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Thanks Alex, 100 wonderful years, kia ora koutou katoa

January 15th, 2021, By Chris Szekely

Chief Librarian Chris Szekely on the legacy set by Alexander Turnbull's bequest over a hundred years ago and the generations of New Zealanders who have helped continue building the Turnbull Library collections.

Celebrating a centenary

Just before Christmas, a new banner was mounted on the side of the National Library building in Wellington. The message celebrates the Turnbull Library’s centenary, acknowledging Alexander Turnbull’s founding gift and the generosity of the many New Zealanders who have helped build the Turnbull collections as a research legacy.

Wide-angle view of the National Library building corner with new banner hanging on wall outside which reads: Thanks Alex. 100 wonderful years. Kia ora koutou katoa.
‘Thanks Alex’ banner hanging outside the National Library in Wellington. Photo: Mark Beatty

Thanks Alex

Alexander Turnbull was just 49 years old when he died. He spent the greater part of his lifetime (and his inheritance) growing his Library. In 1893 he famously wrote:

Anything whatever relating to this colony, on its history, flora, fauna, geology and inhabitants, will be fish for my net, from as early a date as possible until now….

True to his word he set about acquiring books, manuscripts, sketches and other formats, mainly through purchase but also through exchanges with other collectors, and as a recipient of research papers gifted by scholarly contemporaries.

At the time of his death, the scale of his collection far outstripped those of other collectors, notably Thomas Hocken, John MacMillan Brown and Robert McNab.

The New Zealand Times announced:

The greatest, most intelligent, most successful collector in our history has made to his country the greatest, most far-reaching, most valuable gift in the record of bequests.

In a codicil to his Will signed a few weeks before his death Turnbull bequeathed…

to His Majesty the King all my Library comprising my printed books pamphlets engravings charts manuscripts sketches maps photographs plans and pictures as… a Reference Library in the City of Wellington… as the nucleus of a New Zealand national collection.

Pedestrians cross Aitken St in front of a new banner on the wall of the National Library.
A new banner mounted on the side of the National Library building in Wellington celebrates the Turnbull Library’s centenary and acknowledges Alexander Turnbull’s founding gift and the generosity of the many New Zealanders who have helped build the Turnbull collections as a research legacy. Photo: Mark Beatty

Thank you New Zealand, kia ora koutou katoa

The New Zealand Times assessment of Turnbull’s bequest was prescient in describing his gift as far-reaching.

Following his death successive generations of New Zealanders have continued to build the Turnbull holdings through bequests and donations of collection items. We estimate over 50,000 individuals, families, community groups and organisations have contributed materials to the Library; truly a research resource developed by New Zealanders for New Zealanders.

A family group stand together with two members holding large bunches of flowers which were given as part of a ceremony.
Members of the Scott whanau gifting the archives of architect John Scott to the Turnbull at a ceremony in 2020. Photo: Llewelyn Jones

Turnbull collections held and accessible — forever

This tradition of gifting is premised partly on the statutory promise that the Turnbull collections will be held — and made accessible — forever. This goes some way to explaining why the Turnbull collections are treated differently from other National Library collections.

The Turnbull became a part of the National Library in 1965. The legislation governing the National Library states that one of the key purposes of the Turnbull is…

... to preserve, protect, develop, and make accessible for all the people of New Zealand the collections of that library in perpetuity and in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga...

This applies not only to Alexander Turnbull’s founding gift but to every item subsequently acquired by gift or donation and deposited into the Turnbull Library’s care.

While the Turnbull continues to be distinguished by name and function, it is very much a part of the National Library of New Zealand. To ensure that it remains true to the National Library Act, the Turnbull is led by a Chief Librarian, a statutory role that reports to the National Librarian. These roles report annually to Parliament and are monitored by a statutory group called the Guardians Kaitiaki appointed by the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Perpetuity is a long time. The statutory process aims at maintaining accountability over time, transcending organisational changes. Fifty thousand donors trusted the Turnbull Library when they deposited their treasures into the Library’s care, just as Alexander Turnbull trusted the Crown when he made his bequest. This trust has endured for a hundred years and can never be taken for granted.

100 wonderful years

The Turnbull Library centenary offers a platform to celebrate a century of donor generosity and say thank-you. But how long can a centenary celebration last? In our case, quite a long time. Alexander Turnbull’s bequest came at the time of his death, 28th June 1918. Two years later the Library was opened to the people of New Zealand. We, therefore, have a centenary ‘period’ that spans 2018 – 2020.

The centenary celebration was to finish in 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic, along with confirmation of philanthropic funding, pushed some of our celebratory activities into 2021. Here are some key initiatives to look out for in the coming months:

  • History 101 — is the working title of a book co-published by the Turnbull Endowment Trust and Massey University Press featuring over 100 items from the Turnbull collections. The book is scheduled for launch in November with a commitment to gifting a copy to every secondary school in the country.
  • A Century of Wonder — a mini-documentary about the Turnbull that was launched late last year. Again, made possible by Lotteries through the Turnbull Endowment Trust.

