Monday, 13 January 2020

Guide Rangi

Rangitiaria Dennan (Ngāti Tarawhai, Ngāti Pikiao, Tuhourangi) was born on July 14, 1897 in Ngapuna, near Rotorua.

She was the fourth child of Mango Ratema and Tuhipo Tene. Sadly none of her older siblings survived infancy.

Rangi was educated at the Whakarewarewa Native School and Hukarere Native Girls' School in Napier, where she was head prefect.

Postcard featuring studio portrait of Guide Rangi holding a carved patu. Photographer unknown.
Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (2010.9.9).

She decided on a teaching career and took a probationary assistant position at Whakarewarewa Native School before taking a teaching position at Torere Native School in the eastern Bay of Plenty in 1914. She later moved to Ruatoki Native School in the Ureweras. Unfortunately she developed a throat condition and returned to Rotorua to recuperate.

Rangi later took a position as a trainee nurse at Napier Hospital, but her health deteriorated and she returned home again.

In December 1921 Guide Susan asked her to assist with a party of tourists - Rangi had found her calling.

Rangi's guiding career would span over 40 years. She would escort many famous people, such as former United States first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Queen Elizabeth II during her 1953-54 royal tour.

Guide Rangi with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, 1954. Photographer unknown, Rotorua.
Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (CP-1181).

Rangi married William Francis Te Aonui Dennan, son of Maggie Papakura, in 1938. Her husband passed away in 1942.

Rangi was a foundation member of Te Ropu o te Ora Women's Health League, and become a Serving Sister of the Order of St John in 1949, as recognition for her work during the war years as Divisional Superintendent of the St. John Ambulance in Rotorua.

She received an M.B.E in 1957, for her services as a guide, from the Governor General, Sir Willoughby Norrie, who had also been guided around Whakarewarewa by Rangi. In 1965 she retired from guiding. She published her autobiography three years later with Daily Post feature writer Ross Annabell.

Following her retirement she lived quietly in Whakarewarewa until her passing on 13 August 1970. She was buried in the Whakarewarewa cemetery.

Guide Rangi, photograph by Doug Therkleson, circa 1965.
Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa (Op-2169).


Recommended Reads:


Guide Rangi of Rotorua
 (Dennan, Rangi & Annabell, Ross, 1968)
920 GUI NZ
Reference copies in Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research Area.
Lending copy in Māori Non-Fiction.

Rangi and Rotorua: an illustrated guide to the thermal region. (Richards, J.H, 1958)
993.423Z RIC
Reference copies in Rotorua Heritage and Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research Area.

Guide Rangi (Boon, Kevin, 1991)
920.72Z DEN | 920 DEN*
Lending copies in Children's Māori Collection* and Māori Non-Fiction
Reference copy in Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research Area.

The hot lakes guides: a short history of guiding in the Rotorua area from pre eruption Te Wairoa to Whakarewarewa until the nineteen eighties (Cresswell, John, 2009).
993.423Z CRE
Lending copies in Māori Non-Fiction
Reference copies in Te Arawa Heritage, Heritage and Research.

This blog post was written by Graeme. Thanks to Rotorua Museum and the Don Stafford Collection.



Friday, 27 December 2019

A Māori Christmas?

This post is based on some of my memories of Christmas during the 1960's and 1970's, and a bit of history. Is there a traditional Māori Christmas? In my opinion, there isn't. Christmas was introduced to New Zealand with Christianity.


The first Christmas sermon was delivered at Hohi (Oihi), Bay of Islands in 1814 by Samuel Marsden, a Church of England priest, and a member of the Church Missionary Society. Marsden believed that because Māori were experienced in trade they were perfect candidates for conversion to Christianity. Marsden explained that as Māori understood trade, this was a ‘key aspect in terms of accepting European ideals and beliefs’.

The natives of New Zealand are far advanced in civilisation and apparently prepared for receiving the knowledge of Christianity more than any savage nations I have seen. Their habits of industry are very strong; and their thirst for knowledge great, they only want the means. The more I see of these people, the more pleased I am with…they appear like a superior race of men”
Claudia Orange, The story of a treaty, p. 14

Marsden's first sermon however didn’t seem to captivate Maori who were, “clearly in a position of strength, so there seemed little reason for them to heed the new message”. This service marked the beginnings of the Christian mission to New Zealand, but there is a question over whether it was the first Christmas service.

