Wednesday, September 8, 2010

After Shock Jolts Frayed Nerves of Cantabrians

A 5.1 magnitude aftershock jolted the already frayed nerves of Cantabrians on Wednesday. Reported as a sharp, vertical-movement quake it did some more damage to already unstable structures and infrastructure systems. The closure of the CBD has been extended, but water and power seem to be back to regular levels for all but a small number of residents. The "boil" order for water has been removed.

On a personal note, am pleased to report an aged aunt has relented and agreed to move elsewhere to be with family after it was found further mortar had dislodged from a precarious chimney following numerous after shocks.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cold Harsh Reality of Day 3 - Christchurch Earthquake

Multiplied up a thousand times plus a few more, the reports from the extended family of the damage done to property & more importantly people's nerves by the quake detail how the Christchurch quake is impacting a city & Canterbury. One family's house flooded by a rising Avon River & quake damage, an aged aunt's home threatened by an unstable chimney that threatens to come crashing down into the kitchen, another's home with cracked foundations and so the list goes on.

Curiously, I find myself relaying messages from one branch of the family to another across the city plain at 8,500 miles distance...

To a city now changed:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills.
What spires, what hills are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

   - A E Housman, A Shropshire Lad

And a few much more uplifting lines from Coldplay's Don't Panic:

All in all that I know
There's nothin' here to run from
'Cos yeah, everybody here has
Got somebody to lean on

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Diversion Anyone?

And if you are sorely in need of diversion from worrying about loved ones, the damage to a beloved city, or how to put body and soul back together, then take a break, find a working tv and watch today's Australia v Springboks test. There's nothing at stake for Kiwis, watch it even if you can't stand rugby, because, well, it's just an exciting game of soaring success, reversal, digging yourself out of a hole, and playing down to the wire. For 80 minutes you'll at least be diverted, distracted, and maybe even enthused.

We now return to normal transmission - test pattern to be imagined  about here. (You have to be reasonably old to know what a test pattern was).

p.s. I've been scared to ask anyone, because it would seem crass, but what the heck, it's me after all, does anyone know if Lancaster Park, er AMI stadium held up ok? It should given all the new construction!

Quake Damage to Christchurch Heritage Buildings

Sandy in comments under the New Brighton post below gives us this link to preliminary assessments of the earthquake's damage to heritage buildings. Like her I'm saddened by the damage to some of the structures and the reversal of a lot of hard work by many people over the years to preserve these artifacts.

I'm particularly disheartened for the folks working on restoring the Time Ball Station in Lyttelton. They had made great strides in restoration and strengthening and were according to the article close to completing the work. I've had the opportunity to admire their work firsthand on a couple of occasions in recent years on what must be a tough project given the Time Ball station's location and architecture.

If living in New Zealand has taught me anything, however reluctantly I've wanted to learn it over the years, is the power of natural forces to make a mockery of our puny human attempts to create permanence and reshape the physical landscape. Whether standing in the front yard of the Time Ball Station surveying the harbour from mouth to its "foot" (far end from entrance) or poring over aerial photos or various types of maps of Banks Peninsula, I've found myself taking the long, long view: the human presence and our follies are but a blink in deep time. We get to pass this way fleetingly as those before us have and those to come will. But we all in common share in our own times that physical environment.

For all that, I hope what can be saved is saved to hold back the law of entropy at least for one more blink.

Severe Weather Next Test for Christchurch?

Severe nor'westerly gales in the next few days followed by a southerly cold front with rain (the usual climatic mood change in Chch) may be the next test for Christchurch's residents.

The Met Service and emergency services think that the nor'westers may loosen masonry and topple unstable buildings that haven't been made safe by demolition. And, with many damaged buildings exposed to the elements, any rain brought by the southwesterly will likely just compound matters.

Plenty of aftershocks apparently, but not the one big one of a 6 or so that often hits in the first 48 hours after the major one. Seismologists think the big one may acutally have been three quakes close together, but I'm sure most Chch residents regards that as all academic right now.

Power must be on in enough places around Chch for me to be getting direct & indirect reports from family & friends that they are safe & well, most have suffered only minor damage to property but folks like Sandy's parents & neighbours in comments to a previous post below obviously have been hit hard.

"Our man in Burwood" - my big brother - reports a lot of liquefaction of the soil, a phenomenon produced by the quake, has caused a lot of subsidence in east Christchurch of the type Sandy reports in her comment. In addition to buildings being damaged, ruptured water pipes and sewers are the result.

Some on other sites are commenting that they thought the Big One would be in Wellington, not Christchurch. Wellington will have its Big One again - it had huge ones in the 19th Century, the Wairarapa quake being the worst. But no one should have been under any illusion Chch couldn't have one. The effects would simply be different because the city is essentially a drained swamp and Plains are alluvial flood plains. Growing up in Chch, we were always drilled on earthquake preparations & cover and left under no mis-impression it could help in good old Chch.

ANYWHERE in New Zealand is fair game (poor choice of term, perhaps) for earthquakes being on the Pacific Ring of Fire - that's quakes, volcanic activity, and tsunami. Did I miss anything out?

That said, I think if I was to go through a big quake I'd prefer to take my chances in Chch over Wellington, having lived in both cities. Wellington sits on top of several major faults, including the Main Divide fault that bi-sects New Zealand north to south. Dealing with recovery and clean-up on hillsides would likely be more difficult as well compared to the flats of Chch.

Moreover, access into & out of Wellington is limited to a few choke points that if blocked would hamper the ability to evacuate or get assistance into the city. The airport itself sits on reclaimed land uplifted by the Wairarapa quake in the 19th century. Years ago I read that the then Ministry of Works parked a bulldozer at the top of the Ngauranga gorge each night, ready to start work on clearing a passage in the event the gorge highway is blocked by rock slides caused by a quake. That's provided the driver could get there and her 'dozer hadn't been lost down the hillside...