A mini-documentary made to celebrate a centenary of the Alexander Turnbull Library. Many thanks to the Turnbull Endowment Trust for there support in the making of this documentary.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOub_I3SP6I&t=312s
  • Transcript — A Century of Wonder — An Alexander Turnbull Library mini-documentary

    Visual

    Gloved hand taking a cover off a painting.

    Audio

    Music


    Visual

    Images of items from the Alexander Turnbull collections including small container, mirror, manuscript printed and handwritten, posters, paintings.

    Words appear on screen music, diaries, websites, drawings, recordings

    Audio

    Man's voice: It's a wonderful thing that the Turnbull Library is 100 years old. Every year, between 300 and 500 individuals, community groups, organizations gift things to the Turnbull Library.


    Visual

    A man speaking. Words Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian Alexander Turnbull Library appear on screen.

    Audio

    Chris Szekely We've got a century of trust behind us, a century of gifting a century of researchers who have used their collections and generated new knowledge.


    Visual

    Dr Jock Phillips, Historian talking. Dr Phillips walking up the stairs to enter the National Library.

    Audio

    Dr Jock Phillips: Well the ATL has been an absolute treasure house. It's a world-class institution. For a historian, it's absolutely irreplaceable.


    Visual

    Hands opening a diary. One page has small bundles of hair clippings in it. Audrey Waugh

    Audio

    Woman's voice: Well today I've brought out Joanna Turnbull's autograph album.


    Visual

    Woman talking. Words Audrey Waugh, Research Librarian Manuscripts appear on screen.

    Audio

    Audrey Waugh: So, this is a fantastic collection item in the manuscripts collection.


    Visual

    Hands opening a diary. Page with writing and a sketch of a woman.

    Audio

    Audrey Waugh: Joanna Turnbull is Alexander Turnbull's sister, fondly known as Sissy to the family in all of their correspondence.


    Visual

    Audrey walking into the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room with a collection item in her hand. She walks to a table where a researcher is waiting for the item.

    Audio

    Audrey Waugh: I love being able to work with researchers on a really wide variety of topics, bringing that sparkle to the reading room. And helping people discover things that are really significant, both historically and personally.


    Visual

    Woman talking to Audrey.

    Audio

    Jane Tolerton: But that other photo you brought me, there's this lovely piece where he gives a speech in Christchurch in July 1887, and he writes to his wife to thank her for the note she sent him.

    Visual

    Researcher pointing to a picture in a book.

    Audio

    Jane Tolerton: That's Mary Vogel, there she is, there, and later he says I made a rattling good speech.

    Audrey: Oh, fantastic.


    Visual

    Woman talking to Audrey. Words Jane Tolerton, Historian appear on screen.

    Audio

    Jane Tolerton: I've never seen that quote in any women's suffrage book, so that's new. It's wonderful to have.


    Visual

    Hands opening a folder with handwritten material in them. Audrey then talks to camera.

    Audio

    Audrey Waugh: These papers are 130 years old, and yet researchers are still able to find new discoveries and bring new meaning to the collections.


    Visual

    Woman turning pages of a large photo album full of black and white photos. Words Amalaratna, Research Librarian. Amalartna points to the images as she talks about them.

    Audio

    Amalaratna: So this is Scott's expedition to the Antarctic, 1910. The Terra Nova British Antarctic Expedition. This is the dog party, the dog camp with the horses. And this is the relief party, here.


    Visual

    Shot panning across the reading rooms and boxes of material. Words photographers, personal pagers, oral history, exhibitions, albums, lyrics, kete show on screen.

    Audio

    Music


    Visual

    Man sitting at desk with two screens. The screens have large images on them. Words Mark Beatty, Imaging Technician show on screen. Full screen image of painting of a house.

    Audio

    Mark Beatty: This is a painting by Peter McIntyre, and it shows the Turnbull House. So, this is the origins, this is where we all started. Officially became the Turnbull Library in 1920, when it opened to the public.


    Visual

    Man looking at lots of images on a screen. Then close ups of a Māori family wearing European clothing.

    Audio

    Mark Beatty: Beautiful image here of the family together useful details on the dresses, what they're wearing. We've digitized the original glass plate negative and processed it from being a negative into a positive.


    Visual

    Wall with image of Alexander Turnbull hanging and words Alexander Turnbull Library on the wall. Image changes to a painting of Alexander Turnbull. Woman walks past painting to an exhibition cabinet. Words, donations, paintings, seminars, sketches and lectures appear on screen.

    Audio

    Chris Szekely: Alexander Turnbull was a wealthy young guy. He had two big passions in his life. One was yachting, his other great passion was he was an obsessive collector.


    Visual

    Man talking to camera.