Samuel Marsden preaching at Oihi Bay, Christmas 1814, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 7-A1818.

Clark, Russell Stuart Cedric, 1905-1966. Clark, Russell Stuart 1905-1966 :Samuel Marsden's first service in New Zealand. The Gospel of Jesus Christ first proclaimed on these shores by the Rev. Samuel Marsden at Oihi, Bay of Islands, Christmas Day, 1814 [Christchurch] N.Z. Church Missionary Society [1964]. Ref: B-077-006. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

My Māori Christmas 
The fondest memory I have around Christmas time is hearing dad saying, "the Pohutukawa is blooming, time to get some kina (sea urchins)". The Pohutukawa tree is also known as the 'Settlers Christmas Tree'. It's bright red blooms are not only visually stunning but have been mentioned as being used by Ngāpuhi leader, Eruera Patuone as part of the table decorations at a feast he hosted. Another staple of Christmas was the preparation of and enjoying a hāngi. Sir Peter Buck describes a hāngi as an earth oven with heated stones and a covering of earth. I remember that the meat cooked in the hāngi was tender, the vegetables tasty and the pudding delicious. Christmas was a time where I enjoyed helping in the preparation of food, watching my father make the hāngi, shell the kina and spending time with my whānau. Okay it was slightly about the presents as well but that's another story.

Image: Melanie Lovell-Smith, Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand 

This post was written by Ani Sharland with thanks to New Zealand History Online, Te Ara: the encyclopedia of New Zealand, The Coming of the Māori by Sir Peter Buck and The Alexander Turnbull Library.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Christmas in Japan

Christmas is a western tradition that has developed in Japan and gained popularity over the past few decades.

In Japan, Christmas is more about spreading happiness rather than recognising the religious aspects of the holiday.

Christmas Eve is a special occasion when couples spend time together and exchange presents - looking at the Christmas lights and having a meal at a restaurant are popular ways to spend the evening. Christmas Eve in Japan is often seen to as the Japanese version of Valentine's Day.

The western custom of sending and receiving Christmas cards is a tradition adopted in Japan. It is not surprising for a country that is known for its beautiful origami paper art, to have designed some of the most beautiful Christmas cards as well.

A selection of Japanese Christmas cards on display
at Te Aka Mauri Rotorua Library, Christmas 2019

Tokyo Disneyland is a popular destination for families to visit during the festive season to experience a Disney-style Christmas.

Another American corporation that is associated with Christmas is KFC. Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas Day. KFC is a popular choice, following a successful advertising campaign in the 1970s. People will preorder meals KFC weeks in advance.

A traditional Christmas food is kurisumasu keki, a Japanese Christmas cake. This sponge cake is decorated with strawberries, frosting, and whipped cream. The red, white, and circular shape shares the same symbolism as the Japanese flag - the crimson red symbolising the sun and representing a prosperous future for Japan. The white background symbolises purity, honesty and integrity of the Japanese people.

Japanese Christmas Cake. Source: Flickr,
Attribution-NoDervis 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

As many of the Christmas traditions in Japan have western origins many Japanese living in New Zealand will continue to enjoy the same Christmas traditions here.

To learn more about how Japan and other cultures celebrate Christmas visit whychristmas.com 

Meri Kurisumasu!


This blog post was written by Graeme.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Christmas in the Netherlands

Vrolijk Kersfeest!

Midwinter Hoornblazen
Rural eastern areas of the country celebrate different Christmas traditions in the Netherlands. In addition to Sinterklaas Avond celebrations, this area is well known for the midwinter hoornblazen, or midwinter horn blowing. Handmade horns, three- or four-foot horns carved from birch or elder saplings, are blown over wells to announce Advent and herald the birth of Christ. The low tone produced from these horns resonating over the wells can be heard for several miles, and it is not unusual for several farms to seem to call to one another with their horns.
In some areas, these horns may be blown each day of Advent, or they may be reserved for the first or last days of the spiritual celebration

