Monday, February 28, 2011

100 NZ World War 1 memorials project

Helen Vail posted this comment at the Pukekohe War Memorial post:
"A lovely memorial haven't visited myself but will do. I have set myself the task of visiting 100 NZ WW1 memorials before August 2014 to commemorate the 100 yr anniversary of the start of WW1. Would love to know what you think."
Take a look at her blog. I think this is a wonderful project, Helen, and wish you all the very best in the endeavour. I'll add a link to your blog on the side list here. Thanks for letting me know!

"The stones of the church walls talk"

Another post on the Presbyterian Archives blog, this one on damage to St Giles Presbyterian Church, Papanui.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

William Henry “Zulu” Thompson (1841-1887): diorama showman

 Zulu Warriors, late 19th century, postcard, from Wikipedia.

Before motion pictures, there were lantern shows. But, for something with a bit more pizzazz (and prizes, just can’t forget the prizes) there were the mechanical diorama shows. These are best described by this site (complete with helpful image):

“The moving panorama, or diorama, consisted of a series of paintings on canvas which were then joined together to form one very long canvas sheet that was wound onto a vertical roller. From this roller the canvas was moved across the stage and wound up on a similar roller on the other side. The canvas could be illuminated from behind, from the front, or by a combination of both, using oil or gas lamps.”

One of the well known practitioners in the 1880s of the theatrical art of pulling ‘em in, making them watch art roll across a stage, then get prizes, was William Henry “Zulu” Thompson. He came by the sobriquet a little later in his career, but it seems he started out from America to the Australian colonies as a lecturer on the just-past American Civil War, around 1865. Lecturing, though, didn’t seem to grab the audience. It probably didn’t help that by the end of the 1860s, he wasn’t the only one at it on the circuit. Even high ranking officers (or so they said) of the American military made their way to Australasian shores to tell the colonials all about their war.

So, he decided to go one better, and went in for a mechanical diorama of his subject of choice. And there were prizes.

Since the great civil war between the Northern and Southern States of America, and which resulted in the abolition of slavery throughout the dominions of the great republic, we have had in Hobart Town several dioramic exhibitions of the leading incidents of the fearful struggle; but we remember none that was more largely patronised than was that of Thompson's Diorama of the battles which took place in the Southern States, presented last night for the first time at the Town Hall.

The hall, in every part, was crowded to excess, and when the curtain unveiled the first picture, a bird's eye view of New Orleans, a favourable impression of the ability of the artist was at once created, only to be enhanced as the more thrilling incidents of the war were unfolded, The scene representing the march of General Stewart's body of irregular cavalry on Richmond to oppose General McLellan's well-known attack upon that city at the head of a Federal detachment, afforded a graphic idea of the smartness of the cavalry, which the lecturer (Mr. Thompson, who, by the way, discharged his duties very efficiently), said had been described by the English press as " the finest body of regular cavalry in the world." Another equally effective picture was that representing the engagement of the 69th New York regiment under General Thomas Francis Meagher who, after a gallant resistance, retreated before Pittsburg, with a loss of 1,400 out of 1,000 men.

The battle between the famous Confederate cruiser the Alabama, and the Hattrass, off Galveston, was more than a picture, it was an excellent piece of mechanism, and the way in which the whole affair was worked proved highly interesting, particularly to the junior portion of the audience. The funeral procession of the great southern commander General Stonewall Jackson, whose death sealed the fate of the Confederate army, is a very elaborate piece of mechanism, the movements of the soldiery forming the cortege being regulated with wonderful precision, and drawing forth warm expressions of approval. In fact, the whole diorama proved a success; and though the music in some respects was not up to the mark, still it added much to the enjoyment of the evening.

At the close of the diorama Mr. Thompson proceeded to present the prizes to the holders of tickets, in accordance with the announcements in the show-bills. These consisted of some really valuable and, at the same time, useful articles, including tea and coffee service (4 pieces), two presentation cups, two sovereigns, large liqueur frames, two cruet stands, a couple of opera glasses, and an infinity of other things which we need not describe. One singular circumstance in connection with the prizes was that the great bulk of them went to the shilling part of the hall, thus doing away with any suspicion of favouritism. The exhibition will be on view again to-night.

Hobart Mercury, 26 September 1876

USS Hatteras in action with CSS Alabama, off Galveston, Texas, on 11 January 1863, from Wikipedia.

Evening Post 7 August 1877

Wanganui Herald 5 September 1877

This went down a treat, but by the end of the 1870s, the American Civil War probably seemed rather old hat. So, Thompson took steps to freshen up his act. Fortunately for him, I suppose, this was the age of the British Empire, and a colonial conflict out in the Darkest Continent came in time to rescue his fortunes.

Melbourne is to be instructed during the Exhibition in regard to most of the leading incidents which took place during the Zulu War. Mr W H Thompson, of American war diorama celebrity, on leaving Sydney made his way to South Africa, where he collected such information as will enable him to present to Australia a thoroughly reliable panoramic view of the war. The artists who have been employed upon it are Messrs Telbin, Gordon, Harper, Walter Harm, and H. Emden, of Drury Lane. Mr Thompson goes out by the Kaisar-i Hind to make the necessary preparations, so as to have everything ready by the time the Exhibition opens.

Otago Witness 24 July 1880

Thompson's Colossal Mirror of the Zulu War will open for a season of six nights at the Mechanics' Institute, this evening. The paintings of the various scenes in that dreadful struggle are from the brushes of several of the most celebrated London scenic artists, such as Telbin, Gordon (of the London Comedy Company), Harford, Lloyd, and others. The exhibition has been shown before crowded audiences throughout Australia, and is altogether superior to most of such entertainments that have visited the colonies. The views comprise pictures of the battle of Isandula; the defence of Rorke's Drift ; saving the colours; the wreck of a the troopship Clyde; and the diorama of 8000 moving figures, representing Lord Chelmsford's march to the relief of Ekowe, and the funeral procession of the Prince Imperial from Woolwich to Chislehurst, together with many other interesting and masterly portraits. At the conclusion of the exhibition a number of a valuable presents will be distributed among the audience. The descriptive lecturer is Mr W. H. Thompson, who some years since made two successful visits to this place.

Launceston Examiner 17 October 1881

The defence of Rorke's Drift 1879, from Wikipedia.

He toured around both Australia and New Zealand with the diorama, and it proved an enormous hit. But then, his business sense went awry. He bought another diorama when the Zulu War one seemed to be a little flat as far as audience attraction went – and that one turned out to be as old as the hills. And the cost of those prizes – even when the takings were slim, folks still expected their prizes, of course. Bankruptcy loomed, then crashed over “Zulu” Thompson, landing him in meetings with his creditors in Wellington.

The Troubles of a Showman.
The adjourned meeting of creditors in the estate of William Henry Thompson, proprietor of the Zulu War Diorama, was held to-day , the representatives of two creditors being present in addition to the Official Assignee and the debtor. Mr. Thompson made the following statement : — I am a married man and have two children. About three and a-half years ago I passed through here, and the Manager of the Bank of Australasia will tell you that I had £2500 to my credit in that Bank. It was on deposit at 2½ per cent. I then went to Sydney and bought 200 shares in the new theatre building in that city at £10 per share, and altogether I paid £600 in calls. I was advised to sell out, and did so for £250, thus dropping £350 on the shares.