    Audio

    Chris Szekely: He was focused on two things mainly, anything to do with New Zealand and the Pacific exploration.


    Visual

    Woman walks to table with item and sits down. Looks at item. Close up of item. Words Suliana Vea, Research Librarian Pacific appear on screen. Suliana on screen. Image of a performing arts groups.

    Audio

    Suliana Vea: We have a lot of items here belonging to Māori to Mate Noa and the Pacific as well. And people can just type in a search, and if they find something like I did last night, then, yeah, we want to see it. Made me feel really emotional because it involves my uncle who's no longer alive. He was a part of a performing arts group, and they were performing all over. They went to Germany, they went to England, and he used to always tell us these stories, and sadly, when you're young you don't realize how important those stories are.


    Visual

    Man walking between storage cases. Pulls out a vertical drawer with a modern painting of a man, and angel. Words Dr Oliver Stead, Curator Drawings, Paintings, Prints appear on screen.

    Man shows us the original of Charles Heaphy's Mount Egmont water colour.

    Audio

    Oliver Stead: Mary McIntyre painted this portrait of Pat Hanley, and what's also quite amazing about it is that there's a very beautifully rendered detail of a painting by Tony Fomison in the lower right-hand corner.

    Well,to me personally the Turnbull Library published a series of prints after famous New Zealand watercolors in its collection in the 60s. And I grew up with Charles Heaphy's beautiful watercolor, Mount Egmont from the southward, on my bedroom wall. Many, many years later, to be looking after the real thing is just such a privilege.


    Visual

    Man walking an looking at music posters on a wall. Words Dr Michael Brown, Curator Music appear on the screen.

    Audio

    Guitar music

    Michael Brown: I think what's really satisfying about the job is that working with labels like Flying Nun, by digitizing that material, it actually allows it to be used again. It allows it to be remastered and reissued, or in some cases issued for the first time.


    Visual

    Woman putting a floppy disk into a floppy disk drive. Words Flora Feltham, Digital Archivist appear on screen.

    Audio

    Flora Feltham: So I am a digital archivist here at the Alexander Turnbull Library, and part of my job involves getting files off really old kinds of media. So use an old internal floppy disk drive from my computer to try and image this disk. So part of our job is about having to hook up old technology with modern technology, because, of course, when we're talking digital archives we're talking digital files that were being used up to 30 years ago. You really, really have to fix things often. It's really fun, why doesn't it sound fun?


    Visual

    Open book with picture of a birds as pages are turned. Man standing in front of four rare books in book holders. Aurora Australis front plate. Words Anthony Tedeschi, Curator Rare Books, Fine Printing appear on screen. Hands show book being opened.

    Audio

    Anthony Tedeschi: There's never a dull moment, I wouldn't think, being a rare books curator. This is one of the library's copies of the Aurora Australis. So, this is the first book to be printed, illustrated, and bound in Antarctica by Ernest Shackleton and members of his crew. I showed the binding first because this is made from recycled packing crates. We think they printed about 100 copies, and I'm pretty sure this is the etching press.


    Visual

    Shot of storage. Man sits at desk. Pulls a box out of a bigger box. Opens the box to show a recording on tape. Hands winding the tape onto a machine. Words Phil Brownlee, AV Conservation Technician show on screen. Instruments showing audio levels. Man talking to camera.

    Audio

    Woman's voice: We present the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra, conducted by Dobbs Franks, leader Ruth Pearl.

    Phil Brownlee: Old recordings of New Zealand music are probably the, where my interests lies. It's one of the interesting things about this work is that we don't know exactly what's on the tape until we put it on the machine. The huge variety of the content that I deal with, people telling their stories, and old music recordings, primary historical sources. These tapes were recorded 60 years ago, and the sound on them is as clear as the day it was recorded.

    This work was written by Bartók in 1935 at the request of--

    We've also got the radio presentation, which is of historical-- historically interesting in itself. The voices of the old YC announcers.


    Visual

    Woman walking in front of banner outside the National Library advertising He Tohu exhibition. Woman in the library looking at a table full of papers. Looking over the woman's shoulder at the papers. Words Caitlin Lynch, Researcher and Filmmaker appear of screen.

    Audio

    Caitlin Lynch: I did a history degree and so I loved coming here to find out more about what I was researching. You always discover something unexpected.


    Visual

    Black and white photo of six men and two women. Woman speaking to camera. Woman looking at suffrage statue. Woman sitting at desk looking at papers. Woman looking at paper headed ‘The Sweating System’. Paper has image of a woman sewing, a sick man in bed and children sitting around her in distress. Shots of cartoons. Footage from ‘Harriet Morison’ short film showing a woman walking.

