, as the leading light behind both the Aussie-Kiwi and British versions of the wheat biscuit for brekkie -- and he wasn't South African, but Australian. Ah, well. I've talked about the weird way the story of brands gets twisted over time before now. Actually, I just buy the supermarket's in-house wheat biscuit brand these days, because it's cheaper.

Update 8 August 2011: John Baskerville Bagnall, Arthur Shannon's nephew, enters the feay in favour of his uncle as Wett-Bix originator with a lengthy page on the story, here.

There is utter confusion in a string of entries in Timespanner: A journey through Avondale, Auckland and NZ history. It reproduces an article said to be from the Auckland Sun, 21 December 1921 – note the date! The article has Weet-Bix as a New Zealand product, invented 2 or 3 years ago, i.e. 1918 or 1919. The truth is that the Auckland Sun was only published for a short period from 1927 to 1930, after which it was incorporated into the Auckland Star. So, the article in the Auckland Sun cannot have been published in 1921 and Weet-Bix was not a New Zealand creation.
I agree. I reckon I mis-recorded the date on the article copy as 1927, not 1921. The earliest Weet-bix competitions here in NZ seems to be from late 1926. But, for such a simple brekky food -- the story does seem to have a lot of convolutions. I hope Mr. Bagnall has updated that Wiki page and made corrections!

But why did the article I found refer to Weet-bix as a "New Zealand concern"? Ah, well, at least more information has been brought to light.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Conviviality and the flying fox at Upper Symonds Street

A traffic control box sits beside a telephone cables utility box on the verge beside the Upper Symonds Street carpark here in Auckland, at the junction with Mt Eden and New North Roads. (Paul, in comments below, has pointed out that this is another example of Doug Ford's work, from 2005)

From the main frontage with Symonds Street, the theme appears to be that of folks have a good time with drinks and music.

Bonus points for the artist painting the telephone cables tube to the side to match in with the mural.

But, interestingly, the back of the boxes, rather than be left in a solid color or unpainted, show scenes of the volcano peaks -- and a flying fox.

Something for the pedestrian, or those wandering around the carpark, to discover.