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Five new collections of New Zealand’s scientific and social history treasures added to the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand Register

17 February 2020: Five new collections of New Zealand’s scientific and social history treasures added to the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand Register

The newest inscriptions on the prestigious UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand Register expand the variety and depth of the Register and brings the number of items inscribed since 2011 to 40.

These new inscriptions cover a range of topics with three of the five focused on science –research – spanning early climate records, Dr Muriel Bell’s notable nutrition research, and 19th century establishment of science infrastructure, plus rich social history material in the form of a wide-ranging photographic record of the Hokianga at the turn of the 20th century, and radio accounts and messages home, direct from the front line during World War II.

Speaking at a ceremony hosted by the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington to announce the new inscriptions on Monday 17 February, Memory of the World New Zealand Chair Bruce Ralston said,

“Once again the Memory of the World Trust Committee is thrilled to celebrate these special collections that record Aotearoa New Zealand’s heritage. We acknowledge the importance of the Register that recognises institutions and heritage professionals and supports their work to preserve these collections as our national memory, as well as sharing them with us and the rest of the world.”

“We want to highlight the value of retaining archives for future research, as can be seen in the recent work drawing upon Richard Davis’ earliest known climate records being used for the study of New Zealand’s meteorological history; Dr Muriel Bell’s work on improving the nation’s nutrition, and Sir Julius von Haast’s work on the record of New Zealand’s natural environment.”

“We also acknowledge the vital role collectors play. Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull left his collection to the nation and the Alexander Turnbull Library now celebrates 100 years of public access.”

Receiving the honour are:

  • the C P Dawes Collection (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections);
  • Richard Davis Meteorological Records (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections);
  • Dr Muriel Bell Papers (Hocken Collections, Dunedin);
  • the Sir Julius von Haast Collection (Alexander Turnbull Library)
  • the World War II New Zealand Mobile Broadcasting Unit Recordings (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision).

Councillor Cathy Casey, Deputy Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee for Auckland Council, “is delighted to see the Auckland Libraries’ Richard Davis Meteorological Records and C P Dawes Collection recognised as being of national significance”.

  • The Richard Davis Meteorological Records (1839-1851) are a set of two volumes of meteorological records measured at the Church Missionary Society’s station at Waimate North between 1839 and 1851. “These weather diaries are significant as they are to date the earliest consistently recorded land-based measurements available for New Zealand, and they provide a baseline for NIWA scientists researching contemporary climate change,” Councillor Casey says.
  • The C P Dawes Collection (Charlie Dawes) is a photographic collection of almost 2200 glass plate negatives and around 100 original prints. Auckland Libraries also holds the photographer’s camera. This collection represents a unique photographic record of life in the Hokianga region at the turn of the 20th century.

Anna Blackman, Head Curator Archives, Hocken Collections, says “Dr Muriel Emma Bell was a brilliant, energetic and life-long early woman medical researcher and campaigner.”

  • The Dr Muriel Bell Collection documents the trail blazing work in many aspects of nutrition research that have improved the health of New Zealanders today. Fundamental aspects of our nutrition such as the addition of fluoride to public water supplies, free milk in schools, improvements to milk handling and hygiene, the addition of iodine to domestic salt and improving the nutritional content of bread flour were impacted by Dr Bell’s research and campaigning.”

Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian, Alexander Turnbull Library, says, “We are delighted that in our centenary year, a collection held by the Turnbull is being honoured in this way. Not only is it testimony to von Haast’s contribution to New Zealand science, it also speaks to the role that donors play in ensuring that documentary evidence is available and accessible in public institutions for generations to come.”

  • Sir Julius von Haast was the founder of the Canterbury Museum and one of New Zealand’s leading 19th century scientists. The collection is one of the most important collections dealing with the development of late 19th-century science, especially the natural sciences, in New Zealand.

Honiana Love, Chief Executive of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision says,

  • “The World War Two Mobile Unit recordings capture the voices of New Zealanders at war, thousands of miles from home. The 1,600 discs are an invaluable historic record that captures how we fought, but also how we spoke, sang and communicated with our loved ones from far away, at a time of great crisis.”

“Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is proud to be caring for these taonga and working to make them available for generations of New Zealanders to hear.”

View more information about the inscriptions and the register on the Memory of the World New Zealand’s website — in particular the nomination forms received for each inscription which include detailed information about the collections and their significance.

Memory of the World New Zealand

End

Images (available on request) and captions

C P Dawes

C P Dawes Collection (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections); and Richard Davis Meteorological Records (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections); access digitised items from both collections at Auckland Libraries Kura Heritage Collections Online

Dr Muriel Bell Papers (Hocken Collections)

  • Muriel Bell 1, Portrait of Dr Muriel Bell at work, 1950s
  • Muriel Bell 2, sheet promoting school milk, from The New Zealand Trades Alphabet journal, 1950s.

Sir Julius von Haast Collection (Alexander Turnbull Library)

  • Sir Julius von Haast 1, Sir Julius von Haast, [ca 1878-1887]
  • Sir Julius von Haast 2, View towards the sources of the Rakaia from the junction of Whitcombe's Pass Stream, by Haast, Johann Franz Julius von, 1822-1887

World War II New Zealand Mobile Broadcasting Unit Recordings (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

  • Ngā Taonga 1, Flight Sergeant A T Condon records message to be broadcast in New Zealand from the Italian Front, World War II - Photograph taken by George Bull
  • Ngā Taonga 2, Archibald Curry NZ Broadcasting Unit recording a message from a New Zealander on the Cassino Front

Media contacts

Please contact the following for further information and to arrange interviews:

Chair Memory of the World Aotearoa/New Zealand Trust National Committee — Bruce Ralston, 021 180 0405

Department of Internal Affairs — Darin To’o, Senior Communications Adviser, 022 185 4200

Memory of the World communications and website contact — Sara Barham, 021 611 776

C P Dawes Collection (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections) and Richard Davis Meteorological Records 1839-1851 (Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections) — Mon-Wed, Lucy Harris, Auckland City Council, 021 198 3250 Thurs/Fri — Johanna Boerema-Barr, 021 221 9535

Dr Muriel Bell Papers (Hocken Collections) — Anna Blackman, Head Curator Archives, 021 064 9528

The Sir Julius von Haast Collection (Alexander Turnbull Library) — John Sullivan, Curatorial Services Leader, 04 474 3115 or 021 0255 0947

World War II New Zealand Mobile Broadcasting Unit Recordings (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision) — Honiana Love, Chief Executive, per Fraser Pettigrew, Marketing and Communications Manager, 04 896 4828 or 021 213 3094