But as my late mother, a proud life-long Christchurch resident, would say "don't borrow trouble". Then she'd put a kettle on for a cup of tea for the "poor beggars" who were "worse off than me" and then go grab her broom, mop, and bucket so she could pitch in. For all that, I'm glad Mum didn't go through it. All the best to those who have & now must clean up the mess.

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Brighton - Road Fissures from Earthquake

The earthquake generated a major fissure - crevasse - just before the road crosses the South Brighton bridge. Looks for pictures online - apparently there is a swarm of rubberneckers taking photos, jumping into the fissure etc. They better hope another quake doesn't close the thing up on them...

Non-emergency services at area hospitals have been suspended to release staff for emergency work. Go to 24 hour or after hours surgeries for non-emergencies.

Latrine basics - line a bucket with a bin liner, lots of antiseptic afterwards. Pass the roll...

Quake has now been revised down to a 7.1.

State of Emergency Declared In Chirstchurch

A state of emergency has been declared in Christchurch, according to Mayor Bob Parker. This provides the city the power to close areas or buildings off for public safety reasons.

Harewood airport is still closed but may be re-opened within a few hours to allow further personnel, supplies & equipment to be brought in. Water may need to be brought in by tankers. Armed forces are mobilizing resources.

After shocks may dislodge loose masonry created by the major shock. A lot of debris on streets etc.

Mayor Parker says reports are that the museum, Arts Centre (old university campus) and Christ College buildings - all heritage or historic sites - have only minor damage, thanks perhaps to the major strengthening of those structures to bring them up to code.

Parker says this is NOT a flattened city but one with some significant damage to older buildings.

After shocks continue.

Central Business District in Christchurch Closed

The centre of Christchurch bounded by the four one-way streets - Barbadoes, St Asaph, Kilmore and Montreal has been closed off - to keep rubberneckers, the occasional looter and others out. You are free to leave, of course - with a quick hurry along by the boys and girls in blue. Some arrests have been made.

A boil water advisory has been issued. Start digging a latrine in the back garden...

Historic Empire Hotel in Lyttelton is about to collapse.

No trains are running in the South Island today while Kiwi Rail checks all tracks & bridges.

Good news - the Radio New Zealand Sound Archive appears intact, according to one of the staff. Historians will be pleased. Not so good for some of the heritage buildings and a lot of shaken up people who will take some time to get back to normal.

Major Earthquake in Christchurch

Major 7.4 earthquake hits Christchurch, my home town! Most of my family lives there, but I haven't for a long time. Last back there in June - and not even a hint of a shaker ;)

Earthquake struck at 4:35 am Saturday, epicenter was some 30 km west of Christchurch and was shallow just 10 km down. Not on the major Alpine fault, but a minor one that seismologists didn't expect to cause much trouble. But large, shallow quakes can be damaging, apparently.

Radio New Zealand is providing very good coverage. Apparently couple of major injuries, no deaths. A lot of close escapes from falling chimneys collapsing into bedrooms.

Significant damage in centre of city. Water, power, and sewage out in many parts of city. Most damage to older brick buildings. thank goodness for tight building codes. The port of Lyttelton has suffered some significant damage. A few bridges are unstable or otherwise damaged. Suburbs of New Brighton and Brooklands may be evacuated because of flooding and sewage problems.

Power company is saying an initial assessment suggests the power can be restored to about 90% of the city by nightfall today. The central business district will take longer as they need to isolate individual damaged buildings from the system first. It sounds like the water supply & sewage system will be out for longer.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All Blacks Win Tri Nations, Aussies Hang Their Politicians Out to Dry

Weekend round-up

New Zealand's All Blacks won a thrilling cliff hanger of a rugby test in South Africa to take the Tri-Nations crown for 2010, adding it to the Bledisloe Cup won a fortnight ago against the Wallabies.

Meantime, over the ditch in Australia, voters hung their politicians of all persuasions out to dry. Nice one, Aussies! 

All in a weekend's work, as they say.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marine Biodiversity of Aotearoa New Zealand

Cold Water Coral By-Catch from Bottom Trawling off New Zealand

The Census of Marine Life's results on Marine Biodiversity in New Zealand are published in the Public Library of Science's One Journal of 2 August 2010 here.

The Census recorded some 17,135 living species within New Zealand's 200 nautical-mile boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ. This diversity includes 4,315 known undescribed species in scientific collections. Total marine diversity in the EEZ is expected to equal that in the ERMS or European Register of Marine Species region despite  the European region being 5.5 times larger than New Zealand's EEZ, indicating New Zealand's marine diversity is much greater than that in the European region.

The threats to New Zealand's marine biodiversity are several, including fishing, mining, chemical pollution, coastal nutrient and sediment input, habitat loss, aquaculture, invasive species, harmful algal blooms, and climate change.

 Protected areas within New Zealand's EEZ

"Currently, there are more than 30 marine protected areas established in New Zealand waters. All are “no take” areas, administered by the Department of Conservation....They range in size from about 250 ha (within a harbor) to 745,000 ha (7,450 km2) (at the Kermadec Islands). Collectively, they protect 7.6% of New Zealand's territorial sea; however, 99% of this area is in two marine reserves around isolated offshore island groups (Auckland and Kermadec), and the sum of the areas of the remaining reserves in the mainland territorial sea is less than the area of the smallest terrestrial national park. Of New Zealand's total marine environment (EEZ), just 0.3% is protected in marine reserves. Currently the highest level of protection outside the territorial sea is through fisheries closures of trawling on 19 seamounts, initiated in 2001. Additionally, in 2007, the New Zealand government established 17 Benthic Protection Areas in deep water; these protect about 30% of the seabed in the EEZ from deep-sea bottom trawling and dredging activity. There are three marine parks, each having different regulations and generally affording a lower level of protection than marine reserves proper, for example, mainly protecting reef fish."