    Caitlin Lynch: I was researching this woman named Harriet Morrison, who was involved in the suffrage movement but she isn't mentioned nearly as much as someone like Kate Sheppard. So I came to the ATL where I could look through all these newspapers and manuscript files. And I could draw out all these amazing cartoons of Harriet Morrison from the newspapers. And then we compiled all that information into a little documentary about Harriet Morrison which went on to be nominated for the Bert Roth History Awards and the Bert Roth files we actually used in the project. These were the files that had all this information about her. And so it was a really cool way to engage with the archives.


    Visual

    Woman walking towards glass sculpture of Kate Sheppard. Woman talking to camera. Words Suzanne Snively, Deputy Chair, Turnbull Endowment Trust appear on screen.

    Audio

    Suzanne Snively: I love this sculpture. I'm a trustee on the Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust, which is a foundation that's been set up in order to make sure that the collection at the Alexander Turnbull Library is available to all New Zealanders. Not only did Kate Sheppard campaign for a woman's right to vote but for universal suffrage.


    Visual

    Shot of the reading rooms.

    Audio

    Music


    Visual

    Man pulling paintings out of storage.

    Audio

    Orchestral music.


    Visual

    Hands pulling a record out of its cover. Close up of vinyl record being played. Close up of record cover, Country Girl Maria Dallas. Woman shows record. Words Bronwyn Officer, Senior Conservator Sounds show on screen.

    Audio

    Our means of preservation is to digitize the analog object for all time.

    Singing ‘Tumbling, a tumbling a tumbling down...’

    This is a lacquer disk. You can see crazing on this record. Physically, I'm not going to do anything to it. But by playing the content, we preserve it into the future. This has been requested by the great-granddaughter of the bagpipe player.

    Bagpipe music.


    Visual

    Woman wearing lab coat and white gloves sitting in front of a microscope and preparing things. Woman looks through microscope at an painting of adults and children with parcels on a bridge. Words Carolina Izzo, Director, Studio Carolina Izzo. Hands doing conservation work on the painting. Woman looking through microscope. Gently brushing of painting with a soft brush. Woman writes notes about work doing on painting.

    Audio

    Carolina Izzo: My name is Carolina Izzo, and I have a studio in New Zealand called Studio Carolina Izzo. It's a unique unique works that has the label in paper, fragment of a label paper work attach it to the surface. So this painting is painted over a cardboard. It's a poor material, and doesn't seems has a priming underneath, but still searching it out.

    Through the microscope I was able to see that it was varnished recently, I don't think it was a regional varnish. Because for example where there were fragment of paper, and where the paper was missing. there was no varnish. So you know that that was something I'm exploring that possibility there was the level was actually attached at the time that painting was completed.

    I noticed that the environment where the painting was done had some kind of a dust problem, because there's a lots of pigment used that has embedded. Very beautiful looking under the microscope.


    Visual

    Woman wearing gloves opening a cardboard box and taking a book out. Words Sarah Askey, Conservator appear on screen. Hands holding book open. Gloved hands point at parts of the book cover. Woman sitting at desk. She puts a mask on. Woman scrapping book with tool and brush. .

    Audio

    Sarah Askey: So this is a box of books that were donated last year. The descendants of a man called Charles Calvert, so this is his private library collection. But they've been quite badly damaged by silt. This is actually a book in Māori, 1848. I'm going to be chipping these accretions of silt off using a scalpel and then working through the pages with a very soft brush and a smoke sponge.

    I quite like the problem solving. When you have things come to you in they're sort of not usable as books anymore, figuring out how to make them meet present day kind of needs for access and use but still retaining what it is about their history which is important to what they are.


    Visual

    Gloved hands working with film. Words appear on screen Theresa Kele, Librarian Microfilms.

    Theresa Kele: We're looking at 35 millimeter mass of microfilm of the Tāupo Times from 1953 to 1954. This is an old acetate film, and I'm going through it to replace poor splices, and replacing them with archival splices. And this will help to keep-- preserve the microfilm for longer.


    Visual

    Man sitting at desk looking at handwritten letters. Photo of a couple.

    Audio

    Man’s voice: My dearest. My own darling.

    Jock Phillips: Beautiful. I've got the letters that were written by Peter Howden to his wife, which he wrote every day of his war service from the end of 1915 until he died in 1917. So it's a great love story.


    Visual

    Sign !Caution! Work in progress. Words on screen Mīharo Exhibition, Peter Ireland, Gallery, Exhibitions Specialist: Dr Fiona Oliver, Curator NZ and Pacific Publications. People looking at items on a table. A document with a photo and Chinese characters and an official stamp on it.

    Audio

    Peter Ireland: Effectively a passport which allowed Robin Hyde, the New Zealand writer, to travel in China in the 1930s.

    Fiona Oliver: Robin Hyde was a pen name, and her real name was Iris Wilkinson.


    Visual

    A gloved hand holding a small card with a blue and white painting on it. The card is turned over to show of small handwriting. Man talking words Peter Ireland, Gallery, Exhibitions Specialist appear on screen.

