Saturday, January 29, 2011

Prudential Photo NZ 1969

Helen Wong was kind to pass on a copy of this photograph of the New Zealand Branch Inaugural meeting with New Zealand MillionairesClub 26 March 1969 for us all to see. The Millionaires Club was for those agents who sold a million dollars worth of insurance.
I'm sure insurance companies have contributed to the economy of New Zealand through their investment in real estate and bonds etc, from the earliest years.
If anyone would like the original photograph which was saved by Helen, let her know.

Seated : J S Pirie, R J Allen, L J Small, J.P, General Manager for Australia and New Zealand: S C Canfield, Life Branch Manager for New Zealand : C C Hough, Chairman: J J Cormick, Agency Manager for New Zealand V R Stace, R G Todd.

2nd Row: G M Campbell Dip I I N Z, D A Singe, E R Coote J P (Retired), A V Davie, R S Parkhill, G C Collins, N D Ingall, D M Harris, Field Unit Manager (Northern Blue): W G Kane Dip I I N Z.

3rd Row: E A R Bishell, F J Domney, R E Morrissey, M H Birch Studio Spencer Digby

Friday, January 28, 2011

Waitangi Day challenge

The Auckland research centre is running a challenge on their facebook discussion page for people to talk about the stories of their New Zealand ancestors in honour of Waitangi Day this year.

Of course, stories abound, they were interesting times and I'm sure they will make great reading. So come on people, put fingers on type and let us know them.

If you are not a facebook user, you can join up easily and if you are like me and need to ask how to post on Auckland research centre's discussion page - here is a diagram! (I asked Seonaid.)

Victoria Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages

I purchased certificates from this organisation recently and due to technical difficulties, I had to contact them. On their site is a facility for doing this by filling in a form but I did not get a reply apart from an email to say that they'd received my form. A month later I then rang them but their call centre was having 'computer difficulties', and they could not help. Finally, I sent a letter snail mail and a week or so later received back an email from one of their officers saying sorry for their inadequate response but offering no explanation.

It's all fixed up now, six weeks after the initial problem. My credit card bill is also paid. All over? - Yes - all over and I hope I never have to buy another certificate from them, it wasn't a straight-forward experience nor an inexpensive one, in fact, its now something to be avoided at all costs. Is there a better way?

The difficulty was the .pdf files they provide as a product. The first few certificates I purchased opened up in Adobe Reader and I saved them via the menu in that program. The last three opened in my browser and I didn't know to right click and save them to my hard disk that way. The difficulty may have been caused by my own computer's preferences changing for some reason or it may be changes they made to their system but I wasn't offered any explanations and in my ignorance I took screen shots instead.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cabbage Tree Ned

Ned Devine, so named for the immense hat he wore, was born in Tasmania about 1833 and at the age of 17, was driving coaches between Ballarat and Geelong. Some of the 'coaches' of those days were more like our buses, carrying up to 70 passengers and a coach-man had to be resourceful and courageous.

When the Otago goldfields opened, Ned arrived and was engaged to drive the Dunedin-Palmerston-Pigroot trail. His reputation may have preceded him because when the Duke of Edinburgh arrived on a royal visit, Ned was chosen to drive him around. Though a coach emblazoned with Royal Arms and tricked out in hammer-cloth and gold wasn't his usual style, apparently Ned looked really fine.

He had absolute command of his horses and there are many tales of his prowess. One story is that a half-crown was placed on the a road in Dunedin and Ned drove his coach over it; pulled up when a rear wheel was on it, turned round without allowing the wheel to leave the surface of it.

Ned returned to Australia when cars and trucks trains looked like too much competition and as late as 1894, he was driving coaches in Western Australia. He died at Ballarat in 1908.

Source: New Zealand Freelance 31st March 1937
Further reading: Paperspast Te Ara

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cabinet Making in New Zealand

In the 1930's, my father-in-law was an apprentice in a cabinet making shop in Ponsonby Auckland. He completed his own personal design for marquetry in the form of a coffee table as part of this appenticeship.

Before then, it seems just about every town in New Zealand had its own cabinet making shop building furniture for local people.

For a long time, the appreciation of their work/art went largely unnoticed as people coveted the English imported antiques. 

But one man's work was always sort after, incredibly unique and very expensive. Anton Seuffert was born in Austria (or Bohemia, now part of the Czech republic), and came to New Zealand in the late 1850's. He was already an expert artiste and after he arrived he made fantastic pieces with a New Zealand theme. It was nothing for one desk to take him a year to complete. These items of furniture are more likely to appreciate in value than gold these days.

Some months back, Brian Peet published a book on this family and their achievements called "The Seufflot Legacy" which is still available for sale (but its only a short run so I'm told, - be in quick). Another 'must have' book on New Zealand furniture makers is Northcote Bade's Colonial Furniture in New Zealand (1971).

