Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bungalows of Devonport

A sampling of bungalows along Church Street, Devonport, Auckland, taken January 2009.

The house above and below are next door to one another, number 32 above and 34 below.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pick Up Sticks... Stick Insects of New Zealand

Stick insect grabs a few rays - or is she just playing dead, Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf, 2009

"Stick insects are a group of plant-feeding insects characterised by a remarkable similarity to their host vegetation. S tick insects feed on vegetation and are usually active after dark. ...When disturbed, stick insects will often fall to the ground and 'play dead' for hours. Another bizarre behaviour is the 'dance', where the stick insect sways back and forwards for hours in a peculiar motion, the function of which is a mystery. Many stick insect species, including some New Zealand species, can reproduce without males, a mode of reproduction known as parthenogenesis."

from Landcare Research's The New Zealand Stick Insect Website. Much more there on New Zealand's stick insects.

A Wikipedia entry on stick insects suggests they may be kept as pets. Might be a bit difficult to take one for a walk - the collar would have to be awfully small, no neck after all. Knew a dog that used to play dead when it had had enough walking, imagine waiting hours for your pet "stickie" to decide it had had enough playing dead or dancing.

Stick with it...

Stick insect in the Amuri district, North Canterbury, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Carlyle on Edward Gibbon Wakefield

Edward Gibbon Wakefield, circa 1850s.

Thomas Carlyle on Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862), best known in New Zealand as a colonial promoter and founder of the New Zealand Company:

"Gibbon Wakefield was there. I had seen Gibbon once before; he is the unlucky Theseus who attempted long since to steal Ariadne Turner, the young Chancery Ward; and, not prospering, had to lie in gaol,—and either rot, or become a political philosopher. He chose the latter; is head of the New Zealand and various other schemes: really a remarkable man.5 Ugly, fat; altogether without eyebrows, and with a pair of small crocodile eyes of sharp blue colour, much overlapped with their fat lids,—the face of him, sitting on its great thick neck, with its dirty snub nose, mouth silent yet half-open, expressive of lazy insolence, lazy violence, coarseness, strength and sensuality, is one of the most unloveable faces! But the man is of polite manners; taciturn-emphatic in speech; a fellow of infinite shift, decision, cunning: a kind of Mirabeau with the animal intellect only. I could heave [sic] learned something from him. But you cannot handle pitch and have your fingers clean! He has great practical sense; yet is of those fools who have said in their heart, There is no God!6 The greatest fools of all."

Thomas Carlyle to John A Carlyle, 1 August 1840 in The Collected Letters, Volume 12 of The Carlyle Letters On-line at Duke University.

That Wakefield aroused powerful emotions in friends & foe alike is not in much doubt. J. E. FitzGerald, a later political opponent in New Zealand, was to say that the only security against Wakefield was to hate him intensely.

One almost feels sorry for Wakefield as the object of such eviscerating dissections. And, then, maybe not.

A biography of Wakefield may be found at that site of great New Zealand public works in the Information Age, The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

In fairness to Wakefield, here are some portraits of Carlyle. Interested readers can write their own descriptions of Carlyle in the comments section to see if they can match his talent for description...

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881).

Devonport, Auckland - Past & Present #1 - Victoria Road

After taking a virtual tumble over the handlebars on the descent during the previous blog post (see previous entry), I'm back. (I really didn't experience any pain & suffering, however virtual; I just got very busy for awhile).

Breaking out of the Mainland - South Island - mindset, it's up to the land of the nastily & unfairly labeled Jaffas (Just Another F...g Aucklander, to the uninitiated), who apparently prefer to be called the Sons & Daughters of Maui: Auckland, with a past & present glimpse of Devonport.

Looking up Victoria Road, Devonport, in the early 1900s. Muir & Moodie.

Looking up Victoria Road, Devonport, in early 2009. Photo: Kuaka.

The Esplanade Hotel, corner of Queens Parade and Victoria Road. Photo: Kuaka, 2009.

