Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dunedin's Centennial Memorial

While in Dunedin last April, part of the bus tour we were on involved a stop at Signal Hill, and the Centennial Memorial there.

The main structure was erected in 1940, to commemorate the first European settlement in New Zealand. The two flanking bronze figures were cast in 1955 and added after that.

Designed by F W Shurrock and F C W Stab, the male figure is that of an old man, representing the Spirit of History, time past ...

... while the female figure is a young woman, spinning the Thread of Life, the future.

A stone there, "hewn from the rock on which Edinburgh Castle stands" was given as a centennial memorial token from Edinburgh to Dunedin in 1941.

It's an awesome view from this very special lookout.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Avondale School's Marble Roll of Honour

I’ve been interested in rolls of honour for some time, but up until recently have only ever photographed them. Since information has become more readily available from Archives New Zealand, coming up to the centenary of the First World War, I started looking deeper into a roll of honour in Pt Chevalier, and started finding the stories behind most of the names. Avondale has three WWI rolls of honour, as well as memorials to the fallen in our two cemeteries. Of these, only two are listed on the Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph database at the time of writing (November 2013). These are: the St Jude’s honour tablet displayed in the church entrance (unveiled by Archdeacon MacMurray 21 August 1921, on dedicating a new font and baptistery), and the 1917 Oddfellows board, once displayed at the Oddfellows Hall at St Georges Road, but now hung in the entry foyer at the Avondale RSA on Layard Street. 

The Avondale School’s roll of honour (1919) seems to have been largely overlooked. The “marble roll”, as I’ve called it, is a marble slab displayed beside the RSA’s 25pr field gun in the garden on Layard Street: 

A very solemn function took place on Saturday afternoon in the Avondale Public School, when a memorial tablet in memory of old boys of the school who had given their lives in the great war of 1914-18 was unveiled. The tablet, which is of white marble, was presented by Mr J Binsted and was unveiled by Mrs Binsted. There was a very large attendance of parents and relatives. Mr H A V Bollard, Chairman of the school committee), who presided, said the district owed a deep debt of gratitude to the donor. Kipling's "Recessional" was beautifully sung by the children, under the conductorship of Mr. Gough. Mr. R B Nesbitt (chairman of the Road Board), Mr Darrow (headmaster), Mr J L Scott, and Mr. King (member of the Board of Education) also addressed the audience. The tablet, which was covered with the Union Jack, was unveiled by Mrs. Binsted while the children sang the beautiful hymn "Abide With Me." The tablet is nicely mounted in rimu in the design of the setting sun, by Mr H Spargo. The tablet is headed: "In memory of the brave boys who gave their lives in the great war, 1914-18."

Auckland Star, 22 December 1919

Originally there were 33 names on the plaque all in alphabetical order: two further names, J T Lilley and H W Cox were added later. The rimu board had gone by the time I came to know the board after the demolition of the old school buildings (1971-1972), while it was displayed in the window of what had once been the confectioner’s shop on Layard Street, part of the RSA clubrooms. Today, unfortunately, it has also been badly cracked. The names on the marble are mainly those who were former pupils of Avondale School, even if only for two of three years back in the 1890s as their families passed through from others places. Sometimes, though, there appear to be names from those families living in or near the area, whether on the school rolls or not. I’m still waiting for more of the military files held at Archives New Zealand to become available, as well as opportunity to do more research via Papers Past and the BDM records, but here are some of the stories behind the names. 

Here are the names on the marble roll, in order, along with what I’ve found so far on each man and his family: 

George Edmond Vernon Aimer 

 According to the early rolls for Avondale School, Vernon, Grace and Kenneth Aimer attended standards classes at Avondale School from March 1897 to June 1899, children of Edmund Baxter Aimer and Annie Elizabeth née Feek. The Aimers were living at the Hokianga in 1884, Dargaville c.1888, then Drury by 1895. They must have spent a couple of years here, before moving on to the city and Parnell. Vernon Aimer was a clerk for Cahill & Co from when he was around 14 years old. At the age of 16, he came into strife with a youthful indiscretion when he was found guilty of breaking and entering his employers’ premises in 1903, and served a 12 month sentence. From that low point though he bounced right back. 

Lieutenant George Vernon Aimer, a member of the Royal Flying Corps, who was accidentally killed whilst flying near London on June 22, was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs C B [sic] Aimer, of St. Stephen’s Avenue, Parnell. He was born in Hokianga in 1886, and was educated in Auckland. For a time he was employed in the Government Forestry Department at Rotorua, subsequently taking a position in Fiji. Shortly after returning to Auckland, in 1910, he entered the service of the Bank of New Zealand as correspondence clerk, a position he held for about five years. In August of last year he obtained extended leave of absence, and proceeded to England for health reasons. After a short time in hospital he offered his services to the War Office, but they were not accepted, owing to the state of his health. Lieutenant Aimer then studied aviation, and after qualifying for his pilot's certificate, was appointed an instructor at the London Provincial Aviation Co.'s School. Later he again offered his services to the military authorities, and was given a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. Since then he had been through a course of instruction in army work at Oxford, and it is believed was receiving further training at one of the War Office's aerodromes when he met with the unfortunate accident which resulted in his death. When in Auckland the late lieutenant was very popular in athletic circles, and had at different times, over a period of eight years, been a member of the St. George's Rowing Club, part of which time he was captain. A brother, Trooper Alexander Goven Aimer, left for the front with the thirteenth reinforcements. 