Monday, January 24, 2011

You can't believe everything in the newspapers

One of my gggrandfather's, John Draffin, husband of Mary Tait, is still missing, last heard of on the 13th of October 1870 when his under-age daughter married and he gave his consent at Silky Gully, Cresswick, Australia.  Whether he was still actually in the country or not is unknown, he could have given his permission in writing.

In my quest to sort out all the Draffin's in Australia, I came across an entry in the Australian newspapers of a Mr Draffin dying by accident on the Narandera Rd, Wagga Wagga, the 5th of June 1883. I was sure he was mine. This was the only unknown Draffin and mine was missing.

I wrote to the Wagga Wagga District Family History Society Inc., because there was no death certificate available (which didn't surprise me, Draffin being such a difficult spelling for a lot of people, and I thought it would be an indexing error.)  And lo and behold their competent reply assured me that it was actually William John Duffin, husband of Mary Ann McEntyre and the spelling of the name in the newspaper was an error. The coroner of that district didn't always issue a death certificate either, so there wasn't one for Mr Duffin.

So I've put a comment on that page of the newspaper about Mr Duffin in case anyone else thinks to enquire. Now, where did John Draffin get to?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

National Mortgage and Agency Co., of N.Z. Ltd

I've always been intrigued by how a small country like ours, so far from the world's markets and with mainly agricultural assets has progressed so fast. From bush to farms, from bare dirt to cities, from tracks to motorways, all in a short 170 years.

It was the finance which people in Europe were willing to send which has allowed this to happen I think. Plus, the climate permitted un-hindered growth by not giving us set-backs which many other countries have to suffer periodically. Plus the sort of immigrants attracted to stay here and work through the down times. Collectively it was an amazing effort.

The National Mortgage and Agency Co., of N.Z. Ltd is one of those finance agencies which brought money to New Zealand. Begun by a few people, the main person being George Gray Russell, an entrepreneurial type of person who had great faith in the ability of New Zealand to generate a profit. He attracted other like-minded people like John Macfarlane Ritchie whom he employed and Henry Le Cren, a french gentleman and a merchant banker. They in their turn, attracted others.

The foundations of the business were laid in 1866 in Timaru. They expanded into farming, wool, frozen meat, shipping and land.

This book, written by Gordon Parry and published in 1964 is well written and sticks to the subject from the skim-reading I have done of it. If you are interested in the financial side of New Zealand's colonial days, this would have to be on the reading list. I'm going to have to find a long rainy day to really get into it though.

The ship 'Ruahine' 1951

I found this promotional pamphlet in a second-hand or antique shop yesterday. For those who are nosey like me, the images give a good sense of the standard of accommodation offered aboard this New Zealand line ship built in 1951.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Passenger list 'Southern Cross' Sept 1958

Now this was quite a find I thought, will you think that too? For $2, an actual passenger list which the passenger's would receive, what a momento of this round the world voyage. There is only a few doing the round trip though.
The Shaw Savill Line passenger list, S.S. Southern Cross, Captain L. H. Edmeades, is divided into passengers from Capetown, Freemantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington, Fiji, Panama, Curacao, Trinidad and those taking the round voyage.

Do have a look at the images and see if you can spot someone you know.

Friday, January 14, 2011

An amusing story about dipping sheep

This story in full is in the New Zealand Freelance 31st January 1951 and is well worth reading. Entitled; 'Old Sheep are cunning' by "Wanderer". I'm sure some of you can relate to this story.

In England where flocks are small and labour more plentiful, each animal is gently lowered by careful hands, into a sort of bath, and no doubt a score of sheep is a mornings work. In New Zealand, where three or four men are expected to put through a couple of thousand before lunch, methods are rough and ready but we seldom lose a sheep.

When the boss can wait no longer, there is a walloping splash as the first sheep goes into "the drink," and a shudder goes through the thousands further back. That shudder has been known to break a set of rails and a lot of ribs at the same time. In early dawn, sheep always seem to run more freely to their fate, but the fact is that the youngest always goes first. All through the night, cunning five year olds have been working their way to the back of each filled yard, and experienced shepherds know that the easy start is short-lived.

As the Boss stabs with a long "crutch" to get every head submerged at least once, there is always the chance that he may fall in and a man who has to take his chance among a dozen swimming sheep needs to be rugged.

In Hawkes Bay they still talk about the day when a well-known pastoralist fell twice into the Te Aute station dip, and a daughter pushed his head under with a monchalant remark that it would 'freshen up his beard'.

We always maintain that it pays to mix ages when sheep have to be dipped. Young stuff will give the old ones a lead, we argue, and they do - but the old ones don't follow it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Who was New Zealand's oldest citizen?

A candidate would be Mr Henry Burling from Waikanae who died 17th September 1911 aged 110yrs.