Constructed on the site of the former Flagstaff Hotel, the Esplanade Hotel was modeled on the resort hotels of the English seaside resorts and named after the best known hotel in Brighton, England. It opened in 1903 and enjoyed popularity because of its harbour front location, just across the street from the Devonport ferry wharf.

Looking back down Victoria Road to the Esplanade Hotel & waterfront. Photo: Kuaka, 2009.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Christchurch Cycling Craze #17 - Don't Try This At Home!

Cycling Stunt on the Madras Street Overbridge in 1900

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Christchurch Cycling Craze #16 - The Long Arm - or Wheel - of the Law

With all that cycling going on, some of it had to be a threat to law and order, surely? So if you can't beat them...

A police cycle patrol in Christchurch, which was raised to thwart a horse fiend.
From left: Constables J Andrews, D G Sinclair, W Ainsworth, A E Rowell, P Fitzgerald, District Clerk A Stanton, Constables T Barrett, J Hayes, S Flewellen, Cycling Instructor Mr F Painter, Constable D H Hannafin, Sergeant Major W T Mason, Detective R Marsack, Constable J Dougan, Station Cook W Kwoe, Constable W Tonkin, and Detective L D Benjamin. Taken by Frederick Nelson Jones in 1896.
Alexander Turnbull Library

And then there was the small matter of enforcing the emerging rules of the road:

Traffic Officer Herbert MacIntosh prepares to mount his bicycle while his brothers and sisters watch in 1895, a time when motor cycles and cars were yet to become police equipment. Photo: Standish & Preece. Christchurch City Libraries.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Christchurch Cycling Craze #15 - Lancaster Park - Grandfather Was A Bikie

Ten mile championship of New Zealand (Jan. 1896) at Lancaster Park, Christchurch.
1st: C. H. Jones, N.Z.; 2nd: W. L. Kerr, N.S.W.; 3rd: Peterson. Christchurch City Libraries.

Paternal grandfather was a competitive amateur cyclist in the early 1900s during the days of the "cycling craze" in New Zealand. He was a card-carrying member of the Christchurch Cycling Club (est. 1891) in 1901/02 and competed in the New Zealand Wheel Race Meeting at Lancaster Park on 19 December, 1903 - at least that's what the programme states. I've not been able to trace whether he placed or not.

Grandfather's interest in cycling was obviously strong as he worked at Adams Ltd, a cycle sales company, before establishing his own Fern Cycle Works for what was probably a fairly short period before moving into the motor taxi business.

One wonders what Grandfather would think of the abomination that has become AMI stadium. Name aside, the ground has long since lost any suitability for cycling and cricket has been vanquished more recently, the grandstand configuration being useless for any decent spectating of the game. Perhaps though he would find solace in the fact that rugby still thrives.

Though he died just two weeks after I was born - and hence I never got to learn directly from him about his enthusiasm for cycling and his inevitable stories of his experiences, the cycling tradition lives on to the present day among his descendants as yet another example of one of those informal inheritances that often goes by unremarked.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Christchurch Cycling Craze #14 - Mother Was A Biker Chick

My mother attempts to get her turn on a tyre-less tricycle in a Christchurch backyard jungle, circa 1920. Her older brothers teased her relentlessly, but, as it is with brothers, they were her biggest protectors.

Who would have guessed that twenty years later those two older brothers would be in the army with a later departure for the North African campaign in World War Two. Pictured here in November 1940 with their maternal grandmother, a month after entering training camp. Happily, both returned all in one piece at the end of the war.

Although she might not appreciate the label "biker chick", mother could appreciate a bit of humour.

Like most Christchurch residents of that era, Mum was an ardent cyclist - not for the health benefits, but for getting from A to B in a low cost, relatively effortless way. She never did learn to drive a car; that all ended rather unhappily one day with the car on the front lawn inches from the front of the house, not in the driveway.

One of my first memories is of riding home from the doctor's, no doubt after a jab in the arm, in a child seat on the back of Mum's bike. No helmets, of course, but the wind in our hair, the thrill of familiar places passing by at a speed faster than walking, and the whirr of the chain & wheels in motion, just Mum and I.