I bought from Mr. George Gordon, of the Theatre Royal, Melbourne, for .£550 cash, the panorama of the Egyptian War, which I exhibited in Sydney. There I lost £750, owing to opposition and the show not being as successful as I expected. [It had been the fifth time the same show had gone through Melbourne]. I then went to Mauritius, taking a company of nine people with me. I paid £350 for passages alone. I paid £600 to Saber and Sons for goods, and got credit for £100 worth of goods in addition, and I had 660 sovereigns in my pocket. I arrived in Mauritius in the height of the summer, and consequently had a bad season, and Mrs. Thompson had to pawn her diamonds to pay our fares to get away, as I had lost all my cash. I had been six weeks in Mauritius, and spent about £200 a week expenses.

Then I went to Durban, South Africa, and was similarly unsuccessful in consequence of the depressed state of the country. I then performed at Capetown, and had £90 left out of the whole of my capital and goods— just sufficient to pay the fares of myself and wife to Melbourne. I was unsuccessful throughout the whole of my African tour.

I arrived in Melbourne with £5 and went to Sydney and reorganised the company, the Bank of Australasia lending me £200 on some land I had at the North Shore. I went up country with that money and lost it all. With £50 more which the Bank lent me I went to Melbourne and lost again, and had to sell my diamonds to pay my liabilities. Then I went to Ballarat, where the show was seized. I purchased it back with £100 my wife lent me out of her own private purse — money left her by will. Then I came to New Zealand, and in Dunedin I made £65 after paying all expenses. In Christchurch I did nothing, and that was the cause of all my trouble, as I lost everything. Then I went to Blenheim, the West Coast, and Wanganui and struggled through till 10 days ago the bailiffs took possession of the diorama on account of a debt owing to a Christchurch firm. Then I filed.

I have paid everybody in Wellington. Saber and son's books will show that for years I have paid them about £2000 a year for goods. I always paid the board of my company, and their wages were paid every Monday. I did not think it necessary to keep books. I had good houses here, but the Athenaeum Hall will only hold about £18 or £19 at my prices. The Zulu War Panorama cost me £2000. There being no quorum of creditors no resolution was passed, and the matter was left in the hands of the Official Assignee, who will call for tenders for the purchase of the two panoramas.
Evening Post 27 February 1886

Evening Post 10 April 1886

His Zulu War diorama was purchased by Alfred Eric Wyburd (d. 1900), himself a theatrical celebrity in his day.

Death of Mr Wyburd -Mr Alfred Wyburd, well known here and in South Africa as a theatrical agent and hotel keeper, died last evening at the Baden Baden Hotel, Coogee, of which he was the lessee. Mr Wyburd who was an energetic and popular man was, at the outset of his career, a professional cyclist, and for a long time he managed the Bondi Aquarium with success. As a boniface he was entirely connected with the Commercial Hotel, King street, which he left to conduct a long theatrical tour of the Cape This was interrupted by the outbreak of the war, and he then returned to Sydney, and died at Coogee, as noted above, whilst not much past the meridian of life.
Sydney Morning Herald 5 September 1900
Zulu Thompson's War Diorama, after a very good time in Wellington, has gone to the country districts under the management of that experienced showman, Mr. Alf. Wyburd, the "gifts" being, of course, the leading feature in the nightly programme. Possibly we may have an opportunity, in the sweet by-and-bye, of annexing some of the jewelled coffee-pots, gold-headed walking-sticks, and silver-plated meat choppers so lavishly scattered around.

Observer 7 May 1887

“Zulu” Thompson reinvented himself as host at Wellington’s Albion Hotel – but, it was all too late for him. Diabetes, in the days when it was a death sentence, claimed him.

We regret to have to record the death of Mr. W. H. Thompson, better known as " Zulu " Thompson, who breathed his last at his residence in Dixon-street last evening, at the age of 46. The deceased came out to Australia about 1860, and was a member of a dramatic company for some time. He then wont back to England, and returned as lecturer to a diorama of the American war, with which ho travelled all over the world. After being connected with the show for some time, he purchased it, and amassed a large amount of money, the receipts as a rule being very good. He subsequently acquired a diorama of the Zulu war, and exhibited it in different parts of the world with more or less success. The soubriquet of "Zulu" was gained through his connection with this show. About two years ago he settled down in Wellington, and was licensee of the Albion Hotel until his health gave way and compelled him to relinquish business. For five or six months prior to his demise he suffered severely from diabetes, and his death was due to that disease. Mr. Thompson was a genial, kind-hearted man, and was well-liked by all who knew him. He leaves a wife and daughter, the latter about 7 years of age.

Evening Post 27 December 1887

Thousands of people throughout the colonies will remember the Diorama of the Zulu War, and its portly cicerone, Mr. Thompson. He had for some time past been host of an hotel at Te Aro, Wellington. A telegram, dated Wellington, December 28, says :-" ' Zulu ' Thompson was buried to-day, and his funeral was attended by a considerable number of members of the theatrical profession." From another source we learn that he had been suffering from diabetes for some months past. He was 40 years of age, and leaves a widow, formerly a Hobart resident, and one daughter, seven years of age. Mr Thompson first came out to the Australian colonies as lecturer to a panorama of the American War somewhere about 1865. He travelled all over the world with that and his succeeding show, the Zulu War, visiting Great Britain, Canada, the United States, South Africa, India, China, Japan, and the Australian colonies. In the "show" line few men were better known or more universally liked than poor " Zulu.” With a natural genial bonhomie he made friends wherever he travelled, and no call was ever made for his help in cases of brother professionals in need of assistance, but what a generous response was given. Mr. Thompson was a member of the Masonic fraternity.

Mercury (Hobart) 7 January 1888

Such was the Australasian career of “Zulu” Thompson.

Whatever became of the Rosebank Domain?

(Updated 18 January 2019)

Around 20 million years ago, in the early Miocene era of geologic history, the extreme point of Rosebank Peninsula was formed. It is part of the East Coast Bays formation of mudstone and sandstone which appears, here and there, around the basin of the Waitemata Harbour. It shares its geologic story with Blockhouse Bay's headlands and ridges, another older part of the district. The rest of the Rosebank Peninsula, the "Flats", is much younger, part of the Puketoka formation between 2 to 5 million years ago.

The historical aspects of the point at the end of the peninsula from before 1878 are a mix of Maori oral memory, and of Pakeha recollection passed down and related to John T Diamond in the 20th century. These days, although the site has a number recorded on archaeological databases (R11/74), it isn’t regarded as archaeologically significant anymore, due mainly to lack of evidence and the destruction wrought before a survey could be properly carried out, in the middle of last century.

Diamond, going by recollections from Dick Malam and Dick Ringrose, recorded that 

“the Maori camped on this point while on food gathering expeditions right up to the time of the Waikato wars, but with the scare of being invaded the residents of Auckland demanded that camping there should be stopped. However after the war was over the Maori did camp there again but only up to the early 1880s. Many of the Maori at this site were known personally to the workers at the nearby brickyards.”
Datasheet for R11/74, Avondale-Waterview Historical Society archives.

Ngarimu Blair, of Ngati Whatua o Orakei, in 2004 identified the point as Rangimatariki, referred to in Judge F D Fenton’s 1879 judgement report:

“[1792] … a battle took place between the two parties [Ngaoho and Ngatipaoa] at Rangimatariki, near the Whau, in which Ngatipaoa were defeated with heavy loss: ‘You may see hangis (ovens) to this day,’ says Tamati Tangiteruru. Apihai says that this engagement was to avenge the deaths at Mahurangi, but this can scarcely be, for Ngatipaoa appears to have been the attacking party.”