Christmas Day and Second Christmas Day

December 25, known as Eerste Kerstdag, is still a holiday in the Netherlands. But since most gift-giving is done on Sinterklaas Avond, this day is a time for quiet church services and traditional family meals. Christmas Day is a time for family gatherings and delicious meals, including special breakfasts and formal dinners that include the food gourmetten. Santa Claus (Kerstman) is believed to come from Finland on Christmas Eve and deliver small gifts (but most of the major gift-giving has already been done on St. Nicholas Eve).
Food : A key element of many holiday celebrations, including Christmas in the Netherlands. Candy wreaths often decorate trees, and small treats may be given with gifts. Lavish dinners on Sinterklaas Avond typically include venison or roast goose, roast pork, vegetables, and homemade breads. Boiled chestnuts, fruit, an almond paste bread (kerststol) similar to marzipan, and cookies are also popular. Many families bake letter cakes shaped like the first letter of each family member's name to add a personal and tasty dish to the holiday fare. Currant buns and rich breads with fruit and nuts (stollen) are also popular.

Christmas in the Netherlands Fact #5 – While most Europeans begin celebrating Christmas on December 1st, the Dutch begin the first Saturday after November 11th when Sinterklaas arrives on a boat from Spain. 
Christmas in the Netherlands Fact #7 – Instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer, Sinterklaas rides a white horse named Amerigo.
Dutch Christmas Fact #13 – Nearly everyone receives a large, chocolate letter of their first initial in their wooden shoes from Sinterklaas.
Dutch Christmas Fact #16 – A thick, brandy-spiked variation of eggnog called Advocaat is often served over the holidays.

From : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas

A very scrummy treat to try : 
From  https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/our-perfect-christmas-stollen/
Ingredients for Stollen
Makes 1 stollen of about 800 g
250 g all purpose flour (we use French type 55)
135 g lukewarm milk*
7 g instant yeast or 21 g fresh yeast
5.5 g salt
1 egg yolk
40 g butter, softened
15 g ‘sweetener'(orange and lemon zest sugar)
180 g dried fruits equal parts, raisins, currants, cranberries, soaked and dried
150 g almond paste combined with 1/2 a small egg or one egg yolk 
melted butter for brushing
icing sugar for dusting

I have bought this treat for several years from the supermarket so it's also available for those who are domestically challenged ( i.e. Can't cook that is :))

Here in Rotorua the "Netherlands Society" celebrates Sinterklaas Avond together every year at the beginning of December. To see how our Dutch community makes Christmas special follow them on their Facebook page 

The society has been running here in Rotorua for over 50 years Netherlands Society

You can also read about the Netherlands in a Lonely Planet Guide by Nicola Williams. This book can be found on the 1st Floor Adult Non-Fiction Collection, at 949.2 TRA 2019

or you could read some newsletters published by the local society "Geyser News" which is found in the Don Stafford Room on the 2nd Floor.

Our Christmas Display on the 2nd Floor has items loaned to us by Abbey one of our lovely staff members who has shared some of her own items from the Netherlands.

This Post compiled by Alison

Friday, 6 December 2019

Christmas in the Czech Republic

New Zealand is inhabited with people from cultures all around the world, and inevitably traditions from "home" will be brought to the new land. Often the traditions are altered to become a fusion of Kiwi culture and what was celebrated back "home".

One of the staff at Te Aka Mauri originates from the Czech Republic, and she has kindly shared how Christmas was celebrated as she grew up. She has been fortunate in being able to take her children back to the  Czech Republic to experience Christmas there and so shares this plus what she's brought to this new land.

The first Sunday in December is the beginning of Advent and the first candle on the Advent wreath is lit. Each Sunday in December another candle is lit so by Christmas Day, the candles are all at different lengths. This is one tradition she has brought to New Zealand.

Throughout the month of December mums get busy baking, not just a Christmas cake but as many variety of vanocni cukovi (small sweet treats) as they can. In fact it can be a bit of a competition. Because it is so cold, they are often stored in boxes out on the balcony until Christmas Day.

On the 5th Dec, there is a knock at the door and St Mikulas appears at the door to discuss the children's behaviour. He is accompanied by a devil and an angel. The devil often "threatens" the children but the angel intervenes. Those who've been good receive chocolate, those who've been naughty, are given a potato. The family used to visit the Czech school in Tauranga to participate in this day.


St Mikulas with an angel and the devil check children's behaviour


Christmas markets also begin on the first Sunday in Advent. Often a life-size nativity is set up in the town square where the markets occur. As the month progresses Nativity plays are also performed, along with music and choir events.

The Nativity set up in the town square where the markets take place.