NZ Herald 24 June 1916

His brother Kenneth Aimer who also went to school here in the 1890s and served during the war went on to be come a well-known architect, and part of the partnership of Grierson, Aimer and Draffin who designed the Auckland War Memorial Museum in the 1920s.

Eric Henry Astley

Eric attended Avondale School’s standards classes June 1902 to June 1904, a son of John E Astley. He died at Gallipoli from wounds in June 1915.

William Norman Clarke Bishop
John Joseph Bishop
William Bishop was briefly at Avondale School, for about a month, at the end of 1910. His brother John has here a bit longer, 6 months in 1906. They were members of the Bishop family of Titirangi.

Private W N C Bishop, who was killed in action on May 25, was the youngest of the three sons of Mr J J Bishop, of Dunvegan, Titirangi, all of whom volunteered for active service. Private Bishop. who was 21 years of age, was educated at the Titirangi and Avondale public at the Auckland Grammar School. As a lad of 17 he entered the service of the Postal Department in Wellington four years ago, and subsequently was transferred to Auckland. He enlisted on attaining his twentieth birthday, and left with the twenty-eighth reinforcements less than a year ago. His eldest brother Lieutenant J J Bishop, of the thirteenth reinforcements, was killed in action in October 1st whilst leading his men with great gallantry during the severe fighting in Flanders. Sergeant T A Bishop, the only surviving brother, who left with the twelfth reinforcements, has been serving on the western front for the past year.

NZ Herald 11 June 1918

John Henry Allen Bollard

Son of William Allen Bollard of Moray Place, Dunedin, and Harriet Bollard nee Sankey. He was presumed missing, later declared killed in action by shell fire in France in 1916. His mother Harriet died the year he was born, in 1893, and is buried at the George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery with the Bollards. William Allen Bollard (1869-1941) was a landscape artist, and third son of John Bollard of Avondale.

Ewen McLean Brookes

The Brookes family lived on New Windsor Road. Ewen attended the Standards classes at Avondale 1901-1906. When he signed up he was a clerk working for Winstones Ltd. He was killed in action October 1916.

Wallis John Burrow

He attended Avondale School’s standards classes in 1904. His parents John and Mary Burrow lived on New Windsor Road. Mary and three of her children are buried at St Ninians cemetery. Wallis was a cabinetmaker when he signed up in 1917. He died of wounds in January 1918.

Charles William Catton

The Catton family lived in the Avondale/Blockhouse Bay area from c.1900-1905. Charles was a farmhand working in Russell when he joined the army, and was killed in action September 1916.

Matthew Thomas Charles

Also known as Thomas Matthew Charles. Born in Tikorangi, Taranaki in 1892. Only very briefly at Avondale School during the standards classes in 1904, he went to a Catholic school after that. His father Thomas Charles lived in Victoria Road (now Victor Street) and Kitchener Road (Holly Street). Another cabinetmaker before he joined the army, working in Napier. He started out as a sapper with the field engineers, and was promoted to Lance Corporal 25 September 1915. Killed in action at Gallipoli, a week later.

Fred Albert Crum

Son of Albert Crum, owner and manager of the NZ Brick, Tile and Pottery Company at New Lynn. The family moved to New Lynn in 1905 from Ashburton, and Fred (born 1895) attended Avondale School from 1906-1908, when he went off to grammar school. When he signed up, he was working at the family business in New Lynn, as a brickmaker. He died of wounds in May 1917.

Leslie Rotorua Darrow

From The News 28 August 1915.

Another interesting letter has come to hand from Roto Darrow dated June 24th. He says: “Things are very quiet here at present, and here we are not adopting a progressive policy at all for the time being, but merely keeping the Turks up this end busy while the offensive goes on down below. Whe(n) they get them on the run down there, we will have our share again. “I had a very interesting trip round one of our posts, which is nearest the enemy’s lines. At one place we are within five feet of Turkish trenches and consequently had to keep our mouths shut. If they hear any talking at all, a bomb is the result. At this particular post all the trenches are very close, the distances ranging from five feet to forty yards. When we first took over these trenches you could not put a periscope or rifle up for a second without it being shot at, but now you can keep them up for hours. I think at first they had superiority over us in bomb throwing, but now I think we have them beaten. One kind of our trench mortars in particular is very deadly, and the Turks used to bolt when they heard the bomb coming down, yelling “Allah!” “We had rather a lively time the other day. The Turks landed a number of 80-inch cannon shells round the Brigade headquarters. While about half a dozen of us were examining a piece of one, another came along and landed about six feet away from us. We couldn’t flop down on the ground quickly enough. Luckily they were very old shells (I heard they were English shells bearing the date 1897) and consequently do not have a high explosive. “It is getting very hot here now and the flies have become unbearable. I thought they got pretty bad in Avondale at times, but here they almost stop you eating your meals. You can’t lie down during the day time for they pester the life out of you.”

Leslie Rotorua “Roto” Darrow was born in 1893. His brother was Harry Alexander Darrow, during the war Avondale School’s head master. Roto Darrow enlisted in 1914 at the school. He embarked 16 October 1914, headed for Suez and Egypt, and then on to Gallipoli. His last unit was the Headquarters of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade. He was killed in action 10 August 1915, aged 22. The folks back home at Avondale, reading his letter in The News, would have had no idea that he had died two and a half weeks earlier.