Angela Bellara, in her book Taua on warfare in Maori society, refers to this conflict by another name.

"In this battle at Mahurangi, Tarahawaiki, by now a principal chief of Te Taou in place of his father, Tupriri (Tarahawaiki was the father of Apihai Te Kawau), was killed by Ngati Paoa. Nga Oho and Te Taou then set up a taua and a battle took place at Rangimataruru near Te Whau. Ngati Paoa were heavily defeated, some victims being eaten.” 
(p. 213) 

Paul Moon, in his book The Struggle for Tamaki Makaurau (2007), wrote that at the beginning of 1792, a group of Ngati Paoa shark fishing off Kauri Point were

"... surprised by a Ngati Whatua raiding party who succeeded in taking their canoe and killing most of the crew. Those who did not die in the initial fighting were taken out deeper into the Waitemata Harbour, to Kiho Kiore (now Boat Rock) and were left on this tiny piece of rock jutting from the sea. It was a devious and cruel gesture. As the tide rose, the huddled men on the rock were swallowed by the water.
"The Ngati Paoa assault force that this event helped to consolidate shuffled into action soon afterwards. It quickly penetrated into Te Taou territory along the Manukau, with another prong probably having let loose its offensive in the Avondale/Point Chevalier area, around the village that was positioned in what is now the Patiki Road interchange." 

(pp. 119-120)

Because of the variance between the place names Rangimatariki and Rangimataruru, there are claims that the end of Point Chevalier, Rangimatarau, was the site of this 1792 battle. Ngarimu Blair, however, did seem fairly definite that Rangimatariki was Rosebank Point.

Along with much of the Auckland Isthmus, the land at the point was obtained from Ngati Whatua by the Crown in 1841, and was surveyed just before the issue of crown grants for the Avondale district from 1843 (SO 834). Then, it was known as Allotment 1, 21 acres, a piece of Crown Waste Land under the control of the Colonial Secretary until 1853, then the Auckland Provincial Council until the dissolution of the Provincial system in 1876. It doesn’t feature in any particular details during this period, apart from what the Ringrose-Malam recollections tell us. It was probably leased out to local landowners as an extension of their grazing lands – John Kelly then Daniel Pollen being the neighbours until Pollen’s death in the 1890s. Those agreements would have carried through under the land’s change of status from 16 December 1878, when it became a education reserve. Now, it earned income for primary school education (hopefully in the same district!) and finally obtained a land title – NA 132/27, increased to 23 acres.

In 1908 came two gazette notices; first, one which changed the status from educational reserve to recreational reserve, the second, bringing the reserve under the Public Domains Act 1881.

From 1914, the point drew the active attention of the Avondale Road Board. This may have been the “Pollen’s Point” for which an application for a grant had been made, possibly by the Road Board to the government, before March 1914 (minutes, 4 March). The following month, the Board invited local nurseryman Hayward Wright to inspect what was now called the Rosebank Park Domain, and submit a report on planting and layout suggestions. (minutes, 1 April) From June 1917, the point was transferred from the Auckland Education Board back to the Crown as a reserve on the title, and soon after, the Avondale Road Board officially became a Domains Board, managing Rosebank Domain, and Avondale South Domain at Blockhouse Bay.

The road to the domain, beginning as a survey line emerging from Rosebank Road around 1907, was an undedicated road by 1916, and named Park Avenue (now Patiki Road) by 1926. In 1928, Auckland City Council officers, after amalgamation with Avondale the previous year, described the domain as a pleasant place where people had picnics. The only time the domain seemed to appear in official records up to that point was whenever well covers, horse troughs or gateways needed replacement. In 1945, when a dead horse needed disposal from Hobson Park, Auckland City simply carried it to Rosebank Domain, and buried it there.

In 1932 came grand ideas which never came to be. In line with the proposals put forward to have Pollen Island transformed into an airport after reclamations linking it with the mainland and the domain area, the domain itself was imagined by David B Russell and F E Powell as a sports ground, an athletic park which would have included a track for motor cycle racing, with tennis and croquet taking place on the long neck linking the domain proper with the rest of Rosebank.

It was the motor cycle racing, and later go karting, which was to dominate the usage of the domain from that point onward. Calum Gilmour, in his book on the history of the Auckland Motor Cycle Club, said that the Ixion Motor Cycle Club in the early 1930s

“…controlled the track at Rosebank Park in Avondale. This was a grass track and fairly rough. Some members of the AMCC were also members of the Ixion Club, and there was a move to amalgamate the two clubs with Ixion becoming part of AMCC. This was attractive to AMCC as it would give the Club control of the Rosebank Park track. The Ixion members voted for amalgamation, and they were thanked for this motion at the monthly general meeting of AMCC held 5th March 1936 … The amalgamation was formally confirmed at the GM on 2nd April 1935.”

Exactly when and how the motor cycle clubs gained Council permission to use the domain I have yet to discover. It was, of course, well out of the way of things, then. No residential subdivisions at Te Atatu on one side, and only the crops and animals on rural Rosebank to disturb.

Rosebank Domain doesn’t appear to have been one of the Motor Cycle Club’s main tracks, but it was certainly utilised up to the mid 1950s. In a draft report from 1966, Auckland City Councillor Watts wrote

“Rosebank Road Domain has always been used for this type of sport and Councillor Dale can remember riding in motor bike races on a track there over 25 years ago. Sport of this type was only suspended when the Ministry of Works used the area during construction of the motorway.”

Night meetings were held by the Auckland Motor Cycle Club at Avondale up to the early 1950s at least.

From 1949, the Domain seemed to be about to disappear beneath the Auckland Harbour Board’s grand plans to turn 1000 acres at Rosebank and Te Atatu into an Upper Harbour Port, with reclamations that would have swallowed the domain, Pollen and Traherne Islands, and halved the width of the mouth of the Whau River, extending on down to Avondale and Eastdale Roads. (Auckland Star, 11 November 1949) The Upper Harbour Development, planned in conjunction with the development of the motorway link between Kumeu and Pt Chevalier (which happened), and the railway link with the new port (which didn’t happen) caught the interest of Auckland City Council. Even when the grand development didn’t happen, the Council still proceeded with the rezoning of much of what was going to be the Harbour Board area of proposed light and heavy industrial usage, and created their own area of light and heavy industrial usage.

In 1957, the government declared part of the Rosebank Domain taken for purposes of the motorway, and during construction (as seen above) the domain was used as a storage area by the Ministry of Works. In 1959, however, the Rosebank Road Domain was still listed among Auckland City’s parks and reserves – 10th largest, comparable in size to Victoria Park.