The outdoor Nativity play



The fisherman begin to arrive with their big barrels of carp to sell at the markets as well. About two days before Christmas, the carp is selected by the family, brought home and placed in the bath! This will be a central part of the Christmas Day menu.

The carp in the bath!


Christmas Day is celebrated on 24th December. First thing Christmas morning the carp is killed and turned into steaks and fish soup. No one has breakfast.  Along with creating a fish soup, furniture is re-arranged with tables joined together so everyone will be able to sit together for the mid-day meal. The family then heads off for the Christmas morning church service. Something they still do here in New Zealand.

The menu begins with a small plate of lentils. Hidden under each plate is a fish scale, which is popped in your wallet to signify you'll have money in the New Year. Next comes the fish soup, a light garlicky soup made from the head, bones and internal organs of the carp. Battered or crumbed carp steaks are then served with homemade potato salad.

Fish soup. Note the Advent wreath in the centre of the table


Here in New Zealand, the menu is still fish and home-made potato salad, with all the family around joined-together tables.


Modified Czech Christmas Day lunch for the New Zealand summer

At this point there's a break. Children may perform a concert or recital for grandparents, but often the children are also taken outside.

Afternoon ice-skating

 It could be to go ice-skating, playing in the snow, building snowmen or a visit to the nearby woods to decorate trees with carrots and apples for the animals.


Decorating a tree for the animals


While this is going on, other adults in the family are moving a decorated Christmas Tree and the presents into the living room. When a bell rings, everyone can enter. Now is when the mothers, grandmothers and aunties special sweet treats come out.

Vanocni cukovi (small sweet treats)


Finally the day finishes with everyone attending Midnight Mass.

Twelve days after Christmas, the Three Kings visit and write on each door with chalk their initials K+M+B (Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar) and the year, e.g.2020. At this point the Christmas Tree is taken down and thrown out. Christmas is over for another year.

This blog is written by Trish with thanks to Kristina and her family for sharing their memories and photos.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Book reviews - celebrating Rotorua's history

This week we review some gems in our collection, which celebrate Rotorua's history and people.

100 years of Rotorua / by Ian Rockel

This book was published in 1979 by then Rotorua Museum director Ian Rockel, ahead of the 1980 Rotorua Centenary.

Rockel divides the book into sections looking at various aspects of Rotorua's history including growth, tourism, industry, forestry, people, construction, transport, government, farming, church, and the district's founding settlers.

The book also features over 150 photographs illustrating the history of Rotorua's first 100 years.


This book can be found on the 1st Floor,
NZ History / Travel and 2nd Floor Rotorua Heritage at 993.423Z ONE

This book review was written by Graeme


The Parish of Rotorua, 1889-1989: 100 years by St Luke's Church, Rotorua

This book was published to celebrate 100 years of St Luke's Anglican Church in Rotorua. The cover shows the original St Luke's (circa. 1905) and the replacement St Luke's which opened in 1975.

Beginning with  a brief history of early missionaries in Rotorua, the book then contains snapshots of events and meeting minutes, celebrating the years. Photographs illustrate throughout.

Features of the "new" church are described, along with a list of the vicars who had served over the 100 years.

The book concludes with a look to the future, and the centennial programme for the for the week long celebrations.

This book can be found on the 2nd Floor, in the Don Stafford Room
 in the Rotorua Heritage Collection at 289.93 PAR


This book review was written by Trish


City of Rotorua Museum and Arts Centre / published by Rotorua City Council c.1969?

This booklet was published to showcase the new museum which opened officially on the 1st November 1969.

Their aims for this museum were ‘to reflect the background and perhaps foretell the future of this vibrant district’

‘It has been established and is supported entirely by the Rotorua City Council in the belief that such an institution is a pre-requisite to the cultural maturity of a growing city’

The booklet shows the grandeur of the Bath House in black & white photographs and describes the very first exhibitions.  At this time the Art Gallery was in a small corner of the museum and was managed by the Rotorua Society of Arts.

Don Stafford, here pictured as curator of the Museum : With thanks to the Daily Post
for this article published in 'Picture Post' July 1969 pg. 15

The Government Gardens / Philip Andrews c2005

This colourful and informative book was written by local historian Mr Phil Andrews. His introduction sets the scene with this description of the land before it became the Government Gardens that we know and love today.  It was described as “dreary, swampy, scrubby place… a howling wilderness”

The Fenton Agreement which was signed in 1880 was debated and negotiated between the Te Komiti Nui o Rotorua (The Great Committee) and Judge Fenton on behalf of the government of the day. 