Bertram Charles Denyer

Another connection with Albert Crum’s brickworks at New Lynn — Bertram was a brickmaker when he enlisted in August 1914. The Denyers are a family that goes right back to the 1860s in terms of Avondale and New Lynn. He went missing at Gallipoli May 1915, and was later declared dead after a court of inquiry.

Reginald Philip Filleul

His father, Philip John Filleul, was a farmer on Rosebank from the 1890s (7 acres) and died 1919. His mother, Louisa Maud Mary Filleul, died 25 October 1914, aged 57. Both parents were buried at Rosebank. The Filleuls grew lemons — at the time the estate was sold after Philip Filleul’s death, there were around 100 commercial lemon trees on the property. Reginald was a farmer in his own right when he enlisted in 1916, at first with the Mounted Rifles. From October 1916 however, he was with the 2nd NZ Camel Company, and fought against the troops of the Ottoman Empire in the deserts of Suez and Palestine. He took part in the Battle of Beersheba in 1917, and died from his wounds at Abbassia in Egypt.

Stanley Fransham

His father Benjamin Harding Fransham was associated with Avondale from c.1892, and lived on Rosebank Road as at 1893. By 1906, he owned land just beyond the Victoria Hall, and also fronting much of Orchard Street. In 1902, there was a sad tragedy for the family.
Yesterday morning Mr T Gresham, city coroner, held an inquest at Avondale on the body of an infant girl named Ivy Victoria Fransham, the daughter of Mr Benjamin Fransham, market gardener. Mrs Fransham gave evidence that the child who was 8½ months old, had been given a plum by one of her sisters, and that the child had been accidentally choked by the stone. Witness extracted the stone from the baby’s throat, but by that time the child was quite dead. Dr de Clive Lowe also gave evidence, and said the cause of death was asphyxia, caused by the plum-stone getting into the upper air passage, and a verdict was returned accordingly.

 Auckland Star 10 February 1902

Private Stanley Benjamin Fransham, who died of wounds on June 7, was the second son of Mr and Mrs Fransham, of Whitford, and was 20 years of age. He was born and educated at Avondale. Prior to his enlistment he was farming at Te Rore, Pirongia. Private Raymond Harden Fransham, admitted to hospital, June 10, suffering from slight gunshot wounds in the face, is the eldest son of Mr. Fransham, of Whitford. At the time of his enlistment he was engaged on his father's farm at Whitford. With his younger brother Stanley, he went into camp in May, 1916. On arrival in England both he and his brother joined the Machine Corps, and after four months' training they went to France. Private Fransham was born in Avondale 22 years ago.

NZ Herald 30 June 1917

Raymond Fransham survived, and died in 1969 at the age of 74.

William Ralston Ingram

Son of William and Annie Ingram. His name is included on the family headstone at St Ninians Cemetery, killed in action Passchendaele, 4 October 1917, aged 36.

John Hastie

The Hastie family were associated with Avondale from c.1901. George Hastie worked as a brickmaker at Avondale works c.1902. John Hastie attended Avondale School June 1900 to June 1904.

Possibly Thomas Hugh Kirk.

At the moment, he doesn’t seem to have direct connection with Avondale, having only arrived from England two years before he enlisted, but he was on the staff at Mt Eden School. Perhaps he was at Avondale at some point? He died when the transport Marquette was sunk in the Aegean Sea in 1915.

Possibly Donald Bennett Lane

Donald Lane was a former pupil at Avondale School.

Henry Frederick Lees

Henry Frederick Lees (Harry), son of John & Edith Lees, Brown St, Avondale. Died 1 Sept 1918 in France. Also on St Judes memorial.

James Parker McCrae

His mother Agnes Templeton McCrae lived Saint Georges Road, Avondale. He also appears on the Oddfellows Roll of Honour. Before he enlisted he worked as a leather worker. Died 6 May 1918.

Herman Cecil McDonald

His mother Mrs E. McDonald lived on Rosebank Road, Avondale. Before he enlisted, Herman worked as a mattressmaker. He embarked 25 Sept 1916 as part of the 17th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company, and died 30 March 1918, at the Somme.

Possibly Kenzie McLean

The marble roll has “R McLean”, but I can find no one so far matching that initial. However Kenzie McLean was a son of Alexander & Isabella McLean of Rosebank Road. Kenzie was killed in action on the Somme in July 1916.

Donald McLean

Son of William and Charlotte Jane McLean, Brown Street, Avondale. Died 6 October 1917, Ypres, Belgium.

Frederick Myers

Son of William Myers of Roberton Road, Avondale. He was a roading contractor before enlistment in 1917, and died 30 September 1918 in France, from wounds.

Possibly Frederick George Oxenham

Still waiting for more information.

Jonathan Oswald Porritt
Son of William and Sarah Ann Porritt. William Porritt was selling “Leicester socks and stockings” from Waterview in 1890. He came from Bradford in England. Around 1894 he shifted to New North Road in Mt Albert. When Jonathan enlisted in 1917, he was employed as a bridge builder with NZ Railways. He was with the 23rd Reinforcements New Zealand Field Artillery when he died Christmas Eve 1917, Ypres, Belgium.

Oliver Scott

Son of John Lyons Scott, the head teacher at Avondale School from 1882-1894. J L Scott was present at the unveiling of the marble plaque in 1919.