Much clearly remains to be done to manage the marine environment in a sustainable manner.

For our Australian friends and readers of this blog, you will find a similar Marine Biodiversity of Australia article compiled as part of the Census of Marine Life here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Census of Marine Life

Orange roughy, at risk in New Zealand waters

Over the past ten years, more than 2,700 scientists from 82 nations involving 538 field expeditions backed by US$650 million of funding have been conducting a census of global marine life. Now the results are becoming available in final form.

In October the Census of Marine Life will publish more detailed, final results but advance estimates have recently become available. The research has so far counted over 230,000 individual species.

The Guardian Weekly sums up the Census results nicely (full article here):  

"The results show that around a fifth of the world's marine species are crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters, krill and barnacles. Add in molluscs (squid and octopus) and fish (including sharks) and that accounts for up to half of the number of species in the world's seas. The charismatic species often used in conservation campaigning – whales, sea lions, turtles and sea birds – account for less than 2% of the species in the world's oceans. 

The surveys have also highlighted major areas of concern for conservationists. "In every region, they've got the same story of a major collapse of what were usually very abundant fish stocks or crabs or crustaceans that are now only 5-10% of what they used to be," said Mark Costello of the Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland in New Zealand. "These are largely due to over-harvesting and poor management of those fisheries. That's probably the biggest and most consistent threat to marine biodiversity around the world."

The main threats to date include overfishing, degraded habitats, pollution and the arrival of invasive species. But more problems are around the corner: rising water temperatures and acidification thanks to climate change and the growth in areas of the ocean that are low in oxygen and, therefore, unable to support life."

The Guardian UK also has some very useful graphics providing more detailed information on various ecosystems and regions of the world here and a brief item on just how the census takers count marine species and how they estimate species yet to be discovered here.

 The advance results of the Census were published in the 2 August issue of the Public Library of Sciences ONE Journal available here.

Both New Zealand and Australia have huge marine resources surrounding their coastlines and have equally huge tasks ahead of them in managing those resources in more sustainable ways. Better management requires better knowledge and the Census of Marine Life is an important improvement in that knowledge base.

 Hoki, at risk in New Zealand waters

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Full Steam Ahead - The NZR Gang At Oamaru circa 1905

Q Class locomotive and Railway Station employees, Oamaru, circa 1905, Real phhoto postcard

A Q Class locomotive of New Zealand Railways at Oamaru, South Island  circa 1905. RPPC was sent as a Christmas greeting to family members from the gang at the Oamaru station. Sender remarks that the loco's lamp is one of the latest electric lamps from a workshop in Chicago.

Many decades later I rode the freight trains at Oamaru with my uncle who was a guard (conductor - yeah, I know no passengers so no tickets to punch; a guard "guarded" the train, not for "security" but "(rail)road" safety). By those times, diesels had taken over. Good times - toasting sandwiches on the pot belly stove in the guard's van. In the steam era, got to ride up front in the cab, shoveling some coal, blowing the whistle, hand on the throttle or whatever they call it, head out the window, cinders in the eye...

Sadly, kids can't do that anymore thanks to occupational safety and health. Go play a video game, kid. Wouldn't trade those memories for anything (sniff). God bless you Uncle Norman, up there in the big roundhouse in the sky.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack - For Now...

Maori haka, circa 1910, real photo postcard

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack, for now. And the tangata whenua are up in arms about it. In fact, they are thrilled to bits. 

But as manuhiri I'll have to watch my tikanga Maori otherwise it's a slap backside the head with a tewhatewha or double barrels of buckshot in the kumu

Wait a moment, this spectrum is not subject to a Treaty claim - and I'm tangata whenua on this blog.  Welcome again, anyway.

Been listless over the hot & humid northern summer. Let's see if I can get back to blogging more dependably.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

500th Post on this Blog

Just as I was about to write this post, I noticed that this is the 500th post on the New Zealand Journal Blog and next week sees the second anniversary of the blog. I'm not sure I ever thought I would reach 5 or 50 posts let alone 500 but it is without a doubt the longest running "diary" I've ever kept. Though it may not constitute a personal diary in the normal sense, it has become a diary of thoughts of sorts on New Zealand matters.

In the opening post on this blog of 4th of July, 2008, the blog's purpose was stated as "anything and everything about New Zealand", allowing me the greatest scope to explore and ruminate upon (like a Taranaki dairy cow) anything I wished to related to the country and its people.

The blog's handful of readers will have observed over the ensuing months that the focus has shifted to a more historical bent, rooted in social history.

The original intent had been to provide a source for this blogger's American university students who could find short entries on various events and topics on New Zealand. As their attention has waxed and waned through two field tours of New Zealand and a couple of on-campus courses, I've tended to explore issues of more personal and professional interest to me.

In that bog known as the blogosphere, I've never expected much of an audience nor sought it but a very modest interest appears to have been generated by simply being "out there" in the middle of the bog.

Based on visit information, it seems some of the more frequently read entries have included the series on the history of the cycling craze in Christchurch in the early 1900s, the North Island Main Trunk Railway Line, Nurse Maude, bank deposit insurance (presumably because of all that "hot money" circulating in global markets looking for a safe haven), Ready Money Robinson and the Cheviot Estate, and more recently, the school dental nurse programme.

Like many bloggers, my interest ebbs and flows when it comes to posting to the blog and other matters press their claim on one's time ahead of blogging,

This past month of June has been a particular dry spell for posting here. An unexpected trip to New Zealand at short notice took priority (expats & sharp-witted folks will read the code here), but the good news is that it also gave me the opportunity as a collateral benefit of the trip to gather new material that allows me to complete some small projects that will show up as new posts in the future.