    Audio

    Peter Ireland: It's a handmade postcard by the New Zealand artist Frances Hodgkins. Essentially, a thank you card to thank somebody for having her to stay when she was in France, so probably from the 1930s and 1940s. One of the reasons we liked it so much was that it's quite a rare instance, of the work in our collection.


    Visual

    Woman using tool to open pages of a book. Pages of the book with drawings of people in Pacific Islands. Turning pages of the book to show more drawings of Pacific Islands.

    Audio

    Peter Ireland: We don't know who the artist is, but we know the association of it with a particular voyage.


    Visual

    Three people taking a material cover off a very large piece of paper. Man and woman looking at a sheet with drawings, maps and lots of words. Words Margaret Morris, Senior Conservator, Works in Paper appear on screen.

    Audio

    Chris Szekely: Look at that.

    Margaret Morris: He's trying to encapsulate the history of New Zealand in one great big sheet.

    Chris Szekely: Well the history of New Zealand from European--

    Margaret Morris: His point of view, yes.

    Chris Szekely: First sight, if you like.

    Margaret Morris: It's from his point of view, that's right.

    Chris Szekely: Yes.

    Margaret Morris: I just love this item. I love the fact that all of this is done by hand.

    Chris Szekely: All by hand.

    Margaret Morris: It's remarkable.


    Visual

    Two women standing together. People standing together, children and adults. Words John Scott’s architectural works — donation appear on screen. People carrying items into the Library.

    Audio

    Powerful chanting by two Māori women's calling to each other in welcome during a karanga.

    Chris Szekely: E te whānau au Hone Scott. Tēnā koutou i o manaakitanga me te aroha, nō reira, nau mai, haere mai ki to tātou whare. Tena koutou, tena koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.


    Visual

    Drawers opening full of photographs. Man looking through photographs. Pulls a picture of two cloaked Māori women. Photo of pohutukawa and caravan, paper with photo and Chinese script, small ceramic box, drawing of indigenous people sitting around a fire, poster, record. Words Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian appear on screen.

    Audio

    Chris Szekely: I absolutely believe that every New Zealander has a right to expect that the documentary record of their family, their community, their culture, their country is kept, cared for, and made available when they want it or when their descendants want it. That's what this is all about.


    Visual

    The Turnbull Endowment Trust thanks all who participated. Alexander Turnbull LIbrary staff and whānau. National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, Studio Carolina Izzo.

    This film was made with support from a Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee Grant. Special thanks to Women's Refuge for permission to film the Kate Sheppard sculpture. All other items featured are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library collection.

    Music
    Douglas Lilburn — collection, Xiing Wang, Jian Liu, Flying Nun, Maria Dallas, Jonathan Besser, Ana Kenny and choir, Afokoula Singers ‘Atenisi Institute, Tonga.

    Editor — Peter Metcalf
    Sound mix — Ian Leslie
    Camera — Ivars Berzins
    Director — Anna Cottrell AC Productions

    Special thanks to all Alexander Turnbull Library staff who appeared in this film.
    John Sullivan, Leader Curatorial Services
    Jenni Chrisstoffels, Research Librarian Pictorial
    Cecilia Ng, Research Librarian
    Rita Havel, Research Librarian
    Ulu Afaese, Librarian
    Samuel Ardell, Librarian
    Lynette Shum, Oral History Advisor
    Brendan O’Brien, Conservation Coordinator Exhibitions
    Keith McEwing, Assistant Curator Music
    Laura van Echten, Conservation Technician
    Greg Weiss, Conservation Technician
    Cellia Joe-Olsen,. Heritage Advice Coordinator Outreach Services
    Dale Cousens, Team Leader Collection Development

    Producer — Anna Cottrell
    Executive Producer — Paula MacLachlan, Turnbull Endowment Trust

    Logos, Turnbull Endowment Trust, ATL100 Alexander Turnbull Library National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. Lotto, Funded by NZ Lottery Grants Board.

    Audio

    Piano music.

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we'll fix them email digital-services@dia.govt.nz

Transcript — A Century of Wonder — An Alexander Turnbull Library mini-documentary

Visual

Gloved hand taking a cover off a painting.

Audio

Music


Visual

Images of items from the Alexander Turnbull collections including small container, mirror, manuscript printed and handwritten, posters, paintings.

Words appear on screen music, diaries, websites, drawings, recordings

Audio

Man's voice: It's a wonderful thing that the Turnbull Library is 100 years old. Every year, between 300 and 500 individuals, community groups, organizations gift things to the Turnbull Library.


Visual

A man speaking. Words Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian Alexander Turnbull Library appear on screen.

Audio

Chris Szekely We've got a century of trust behind us, a century of gifting a century of researchers who have used their collections and generated new knowledge.


Visual

Dr Jock Phillips, Historian talking. Dr Phillips walking up the stairs to enter the National Library.