Phil gives us a readable history of each of the many features and buildings of the gardens and throughout this book there are photographs of what it once was and how it was in c2005 as photographed mostly by John Wheadon. 

The older photographs and postcards were supplied from various sources as noted with each image.  Phil includes aerial photographs which show the location of each historical feature in the gardens and also the wider Sanatorium Reserve Sites.

A number of the features, buildings and memorials have been restored to their original pristine state, with the Bath House still awaiting earthquake strengthening and upgrade of the buildings most historic features. 

Photo by Alison Leigh 2013

These book reviews written by Alison

The Pride of a Century: the Daily Post centennial issue, August 28, 1980

Stories are amazing and can instil in the listener or reader a sense of tradition and history. For this writer, my imagination was stimulated. I was able to see through the lens of story-telling the pride that local people have in their place, their town, their city. The issue is more the development of a township with its history of tourism and unique thermal attractions. The stories reflect a sense of pride in the people and events that shaped this place, Rotorua. Some highlights include a historical timeline spanning 630 years from the discoveries of Ihenga to the amalgamated local government body, The Rotorua District Council. One of my favourites I have to stay are the stories of the development of transport from the horse drawn to horse powered. There was one advertisement that brought back memories of the 80s and the 'big hair' fashion trend. Thank you to the "Hair Shop and Rodneys Hairdressing Salons".

Features of the issue:

  • Thermal nurseries - garden centre
  • Two Miss New Zealand's - Maureen Waaka 1962, Linda Ritchie 1971
  • The creation of the township of Rotorua and local government
  • Memories of how the town has changed through the eyese of local people
  • Notable people in Rotorua's history: Rotohiko Haupapa, Guide Rangi, Roger Dansey
  • Advertisements such as, "Aunt Janet's Prize Baking Flour"
  • The land wars
  • The growth at Ohinemutu
  • Introducing electricity
  • Congratulations from local businesses
  • Te Arawa Maori Trust Board created as a result of the Tamihana Korokai vs The Solicitor General case
  • Sports
  • One of Rotorua's oldest drapery firms, The Gardner Group
  • Tourism - unique thermal attractions i.e. pink & white terraces, thermal pools, geysers
  • Mokoia Island history
  • Whakarewarewa
  • Transport
  • The eruption
  • The world wars
  • Services - police
  • My favourite - The Hair Shop and Rodneys Hairdressing Salons

Advertisement, The Hair Shop and Rodneys

This centennial issue of The Daily Post can be found in
 the Don Stafford Room at 993.423Z PRI OVERSIZE


The book review was written by Ani

Friday, 22 November 2019

The Gardeners Cottage


Known simply as the Gardener’s Cottage, this heritage building is located in one of the most beautiful gardens in New Zealand, the Rotorua Government Gardens. This late Victorian villa was built in 1898 with two bedrooms and a lounge. Today the cottage has three bedrooms.

Front of the cottage 2019
Photograph by Ani Sharland

The cottage was originally intended as the head gardener’s house. However, the cottage has had many residents other than the head gardener. The list includes, employees of the bath house, a head attendant and a masseur, Mr J. Redward. Pat Johnston also lived in the cottage for 16 years and at that time the cottage had three bedrooms. Pat recalls people sitting on the front porch eating lunch, weddings take place in the front garden and watching marathons and the annual Anzac parade. Often gardeners who cared for the gardens dropped in and had a coffee with her.

Side view of the cottage from the carpark 2019
Photograph by Ani Sharland


The gardens of the cottage provided produce for the Te Runanga tea kiosk, the sanatorium and Waimangu House. 

The rear garden 2019
Photograph by Ani Sharland

The front garden was added in 2000 with cobblestone areas, a fountain and paved pathways.

The front garden 2019
Photograph by Ani Sharland

The cottage was the only building in the present Government Garden area until the 1900’s when a later series of developments followed. The cottage is the oldest surviving building in the government gardens. Upgrades over the years have included new interior and exterior paint and fixing the scullery roof.

Architectural feature 2019
Photograph by Ani Sharland

This post was written by Ani Sharland with thanks to Philip Andrews book, "The Government Gardens" and articles from the Daily Post.