Private Oliver Scott, better known as Tommy Scott, killed in action, was a son of Mr J L Scott, a former headmaster of the Parnell school. He was educated at the Parnell school, the Auckland Grammar School, and the Auckland University College. He entered the Grammar School on a foundation scholarship, and matriculated in 1902. He passed the first section of the Bachelor of Commerce degree examination, but owing to failing health was not able to complete the examination. Afterwards he entered the employ of the AMP Society, and at the time of big enlistment occupied the position of cashier in the Auckland branch. The late Private Scott was a member of the University Hockey Club, and of the St. George's Rowing Club.

NZ Herald 25 June 1917

Stanley Edward Stewart

Attended Avondale School 1899-1900. His father was Thomas J B Stewart of Mt Albert. He was a seaman before enlistment; coincidentally, he died “of illness, at sea”, aged 28, on the way home in November 1919.

Clarence Victor Tarlin

Attended Avondale School from 1909-1911, “son of Clara Jacobson (formerly Tarlin), of Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand, and the late Alfred Tarlin” according to Cenotaph. He died serving with the 16th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company, 22 Feb 1917, in France.

During their final leave, which was spent at their homes at Titirangi and surrounding districts, Lance-Corporal C B Tarlin and Privates F Shaw, E Williams, and J Kilgour, all members of the sixteenth reinforcements, were entertained at a largely-attended social evening and dance at Titirangi by Mr and Mrs J J Bishop. The dance was held in Shaw's Hall, whilst the supper, which was most tastefully laid out, was given in the tea kiosk. The toast of the guests was proposed by Mr H Wallace, and responded to by Lance-Corporal Tarlin. The toast, as well as that of “Our Absent Boys”, was enthusiastically honoured. The health of the host and hostess was proposed by Mr I E Williams, and acknowledged by Mr Bishop. The gathering was of a most successful character.

NZ Herald 18 August 1916

Corporal C V Tarlin, who died of wounds whilst a prisoner of war in Germany, enlisted from Titirangi. He was the son of the late Mr A J Tarlin and Mrs M F Jacobson, and was a grandson of the late Mrs E S Taylor. He went to the war when considerably under military age, and at the time of his death in February last was only 19 years and eight months old. He was at first reported missing, but after considerable lapse of time it was reported that he was a prisoner of war. Subsequently it was ascertained that he died of wounds shortly after his admission to the prison camp.

NZ Herald 30 June 1917

Corporal Clarence V Tarlin, died of wounds at Lemburg, Germany, was the son of the late Gunner A J Tarlin of Devonport and Mrs Jacobson of Titirangi. He was born in Auckland, and educated at the Auckland Grammar School. Prior to enlisting with the 16th Reinforcements he was in the employ of the Auckland City Council water works [at Titirangi].

Auckland Star 7 July 1917

Norman Edmund Vercoe

He was the son of Philip and Ann Vercoe of New Windsor Road. Norman was born in Blenheim. The family were at Kaihu before 1907, and Norman attended Avondale School 1907-1910. He served with the 16th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company, and survived the war, only to die 5 June 1919 after discharge from the NZEF from wounds inflicted or disease contracted while on active service. Buried Waikumete Cemetery.

Arthur Edwin Ward

At Avondale School 1897-1901. Father noted on school roll as Edgar William Ward. Enlisted from Grove Road, Edendale (Sandringham), Auckland Infantry Battalion. Died 8 August 1915, killed in action, at Gallipoli.

William Welch

The son of John and Jane Anne Welch, of 20 Livingstone St., Auckland, although John Welch was in Avondale from c.1887. William served at Gallipoli, but died 18 September 1916, at the Somme.

Robert John Willoughby

The son of William and Lillian S Willoughby, of Canal Rd., Avondale. The family came from Paeroa; Robert was in Avondale School only in 1908, then he went to work. He was a farmer before he enlisted.

Herbert Slade and Robert Willoughby (Mr. Matthews) were charged with having removed sign posts, the property of the Avondale Road Board. After evidence had been heard at length Slade was fined 10s ordered to pay all witnesses' expenses, amounting to 22s, and half the damage, 4s 6d. Willoughby was fined 10s, and was ordered to pay 4s 6d, half the damages incurred.

NZ Herald 12 November 1912

Robert died of wounds received in the Ploegsteert Wood, Flanders, 27 March 1917.

Gunner R J Willoughby (died of wounds) was well known in Avondale. On the outbreak of war he was put on guard duty at the fort, but later joined the 9th Reinforcements, being attached to the artillery. His parents reside at Canal Road. Avondale.

 Auckland Star 17 July 1917

Update 30 November 2013: From the comments below ...

Hi, Thank you for your most informative blog.
Robert Willoughby is my Great Uncle, and like my father I carry the name Robert also (though the name in our family is as old as the Willoughby family name).

Robert's younger brother Walter later married one Murial Dickey of New Windsor Road, who also lost two brothers to WWI (one at Gallipoli and the other from the effects of Mustard gas on the Western front) I 'm not sure whether any of the Dickey family attended Avondale Primary, I think they were home schooled.

Three generations of Willoughby's have attended Avondale Primary.
I had no idea the roll of Honour Tablet existed till now. Thank you for posting information about it, I shall have to visit and see it. You have made my day - thank you!


Alan R Willoughby

The Dickey family arrived at Avondale after World War I, hence why the sons aren't on any Avondale rolls.