Audio

Dr Jock Phillips: Well the ATL has been an absolute treasure house. It's a world-class institution. For a historian, it's absolutely irreplaceable.


Visual

Hands opening a diary. One page has small bundles of hair clippings in it. Audrey Waugh

Audio

Woman's voice: Well today I've brought out Joanna Turnbull's autograph album.


Visual

Woman talking. Words Audrey Waugh, Research Librarian Manuscripts appear on screen.

Audio

Audrey Waugh: So, this is a fantastic collection item in the manuscripts collection.


Visual

Hands opening a diary. Page with writing and a sketch of a woman.

Audio

Audrey Waugh: Joanna Turnbull is Alexander Turnbull's sister, fondly known as Sissy to the family in all of their correspondence.


Visual

Audrey walking into the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room with a collection item in her hand. She walks to a table where a researcher is waiting for the item.

Audio

Audrey Waugh: I love being able to work with researchers on a really wide variety of topics, bringing that sparkle to the reading room. And helping people discover things that are really significant, both historically and personally.


Visual

Woman talking to Audrey.

Audio

Jane Tolerton: But that other photo you brought me, there's this lovely piece where he gives a speech in Christchurch in July 1887, and he writes to his wife to thank her for the note she sent him.

Visual

Researcher pointing to a picture in a book.

Audio

Jane Tolerton: That's Mary Vogel, there she is, there, and later he says I made a rattling good speech.

Audrey: Oh, fantastic.


Visual

Woman talking to Audrey. Words Jane Tolerton, Historian appear on screen.

Audio

Jane Tolerton: I've never seen that quote in any women's suffrage book, so that's new. It's wonderful to have.


Visual

Hands opening a folder with handwritten material in them. Audrey then talks to camera.

Audio

Audrey Waugh: These papers are 130 years old, and yet researchers are still able to find new discoveries and bring new meaning to the collections.


Visual

Woman turning pages of a large photo album full of black and white photos. Words Amalaratna, Research Librarian. Amalartna points to the images as she talks about them.

Audio

Amalaratna: So this is Scott's expedition to the Antarctic, 1910. The Terra Nova British Antarctic Expedition. This is the dog party, the dog camp with the horses. And this is the relief party, here.


Visual

Shot panning across the reading rooms and boxes of material. Words photographers, personal pagers, oral history, exhibitions, albums, lyrics, kete show on screen.

Audio

Music


Visual

Man sitting at desk with two screens. The screens have large images on them. Words Mark Beatty, Imaging Technician show on screen. Full screen image of painting of a house.

Audio

Mark Beatty: This is a painting by Peter McIntyre, and it shows the Turnbull House. So, this is the origins, this is where we all started. Officially became the Turnbull Library in 1920, when it opened to the public.


Visual

Man looking at lots of images on a screen. Then close ups of a Māori family wearing European clothing.

Audio

Mark Beatty: Beautiful image here of the family together useful details on the dresses, what they're wearing. We've digitized the original glass plate negative and processed it from being a negative into a positive.


Visual

Wall with image of Alexander Turnbull hanging and words Alexander Turnbull Library on the wall. Image changes to a painting of Alexander Turnbull. Woman walks past painting to an exhibition cabinet. Words, donations, paintings, seminars, sketches and lectures appear on screen.

Audio

Chris Szekely: Alexander Turnbull was a wealthy young guy. He had two big passions in his life. One was yachting, his other great passion was he was an obsessive collector.


Visual

Man talking to camera.

Audio

Chris Szekely: He was focused on two things mainly, anything to do with New Zealand and the Pacific exploration.


Visual

Woman walks to table with item and sits down. Looks at item. Close up of item. Words Suliana Vea, Research Librarian Pacific appear on screen. Suliana on screen. Image of a performing arts groups.

Audio

Suliana Vea: We have a lot of items here belonging to Māori to Mate Noa and the Pacific as well. And people can just type in a search, and if they find something like I did last night, then, yeah, we want to see it. Made me feel really emotional because it involves my uncle who's no longer alive. He was a part of a performing arts group, and they were performing all over. They went to Germany, they went to England, and he used to always tell us these stories, and sadly, when you're young you don't realize how important those stories are.


Visual

Man walking between storage cases. Pulls out a vertical drawer with a modern painting of a man, and angel. Words Dr Oliver Stead, Curator Drawings, Paintings, Prints appear on screen.

Man shows us the original of Charles Heaphy's Mount Egmont water colour.

Audio

Oliver Stead: Mary McIntyre painted this portrait of Pat Hanley, and what's also quite amazing about it is that there's a very beautifully rendered detail of a painting by Tony Fomison in the lower right-hand corner.

Well,to me personally the Turnbull Library published a series of prints after famous New Zealand watercolors in its collection in the 60s. And I grew up with Charles Heaphy's beautiful watercolor, Mount Egmont from the southward, on my bedroom wall. Many, many years later, to be looking after the real thing is just such a privilege.