To those of you who have found something of passing interest here, to those who have left comments or sent emails letting me know of your own interests or offering additional information or thoughts, I offer my thanks.

On to post number 501.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Continuance or Prohibition? 1920s New Zealand Campaign Poster

Circa 1920 New Zealand Continuance poster

And boy did it fail in the United States...  and they did vote for continuance in New Zealand - although there were still some dry licensing districts for years afterwards.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back Them Up - The Hudson & U-570 - World War II Propaganda Poster

Back Them Up! National Savings Bond Poster, World War II

The war had to be financed by all means possible so in addition to taxation and war loans from allies, the public was exhorted to scrape together a few coppers, silver coins would be nicer, and support the war effort through national savings bonds. Such thrift had the additional benefit of suppressing consumption at home. Besides, with war time shortages and priority given to war industries, who could find anything to buy with their weekly pay packet, anyway?

A little research reveals that the Lockheed Hudson of 269 Squadron British Coastal Command pictured in the poster captured the German U 570 U-boat submarine on 27 August, 1941. The crew of the Hudson spotted a U-boat on the surface off Iceland, dropping 4 depth charges on it as it attempted to dive, damaging it so that it re-surfaced. After a good raking with machine gun fire, the U-boat captain surrendered. Next day the crew were removed and the vessel boarded to recover whatever documents that could be useful to the war effort and to attempt to save the submarine for further examination. The U-570 was subsequently towed into harbour in Iceland then taken to the UK after repairs. It yielded a wealth of invaluable technical information to the Allies on the operation of U-boats.

U-570 had a very short wartime service, commissioned in May or June 1941 it was effectively decommissioned by the late August attack. Allied investigators concluded the submarine actually could have evaded its circling British captors overnight by submerging and sailing away but a panicked and inexperienced crew, already troubled by severe sea sickness, lacked the knowledge and capability to do so. The U-570 crew earned the dubious distinction of being the only U-boat crew to surrender in World War II..

A wealth of information - photos, plans, and reports on the U-570 capture and examination of its design and operation can be found at U-boat Archive.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Speed Up Production! - WW II War Propaganda Poster

World War II Propaganda Poster - Speed Up Production, artist Marcus King

The effort on the home front to keep the troops supplied on the various battlefronts was essential so a little motivation by poster was the order of the day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don't Talk - New Zealand World War II Propaganda Poster

Don't Talk - New Zealand World War II Propaganda Poster
Today - in a world of constant babble with people incessantly texting, tweeting, phoning, and emailing - it's hard to imagine just what the wartime experience of self- and imposed censorship would be like."Loose lips, sinks ships" as they said. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

No Matter Where You Hang Out - New Zealand War Propaganda Poster

World War II New Zealand War Propaganda poster.

One of my personal favourites in war propaganda posters. Take a tinkle on Hitler, Mum's the word!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Prize Seats for World Cup Rugby in New Zealand?

Play the Game, NZ Department of Health Poster, circa 1940s -50s.

Gone are the days you could watch a game this way. With the cake tin style space ships that serve as stadia (stadiums) today you'd be hard pushed to find a paling fence to look over or peek through a knot hole. 

And "play the game, any game"... today might be an invitation to become a full time couch potato playing video games. Time for a new slogan.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Blue Smoke - Pixie Williams - First NZ Pop Song?

Blue Smoke, the first pop song said to be recorded in New Zealand, circa World War II, by Pixie Williams. Written by Ruru Karitana in 1940. A comment on the You Tube page by a person claiming to be Ms Williams as her Nana states that the singer is still with us as Ms Pixie Costello.

Not sure about the video feed but it appears to have been produced to lend nostalgic images of the 1940s to accompany the musical composition.

A new version of Blue Smoke has reportedly been produced recently.

The composer  Karitiana gave the origins of the song as follows: "We were on the troopship Aquitania in 1940 off the coast of Africa when a friend drew my attention to some passing smoke. He put the song in my lap," said Karatiana. 

Sing along, here are the lyrics:

Blue smoke goes drifting by into the deep blue sky
And when I think of home I sadly sigh
Oh I can see you there with loving tears in your eyes
As we fondly said our last goodbyes.
And as I sailed away with a longing to stay
I promised I'd be true and to love only you

Blue smoke goes drifting by into the deep blue sky
My memories of home will never die.

BRIDGE, spoken
Smoke drifts above me - Whispering I miss you
Taking my thoughts back to you - Across the sea
I know that when - I sail home again
I'll find you waiting for me.

VERSE 2. Women
Auahi rere nei ki rö te rangi nui
Me öku mahara tae atu aue
He nui rä te aroha me te roimata ...
... "E wehe nei, e wehe nei ra koe."
E haere rä ahau me te aroha nui
Möhou, e tama e, te aroha nei

Auahi rere nei ki rö te rangi nui
E kore au e wareware e.
E kore au e wareware e. 

Smoke drifts away high into the sky
and the memories come flooding back. "Aue!!"
Those overwhelming feelings, and the tears
" ... You are going, you are going ...
I travel with you on the wings of my love
Oh Tama, my love is all for you."

Smoke drifts away high into the sky.
I will never forget you.
I will never never forget you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Toothbrush Drill - Maori Dental Care - circa 1940s

 Children participating in Toothbrush Drill, Te Kaha Maori School, Opotiki, circa 1944. Photo: Pascoe

The school that brushes its teeth together, reduces cavities together... Toothbrush drill seems to have been a device for promoting better dental care amongst school children in the 1940s.