John Thomas (Tim) Lilley

His childhood guardian while at Avondale School was W Alfred Lilley of New Windsor Road. He is recorded as coming from Nelson Street, and Tim was only in Avondale School for Standard 4, in 1901. His father was John Thomas Lilley, a storekeeper at Henderson in the 1880s, who died at Onehunga’s Railway Terminus Hotel 13 June 1892. His mother was Alice Christina Lilley (remarried, became Mrs Greenway). He was also two years older than the school roll has noted, born in 1887 rather than 1889. Tim Lilley worked as a currier before enlistment with the 15th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company in 1916, and died of wounds on 25 August 1918 in France. He’s also on the Oddfellows roll of honour.

Herbert (Bert) William Cox

Herbert was grandson of John Samuel L Cox, rates collector, dog registrar and clerk for the Whau Highway District (later Avondale Road Board) from c.1877 to 1892. J S L Cox’s son James Thomas G Cox married Mary Alice Armstrong (from Park Farm, Maunu, Whangarei) in 1890. Herbert was born in Whangarei in 1891. He and his younger brother Fred Cox were in Waterview, possibly after the death of Mary Ann Cox, Herbert’s grandmother, to at least early 1898, but not in a standards class at Avondale School — in May 1898, the family went to the Waikato. By 1915, when Herbert enlisted, he had been living at the family’s home at Balmoral Road, Mt Eden since 1910, and was working as a clerk for the Auckland Education Board in Shortland Street. He had already served 4 years with the A Battery Field Artillery, reaching the rank of sergeant, under compulsory military training. He stood 5 feet, 11½ inches tall. By March 1916, he’d been promoted from gunner, to corporal, to sergeant, then 2nd Lieutenant with the 8th Reinforcements, Field Artillery. He died from wounds received in action in the field in France 23 September 1918.

Second-Lieutenant Herbert W Cox, reported killed in action on September 23, was the eldest son of Mr J T G Cox, inspector of schools, Balmoral Road, Mount Eden. He was educated at the Auckland Grammar School and the University College, and prior to enlisting he was engaged in the treasury of the Auckland Education Board. He left New Zealand with the eighth reinforcements, and was attached to the artillery. After serving a few months in Egypt he proceeded to France, where he obtained his commission. He was attached to the Fourth Howitzer Battery of the Third Brigade when he met his death. A brother, Lieutenant F G Cox, who lost the sight of an eye at the Somme, is expected to return in a draft due at an early date. 

NZ Herald 5 October 1918

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Angelo Parigi -- an early Auckland waterman

Official Bay just to the left of Point Britomart in the centre. Copy of an oil painting by Samuel Stuart showing Auckland waterfront. Ref 4-509, Sir George Grey Special Collections

A descendant of one Angelo Parigi (also recorded as Paragee, Paragei and other variants) told me via email a few months ago that he was an early Auckland waterman, essentially a water taxi proprietor. The watermen were an important part of harbour operations in the early days before even the imposing Queen Street Wharf stretching out from the Commercial Bay reclamation. With mud and shallows between immigrant and cargo ships and the port itself, the boats of the watermen were one of the main ways of conveying items and people ashore.

To the Editor of the Southern Cross.
Sir, Will you be kind enough to insert this in your next publication, as we are of opinion that we labour under a grievance, which may be remedied if publicity be given to our complaint through the public press. What we complain of is that on the arrival of a vessel in this Port, the Harbour Master's Boat is generally tendered for the conveyance of Passengers and Luggage on shore, although at the same time there are a number of Watermen very often standing idle for want of a Fare. This we consider is tantamount to taking away in a great measure our means of livelihood. We think that it is the exclusive privilege of Watermen to take Passengers to and fro' in the Harbour, and that although at present no Local Act has been passed to protect them in their avocation, yet we are of opinion, they are protected by implication from any infringement on their rights. Perhaps (and we hope it to be the case) the Harbour Master is not aware of the use made of his Boat, at all events we think that should this meet his eye he will put a stop to a proceeding which we assure you, Mr. Editor, has been for some time a serious loss to us. In conclusion we beg to observe, that there are a number of us who endeavour to obtain a livelihood as Watermen (and in these somewhat dull times not a very lucrative one), therefore any encroachment on (what we conceive to be) our exclusive privileges must, you will perceive, be rather sensibly felt by ourselves and families. We remain yours &c. The Watermen. Auckland, October 1st, 1847. 

Southern Cross 9 October 1847

Angelo was originally from the island of Malta, from the Tarxien district. He must surely have been one of the first immigrants from that island to New Zealand, if not the first. His span of existence here in Auckland was brief, likely little more than seven years, and his death raises questions to this day for those who claim him on their family tree.

He was also one of the city’s earliest competitive rowers, taking part in the sport at the annual regattas, during the days of the first Waitemata Boating Club.

The earliest possible trace I’ve found of him goes back to early 1847, when the New Zealander reported on the anniversary regatta that had just taken place: “The last race was of wherries, three of which started, and the race was won by Mr Thatcher's Mirage, jun., rowed by Angelo.” (6 February)

If this was him, by the end of the year he seems to have broken away from rowing other men’s boats, and was in business for himself, setting up at the “water place” in Official Bay – the Wynyard Pier, where ships came to take water from the Wai Ariki spring piped to the jetty. The Fear Not (later spelled "Fear-nought") was one of his boats, right through to nearly the end. Oddly, he advertised that it was for sale – or, he may simply have passed the name onto another, later boat.

FOR SALE, THE 'FEAR NOT,' a Waterman's Boat, with Anchor and Cable, pair of Ash Paddles, Rudder and Yoke, and Spread-sail complete. She is about nine months old, copper-fastened and roughed, and is in excellent repair. Apply to Angelo Paragee. Auckland, Dec. 13, 1847.