In 1962, Auckland City Council saw the acres of the Rosebank Domain as “underdeveloped” and surrounded by what was expected to be industrial areas on Rosebank and Te Atatu, and decided that the best use would be as a place for people

“…with noisy hobbies such as go-karts, motorcycles, powered model aeroplanes, cars or scooters. The Auckland Power Sports Association was formed and an area of the domain has been allotted to each club. With the assistance of businesses and voluntary labour, the go-kart club formed a 500-yard tarsealed circuit. Speeds of up to 90 miles an hour will be possible on the 30-foot wide track, which will be opened on May 10.” 
NZ Herald, 20 April 1964

Council formally approved the use of the Domain as a power sports area in November 1963, although at a meeting of the Council in March 1962 permission was granted to the Power Sports Association to use the Domain for an annual rental of £1. It probably helped that the Mayor at the time, Dove-Myer Robinson, had been a past member of the Auckland Motor Cycle Club, and a few of the sitting councillors fondly remembered their days motoring around that grass track at the end of Rosebank up to World War II. The go-kart track eventually opened 31 May 1964 – and was opened by the Mayor.

Immediately, war broke out between Auckland City Council, its neighbouring territorial authority the Waitemata County Council, and residents on Te Atatu Peninsula. Te Atatu had not become an industrial area as had been planned back in the late 1940s. With the halting of the Auckland Harbour Board’s proposals, the suburb had become mostly residential – and they could clearly hear, and suffered from, the noise of the races. Right from 1964, and through into this century, petitions and personal appeals have been presented by Te Atatu residents to Auckland City, and the Avondale Community Board after 1989, all to no avail. Noise tests either didn’t back up the residents claims of excessive noise, or if they did then the sports administrators promised various mitigation measures.

In 1964, the Auckland Amateur Go-Kart Club wrote to the Council expressing their dismay

“… that our venue could be in jeopardy as our decision to move from Panmure was based on the area being industrial and the fact that the Domain was intended entirely for noisy sports. On the strength of this, our club raised by means of debentures and a loan, at most £2000 which has been spent on our track.”

Letter from the Club to the Town Clerk, 19 October 1964

Auckland City Council backed the clubs.

While the reserve was still under the Domains Act, it was supposed to be free to access for all of the public. Whenever the clubs held their meetings, at which there were gate takings (and therefore no free access to that part of the Domain), applications had to be made to Council to hold “charge day meetings”, a fee of £5 paid for each day, and the club paid for the advertising of public notices announcing the temporary partial closure of the Domain.

In 1976, Council officers recommended that the Power Sports Association have a 33-year lease of the Domain. In 1977, the old Public Domains Act of 1881 was superseded by the Reserves Act.

By the 1980s, the Association had gone, and only two clubs used the Domain at that time: the Auckland Kart Club, and Auckland Speedway Riders Club. In 1989, the clubs sought permission to extend their grounds on the Domain. Pine trees were to be removed and infill at the southern end were proposed.

It is unlikely that the former picnic spot, where games of family cricket were played, and from where regattas were observed on the Whau River, will ever be restored as one of our district’s public domains. What history, and pre-1840 history, lay beneath the soils there was virtually gone by the time J T Diamond inspected the area in 1966. Most likely nothing now remains of the site where, it can be said, the recorded history of Rosebank, and of Avondale, began. Too much water has gone under the planners’ bridges – and too many go-karts around the track.

S W Edbrooke (compiler), Geology of the Auckland Area, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences, 2001

Archaeological site reference form, R11/74

"Statement of Evidence of Dr Rodney Clough (Archaeology) on behalf of the NZ Transport Agency, before Board of Inquiry, Waterview Connection Project", Chapman Tripp, 8 November 2010

Chief Judge Fenton's 'Important Judgments delivered in the Compensation Court and Native Land Court 1866 to 1879', 1879

Angela Bellara, Taua, 2003

Ngarimu Blair, in Avondale/Te Whau Heritage Walks, 2006, p.22

Land Information New Zealand

Avondale Road Board/Borough Council notes from minutes, via Avondale History Group (Ron Oates), from Auckland City Archives records

"Pictorial Sketch of Pollen Island & Whau River, Showing proposed Airport & Athletic Park, A comprehensive scheme for an Airport & Recreation Grounds for David B Russell & F E Powell C.E., No. 258/4/G2" (c.1932)

ACC 219/4612, ACC 275/65-125 Auckland City Archives

Calum Gilmour, Seventy-Five Years on Two Wheels, A History of the Auckland Motor Cycle Club Inc 1926-2001, Polygraphia, 2001

Auckland City Council Report on Churchill Park in April 1959 (showing acreages of Auckland’s parks and reserves), Auckland Scrapbook, November 1959- p. 64, Auckland Central Library

Paul Moon, The Struggle for Tamaki Makaurau: The Maori Occupation of Auckland to 1820, 2007

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The woes of a name like the Whau

I have a contention, heretic that I am, that following on from the fact that the original name of West Auckland, in Te Reo, was “Te Wao Nui o Tiriwa”, as referred to in the booklet on the Whau River by the Friends of the Whau, that the original name, and spelling of our river is not “Whau” but “Wao”, named after the district, which in turn was named after the great forest West Auckland was known for. “Whau”, to me, would appear to be a corruption. I’m well aware how heretical that is – but the “wow” pronunciation was the way we locals pronounced “Whau” when I was growing up in the 1960s-1970s. The modern (and still not quite correct) “f” sound is a recent thing.

I've referred to this in earlier posts, here and here.

So, here’s what early newspapers had to say.

Southern Cross 21 August 1847
… an aqueduct from the Wahu river to the top of Mount Eden is already spoken of.

New Zealander 6 October 1847
Mount Eden, for instance, is called by the Natives Maungawao, from a beautiful shrub, the Wao, with large mulberry-shaped leaves and white flowers, which once abounded on its sides.

Southern Cross 28 September 1849
On Monday, the 24th instant, at the Wahu, Mrs. E. Kelly, of a Son.

New Zealander 8 March 1851
… the Town and Suburbs to Hobson's Bridge and Whau

New Zealander 6 September 1851
BOUNDARIES OF THE BOROUGH OF AUCKLAND. The Northern Boundary runs from the eastern head of the Wao creek in an easterly direction along the south shore of the Waitemata harbour to the western head of the Tamaki river …

The European population of the Borough amounts to about 8000 souls, upwards of 4000 of whom occupy the town of Auckland and its adjacent suburbs, whilst the aggregate population of the Pensioner settlements of Onehunga, Howick, Panmure, and Otahuhu, may be estimated at about 2500 souls, leaving a population of about 1500 souls who are scattered over the rural districts of the Tamaki, Epsom, and the Wao, and are chiefly engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits.

Southern Cross 27 January 1852
…. access to the metal quarry, the mill, the Manukau ranges, the Waho, and the Kaipara.

Southern Cross 25 August 1854
MR. ELLIOT'S Surveyors being now on the Whau and, Waitemata Distripts, for a limited time only …

Southern Cross 16 October 1860
IMPOUNDED at the Public Pound, Newmarket, by W. Andrew for Dr. Pollen, for trespassing in his Grass Paddock, at the Wahu, One Dark Bay Horse, black points …

Southern Cross 14 June 1865
NOTICE. IMPOUNDED by Edward Lovett, for trespass in Mr. Crispe's oat paddock, at the Wahu flat, on June 10

From 1865, use of the spelling “Wahu”, “Waho” or “Wao” for the district or the river fades out, and “Whau” takes over, always pronounced “wow”. “Going down to the Whau” was a euphemism for entering the Auckland Lunatic Asylum (later Mental Hospital) as a patient.

NZ Truth 6 July 1912
So hilarious was the attack that he was put away in the 'asylum — or "Wow," as the hooligans call It— to recover. … Horatius had been in the asylum — beg pardon, the "Wow."

