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“The Time of Natures Trial”- Childbirth in New Zealand

Every day, there are around 168 new babies born in New Zealand. 2020 is the International Year of the Midwife and to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that midwives demonstrate in their work, I thought it would be nice to delve into and share a snippet of the history of midwifery in New Zealand.









Nineteenth Century 
In the nineteenth century, Māori birthing practices differed greatly from those of the newly arriving Europeans. Alison Clarke explores these differences in her book “Born to a Changing World: Childbirth in Nineteenth Century New Zealand”. She writes that many Māori women would give birth outside, with the assistance of another person if it was her first child, but often alone if it was not her first birth. If the woman was from a chiefly family, her labour and birth would take place in a whare kōhanga, or nest house, which was a specifically built, temporary shelter. Births took place outdoors and away from the kāinga because the process of childbirth was a highly tap…

The Tantalizing Language of the Arts

Arts journals have been published in Aotearoa since 1928 - two began as humble newsletters that have grown into mainstays of today’s arts world (Art News New Zealand and Art New Zealand), but most lasted for just a few issues. A selection of these journals, drawn from the Angela Morton Room’s rich archival material, will be on display in Te Pātaka Toi | Art Library, Level 1, Takapuna Library, until 1 May.



Whilst artists are central in the arts community, these journals form an important part of the network that nurtures and celebrates them. The editors of our first arts journal, Art in New Zealand, aimed “to set new standards and spur practitioners to sturdier effort to attain those standards” (Vol. 1 No. 1, 1928). “In this country, newspaper art notices are… more kindly than constructively critical. They spread praise lavishly, and dispraise is a rarety… such notices impart no stimulus to an art that needs stimulating…. They may merely narcoticise the artist into the belief that he ha…

An archival celebration for Auckland Pride 2020

To celebrate Auckland Pride 2020 (1–16 February) and support the library’s events for this festival, I have selected three Archives & Manuscripts collections from Auckland Libraries’ Heritage Collections to highlight. This includes the archival records of gay groups, as well as those with components that touch on matters relevant to rainbow communities.



The first of these three collections is the Auckland Lesbian Archives (NZMS 1184). It comprises individual collections of lesbian archives, papers relating to the formation of the Lesbe-Friends of the Archives Trust, publications and posters, and spans the period from 1985-1995. If you are interested in finding out more, this archive has an inventory or listing you can browse online.



In order to give a bit of a background to this collection, we need to go back to the 1990s. In 1992-1993, a collective was formed from various women’s groups, including Lesbian Support Groups. These groups had been operating from the Auckland Women's…

There is no standing still: The Auckland City Corporation’s 'Municipal Record'

In 1924, Auckland City Council began publishing the Municipal Record, to promote the progress of the “Queen City.” Inspired by publications abroad, and encouraged by central government to publish details of civic work, the magazine was launched. There were plans to publish quarterly, and it was distributed free of charge, with the hope that Aucklanders would take more of an interest in civic matters, and accord “a fuller measure of sympathy and understanding” to Council staff.






















The Record promoted Auckland as a pioneer town growing into a modern city. Editor Robert Hill wrote that people new to Auckland, whether from New Zealand or abroad, should make an effort to learn about their new city. “These people know little or nothing of the city and until they do, they cannot become imbued with that intense civic enthusiasm that is a characteristic of so many older residents of Auckland.” Hill also hoped to promote Auckland to readers internationally “who have in all probability never heard …

Kai Tiaki: Nursing in New Zealand

Nursing has a long and varied history around the world. Nurses offer essential skills and experience that help to supplement the work of doctors and physicians when it comes to the care for the sick or injured. The profession that we recognise today is not the way it has always been - there have been great changes in the practices, qualifications and expectations associated with nursing. As healthcare in general improved in the 19th and 20th centuries, the demands on nurses grew. This blog post will explore some of the changes in nursing throughout these time periods and will include early forms of nursing, state-registered nurses, the impact of WWI and WWII. Using images from the Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, we can get a sense of the expectations these nurses had to live up to, where they worked and even what they wore.



In mid-19th century New Zealand, the sick or injured were nursed by family members or members of their community. There was no formal training available, o…

Learning through organised play in Auckland

Fun & Games is a free exhibition of games, books, photographs, archives and more drawn from Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections around the region. It opened on 11 December 2019 and runs to 1 March 2020 at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library.



The exhibition features several items showing young children playing at Auckland kindergartens. Kindergartens were started in 1837 by German educationalist Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852). Since their establishment in Aotearoa New Zealand during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they have become a central part of daily life for many families and important cornerstones of the communities they serve. As well as a commitment to free play in Aotearoa, kindergartens and other types of childcare services for pre-school children reflect a tradition of organised play. By the 1920s for example, the Auckland Star noted that organised play took place daily at kindergartens in Myers Park and Victoria Park. Action songs and storie…