New Zealander 15 Dec 1847

He was still in business early the following year.

NOTICE. THE Undersigned informs the inhabitants of Auckland that he has a WATERMAN'S BOAT ready at any hour, Day or Night, at the Watering Place, Official Bay. ANGELO PARAGEE. Auckland, 14th Jan. 
New Zealander 15 Jan 1848

It could be said that Angelo was a man who didn’t shy away from a contest. Here he set up a swimming or diving challenge (it isn’t known at present whether anyone took him up on it.)

CHALLENGE. Swimming and Diving. THE UNDERSIGNED hereby challenges any person in the Port of Auckland to take him up in a match of either Swimming or Diving, on Wednesday Next, the 31st Jan., for the sum of Five Pounds a side. The distance and particulars to be arranged between the parties. Angelo Paragee, Waterman, Official Bay. 

New Zealander 27 Jan 1849

Family sources state that he married Roseanne McMullen on 4 July 1849, a 16 year old daughter of one of the Fencibles who had arrived with her family on the Ann not long before and lived at Otahuhu. They married, apparently, at St Patricks cathedral. A year later, their 8 day old daughter Mary Ann died from a bowel complaint, 31 July 1850. The death registration reveals that Angelo was illiterate.

Next, we see him taking part in the 10th anniversary regatta in January 1850, his British Queen bearing a flag with a red cross on white background. (Southern Cross 29 Jan 1850) He won the race, pulling a pair of sculls, but objections were raised. (New Zealander 2 Feb 1850) He responded in what may have been true Angelo Parigi fashion – with a challenge.

CHALLENGE. A DISPUTE having arisen out of the Race at the Regatta, between the boats British Queen, Red Rover, and Talyho, The Undersigned, in whose favour the decision for the prize was given, hereby challenges the same boats, to be rowed by the same men, to a Rowing Match, to start from the Albert Buoy, round Brown's Island and back to the Buoy, for Twenty Pounds against Ten. Angelo Peragi, Owner of the British Queen. February 4, 1850. 

New Zealander 6 Feb 1850

Again, no word on what outcome there was, if any. The following year, he issued another challenge.

CHALLENGE. I, ANGELO PARAGEE, hereby Challenge any Boatman or Amateur Rower in the Port of Auckland to a single handed match with sculls, either in two equal boats, or in one boat to pull a certain distance in a given time, for any moderate stake not exceeding seven pounds a side.

New Zealander 1 Feb 1851

His second daughter Susan was born 29 November 1851. At the twelfth anniversary regatta (1852), in race eight, waterman’s boats pulling two oars for a prize of £5, The “Robert” (Angelo) won. He also came second in the 11th race. (New Zealander 31 Jan 1852) In the 1853 regatta – he won the eighth race with his waterman’s boat, two sculls, Susannah, prize £5 5s.

Southern Cross 1 Feb 1853

Another mystery from around this time, linked with Angelo because he was apparently associated, is the first “Waitemata Boat Club”, which appears to have been involved somehow with the early regattas.

Waitemata Boat Club. THOS. WESTON & CO will Sell by Auction, THIS DAY, at the Victoria Pier, Commercial Bay, on account of the Waitemata Boat Club,
The racing gig "ALPHABET," with Oars, &c.
The racing gig SYLPH," with Oars, Masts, Sail, &c.
These Boats are in first rate order for the Regatta.
Also, THE BOAT SHED, situate in Official Bay.
The above may be seen any time previous to the sale, on application to Mr. Angelo Paragee, Official Bay, or at the Victoria Pier at 1 o'clock on the Day of Sale.

Southern Cross 27 Jan 1854

The Alphabet was a raffle prize for a competition at the Exchange Hotel in December 1850, with proceeds going towards “the Regatta Fund”. (New Zealander 14 December 1850) It, along with Sylph (which was raced by the Waitemata Boat Club) took part in the 1851 regatta. (New Zealander 29 January 1851)

In the last year of his life, Angelo Parigi took part in the 1854 regatta, but lost the ninth race (waterman’s boats) in his “Fear-nought.” In September, someone seems to have been mucking about with his boat.

The boat "Fear-nought" having been taken away from the Wynyard Pier, after 9 o'clock, on Friday night last and on looking for it during the night, I found the said boat unmoored under the Pier, with a few potatoes in the bottom of it. Whoever can give information as to who took the boat away off its mooring will receive the above reward. Angelo Paragee, N.N. Three bundles were found at the end of the Pier, the same evening. Sept. 11, 1854.

Southern Cross 12 Sept 1854

A month and a half later, on 29 October 1854, Angelo Parigi died at the Colonial Hospital in Auckland. The cause of death was given in the registration as “Irritative fever, the result of a severe burn.” How Angelo received so severe a burn that it led to a fatal inflammation and infection of his tissues, something like gangrene and tetanus, is not yet known. He was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Symonds Street Cemetery. Angelo’s third daughter Margaret never saw her father, as she was born January 1855. Later, in June that year, a set of by-laws were put in place by the new Provincial Council governing the watermen, concerning licences, fees, carriage of persons and luggage.