Getting the equipment ready for the Toothbrush drill at Te Kaha Maori School, Opotiki, circa 1944. Photo: Pascoe

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Maori Dental Health Poster #2 - New Zealand Department of Health - circa 1950s

Maori Dental Hygiene poster, NZ Department of Health, circa 1950s

Okay, everyone, circular motions, front and back, and all the way to the baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack....

Spit & rinse, carry on.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Maori Dental Health Poster - New Zealand Department of Health - circa 1950s

Dental Care Poster, NZ Department of Health, circa 1950s

Health care posters pitched to the Maori community in the 1950s to promote good dental hygiene. Not such a good idea though to share your food with a horse, you don't know what kind of microbial life may be in the horse's mouth... and it might just decided to lean over a bit further and sample a toe! Oh, just realized that would be a case of foot in mouth disease - someone better call Biosecurity and a podiatrist.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Man Who Made It Possible - Colonel Thomas Anderson Hunter, Founder of the School Dental Service

Lieutenant Colonel (later Sir) Thomas Anderson Hunter, Head of the New Zealand Dental Corps, 17 January1918. 
Photo: Sttanley Polkinghorne Andrew.

Thomas Anderson Hunter devoted a lifetime to the progressive improvement of dentistry in New Zealand, participating in the movement to improve the training & practice of dentists by establishing the first dental school and university degree in dentistry in Dunedin. By World War I, Hunter was well-established in Dunedin's elite as well as the dental profession having served as president of the New Zealand Dental Association. 

The military call-up graphically brought to public attention the poor physical health of New Zealand's youth, at least the males of military age. Dental health was no exception. Fully 60 percent of recruits had to receive dental repairs. Hunter proposed a civilian corps be established to provide dental care at cost to military personnel. This work proved so effective that the New Zealand Dental Corps was established in November 1915 with Hunter at its head with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, promoted later to Colonel. Though largely serving in New Zealand, in 1916 Hunter traveled to the United Kingdom to supervise the establishment of dental units for New Zealand soldiers on the Western Front.

At the conclusion of the war, Hunter was appointed head of the Dental Hygiene at the Department of Health and it was in this new position that he sought to deal with the broader problem of poor dental health military service had highlighted. The result was the establishment of the school dental service staffed by dental nurses.

Hunter was a man of his times in which gender roles were firmly drawn. In presenting his proposal he argued women were better suited to working with children and they would be less expensive to train and employ. Dental nursing would provide short term employment between young women leaving school and getting married and starting families. Thus, later critics have charged this entrenched gender barriers and limited the opportunities of women to enter the private dentistry sector as fully-credentialed dentists. 

The creation of a school dental service staffed by women appealed to politicians as a cheap way to keep spending down in a period when government resources were stretched. Given the appalling loss of young men in the carnage of World War I, the resulting labour shortage meant that dealing with the dental care crisis would very likely have required increased training and employment of women in dentistry. Such employment also provided a better means of earning income for those who would marry late or never marry because of the lack of sufficient males surviving in their generation. Moreover, the chronic state of dental decay in the early 1900s clearly indicated that limited income prevented the general population from effectively purchasing private dental care. If dental care of children were to remain a private expense, they would have simply gone without. 

A biography of Sir Thomas Anderson Hunter may be found at The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This Kid Got the Laughing Gas - New Zealand School Dental Service, 1940s - 50s

The Wellington Dental School Clinic, Willis Street, circa 1940s or 1950s.

The only reason this young lad could be smiling is the nurse just gave him a blast of the old laughing gas or she just gave him a clean bill of health.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Hope You Have A Good Time At The Murder House" - Short Film (1998)

Now that the weekend is upon us, time for a little relaxation. How about a movie?

Why not hop up into the chair, lie back, rest your head on the soft headrest.... rinse and spit, and visit The Murder House (a.k.a the school dental clinic):

A short film directed by Warrick 'Waka' Attewell, written by Ken Hammon, starring the diabolical Tina Cleary. Made available by NZ On Screen.

This blogger remembers each and every instrument that appears in the dental clinic in this film, and he can hear the sounds and smell the smells of the Murder House as if it were, well, (a scary) yesterday,  in an age without novacaine. The horror, the horror...

Film trivia: the car that enters the driveway in the opening moments is the same make & model as kuaka's first car, a Fraud Anglican as we used to call it, better known as a Ford Anglia.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The School Dental Nurse Program in New Zealand

School dental nurse and patient at Waipu school. Photo: John Pascoe, circa 1942. 

If you didn't drink your daily school milk, eat an apple, and regularly brush your teeth, a trip to the school dental clinic could mean some serious repair work. 

The New Zealand school dental service was a world-first, providing preventive dental care to primary school children from clinics located on school grounds. Rather than take the children to the dentist, the dentist was brought to the children. Considered impracticable by many, the service was largely ignored internationally until it began to receive some international interest for many decades until the 1960s and 1970s. Such is the price of succeeding by swimming against the stream and getting spectacular results.

Colonel (Sir) Thomas A. Hunter, Director of the New Zealand Army Dental Service in the 1914–18 War proposed the idea of a dental school program staffed by young women trained in preventive dentistry in 1921. In the same year, a dental school to train these dental nurses opened in Wellington.

With the election of the First Labour Government in 1935, the program was rapidly expanded with new facilities in Wellington and additional schools being opened in Auckland and Wellington in the 1950s. In the post-war baby boom new dental nurses could not be trained fast enough to tend to the growing student population until new hiring and the new schools were built.

The school dental nurse in her "whites" and red cardigan (at least that's how I remember them) and her clinic (a.k.a. "the murder clinic" to generations of kids) quickly became a part of the school community, though children tread rather warily when in the vicinity of the clinic lest they be summoned inside for one of their twice yearly check-ups.