In loving memory, Mum, 1917-2002, on Mother's Day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Christchurch Cycling Craze #13 - A Taranaki Gate

Although this humorous, though dangerous, tale does not refer to events occurring in Christchurch, its cycle theme and expression of the New Zealand sense of humour is reason enough to squeeze it in under the rubric of the Cycling Craze:

"He was fond of cycling, and was more or less of a scorcher. He revelled in pace-making, and he boasted that no hill was too steep for him to take full tilt. One recent day, however while entering a Taranaki town, he altered his opinion about rushing down hills, for, instead of going round the corner at the bottom of a very steep descent, he went straight on and smashed through the window of a jeweller's shop. In due course he crawled out of the hospital and paid the jeweller a good round sum for damages.

"But, history has a way of repeating itself. It did in this case, anyway, and another cyclist entered the jeweller's shop by the window. Then it became apparent to the shopkeeper that it was time to take action. When a third window had been put in, an amused crowd stood outside and read this notice — "Cyclists are particularly requested to enter this establishment by the door."

New Zealand Free Lance, Volume VII, Issue 360, 25 May 1907, Page 12.

tar·a·na·ki gate [ tàrrə nákee gàyt ] (plural tar·a·na·ki gates):

New Zealand roughly made gate: a serviceable but roughly constructed gate made using battens and wire.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Christchurch Cycling Craze #12 - Scorcher Jones - Lancaster Park circa 1890

"Scorcher Jones" - Clement Goodwin Jones (1875?-1908) being paced by a quad team of cyclists at Lancaster Park, circa 1890. Photo: Standish & Preece. Christchurch City Libraries.

Scorcher Jones was a well-known competitive cyclist in Christchurch and New Zealand in the 1890s and early 1900s. In the above photo he can be seen being assisted by a quad team in a track trial. The quad or tandem teams would pace the trialist, helping to create a draught that allowed the cyclist to ride in the slipstream.

Clement Jones was employed as a manager at the Star Cycle Company on Colombo Street, later moving to Best & Towne, cycle makers and repairers in Manchester Street.

Scorcher graduated to motor cycles in the early twentieth century. Sadly, it was to be an ill-fated transition. While practising for a 5 mile motor cycle race at Lancaster Park in December 1908, the front wheel of Scorcher's machine collapsed, causing him to crash into a picket fence, killing him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Christchurch Cycling Craze #11 - Lancaster Park Wheelmen, December 1887

Fred Wood "professional champion rider of the world" and W Brown, amateur, both of England, at Lancaster Park, 1887. Christchurch City Libraries

To encourage competitive cycling in New Zealand, national associations such as the New Zealand Wheelmen in collaboration with local clubs like the Pioneer Cycling Club sponsored international cyclists to compete in New Zealand.

In late 1887 and early 1888, Englishment Fred Wood and W Brown participated in a series of Champion Test Races around the country.

In Christchurch, the Test races consisted of one, five, and ten mile races with prizes totaling 100 pounds ($18,100 in 2009 prices). With race days on Boxing Day (26 Dec.) and 29 December, 1887, Wood and Brown raced against the competition from around New Zealand.

A crowd of 3,000 saw Wood outperform the competition in the Five and Ten Mile races, resulting in Wood placing first in the Champion Test Races with Wilmot of North Canterbury placing second.

Cycling was not without its dangers. As reported by the Otago Witness of 30 December 1887, in the Five Mile race, Hall of the Pioneer Club held first place some 300 yards from the post but when Wood challenged him for the lead at that stage, Hall missed his pedal causing him to fall from his cycle, dislocating his wrist. In a Half Mile race, Steadman and Bean collided which resulted in both incurring severe cuts about the face.

F Wood comes a cropper at Lancaster Park.
This appears to be a staged crash as the newspaper reports do not mention any crash or injury to Wood, although other riders were injured in the racing. Christchurch City Libraries

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Soaking Up The Rays - Tuatara at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary

Soaking Up The Rays - something every self-respecting, life-loving reptile must do. Tuatara at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellington, NZ, January 2009. copyright Kuaka.

More pics here.