Jump to content

Five successful 2020 nominations added to the New Zealand Memory of the World Register

February 2021

The UNESCO Memory of the World Aotearoa New Zealand Trust recognises five successful 2020 nominations to the New Zealand Memory of the World Register.

Further communications will follow shortly, when the event for the presentation of certificates has been organised. Expressions of Interest for 2021 close on 1 March 2021. The 2021 form is here. Please make any enquiries to enquiries@unescomow.nz.

Jane Wild, Chair
UNESCO Memory of the World Aotearoa New Zealand Trust

Olaf Petersen Collection

Olaf Petersen (1915-1994) is Aotearoa New Zealand’s pre-eminent 20th century nature photographer. Patient and exacting, Petersen said capturing nature was “being in the right place at the right time”. His desire to make pictures began as a young boy on the Swanson farm he grew up on with his Scandinavian émigré parents and five sisters. He photographed the landscape around him for 50 years, from when he got his first camera aged 18 in 1933 until well into the 1980s, in a career as a freelance photographer and camera artist that yielded over 50,000 images. A record of their time, they also evidence the changes that have taken place over the past 70 years and as such are significant historic documentation. The images connect with global concerns around climate change and fragile ecosystems that will register strongly with current and future generations of New Zealanders. The intensity and duration of his photography of Auckland’s west coast beaches and birdlife in particular represents an unprecedented visual record of one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most iconic coastal regions. Petersen dedicated his life to documenting and protecting wilderness areas and his archive demonstrates the vital role that artists can have in bearing witness and supporting the environmental movement. Petersen’s photography also acknowledges the interaction of people and nature – from children among sand dunes to tyre tracks on the beach – and both celebrates and critiques its occupation. From 1956 his involvement with the Auckland University Field Club took him to sites that were chosen because of their distinctive native flora and fauna, in the company of botanists, zoologists, geologists, ecologists, and archaeologists, creating an extraordinary illustrative scientific record. Concurrently he had a career as a photojournalist and commercial photographer and was widely published in magazines and journals including the Weekly News and the New Zealand Herald. He remained in Swanson all his life and gifted his archive to Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira in 1988.

Crown Purchase Deeds

Crown Purchase Deeds document the original alienation of Māori land and customary title by the Crown, which by the mid-1860s included two-thirds of Aotearoa New Zealand and virtually the whole of Te Waipounamu, the South Island. As historians, legal scholars and numerous Māori claimants before the Waitangi Tribunal have shown, the early Deeds were Acts of State and more akin to treaties than simple land purchases. Filled with te reo Māori, maps and traditional sites of significance, and the names and tohu of ancestors that often spilled across pages of parchment, those that signed early Deeds often believed they were forging enduring relationships of mutual benefit with the Crown. When promises were not kept, the Deeds became evidence of Crown breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and a significant source for redress. Tied as they are to the land and the social and environmental change that followed, Crown Purchase Deeds are powerful examples of Māori rangatiratanga and subsequent British settlement. They often represent the beginning of a formal Crown-Māori relationship and are an irreplaceable source for understanding the historical and cultural impact of the Crown on Māori iwi and hapū. As such, Crown Purchase Deeds are of unique and irreplaceable local and national significance.

Colin and Anne McCahon: Papers

Colin and Anne McCahon’s papers document their life and work from 1918 until 1987. The papers, and in particular the letters between friends and family, provide a wonderfully clear picture of their lives, the development of their art and their connections with significant figures in the art world. Colin McCahon is widely recognised as a crucial figure in New Zealand art and art education. Several major exhibitions have been held during 2019 and 2020 to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday. His career benefitted from the active and sustained support of Anne McCahon. Colin McCahon was born in Dunedin in 1919, and Anne Hamblett in Mosgiel in 1915. Anne and Colin both trained as painters in Dunedin and married in 1942. The McCahons were part of a lively southern art scene, in a circle which included Doris Lusk, Toss and Edith Woollaston, Rodney Kennedy, and Rita Angus. Moving to Auckland in 1951, Anne took care of the McCahon children and household, and worked as an illustrator. Colin worked at the Auckland Art Gallery, and continued to paint. In 1964, he became a lecturer at the Elam School of Fine Arts. By this time, Colin’s work was recognised as some of the finest painting yet produced in New Zealand. As well as his painting, Colin designed a number of sets for theatre productions, designed stained glass windows, and produced murals for public buildings. Colin worked until the early 1980s, and died in 1987. Anne continued to produce illustrations, paintings and ceramic work until her death in 1993. Her first solo exhibition was staged posthumously in 2016. These papers are complemented by the archives of other friends, family and colleagues, other collections held at Hocken such as the papers of Charles Brasch, John and Anna Caselberg, Noel Parsloe, papers related to Ralph Hotere, Rodney Kennedy, Patricia France, and James K Baxter, and gallerist Rodney Kirk Smith. Hocken Collections also holds a significant collection of over 200 Colin McCahon art works including master works, sketches, stage designs and book illustrations.

Robin Hyde literary and personal papers

Iris Guiver Wilkinson (1906-1939), better known as Robin Hyde, is widely known in New Zealand as the author of The godwits fly (1938), Passport to Hell (1936), and Nor the years condemn (1938). She was also a poet, journalist, political commentator, war correspondent, editor, mother, feminist and socialist. The Robin Hyde literary and personal papers held by the Alexander Turnbull Library and Special Collections at the University of Auckland illustrate many facets of Hyde’s short but fierce life. The literary manuscripts, notebooks, photo albums, and correspondence held by the two institutions reflect a great mind which was desperately using words in an attempt to process the chaos unfolding around her throughout her own battle with mental illness, the Great Depression and the lead up to World War Two. In her 33 years Hyde lived consciously as “a user of words, a maker of words, and above all, a fighter with words” (Te Ara). This ethos is omnipresent throughout these collections of Hyde’s work, the scope and depth of which is arguably yet to be emulated. Her papers are a rich literary and historical resource for interested academics and students and have been a source of inspiration for contemporary film makers, playwrights and writers.

Suzanne Aubert’s ‘Manuscript of Māori Conversation’

Born in 1835 in France, Suzanne Aubert came to New Zealand as a missionary in 1860, recruited by Auckland Bishop Pompallier. In her long lifetime as Sister/Mother Mary Joseph, she was a scholar, health innovator, social welfare pioneer, tireless champion of vulnerable children, advocate for the poor and sick ‘of all creeds and none’, friend to Māori, and founder of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, a woman of unassailable faith and compassion. Her 1926 funeral was the largest given a woman in New Zealand. She became immersed in the Māori language, culture and customs. Her original mentor was the first Māori religious sister, Peata. In Hawke’s Bay in the 1870s, she deepened her knowledge of te reo and tikanga. Her considerable scholarship is revealed in her 1879 revision of the 1847 Māori Prayer Book, doubling its length; and notably in an impressive surviving manuscript of a projected English–Māori dictionary, with 17,000 English and many well-researched Māori equivalents. Manuscript remnants of a French–Māori phrase book also survive. From 1883, living with Whanganui River communities Ngāti Hau and Ngāti Ruaka, Suzanne Aubert completed an English-Māori phrase book, published in 1885. Written not only for the Sisters of St Joseph based at the mission, it was also destined generally to help Europeans and Māori to learn one another’s language, as her preface made clear. She also acknowledged her awareness of dialectal variation. Unlike previous short, utilitarian phrase books, Suzanne Aubert’s work offers wide-ranging communicative phrases, in addition to a grammar summary, a vocabulary section and a lively dramatised English-Māori adaptation of an excerpt from Sir George Grey’s 1854 work on Māori mythology and traditions.