Visual

Man walking an looking at music posters on a wall. Words Dr Michael Brown, Curator Music appear on the screen.

Audio

Guitar music

Michael Brown: I think what's really satisfying about the job is that working with labels like Flying Nun, by digitizing that material, it actually allows it to be used again. It allows it to be remastered and reissued, or in some cases issued for the first time.


Visual

Woman putting a floppy disk into a floppy disk drive. Words Flora Feltham, Digital Archivist appear on screen.

Audio

Flora Feltham: So I am a digital archivist here at the Alexander Turnbull Library, and part of my job involves getting files off really old kinds of media. So use an old internal floppy disk drive from my computer to try and image this disk. So part of our job is about having to hook up old technology with modern technology, because, of course, when we're talking digital archives we're talking digital files that were being used up to 30 years ago. You really, really have to fix things often. It's really fun, why doesn't it sound fun?


Visual

Open book with picture of a birds as pages are turned. Man standing in front of four rare books in book holders. Aurora Australis front plate. Words Anthony Tedeschi, Curator Rare Books, Fine Printing appear on screen. Hands show book being opened.

Audio

Anthony Tedeschi: There's never a dull moment, I wouldn't think, being a rare books curator. This is one of the library's copies of the Aurora Australis. So, this is the first book to be printed, illustrated, and bound in Antarctica by Ernest Shackleton and members of his crew. I showed the binding first because this is made from recycled packing crates. We think they printed about 100 copies, and I'm pretty sure this is the etching press.


Visual

Shot of storage. Man sits at desk. Pulls a box out of a bigger box. Opens the box to show a recording on tape. Hands winding the tape onto a machine. Words Phil Brownlee, AV Conservation Technician show on screen. Instruments showing audio levels. Man talking to camera.

Audio

Woman's voice: We present the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra, conducted by Dobbs Franks, leader Ruth Pearl.

Phil Brownlee: Old recordings of New Zealand music are probably the, where my interests lies. It's one of the interesting things about this work is that we don't know exactly what's on the tape until we put it on the machine. The huge variety of the content that I deal with, people telling their stories, and old music recordings, primary historical sources. These tapes were recorded 60 years ago, and the sound on them is as clear as the day it was recorded.

This work was written by Bartók in 1935 at the request of--

We've also got the radio presentation, which is of historical-- historically interesting in itself. The voices of the old YC announcers.


Visual

Woman walking in front of banner outside the National Library advertising He Tohu exhibition. Woman in the library looking at a table full of papers. Looking over the woman's shoulder at the papers. Words Caitlin Lynch, Researcher and Filmmaker appear of screen.

Audio

Caitlin Lynch: I did a history degree and so I loved coming here to find out more about what I was researching. You always discover something unexpected.


Visual

Black and white photo of six men and two women. Woman speaking to camera. Woman looking at suffrage statue. Woman sitting at desk looking at papers. Woman looking at paper headed ‘The Sweating System’. Paper has image of a woman sewing, a sick man in bed and children sitting around her in distress. Shots of cartoons. Footage from ‘Harriet Morison’ short film showing a woman walking.

Caitlin Lynch: I was researching this woman named Harriet Morrison, who was involved in the suffrage movement but she isn't mentioned nearly as much as someone like Kate Sheppard. So I came to the ATL where I could look through all these newspapers and manuscript files. And I could draw out all these amazing cartoons of Harriet Morrison from the newspapers. And then we compiled all that information into a little documentary about Harriet Morrison which went on to be nominated for the Bert Roth History Awards and the Bert Roth files we actually used in the project. These were the files that had all this information about her. And so it was a really cool way to engage with the archives.


Visual

Woman walking towards glass sculpture of Kate Sheppard. Woman talking to camera. Words Suzanne Snively, Deputy Chair, Turnbull Endowment Trust appear on screen.

Audio

Suzanne Snively: I love this sculpture. I'm a trustee on the Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust, which is a foundation that's been set up in order to make sure that the collection at the Alexander Turnbull Library is available to all New Zealanders. Not only did Kate Sheppard campaign for a woman's right to vote but for universal suffrage.


Visual

Shot of the reading rooms.

Audio

Music


Visual

Man pulling paintings out of storage.

Audio

Orchestral music.


Visual

Hands pulling a record out of its cover. Close up of vinyl record being played. Close up of record cover, Country Girl Maria Dallas. Woman shows record. Words Bronwyn Officer, Senior Conservator Sounds show on screen.

Audio

Our means of preservation is to digitize the analog object for all time.

Singing ‘Tumbling, a tumbling a tumbling down...’

This is a lacquer disk. You can see crazing on this record. Physically, I'm not going to do anything to it. But by playing the content, we preserve it into the future. This has been requested by the great-granddaughter of the bagpipe player.