There is a family story that Angelo was somewhere in South Auckland in mid October 1854, helping to clear land with some “colonel friends” when he was badly burned, to the extent that his fingers were burned off. The names Balneavis, Haultain and Nixon are mentioned. However, there are no reports in either the New Zealander or the Southern Cross of any incident so severe – and in colonial times, something so horrific as the loss of fingers in the fire would have attracted some attention. Was there a fire near where he lived on Eden Crescent? Did one of his boats catch fire? Again, the newspapers and the records remain silent.

Angelo’s name had slipped into forgotten history long before a new Waitemata Boat Club started up in 1862, with no reference to the first club by that name. The days of watermen were numbered as the wharves and jetties extended out into the harbour, ferries began to appear, and cutters and scows handled most of the old ship-to-shore trade.

Angelo Parigi’s story, though, is intriguing. His descendants and I would love to know more.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cucksey's mis-dated legacy in Mt Eden

It doesn’t pay to always take a photograph at face value. Certainly, they are a valuable resource in the quest to find out more about the past. But sometimes, putting a photograph over and above documented evidence creates a series of errors.

In 1989, the Mt Eden Borough Council commissioned author Faye M Angelo to put together a book on the area, The Changing Face of Mt Eden. In it, a photo was included, showing Cucksey’s Corner, on the corner Stokes and Mt Eden Roads. The original wooden Cucksey’s Building is shown, with “Est. 1873” inscribed above the wrap-around verandah.

Ref 7-A4322, Sir George Grey Special Collection,  Auckland Library

Angelo went with that as the date for the building; so did the researcher who compiled the Mt Eden/Maungawhau Heritage Walks brochure early last decade, an error repeated in the latest reprint, and this year repeated again in the journal Prospect, produced by the Epsom & Eden Districts Historical Society. All done in good faith – except that it is wrong.

Another example of the “Established date” thing can be found clearly across the façade of Millar Patterson Metals Brasscraft Ltd on Halsey Road, just opposite Victoria Park. That declares “Established 1903”, when actually 1903 is when the business began close to Britomart Place, whereas John Stewart Millar began leasing the Halsey Street site from 1919-1920.

This isn’t to say all dates on buildings are wrong. It just pays to check, before rushing into print and spreading the error further.

As for Alfred Cucksey and his buildings …

On 27 September 1867, the clipper ship Siam docked at Queen Street Wharf, after a voyage of 105 days from England. Aboard was Alfred Cucksey (NZ Herald 28 September 1867), brother of Henry Cucksey, well-known “Instrument Music Seller and Publisher” of 202 Queen Street, well-known at the time for his Cucksey’s Music Saloon, “established 1863”. (Ad, Southern Cross, 21 October 1863) Henry himself had been in business 13 years in London before he arrived in Auckland, taking over “Mr Webb’s Royal Harmonium and Pianoforte Saloon” in Queen Street, (SC 21 October 1863) while Alfred later boasted 10 years’ experience before arriving in New Zealand “in the London trade”. (Ad, Auckland Star 5 March 1874) Henry and Alfred’s father was James Cucksey, who later died in Kent, England, in 1870 aged 64. 

Henry’s wife first wife Eliza died in October 1867 and was buried at Symonds Street cemetery together with an infant child. Henry remarried, to Annie H Irwin, in 1870. (Annie may have already been a widow. In 1890, she was applying for assistance from two grown sons by the surname of Irwin – Star 8 Feb 1890) In 1873, Henry Cucksey became part of a “Political League” in the city (NZH 24 February 1873), after a number of years of on-again, off-again reports as to him running for office, either on the City Council, or the fading Provincial Council. Later that year, he shifted from Queen Street to the junction of Queen and Wakefield Streets.

By April 1868, Alfred Cucksey was being praised by the newspapers for his doormats made from flax fibre, on display at an ironmongers’ store in Shortland Street, and at Alfred Cucksey’s first store at 138 Queen Street. (SC & NZH 27 April 1868) Around this time, Henry Cucksey was living in Nelson Street, where some items were stolen from his house. (SC 14 January 1868)

Alfred Cucksey married Margaret Catherine Williams in 1870. In 1871, Alfred was living in Nelson Street, where a daughter was born 16 December. Between 1868 and 1873, Alfred apparently spent time at Thames. A report in the Grey River Argus at the time may have erroneously named his brother, when in fact it was more likely Alfred’s discovery.
It is reported that Mr Cucksey, the music-seller in Auckland, has made an important discovery in respect to saving gold by a new method of treating tailings. The new plan is said to be most effectual in saving the finest gold in the smallest quantity. Mr Cucksey is about to apply for a patent so as to secure some benefit from his discovery. (24 Feb 1873)
Whatever happened, Alfred clearly returned to his flax after that. In June 1873, at the opening of the Auckland Markets on the Market Reserve (present day Aotea Square), Alfred exhibited his flax working as a local industry, (NZH 19 June 1873) winning first prize for his flax mat at that exhibition, and at the New Zealand Agricultural Society’s Show in November that year. (SC 20 November 1873) In March 1874, he took over a grocery and provision store in Wakefield Street. (Ad, Auckland Star 5 March 1874) His brother Henry had returned to England in 1875 – and by 1879 was producing “Cucksey’s Miraculous Mixture,” a “Celebrated Conqueror of Bronchitis, Diphtheria, Neuralgia, Headaches, Sore Throats, and All Diseases of the Throat.” In Auckland Alfred served as an agent for the medicine, selling his brother’s mixture from the Wakefield Street store. (Ad Star 15 November 1879)

