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From logs to blogs

29 July 2013: From logs to blogs

“…got plenty of wild Sellery for the Soup and Pease … Several Canoes of Indians came on board and gave us Fish in truck for White Rags…”

So runs an entry in the ship’s log of the Endeavour’s Second Lieutenant Zachary Hicks, written at Tolaga Bay in October 1769.

It’s the earliest entry in the 250 years of New Zealand diary-keeping celebrated in the new exhibition, Logs to Blogs: Diaries from the Turnbull Library opening in the Turnbull Gallery at the National Library in Wellington on 29 July.

“Diaries are the real stuff of history,” says exhibition curator, David Colquhoun. “No other document gives you quite the immediacy of a diary entry written about events, or thoughts, or feelings, as they happened.”

Featured diaries range from the very literary notebooks of Robin Hyde to Iraia Te Whaiti’s diaries of Maori life in Wairarapa, young Ellen Petre’s account of her first year in Wellington in 1842, the sporting journals of Jack Lovelock, and the diaries of casual labourer James Cox, who kept a diary for over 30 years documenting his struggles to make a living.

The most modern entry is Sarah Laing’s blog of web comics Let me Be Frank – Reading, Writing, Parenting, Angsting. You can scroll though it on a screen in the exhibition, and see some of Laing’s delightful original artwork.

David Colquhoun says he’s featured just 12 diaries from the thousands held in the Turnbull. “I’ve tried to give as wide a range as possible, not just of different eras and events, but also to show the very different purposes and motivations of different diarists.”

There is a related events programme of lunchtime and evening talks at the Library as well. The first talk, on 1 August, is about war diaries, by Dr Kate Hunter of Victoria University. Professor Tony Ballantyne will talk about colonial diaries and how historians use them on 13 August. On 22 August, blogger Sarah Laing talks about her writing, and the challenges of “over-sharing” your private life.

The exhibition opens on 29 July and runs to 28 September in the Turnbull Gallery, on the first floor of the National Library on Molesworth Street, Wellington.

Editors: please note a range of images is available on request.

Get in touch for more information. Allen Walley, Department of Internal Affairs, phone 04 495 9351 or 027 384 3009.