Mr Henry Burling, of Waikanae, was 110 years of ago on May 7 (says the New Zealand Times). He was born at Stratford, England in May 1800, and landed in Wellington by the ship London in 1840, arriving 1841, seventy years ago.
He has lived under six Sovereigns; George III., George IV., William IV., Victoria, Edward VII., and George V.

He remembered his grandfather, who was a middle aged man when Clive won the battle of Plassey (1757), consolidating the Indian Empire. His memory of Waterloo is as keen as is the memory many of our era have of the American Civil War.

As a young man in England, before sailing for New Zealand, Mr Burling was a printer of silk and satin, fine pin-point work. When he reached Wellington in 1841, he took up an acre of land at Wadestown, but did not stay there long. He shifted to the Lower Hutt and build whares in various parts of the wilderness northwards. In the early days he carried the mails, mostly government despatches, along the seashore and through the bush. Later, he drew the chain for the road from Wellington to the Wairarapa when Mr Fitzgerald was Government Engineer under Sir George Grey. Mr Burling had received no special training for surveying, but he remarked quaintly that he had learned to see straight in England by being mixed up with machinery. Experts in those days were scarce, and Mr Fitzgerald was glad enough to give the silk-printer employment blazing trails. In after years, Mr Burling was a teamster, with bullocks chiefly to draw wagons

In his lonely pilgrimages with the King's mail through the bush, Mr Burling was often met by Maoris. Even the fierce Rangihaeta, the Golden Bay butcher saw something to like in Mr Burling and the pakeha had once good reason to be thankful for the warrior chief's interest in him. At a time when Rauparaha and Rangihaeta were believed to be conspiring against the peace of Wellington, the authorities here desired to send a dozen armed men with letters to the two chiefs. Mr Burling strongly urged that armed men would go to death. Eventually, after receiving assurance that his wife and children would be maintained if he was slain, he set out alone with the mail and his 'gun', his trusty pipe.
Read the rest of his tale  here.

Mr Burling has brought up a family of thirteen, and his eldest son, a boy over eighty, shares with his father good health and happiness.

Do you know of anyone older at the date of their death?

Funeral remembrance cards

It's fashionable to produce a pamphlet to give to mourners these days which allows them to anticipate the service and have something to take home.  And as we age, these pile up! Hopefully your pile is not too big. I suppose these will be a source of material for future genealogists.

I'm fortunate to have a copy of an older card to show you. This man died 1900 in a cart accident. His parents were Thomas William Hall born 1846 Ireland, and Isabella Rebecca Hansen born 1849 Waitangi. He was married in 1888 in Kawakawa to Lavinia Gear and had three children. A handsome chap I've always thought.

A descendant of William Hall died just recently, he was 93yrs old and a wonderful old man devoted to his family and his service was a real celebration of his life. It was an opportunity to get together with the more distant relations and get to know one whom we hadn't met before. This man had been delving into the family tree so we had a lot to talk about. Don't you think it was very brave of him to attend since he didn't know anyone?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Another source for those passengers we always look for

I came across this tonight. Ozships. In the search for passengers, it turned up two possibilities I hadn't come across before. I hope you are as lucky.

There is a family bible at an uncertain location which has the information on the ship my person came on. People who have seen this bible many years ago gave me a name of a ship, but even on this site, the name doesn't come up. So I'm still looking and hopefully the bible will be located soon.

Don't you think that when family artefacts are talked about, its almost as if they are calling out - hey, I'm over here, come and get me! We haven't given up on this family bible yet.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dargaville Museum

I only had a quick visit to this darling of a museum yesterday. I was expecting something provincial but I was wrong. Set high on a hill over-looking the town, a visitor could miss it unless specifically looking for it. Follow the sign posts.

We were greeted at the desk, $10 to enter and well worth it. The room of exhibits lead one logically on so as not to miss a thing. The gum-diggers are featured, lots of Kauri gum on display, shipping wrecks, town leaders as expected, but, they had a room displaying accordions which I was taken with. It's a settlers museum with only a few Maori artefacts displayed.

If you have people in the area, they have a well designed facility for research, ask at the desk. Their unique resources include databases and photographs.

To write: PO Box 166, Harding Park, Mangawhare, Dargaville. PH 09 4397555 email:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Museum's in hiding

Do you know of any ingenious collections of New Zealand history hiding in the suburbs of New Zealand?

Just lately, I've been reminded by two which I know exist, the collectors are shy or unable to display their collections to the public but never-the-less, their work is of interest to all of us.

Speedway has an enthusiastic following in New Zealand as many of you know. Within my own family, there are those who would never miss a meeting. They can talk about it for hours, their eyes glaze over, largely like my own do when NZ history is mentioned. One of my relatives mentioned the speedway museum, a collection by an enthusiastic member spanning decades. I hope that one day we can all appreciate it, but I'm sure he doesn't expect MOTAT to get it. (I've nothing against MOTAT, but some people have voiced criticism on how its run.)