This was no statist experiment in the compulsory torture of the young: parental permission was sought and widely given. By the mid 1970s, more than 60 percent of preschool children and 95 percent of primary school children were voluntarily registered (by their parents!) with the school dental service, underscoring the high participation rate by the community.

Significant improvements in dental health were registered over the longer term. For instance, in1925 there were 78.6 teeth requiring extraction for every 100 teeth that were restored. By 1974 this figure was reduced to 2.5 extractions per 100 restorations. Although the data is not to hand here (I haven't bothered to search for it), one can expect even further reduction occurred from the mid 1970s to the present. Thus, many young adult New Zealanders today retain a full set of teeth, many with few fillings, in strong contrast to the first half of the twentieth century when many of the same age cohort had lost many or even all their teeth by sometime in their twenties or thirties.

Although there may have been a tendency in past decades of the school dental service to "drill and fill", there has always been a strong emphasis on dental education to prevent cavities in the first place. Today the school dental nurse is known as a dental therapist.

For secondary school students, the First Labour Government in 1947 initiated dental benefits for those up to the age of 16 under the Social Security Act 1938, with the government sub-contracting treatment to be conducted by private dentists in their clinics.

Further reading on the history of the school dental service can be found in the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (1966) here. Apparently an entry on school dentistry aside from a brief historical entry here and there has not yet appeared in Te Ara the New Zealand Encyclopedia - the current digital encyclopedia project of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Te Ara is a fascinating and expanding project, proof of the potential of digital educational resources and that tax dollars can be very well spent when the private sector finds no profit in such a project. [End of editorial, heh!]

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Free Milk in Schools Programme in New Zealand - 1937 -1967

Auckland school children knocking back half a pint, 1937

New Zealand's First Labour Government introduced free milk for children at school in 1937 to improve the health and welfare of young Kiwis. In the midst of the Great Depression, it didn't hurt to find a steady demand for surplus milk either. For a time during the Second War War, school children even received an apple a day.

School milk meant better bone & teeth development, as well as a "meal" in the stomach at time when widespread economic deprivation caused by the Depression meant many kids did not get full nutrition at home.

Between 1937-67, school children received a half pint bottle of milk during their morning class sessions. In an era before widespread refrigeration, crates of milk boats were often stored in a small slatted shed raised off the ground in some shaded spot close to the school gates. At least that was the case at the primary school I attended in the last years of the programme. Boys in standard 6 would pile crates on a hand cart and deliver the milk to each classroom, later collecting crates of empties to be returned to the shed for later pick-up by the milkman.

School milk was not to everyone's taste, especially on warm, sunny days when unrefrigerated milk would warm and start to turn. The crown of cream on top of the bottle's contents could also be a bit off-putting as it clogged one's way into the liquid below. 

In 1967, cost and some doubt about the health benefits of milk saw the end of the programme. In an age of "greater personal freedom", school milk gave way to expanded opportunities for private expenditures by ill-informed consumers in the guise of school children on soft drinks and junk food, the focus of "the concerned" shifting to childhood obesity and assorted ills. The more the wheel turns, etc, etc.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Guard Your Teeth - New Zealand Health Poster - 1940s

NZ Health poster, 1940s

And it wouldn't hurt you to obtain a mouth guard to protect your teeth if you are going to play contact sports or engage in extreme sports like walking through the centre of town in the wee hours on a Sunday morning...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Want That Milk In A Bucket? New Zealand Health Poster - 1940s

NZ Health Poster, 1940s

Would you like that in a big bucket? How about a straw? Grow big bovine molars & you'll be able to chew your way through any pasture for years to come. No need for fancy salads.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chew Hard - New Zealand Health Poster - 1940s

NZ Department of Health Poster, 1940s

Chew hard, by all means, but gnawing on a bone like Keith might induce cracking & chipping of your teeth as well as the odd low growl, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shopkeeper Capitalism - National Party Campaign Poster 1949

 National Party Election Campaign Poster 1949
They won the election, thanks perhaps to the friendly shopkeeper vote. The same rhetoric was abroad in the UK, a young Margaret Thatcher earning her stripes in her father's corner shop so that later in her career she could barrack the British public in the 1980s with her vision of shopkeeper capitalism and misguidedly apply her corner shop principles to government.
Others were more ambivalent about the shopkeeper's role in the community as this postcard from the early 1900s suggests:
The Grocer
You pose for a grocer so swell,
But we're on to you full well;
Your sugar's sand, and second-hand
Is all the stuff you sell.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Beyond The Counter - The Grocery Store

Burridge's Grocery Store, Miramar, Wellington 1948

One of the reasons that grocers and greengrocers (see previous posts) were able to maintain such an orderly arrangement of their wares was to bar the customers from hands-on contact with the merchandise. There was to be no squeezing of the plums and tapping or sounding of the watermelon, not even a caressing of a jar of raspberry jam or even a can of baked beans, thank you very much! 

Hard to imagine that today's customers would tolerate for a minute being separated from their prospective purchases. Counters would be stormed, food riots would ensue if the punters couldn't read the nutrition labels, fondle the packages etc.

I vaguely recall memories as a young child of being in the premises of a store like Burridge's grocery pictured above. Smith's grocery store, I believe it was called - after Mr Smith, of course. It was a Four Square store, I think, a grocery cooperative chain but with individual stores owned by proprietors.

I recall a long counter, not so much light as in Burridge's, the smell of flour and other food items, hardwood floors, and a wooden chair or two next to the counter on the customer's side, presumably for housewives to rest their shopping bag upon or to pop a small child on for a moment or two while groceries were ordered and placed on the counter and the total tabulated. Men in white full length aprons waited upon the customers, mainly housewives. I must have been small because the memory of the counter is that it was high! 