NZ Truth 14 August 1915
After reading this "Cambist" fears hls chance of a flying trip over the Mad House on the Whau (pronounced Wow) done for.

Edited to add (27 February 2017):

Then, we have Arthur Thomas Pycroft, an enthusiast of nature writing in the Auckland Star, 12 November 1927:
"The flower of the Whau, or Cork wood (Entelea Arborescens) was recently sent to me to identify, and I was asked where it is found in a wild state ... This tree's Maori name is familiarly known here, the Whau Creek, and Maunga Whau, or Mount Eden, are instances. I have recently been informed, however, by two Maori scholars, that Maunga Whau is only part of the native name of that mountain, the full name is Maunga Whau Ngarongo (the Mountain of Peace). Whau in this instance does not refer to the tree."
I'd like to see the original Maori name reinstated -- "Wao".  That would stop any debates as to pronunciation. But, I know in today's world that would be putting the boat up the creek without any chance of paddles. I'm a heritage heretic who can't swim, anyway ...

Friday, February 25, 2011

A message from Friends of the Civic

This afternoon, Leonie from the Friends of the Civic put this comment to my earlier post of the Civic in Auckland:

"If you would like to keep up to date with events - come and join the Friends of the Civic on Facebook or Twitter.

"We are always looking for new members to keep the history of the theater alive - Also NEW web page for the Friends of the Civic coming soon. Thanks L."

 Cheers, Leonie. Let me know when you can about that new website.

Broken walls -- Knox Church, Christchurch

Another post from Presbyterian Archives, this one on Knox Church, in Christchurch.

Christchurch: a city of earthquakes

The following comes from the Christchurch Star issues (unless otherwise stated) down to 1908, then from other papers, via Papers Past. Christchurch would appear to be as earthquake-prone as Wellington, surprisingly enough.


(This article was found by Andrew of Timaru, and comes from the comments below. Thanks, Andrew! From the Timaru Herald, 2 September 1868)

The following account of the earthquake felt at Christchurch and Lyttleton on August 17, we take from the Lyttleton Times.

Since the great earthquake which at Wellington was so destructive to life and property, Christchurch has not been visited by a shock so violent and generally felt as that which startled the inhabitants yesterday. The mean time at which the tremor occurred, is a matter of doubt; and the fact that scarcely half a dozen chronometers in the city are set from the same observation, renders it difficult to assert with any degree of confidence at what moment the first indication of an earthquake was experienced. Some will be found to declare most positively that it was felt at a minute to ten; others at a minute earlier; and others at three minutes before the Government clock struck that hour. The people of Napier, Greytown, Wellington and Blenheim felt the shock, as the telegrams inform us, at 9.55, while at Castle Point (which is on the coast between Wellington and Napier), Featherstone in Wellington province, and White’s Bay, the time is stated to be 9.56. Nelson time is 10 am, Hokitika 9.58.

As to the point from which the vibration came, there is a great difference of opinion. Most people are inclined to think that it was from east to west, and this is corroborated by the intelligence from Castle Point and Wellington. Our Napier correspondent tells us that the shock was from north to south; and from Blenheim it is described as baring been from the nor'-west. At White's Bay there were two severe shocks in close succession, the first at 9.55, and the second at 9.56, which lasted 15 seconds.. There is a wide difference as to the duration of the shock. Probably the telegraphist at White's Bay means that the two shocks lasted for 15 seconds, but Dr Haast assorts that it was all over m two seconds. We are inclined to the opinion that the earthquake occurred at three minutes before ten o'clock, that its duration was between four and five seconds, and that its direction was from south to north.

The excitement created in the city was most intense. People imagined that the houses were about to fall upon them, and many of those employed m the Government buildings, the banks, and counting houses, immediately ran into the street. Articles which were hanging up in offices, shops, and dwellings were made to swing to and fro with considerable force. The shock was most severely felt in the vicinity of the Avon. In Mr Osborne's furniture warehouse, at the corner of Worcester street west, the timbers creaked to an alarming extent, and chairs which were suspended to the ceiling moved backwards and forwards for some minutes after the shock. Those employed at the bonded warehouse of Messrs Walton & Warner (a stone building) . were greatly alarmed by the falling of a quantity of chests of tea which had been packed 'on the upper floor. They ran out, fearing that a portion of the building was falling. We examined the building yesterday afternoon, and found that some of the stones had been separated to the extent of half-an-inch, while one or two of limestone were cracked right through. No other damage was sustained. We were informed that the Avon had risen some inches at the time and fallen as suddenly, but in the absence of reliable information, we can only think that the observation was nothing more than an imaginary one.

In our office the clock stopped at two minutes to ten and the clock at the Police depot also stopped about the same time. We have heard of numerous instances besides were the stopping of clocks indicated the time at which the tremor was felt. It is satisfactory to know that no material damage has been sustained.

At 9.57 a distinct shock of an earthquake was felt m Lyttelton. Many of the inhabitants residing m the upper end of the town rushed out of their houses in a state of the greatest alarm. The shock was felt most severely by persons residing m the northern part of the town, although it was also felt by many residing in London street and Norwich quay. Mr W. B. Jones' store was severely shaken, the match-board lining of the counting-house being split. At Messrs Heywood's stone store, the clerk rushed out of the office, thinking it was coming down on him. At the Union Bank of Australia, the shock was sharply felt; the floor was upheaved, and the varnish on the wood was cracked. Messrs Miles' store was also shaken. At Mr Ellisden's, chemist, all the .bottles on the shelves were moved. At Mr Taylor's store the floor rocked violently, and at Mr Walker's store the people of the house rushed out, thinking the large windows were coming out; the Queen's also was shaken. In Exeter street, the inhabitants rushed out of their houses in evident alarm, thinking they were going to fall on them. The Rev. F. Knowles and family had to leave their 'house, fearing it might fall, No damage has been done to the buildings.

The current in the harbour is very strong, the water is rising and falling rapidly. The train due in Lyttelton at 11 o'clock did not arrive until 11.40. It appears that the shock was felt so severely on the other side, that it was considered prudent to send the engine through, first to see if any of the tunnel had fallen in; it was found' to be all right. Captain Gibson informs us that all the beacon buoys on the Heathcoate river, are out of their place, and cannot be trusted; this has been occasioned by the earthquake wave


5 June 1869
A very severe shock of earthquake, confined, so far as we have been able to make out to this province, was experienced at about five seconds past eight o'clock this morning. The exact time is, of course, disputed, but we take it from a person who noticed that the clock in the Government Buildings had just struck the fifth stroke of the hour above-mentioned when the shock began. While houses were still shaking, and chimneys falling in almost every direction, men, women, and children were rushing terror stricken into the open air, and one person living at a short distance from the city describes the mingled sound borne through the air to the rush of a large railway train with the steam-whistle giving forth its shrill shriek.

There are few quarters in Christchurch in which evidences of the shock are absent. In most cases, however, the damage is confined to rent or fallen chimneys. The Government Buildings, more especially the new Council Chamber, have undoubtedly suffered most. To repair the damage there will cost a considerable sum. It was feared that the banks and other more substantial buildings would have been severely damaged. We are glad to say, however, that this has not been the case to any very considerable extent.