I advertised some shelving on trademe. One chap turned up to look it over to house his movie camera collection.  What he didn't know about these old movie camera's probably wasn't worth knowing. He had similarly glazed eyes when talking about his subject. But he was too shy to even use the internet to let other's know of his knowledge.

There must be others.

Oamaru in the Freelance 1926

The last but not least in this series of featured towns in issue No. 47, Wednesday 26th of May, is Oamaru.  
A surprising comment by the author about freezing works was included: The North Otago district is fortunate in that it escaped what has proven disastrous to many other districts ; a plethora of freezing works. There is only one killing and freezing works between Timaru and Dunedin, to serve the large district, and much of Central Otago. The works are situated at Pukeuri, about five miles from Oamaru. They are modern in construction, possess up-to-date equipment and are owned by the people of the district, having been acquired from the Canterbury Meat Company about four years ago. I can only surmise that 'disastrous' meant, ponging and polluting?
Included photographs etc.;

  • Mr E. P. Lee, M.P. for Oamaru.
  • Mr and Mrs James McDiarmid, Mayor and Mayoress.
  • Thames St.
  • Severn St Gardens.
  • Charles Begg and Co., piano manufacturers and importers, (article).
  • Radcliffe's furniture, (article).
  • Mr Harold L Familton, wallpaper showroom and art gallery.
  • Kinder's pharmacy.
  • Chrysler House, engineering service and showroom.
  • Mr E. Stewart Mill's jewellers, watchmakers and art pottery.
  • Foster Brother's bakery (article).
  • Messr's J. H. Milligan and Co., mens fashions, (article).
  • Mr. Joe Reid's watches (article).
  • Milligan's Eclipse Flour Co., (article).
  • The Woollen and Worsted Mills.
  • James Craig and Co., Ltd, timber millers.
  • The Polytechnic drapery by R. & C. Brown.

And the following page.

Waimate in the Freelance 1926

Another featured town in issue No. 47, Wednesday 26th of May, is Waimate. The author has described the town and said that Waimate had been introduced to electricity the previous month.
Photographs etc.;
  • The residence of the Mayor, Mr George Dash with portrait insets.
  • Tom Mitchell (article).
  • C. S. Hood, jeweller (article).
  • William E Fail, mens tailoring.
  • Keley's bush.

Ashburton in the Freelance 1926

Amongst the featured towns  in issue No. 47, Wednesday 26th of May, is Ashburton. The author, Nellie M. Scanlan, has a page on 'New Zealand's Golden Harvest', with pictures of the wheat in the fields followed by the following photographs etc.;

  • The sanctuary in the domain.
  • The showroom of Russell and Co. Ltd, plumbers and electrical engineers.
  • Mr J. Donn's wallpaper warehouse.
  • Hefford's big Corner drapery (illustration).
  • Four photographs of the town in general.
  • Barrett's Ltd, specialists in millinery and ladies wear, (article).

Timaru in the Freelance 1926

An article on the 'Granary of New Zealand' issue No. 47, May 26th 1926 features Timaru. Sometimes I've seen requests on newsgroups for photographs of older businesses, the trick is knowing where to look for them. I've no doubt the Freelance has featured other areas.
Ashburton, which is in the same issue, is my next post.

Photographs of ;

  • James Craigie, member of Parliament for Timaru.
  • George J Wallace, mayor of Timaru.
  • Overseas vessels loading the the port.
  • Miss Lillias Thomson as queen of the floral fete.
  • 'The Louvre', ladies fashion shop.
  • 'The People's Drapery house, McGruer, Davies and Co., later Taylor.
  • The Belford Flour Mills, Holdgate manager.
  • Mr William McBride's Jewellery shop.
  • Mr James Craigie's wallpaper and paint shop.
  • A chemist shop first owned by C Eichbaum and later by L.B. James.
  • Caroline Bay.
  • The corner of Stafford St, looking south.
  • Herberts, Ltd., a drapery business.
  • The Vulcan Foundary and Engineering Works.
  • Mr F. M. Shewan's bakery, a photo of one of two of his shops.
  • The Waimataitai Nursery (Mr P.G. Allen).
  • J Radcliffe's furnisher, art dealer and picture framers.
  • C. W. Cameron's menswear.
  • Mr Thomas Thomson's drapery store.
  • The Timaru branch of Amuri Motors Ltd.
  • Priest and Holdgate hardware shop.
  • Charles G. Snow's tailoring and men's outfitter.
  • John J. Jackson's timber mill.
  • Preen's progressive dye and dye cleaning works.
  • Finlayson's Furniture Warehouse.
  • England, McRae Ltd central hardware store.
  • Plus the following illustration of other businesses.

A scanned copy of the business's featured are available from me.