Soon the first supermarket opened down the street and Smith's in a very short time was no more. Fickle customers. The corner dairy across the street, however, survived for decades afterwards because the supermarket didn't keep the "open all hours" schedule of a corner store. Not until a change in the shop trading hours laws occurred in the 1980s, anyway.

 Four Square Jigsaw Puzzle Cover circa 1950s
Some of the groceries offered for sale by Four Square grocery stores in the 1950s. Brands such as Weet Bix, Milo, and Pam's survive down to the present, but the packages are brighter, more alluring, and on-so modern... 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #4

A Chinese family in their green grocer's store, circa 1910s or 1920s. Unidentified.

The images in this short series of green grocer stores underscore the orderliness of the produce, everything stacked in its place, or strung like this row of pineapples above the patrons' and greengrocer's heads.

One wonders how many of the young 'uns in this photo led this business into the next generation. I'd pick all three were and that they passed it on to the next generation.A few of the descendants will, of course, have escaped the kingdom of pineapples and thickets of asparagus.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #3

Green Grocery store interior, circa 1920s, unidentified.

If you look closely you can see you can also buy a man's head to go with your basket of apples! A woman (?) (blurred image) sits behind the counter to the right.

The Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the green grocery staff are subtle reminders of the success with which Chinese entrepreneurs developed the retail trade in fruit & vegetables around the globe, including New Zealand. This often extended into a vertically-integrated business enterprise that began in market gardening, extended to processing, and retailing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #2

Greengrocer store interior, circa 1920s. Unidentified location.

Greengrocer's store interior from the 1920s, bunches of grapes hanging by the hook. The individual grapes appear to be larger than the insipid ones on offer at my local supermarket.

Another apple poster displayed on the back wall - top left corner of photo. Click image for larger view.

Once again store, location, & photographer unidentified.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Green Grocers of New Zealand, 1920s - #1

Interior of greengrocer's (fruit & vegetable) store, circa 1920s

If you click the above image and look closely at the rear wall upper you will see one of the posters promoting fruit listed in recent posts here as well as several others.

Would you like a bottle of fizzy drink to go with your cauli today? Grab one off the rear shelf.

Unfortunately, this store and the photographer are unidentified. Get with it, people! Write important info on the back of your photos for posterity! (Ok, yours truly regularly transgresses on this very point).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Zealand Apples - Patriotic Poster - circa 1930s

New Zealand Apples - Patriotic Poster - circa 1930s

Look, I still don't think you've got the picture: eat more apples, it's the patriotic thing to do. Now be a good Kiwi and eat up! Indeed, it's the right British thing to do! 'nother, apple?!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gravenstein Apples, The Dessert Apple - Poster - circa 1930s

Gravenstein Apples, The Dessert Apple - Poster - circa 1930s

How about a nice apple pie for pudding? You work on making the pastry, I'll peel, slice and cook the apples.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Buy Your Apples By the Case - Poster - circa 1930s

Buy Your Apples By the Case - Poster - circa 1930s
Look with all the productivity gains made by orchardists and the drop in prices caused by the Great Slump, you need to step up and buy a case of apples. Ask your stationmaster at the local railway station how to order.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Apple & Pear Poster - Ask for Dominion Mark Fruit - circa 1930s

Apple & Pear Poster - Ask for Dominion Mark Fruit - circa 1930s
And it wouldn't hurt you to eat some of that stone fruit from central Otago either...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

 Health poster promoting more fruit in the diet, 1920s, artist Joseph Moran

One of the public health lessons of the First World War was that the nation's young men were not as healthy and fit as the myth of the fighting British race suggested. But they were healthy & fit enough to serve as cannon fodder. In the interwar period, fruit was promoted as a way of improving health and fitness. It didn't hurt that it also sold cases of apples and pears produced by Kiwi growers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

National Patriotic Apple Show 1918 Poster

Poster for National Patriotic Apple Show held in Auckland, May 1918.

You needed more than a case of apples to maintain your health on the battlefields of the Somme, Ypres, Verdun and the like. You were too worried about a fatal case of lead poisoning to give a fig (mixed metaphor) about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Besides, a fresh apple was likely nowhere to be found.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Arthur Yates & Co - Seed Merchants & Growers - 1882 to 1985

Arthur Yates & Co premises, Queen & High Streets, Auckland, circa 1902. 

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Auckland Provincial District, volume 2, 1902, entry on pp 400-401 (reformatted into shorter paragraphs):

"Yates, Arthur, and Co. (Arthur Yates and Ernest Yates), Wholesale and Retail Seed Merchants and Growers, Queen Street, Auckland. Bankers, Bank of New South Wales. Cable address, “Seedsman, Auckland.” Head establishment, Mr. Samuel Yates, 75 Shudehill Street, Manchester; Australian branch, 237 Sussex Street, Sydney, New South Wales, established 1887.

This well-known business was first established by Mr. Samuel Yates in 1826, and is now one of the largest businesses of its kind in England.

The Auckland branch was established in 1882, and to such an extent has the business grown that it has been found necessary to extend the premises, which now consist of a large three-storey warehouse with a thirty-three feet frontage to Queen and High Streets, and a depth of 200 feet, and a total floorage space of over 14,000 square feet. Machinery for seed cleaning has been especially imported from England, and fitted up in the new premises, and the firm claims to hold the largest stock of garden and farm seeds in the Colony.

There are seed farms at Mangere and Papatoitoi under the management of Mr. E. Allan. There are agents of the firm in every town of importance in the Colony, and a complete catalogue of “Yates' Reliable Seeds” can be obtained free from any leading storekeeper, or direct from the head office in Auckland, as well as the firm's other publications, “Yates' Garden Guide,” and “How to Grow Onions for Market.”"