The new offices of the New Zealand Insurance Company, in Hereford street, have sustained damage, and so have the offices belonging to Messrs Matson and Co close by. The offices of the New Zealand Trust and Loan Company, also in Hereford street, are damaged, and we have heard that one side of a small brick house on the town reserves, standing in a road running between Madras street and Manchester street north, has been shaken completely out. The church of St. John the Baptist, and the Town Hall, have been severely shaken. We are thankful to say that we have not heard of any injury to life or limb. Few private houses in town have altogether escaped. In most, there is some damage to record; in a few, the damage has been very considerable. some of the shopkeepers, particularly those in the china and glass trade, have been heavy losers. As an instance of this, we may mention that Messrs Weir Brothers, in Colombo-street, china and glass merchants, estimate their loss at £100. Most of the chemists and druggists are losers to some extent.

Our Lyttelton correspondent writes as follows : — At 8 a.m. the inhabitants were aroused and alarmed by hearing a loud noise, resembling the rumbling of heavy waggons. Immediately after the ground began to vibrate, and the houses to shake; men, women, and children rushed out of their houses in the greatest terror. The shock was a most severe one: clocks were stopped, bells rung, and crockery smashed in the various houses. The direction of the earthquake was from south to north. The railway employees on the various wharves felt the shock severely. The wharves were considerably shaken, and the vessels loading alongside were knocked up against them, although there was not a ripple to be seen on the water, or a breath of air blowing at the time. The trucks on the breastwork, and also on the line, felt the shock, and bumped against each other. The large chains of the derrick were put in motion. With the exception of one fallen chimney, and the smashing of crockery, &c, we have not heard of any damage being done. The shock lasted about 30 seconds. It was feared that some accident had occurred in the tunnel, and that, as the shock had been so severe, part of it might have fallen in. Precaution was however taken at the Heathcote end, and the engine was sent through first; happily it was found that there was nothing wrong. The shock has caused great excitement in port.

7 June 1869
Sir, — May I suggest that enquiry be made, and evidence taken, as to the amount of damage done to brick and stone buildings in the city by the earthquake, and to report thereon for public information, with an opinion thereon as to whether or not there is any injustice done, or probable additional danger to life, by enforcing the observance of the Building Ordinance. The report might also be accompanied with a recommendation in reference to the necessity of further legislation as to the thickness of walls built of brick or stone; also to limit the quantity of sand to be mixed with lime for mortar, and whether circular chimneys would not bear the movement of earthquakes better than if made square.
Your obedient servant,
E. B. BISHOP. June 7, 1869.

25 June 1881
Earthquake. — A slight shock of earthquake was experienced at Rangiora yesterday, at 3.25 a.m. The apparent direction was from east to west.

 5 July 1881
Another slight shock of earthquake was felt at Rangiora yesterday afternoon at about six minutes past three. The shock was preceded by a rumbling sound like distant thunder. It was distinctly felt at Kaiapoi at the same time, and the direction appears to have been between east and west.

5 December 1881
The Middle Island of New Zealand has for so long a time enjoyed immunity from anything like an appreciable shock of earthquake, that the vibrations experienced this morning have been — during the day — the one topic of conversation. In the innumerable items of intelligence there has been a large amount of exaggeration, owing no doubt to the fact that many people suffered themselves to become unduly excited. Happily it can be stated that the damage done has been extremely small, and that the general inconvenience has been scarcely more than the stoppage of pendulum clocks, and the shaking down of pictures, &c.

In Christchurch the shock was felt at about 7.37 a.m., the direction of the successional waves appearing to be — according to some observers — from north to south, and according to others from north-east to southwest. The duration of the vibrations is variously stated at from 25 to 35 seconds. Several buildings were seen to oscillate considerably during the continuance of the shock, their motion being described by one spectator as "like that of a ship at sea." The most serious damage done has happened to the spire of the cathedral. A piece of the stone cap beneath the finial, weighing about a dozen pounds, was broken off and fell to the ground, knocking off a portion of the moulding of the spire about six feet from the apex. A part of this moulding fell on the asphalt pavement in Cathedral square, making an indentation about an inch and a half in depth, and as wide as an ordinary saucer. Some absurdly exaggerated accounts of the damage sustained by the tower were current in town during the forenoon, and large numbers of persons visited the Cathedral yard in consequence; and the hole in the pavement proved a source of unlimited attraction to the passers-by.

The Durham street Wesleyan church was somewhat shaken, and a large stone from one of the chimneys of the schoolroom was thrown down. One of though chimneys of the Normal School was slightly damaged, and some of the plastering within the building was shaken down. The block of buildings at the corner of Manchester and St Asaph streets was very much shaken; a largo crack appears in the Manchester street front, and smaller cracks have been made in several other portions of the block.

The explanation of the damage done to the Cathedral spire is very simple. From the detailed accounts which were given of the work of construction, it will be remembered that the iron rod which supports the ornamental cross was brought down through that portion of the stonework which is solid, and then made fast, by means of stays, to the sides of the spire. When the vibration was set up, the extreme rigidity of the upper portion of the spire, as compared with the remainder, caused a disruption of the stonework, less, perhaps, than might have bean anticipated. The great bell of the Cathedral gave one toll, and other bells were also sounded. Panes of glass were broken in a few houses; articles on shelves were thrown to the ground, and water in open vessels was spilled.

About 7.35 this morning the residents in Lyttelton were startled by a sharp earthquake, in a direction north and south. The vibration was very severe, and caused much alarm. As far as can be ascertained no damage has been done in the town. The steamer Wakatipu, lying alongside the screw piled jetty, was heeled over on to the wharf in a most perceptible manner. There has not been such a sharp shock experienced in port since the heavy shake prior to the fire.

6 December 1881
(Christchurch City Council meeting)
A conversation ensued as to the state of certain public buildings said to have been damaged by the late earthquake, and ultimately the Mayor said that he would undertake that a report be made thereon.

19 December 1881
Earthquake. — A slight shock of earthquake was felt in Christchurch at about ten minutes before 10 o'clock on Saturday night. In the northern part of the city it was disagreeably perceptible.


19 January 1888
A smart shock of earthquake occurred at 1.17 this morning. It seems to have been felt with peculiar distinctness in the Avonside district, where some of the residents became quite alarmed on account of the oscillating motion, and some few hurriedly left their houses. In other parts the shock was comparatively inappreciable. The direction appeared to be from north to south. Our correspondent at Kaiapoi states that the shock was smartly felt there.

31 August 1888
A sharp shock of earthquake was felt in Christchurch about three minutes past ten o'clock last night. The direction was from North-west to South-east, and the duration was estimated to be fully half a minute. The impetus given by the shock was so great that a gas pendant, of unusual length, freely hung, continued swinging for seven minutes. A clock in the Working Men's club was stopped by the shock at three minutes past ten. The water in the large tank on the roof of the City Council buildings was spilled by the shock, owing to the tank being brimful at the time. Some alarm was felt until it was found that the tank was not injured or displaced. …From Rangiora we learn that the severest shock of earthquake experienced for some years past was felt there at about ten o'clock last night. The vibration, which appeared to be East and West, lasted for several seconds.