On 29 March 1881, Alfred purchased Lot 4 of 11 of Section 6, Suburbs of Auckland, at the corner Stokes and Mt Eden Road, from John Batger. (Deeds Index 2A.1311) In mid April, he advertised for tenders “for the Erection of Shop and Dwelling House at Mount Eden.” (Star 13 April 1881). In July that year, he advertised his Wakefield store for lease, with immediate possession, (NZH 26 July 1881) and by August 1881, he had moved his business to the new store in Mt Eden.
Alfred Cucksey begs to inform his numerous friends that he has Removed from Wakefield-street to his New Store on the Mount Eden Road, near Smith's Stables. All Goods at town prices. First-class articles guaranteed. Families waited on daily. Agent for the Mount Eden Railway Station Coal and Firewood Depot. (Ad, Star 6 August 1881)
So, yes -- clearly the 1873 date on the photograph referred to when Alfred Cucksey established his business (in the central city), rather than had the first wooden store built at Mt Eden.

By 1884, Cucksey’s Mt Eden store became known as the Post Office Store, when Cucksey advertised for boys to run messages. (Ad, Star, 10 May 1884) However, this appears to have been a bit premature. In November 1885, Cucksey led the local community campaign to have a telephone bureau established at his store for public use, a campaign that proved successful when the bureau was set up at his store in June, with the expectation that a post and money order office would be set up soon after. (NZH 14 June 1886)

In June 1901, Catherine Margaret Cucksey died. In 1905, a permit application was approved by Mt Eden Borough Council for Cucksey to build “5 new shops” on his site, and these would likely have been completed by c.1906. “Mr A Cucksey’s Block of 5 new shops, corner Mt Eden & Stokes Road, area 132’ X 132’ (4 lengths). Builder Mr. W Firth, Architect Mr Jno. M Walker. Contract £2830.” (MEB 128/1, Auckland Council Archives) This is the Cucksey’s Building we see today.

Alfred Cucksey married his second wife, Charlotte Eleanor Nayler Smith in 1919. He wasn’t able to enjoy renewed married bliss for long, however; he died at his home, “Ravensbourne,” next to his Cucksey’s Buildings, on Mt Eden Road, 5 September 1922.
An old and respected resident of Auckland, Mr Alfred Cucksey, died at the Public Hospital yesterday morning, in his 79th year. Mr Cucksey was born in Greenwich, England, in 1843, and came to Auckland at the age of 23. Shortly afterwards he spent some time on the Thames goldfield, and on returning to Auckland went into business as a grocer in Wakefield Street. In 1880 Mr Cucksey went to Mount Eden and established the business that resulted in its location being known far and wide as "Cucksey's Corner." Mr Cucksey, who was known in the district as "the father of Mount Eden," retired from active life 14 years ago. He had not been in the best of health for some time prior to his death. He is survived by Mrs Cucksey, one son, and several grand-children. The interment will take place at Purewa cemetery this afternoon. (NZH 6 September 1922)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meeting Alice the TBM

Today being a fine day, and at the end of Auckland Heritage Festival, I trotted out as one of 20,000 holders of a free ticket to see Alice the Tunnel Boring Machine at Alan Wood Reserve in Mt Albert, the creator of two tunnels, northbound and southbound, over the next three years or so, part of the work on State Highway 20. Actually, the best view was this -- a large board right at the end of the 45 minute trek up hill and down dale. This at least lets you see what the business end of Alice looks like, the part that pumps in foam and cuts through the resulting slurry at -- wait for it -- 8cm per minute. According to the poster I picked up from an info tent, that's the top speed for a snail.

So, after winding through a snaky crowd-control path (the NZTA and Well-Connected Alliance must have taken tips from banks and the airports), we were off to see Alice. The name given to the TBM by a local school pupil who won a prize, after Alice in Wonderland.

Past a once-again altered Oakley Creek ...

On down the path through which, one day, cars and other vehicles will hurtle.

There's Alice -- well, the back end of Alice, where all the engines are, plus space for the 16 crew. The info poster says Alice needed to have a female name because of St Barbara, the patron saint of miners, tunnellers, artillerymen etc. Except that St Barbara has been removed from the Roman Catholic calendar since 1969, her story of martyrdom and association with lightning most likely a bit of Dark Ages storytelling. So, Alice the TBM is named after a fictional character due, most likely, to another bit of fiction.

I also expected Alice to be bigger.

It's the height of a four-storey building, they said on the poster. Largest TBM ever used in Australasia, weighing 3000 tonnes, the weight of 750 elephants, almost as long as a footy field ...

But ... I expected it to be something more. Even on a human scale, it doesn't look all that massive, not really.

This is a piece of artwork called "Te Haerenga Hou", "designed for the project by Auckland Ta moko artist Graham Tipene, "Te Haerenga (meaning "A New Journey) depicts the route along the volcanic landscape of what is now SH20 to the feet of Owairaka where the tunnels begin. At over 14m in diameter it is the same size as Alice's cutting face," according to a site map we were given today.

The spoil conveyor, where the resulting slurry is taken away from the tunnel, to Wiri where it'll be de-slurried and used for fill elsewhere.

It was cool, though, that they let members of the public sign these concrete launch segments, which will be used to line the tunnel. Yes, my name's on there now, too.

So, up around the corner, back out to Hendon Ave and a free bus to Mt Albert shops (and a Sunday-inconvenient -- at the moment -- train service. I took the bus back towards New Lynn.)

I'm glad I went, but -- I'm still underwhelmed.