Thursday, 24 December 2015

Of Christmas Past in New Zealand

Book Review : "A New Zealand Christmas: three centuries of Kiwi celebrations from the Alexander Turnbull Library" by Sarah Ell.

Here's a few interesting facts from this beautifully illustrated history of Christmas in Aotearoa :

  • In 1769 artist Sydney Parkinson along with the scientists, officers and seamen of Captain James Cook's Endeavour voyage were the first Europeans to observe and record the flowers of what would become known as New Zealand's Christmas tree, the pohutukawa. 
  • In 1865 Benjamin Leopold Farjeon wrote one of the first novels published in New Zealand "Shadows on the snow: a Christmas story"
  • In the 1880s artist John Philemon Backhouse painted beautiful greeting cards depicting our NZ Manuka in flower.
  • In 1893, women were granted the right to vote in local body and parliamentary elections Political cartoonist, William Blomfield's response was to publish a satirical cartoon of "Some good old Christmas customs reversed by the female franchise"  in the "New Zealand Observer and Free Lance" on 23rd December 1893.
Skipping forward a few years... 

  • In 1913 8 year old Edna Crompton wrote a letter to "Father Christmas" asking for 1. a thumb Bible 2. a dolls head 3. a box of good paints 4. a nice picture book 5. a small dolls house 6. some orange, apples and nuts 7. a box of chocolates 8. a good note book 9. a pretty money box 10. a toy and in closing "Now I must close a loving friend Edna" and one last comment "don't bring German things" 

This book is a most fascinating look at Christmases past in NZ and how world events influenced how we looked at Christmas and the reason for the season.

Available to borrow from the 2nd Floor, NZ History & Travel 993z ELL

Monday, 14 December 2015

Rotorua's Festivals in times gone by

New Year's Eve Parades

This magnificent swan was in the Parade,
Photograph courtesy of Jane Gilbert

Many locals got involved in these annual parades and made them very special and enjoyable events as shown here in the Rotorua Photo News of 1965.

Another popular event on New Years Eve, Rotorua Photo News 1964
The Rotorua Photo News was published from September 1963 to April 1971 and can be seen in the Don Stafford Room,  Heritage Collection on the 2nd Floor.

If anyone would like to send us your memories of these fantastic events please either email the Rotorua District Library or go to Kete Rotorua, register and type your memories straight into our community online archive.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Gardening of Yesteryear

New Zealand Gardens

Important mainly for food, in the early colonisation of New Zealand, as the advertising shows :

Papers Past -- Hot Lakes Chronicle --  5 February 1910
From : Papers Past 

Gardening soon included flowers for the housewife to pretty up the house and enjoy.

Te Puke Times of 1917 & 1918

Rotorua has a strong history of green thumbed residents who showed their prowess at the annual Rotorua Show run by the Rotorua Agricultural and Pastoral Association.  These shows have be held in Rotorua since c1910.

Rotorua's First Ever A & P Show
These and many more articles and advertising can be viewed on Papers Past a free online newspaper archive Papers Past contains more than three million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1948 and includes 120 publications from all regions of New Zealand.