1 September 1888
The violent earthquake shock, which be rudely roused everyone from sleep at a few minutes past four this morning, may possibly not be the severest on record in this part of New Zealand, but it has certainly been by far the most destructive since the "Canterbury Pilgrims" landed. In the first place, what everyone feared would happen some day has actually happened, the spire of the Cathedral has come to grief. Its tapering, graceful outline, a landmark for every dweller on the plains within thirty miles, and a beacon for the mariner crossing Pegasus Bay, no longer cuts the sky. Twenty-six feet of the cross and upper spire have given way, and the melancholy appearance of the wreck strikes every eye. Hanging by the iron bands built into the stonework, the cross and parts of the finial still remain aloft, the cynosure of all eyes in the crowd which constantly gathers and melts away in the square below. Fortunately, the rest of the building has suffered no serious damage. Even the-lower part of the spire, as far as is known at present, is perfectly sound. The blocks of stone fell mostly towards Cathedral square, and spared the building, though bright white spots on the grey masonry of the tower and ornaments show plainly where they struck in their descent, in some cases breaking off large splinters in their course. One hole has been made in the high roof of the nave, but it is not large; the more noticeable damage occurring in the lower roof, which is broken through in several places. The falling stone, it is curious to note, struck clear of the memorial font to Captain Stanley, coming to the ground on either side of it, and spoiling nothing but a single arm of one of the tall gas-standards. Details, however, will be found under the heading "Cathedral." It may, nevertheless, be stated here that services will not be held at the usual hours to-morrow, the City Council having been advised that with the tower in its present state it would be unsafe to do so.

We have said that the shock this morning was possibly not the severest that has been experienced here in Christchurch. A comparison of notes with people who remember the very alarming shake which occurred early on the morning of June 5, 1869, leads us to that conclusion. One of the most vivid memories remaining in the minds of those who remember that phenomenon is the hideous fear that was exhibited by animals. The unearthly noise caused by the barking of dogs, the lowing of cattle, and expressions of fear on the part of other dumb creatures, can never be forgotten by one who heard it. Nor is it easy to forget the waving of trees, the uncanny wave-like motion of the hedges, or the twisted and fractured chimneys that were to be seen in many quarters of the town. Still, the characteristic feature of the Cathedral City had not then been reared, and the damage done on this occasion, therefore, at once assumes a magnitude beyond that of former days.

The Cathedral.
At the time of the shock a man named Ross, employed by Mr Brightling, was walking along the middle of the road through Cathedral square in front of the Cathedral. He states, that the spire began to sway and the bells to ring almost with the commencement of the earthquake, and when the shock reached its climax, the upper part of the structure seemed to collapse, and came crashing to the ground. One of the pieces of stone fell very near to Ross. Most of the stone struck the footpath, south-west of the tower, between the fence and the drinking fountain, about eight feet from the fence, and about on the spot where the small piece of stone which was detached from the spire by the earthquake of 1881, fell. The mass of stone which came down this morning seems to have exploded like a bombshell, for fragments, some half as large as a man's body were strewn all over the footpath, and even on the road. The asphalt was smashed to pieces, for an irregularly shaped patch of nearly a yard in extent. A considerable portion of the debris fell into the Cathedral yard on the northern side of the tower.

A young man, whose name could not be ascertained, was also an eye-witness of the disaster to the steeple. He was on the footpath near the Godley Statue, and bolted, under the impression that the entire tower was coming down. Finding it did not fall, he returned, and was soon joined by others, anxious, like himself, to see the extent of the damage. In a few minutes a crowd of considerable size was collected around the building. Many persons picked up the smaller pieces of the stone which were scattered about, to preserve as mementoes of the event. All devoted themselves to examining the tower as well as they could in the dim light, and many expressed the opinion that it was considerably out of the perpendicular. When however, the morning began to dawn, it was seen that the graceful shaft which has long been the architectural pride of Christchurch was, although truncated, erect.

Mr Anderson, the steeplekeeper, went to the cathedral with the utmost promptness, and was inside it about ten minutes after the shock. He lighted the gas and found that there was only one place of leakage — from one of the standards near the font. One of the branches of this had been broken off by a large splinter of wood, detached from a roof beam by the concussion of a blow on the roof by some of the falling masonry. Having stopped the leak, he proceeded to make an examination of the building. He has had some experience of South America, par excellence the land of earthquakes, and knew what to look for. That was dust at the bottom of the walls inside. It seems that when a wall is injured by an earthquake, the shock dislodges certain particles of mortar, &c, which form tiny heaps and ridges on the ground. Mr. Anderson's examination was satisfactory. Dust there was none. The walls were uninjured. Together with Mr A Morton, and another gentleman, Mr Watkins, who joined him, he pursued his investigations. He ascended the spire, to find that nothing was injured below the break. The cross, which, was hanging against the side of the steeple, lie secured as well as he could with a rope. The four largest bells of the peal which had been " rung up," were " rung down" by the earthquake, and it was those which caused the clamorous peal which added so much to the startling effect of the shock.

During the morning the debris was cleared away from around the base of the tower, and arrangements were made for lowering the cross from its insecure position. Barriers were erected across the footpath to prevent people approaching too near, and a constable placed as a sentry over them. The gates of the grounds were also fastened to prevent the public from intruding on what might be dangerous ground. It will be necessary to remove about six feet of the remaining stonework of the spire, as it has become loosened.


11 May 1893

A very slight shock of earthquake was felt at Christchurch and Lyttelton at about seven minutes past six o clock this morning.


3 December 1894

At 2.43 p.m. an alarming shock of earthquake was experienced in this city. It was accompanied by a terrific noise, and lasted some seconds. The spire of the Cathedral was seen to sway considerably. The shock was also felt at Rangiora.


A shock of earthquake, which was sharp enough to a large number of people and very perceptibly shake the beds, in which they were lying, occurred at a quarter to five o'clock yesterday morning. The direction seemed to be north and south. The earthquake, which occurred at a few minutes before five o'clock yesterday morning, was felt throughout North Canterbury, and is considered to be the severest since the shock which damaged the Cathedral tower. A loud rumbling preceded the shock.


16 November 1901

About thirteen minutes to eight this morning Christchurch was visited by one of the most severe shocks of earthquake ever experienced here, and those who remember the two previous heavy shakes — that in 1868, which damaged the Provincial Buildings and injured the old Town Hall in High Street to such an extent that it was condemned, and that in 1888, which brought down the top of the Cathedral say that for severity it was quite on a par with them, while it was of much longer duration.

The tremors first began from north to south, and then changed to east and west. The vibrations were at first light, but gradually became stronger, and after lasting for about thirty-five seconds gradually died away. The main shock, however, was succeeded at intervals by more or less slight tremors for nearly half an hour. A very large number of persons were in their beds at the time, and women and children were very much scared by the falling of pictures and crockery which was shaken from shelves. As far as can be ascertained, no one was injured. Of course, the first thought of everybody was for their own safety, and many people rushed out of their houses in their night attire. After the first shock was over the Cathedral tower was the general topic of conversation, and many were the rumours which quickly spread as to the extent of tie damage done to it. During the whole morning people flocked from all parts to see it, and a large crowd gathered in Cathedral Square and craned their necks in looking up at the cross, while the ubiquitous photographer was very much in evidence.

The officials at the railway station who were close by the huge railway tank, state that the water first washed over at the northern and southern ends, and then did likewise from east to west, and continued agitated for more than a quarter of an hour. The only case of a falling chimney reported is that of one at Mrs Holmes's boarding-house, in Manchester Street south. The crown of the chimney, which ran up the back of the three-storey building, broke off and fell to the ground, the bricks just missing a young girl who was passing, Throughout the morning crowds gathered in front of the tall buildings in town, and examined them critically, and it was amusing to hear the remarks of some of those who professed to be building experts. According to them, several of the three-storey buildings were out of plumb. However, the only damage noticeable to the layman's eye were one or two small cracks in some of the fronts of brick and stone buildings.