As previous posts suggest, Arthur Yates & Co flourished in the decades following, specializing in seeds for the home gardener. Apparently the family business continued to be profitable in the hands of Arthur Yates' children and grandchildren until such time as it passed from their hands into those of the financial speculators. As Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand puts it here:

"For 102 years the Arthur Yates seed company supplied seed and garden advice to New Zealand gardeners. Arthur Yates, the founder of the company, was the son and grandson of British seed merchants. His children and grandchildren ran the company profitably until it was taken over by ill-fated investment bank Equiticorp, and went into receivership in 1985."

Not the first time, nor the last, that a main street business was driven into bankruptcy by the speculators and a carefully-tended enterprise was cast off as if dust in the wind.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Calendar Boy - Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Cover 1948

 Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Cover 1948
In an earlier age when most households still relied on home grown fruit and vegetables for a sizable share of their annual food, it was all hands to the garden both out of economic necessity and as social activity. Children were socialized in the arts of plant husbandry - soil preparation, planting, fertilising, watering, weeding, harvesting and the like. Post harvest it was about storing and preserving - bottling, making jam, and the like. If little boys didn't get trained in the kitchen arts in those days they at least got to taste samples and the naturally curious learned enough so they could years later work out how mum used to make all those things.

This old bird recalls empty seed packets of Arthur Yates & Co pierced by pieces of kindling wood at the end of planted rows marking where particular vegetables had been planted. In my neck of the veggie garden between the two apple trees, I remember planting sweet corn because that was something dad didn't plant as well as peas, radishes, and a few other things, expanding to green and chili peppers in later years. And since we lived within earshot of Lancaster Park in Christchurch, I can remember being in the garden and dad, upon hearing a large cheer from the crowd at the Park, declaring: Canterbury must have scored!

Now try to get most youngsters today - beyond the age of the lad pictured above - to tear themselves away from their video games or the mall to get outdoors for awhile let alone into the garden.

Methinks something was lost. And, please, don't try to get me all cheered up by the local food movement, farmers' markets shenanigans and all that. It still has a long, long way to go. Maybe too long a way with not so very much long term commitment from enough people. But you've got to hope - and take action, right?

What did your garden grow?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Calendar Girl - Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Cover 1946

Arthur Yates & Co Calendar Girl, cover, 1946

It was long a marketing custom of many businesses in New Zealand to issue a calendar shortly before year's end to extend season's greetings and generate a measure of goodwill. Sometimes households experienced an embarrassment of riches, quite what would they do with all these calendars? Arthur Yates & Co was one such company that produced an annual calendar, an example of their 1946 calendar cover is pictured above.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Seeds of Things to Come - Arthur Yates & Co Ltd Seed Catalogue 1932

Arthur Yates & Co 1932 garden annual cover

Arthur Yates & Co Ltd Seed Catalogue 1932

Arthur Yates & Co Seed Catalogue for 1932, offering among other things, parsnip, carrot, radish, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, onion, cauliflower, beet, turnip, and swede seeds. 

Never a fan of brassicas, cabbage and cauliflower, let alone turnips and swedes, left me cold as a child. Of course, I was told they were good for me - and I have to admit the medical and scientific evidence seems to be pointing in that direction. Persuade me with science, not with blind faith & "because I told you so's" directing me to eat the stuff!

The advertising copy states that the combined price for the seed packets pictured amounts to 6/- (6 shillings to the whippersnappers among you), equivalent to about NZ$32 in end of 2009 prices according to the handy dandy Reserve Bank of New Zealand calculator found here

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Haere Mai - Maori Theme - Travel Poster - circa 1920s

Haere Mai! Maori theme travel poster from the 1920s

Now if we all got off the grid and used geothermal cooking we might  be able to keep the lake levels higher and abate global warming at the same time. Cooking times may vary.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Tree Fern - Poster - circa 1930s

The Tree Fern - Poster - circa 1930s
Actually, I'm not sure this is a travel poster but nothing says "New Zealand" like a tree fern!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Mint Chicks - New Zealand Band

In the mood for a brief reprise from the vintage travel poster series. It's a Monday morning and I need a gentle stirring of the brain to get going. (Remember shaking causes brain damage and is a definite no, no!). As James Bond said, a brain should be stirred, not shaken. Okay, I took liberties with that quote.

Poster fans we'll be back to fantasyland shortly. hang on.

Self-described as "troublegum pop" or more conventionally experimental noise rock or power pop, The Mint Chicks are a New Zealand band that formed in Auckland in 2001 but are currently based in Portland, Oregon so they are godwits, like yours truly, kuaka. The group consists of Ruban Nielson, Kody Nielson, Paul Roper and Michael Logie.

The Mint Chicks are currently touring New Zealand, most recently performing at a summer series in Albert Park, Auckland on Sunday. For those of us living in exile we'll have to make do with iTunes, YouTube, and The Mint Chicks web site:

More information about them on their web site here and Wiki entry here.

Watching some of the MCs' music video one wonders if their video was inspired in anyway by Len Lye's work, take a look at Hot on Your Heels and Life Will Get Better Some Day. Or perhaps it's just in the Kiwi drinking water. Maybe one of the Nielsons will stop by to confirm or deny ;)

Methinks, Len would approve - and marvel at what now can be done in filmography with digital technology. He might not go for the music, but who knows. More on Len Lye here - a mini-festival of his work on this blog.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sword Fishing - Bay of Islands - New Zealand Railways Travel Poster

Sword Fishing - Bay of Islands - New Zealand Railways Travel Poster

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fly Fishing in New Zealand - M A Poulton - 1936 - Travel Poster

Fly Fishing in New Zealand - M A Poulton - 1936 - Travel Poster, Government Tourist Department.
Click on picture for larger image