8 December 1908

At six minutes to twelve to-day a prolonged shock of earthquake was felt in Christchurch. Although the disturbance was not a violent one, nor was it preceded by any appreciable rumble, as is often the case, yet it was very marked and indicated the probability of having been felt over a large area. The earthquake had a north-easterly and south-westerly direction, but was preceded by a less distinct tremor in a north-westerly and south-easterly direction, which gave an elliptical vibration at the start. The more prolonged and severely felt disturbance was estimated to have been of nineteen seconds' duration.

Inquiries at the Observatory indicate that the earthquake has doubtless some connection with the recent disturbances at Whakatane, and volcanic activity at White Island, but at the time of going to press the records on the seismograph had not been developed and consequently no definite information was available.

The proceedings at the meeting of the Presbytery were interrupted by the earthquake shock to-day. The clerk was reading a letter, when St Paul's Schoolroom began to rock violently and the windows to rattle. The shock lasted for several seconds, and caused some comment. The earthquake caused a momentary cessation of the work of the Arbitration Court at the Provincial Council Chambers although nobody seemed exactly to know why there was a pause. The building shook considerably for several seconds, apparently from north to south, accompanied by creaking noises arid the sound of small pieces of falling mortar.

Shortly before noon to-day a sharp, short earthquake shock was felt at Lyttelton. It only lasted a couple of seconds or so, but it was violent enough to ring the bell of the town clock. At Kaiapoi a double shock was distinctly felt. A few chimney-pots fell, but no other damage was done. The "Star's " correspondents at Sumner and Rangiora telephoned that an earthquake was experienced at both places shortly before noon, and was of exceptionally long duration.


(This from the Evening Post, 31 March 1910)

An earthquake occurred in Christchurch last night shortly after 8.15. The record taken by the seismometer at the local magnetic observatory was developed this morning, and it shows that two very slight shocks were registered. The first lasted about thirty seconds, beginning at 18.4 minutes past eight and ending at 18.9 minutes past eight. The second shock lasted about thirty-six seconds, beginning at 19.6 minutes past eight and ending at 20.2 minutes past eight. The first shock seemed to have had the stronger motion of the two.


(This from the Ashburton Guardian, 23 November 1914)

At 7.45 last night Christchurch received a rather infrequent visitor in the shape of an earthquake. A slight tremor, accompanied by a rumbling noise, preceded a fairly sharp shock, which lasted about half a minute. The direction appeared to be from northwest to south-east. Apart from alarming the more nervous people, the quake does not appear to have been severe enough to cause any damage.

Two strong earth tremors were felt in Sumner last night. The first shock was felt at 7.46, lasting about 15 seconds. The second shock occurred about two minutes later, and lasted only 10 seconds, but it was of a more severe nature. At All Saints' Church the vicar (the Rev McKenzie Gibson) had just commenced the sermon when the first shock was felt. This gradually died away, and little notice was taken of it. When the second shock was experienced several members of the congregation sprang to their feet and for a moment a small panic seemed probable. The vicar ordered the doors to be opened and then gave out a hymn. While this was being sung, a portion of the congregation left quietly. The vicar then announced that the service would he concluded by singing the closing hymn.

At Kaiapoi the preliminary to the main shock was of some length, but the shake was not severe enough to do any damage.

Lyttleton had a similar experience, the second shock being plainly felt. At Rangiora the shocks were not very severe. A rumbling sound preceded the first tremor, which was slight, but the second shock was more pronounced, and it also was preceded by a loud rumbling noise.


(Ashburton Guardian, 7 November 1921)

A very strong earthquake shock was felt in Christchurch at 8.45 a.m. yesterday, those people who were indoors at the time experiencing a most uncanny sensation, as the tremors appeared to die away and then re-commence. The shock caused windows to rattle and hanging lamps to sway in a manner which showed that the earthquake was of more than usual severity. The observatory seismograph showed that the first shock commenced at 8hrs 46.1min a.m. Strong motion continued for several minutes, and minor movements until at least 8.45 a.m. The maximum , amplitude (instrumental) occurred at 8hrs 47.8min, and the origin was evidently not very distant. The felt movement was in the east-west direction. The complete amplitude of boom motion of the Milne seismograph at maximum was very nearly 11 millimetres, and at commencement about three millimetres.

A second distinct shock occurred at 9hrs 15.9min, persisting for about 1.1 min. This also was felt, but the second shows that its energy was very much less than that of the first shock. There seems a strong probability of a minute change of level to the eastward, about 14 minutes previous to the first shock, and it would be interesting to know whether any such effect was found on the Wellington seismogram.

A further mild shock was felt at 8.45 p.m., of intensity between the two above. Yesterday morning's earthquake shocks were felt at Rangiora, but to a less degree than in the city.


(Evening Post 27 December 1922)

Detailed reports of the earthquake from Christchurch show some interesting episodes. Soon after the final effects of the 'quake had passed off, attention generally was turned to the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, mainly on account of the fact that the top of the spire has been shaken down twice. There was no service in the Cathedral when the shock came, and nobody, not even the verger, was in the building, but several individuals and small parties of people were standing on the footpath in front of' the western end and on the street there. Their attention was attracted first by the 'quake, then by the noise of the moving building, and finally by the Cathedral bells, which were set ringing merrily. They saw the spire begin to sway menacingly to and fro. Some young men, who were talking together, cast one glance at it and then sprinted across the street to the tramway shelter. Two ladies, who were standing close to the western door, were paralysed with fright for a few seconds, but soon recovered and moved off quickly. For a comparatively long time after the 'quake the spire was an attraction to many upturned eyes, and it was given a wide berth long after it went back to its normal vertical position.


(Evening Post, 11 March 1929)

An examination this morning disclosed the fact that the old Provincial Council Chambers, recently presented to Canterbury, had suffered severe damage as the result of the earthquake. The keystone of the north gable has broken, and has dropped half an inch. The north wall is in danger of falling.


Evening Post 24 April 1937

Causing apprehension out of all proportion to their magnitude three small earthquake shocks rocked Christchurch citizens out of their sleep early this morning. The tremors were small ones and were felt so distinctly only because of the nearness of the earthquake centre. That was situated at sea off Akaroa Harbour, 40 miles away from the Christchurch magnetic observatory.


Evening Post 13 April 1940

An earthquake believed to have been of purely local origin was felt in Christchurch at 10.13 this morning. The shock was sharp and distinct and rather more severe than any of those which occurred in the series earlier this year. The thrust appeared to be vertical.


Evening Post 3 August 1942

An earthquake lasting several seconds was felt in Christchurch shortly before 1 o'clock this morning. It was preceded by rumbling. There are no reports of damage.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Before and after images from Christchurch

View images mentioned on TV3 tonight, at

Chinese Family History & Stories on Facebook

Helen Wong has started a Facebook page on Chinese family history. Seeing as she has been so kind as to mention Timespanner there, I'm definitely returning the favour here. Thanks again, Helen!

Unlock the Past - list of NZ genealogy and history blogs

Helen Wong has just emailed me to give me the heads up that Australian website Unlock the Past has popped ol' Timespanner on their list of Enzed genealogy and history blogs. Thanks, Helen!