Bagpipe music.


Visual

Woman wearing lab coat and white gloves sitting in front of a microscope and preparing things. Woman looks through microscope at an painting of adults and children with parcels on a bridge. Words Carolina Izzo, Director, Studio Carolina Izzo. Hands doing conservation work on the painting. Woman looking through microscope. Gently brushing of painting with a soft brush. Woman writes notes about work doing on painting.

Audio

Carolina Izzo: My name is Carolina Izzo, and I have a studio in New Zealand called Studio Carolina Izzo. It's a unique unique works that has the label in paper, fragment of a label paper work attach it to the surface. So this painting is painted over a cardboard. It's a poor material, and doesn't seems has a priming underneath, but still searching it out.

Through the microscope I was able to see that it was varnished recently, I don't think it was a regional varnish. Because for example where there were fragment of paper, and where the paper was missing. there was no varnish. So you know that that was something I'm exploring that possibility there was the level was actually attached at the time that painting was completed.

I noticed that the environment where the painting was done had some kind of a dust problem, because there's a lots of pigment used that has embedded. Very beautiful looking under the microscope.


Visual

Woman wearing gloves opening a cardboard box and taking a book out. Words Sarah Askey, Conservator appear on screen. Hands holding book open. Gloved hands point at parts of the book cover. Woman sitting at desk. She puts a mask on. Woman scrapping book with tool and brush. .

Audio

Sarah Askey: So this is a box of books that were donated last year. The descendants of a man called Charles Calvert, so this is his private library collection. But they've been quite badly damaged by silt. This is actually a book in Māori, 1848. I'm going to be chipping these accretions of silt off using a scalpel and then working through the pages with a very soft brush and a smoke sponge.

I quite like the problem solving. When you have things come to you in they're sort of not usable as books anymore, figuring out how to make them meet present day kind of needs for access and use but still retaining what it is about their history which is important to what they are.


Visual

Gloved hands working with film. Words appear on screen Theresa Kele, Librarian Microfilms.

Theresa Kele: We're looking at 35 millimeter mass of microfilm of the Tāupo Times from 1953 to 1954. This is an old acetate film, and I'm going through it to replace poor splices, and replacing them with archival splices. And this will help to keep-- preserve the microfilm for longer.


Visual

Man sitting at desk looking at handwritten letters. Photo of a couple.

Audio

Man’s voice: My dearest. My own darling.

Jock Phillips: Beautiful. I've got the letters that were written by Peter Howden to his wife, which he wrote every day of his war service from the end of 1915 until he died in 1917. So it's a great love story.


Visual

Sign !Caution! Work in progress. Words on screen Mīharo Exhibition, Peter Ireland, Gallery, Exhibitions Specialist: Dr Fiona Oliver, Curator NZ and Pacific Publications. People looking at items on a table. A document with a photo and Chinese characters and an official stamp on it.

Audio

Peter Ireland: Effectively a passport which allowed Robin Hyde, the New Zealand writer, to travel in China in the 1930s.

Fiona Oliver: Robin Hyde was a pen name, and her real name was Iris Wilkinson.


Visual

A gloved hand holding a small card with a blue and white painting on it. The card is turned over to show of small handwriting. Man talking words Peter Ireland, Gallery, Exhibitions Specialist appear on screen.

Audio

Peter Ireland: It's a handmade postcard by the New Zealand artist Frances Hodgkins. Essentially, a thank you card to thank somebody for having her to stay when she was in France, so probably from the 1930s and 1940s. One of the reasons we liked it so much was that it's quite a rare instance, of the work in our collection.


Visual

Woman using tool to open pages of a book. Pages of the book with drawings of people in Pacific Islands. Turning pages of the book to show more drawings of Pacific Islands.

Audio

Peter Ireland: We don't know who the artist is, but we know the association of it with a particular voyage.


Visual

Three people taking a material cover off a very large piece of paper. Man and woman looking at a sheet with drawings, maps and lots of words. Words Margaret Morris, Senior Conservator, Works in Paper appear on screen.

Audio

Chris Szekely: Look at that.

Margaret Morris: He's trying to encapsulate the history of New Zealand in one great big sheet.

Chris Szekely: Well the history of New Zealand from European--

Margaret Morris: His point of view, yes.

Chris Szekely: First sight, if you like.

Margaret Morris: It's from his point of view, that's right.

Chris Szekely: Yes.

Margaret Morris: I just love this item. I love the fact that all of this is done by hand.

Chris Szekely: All by hand.

Margaret Morris: It's remarkable.


Visual

Two women standing together. People standing together, children and adults. Words John Scott’s architectural works — donation appear on screen. People carrying items into the Library.

Audio

Powerful chanting by two Māori women's calling to each other in welcome during a karanga.

Chris Szekely: E te whānau au Hone Scott. Tēnā koutou i o manaakitanga me te aroha, nō reira, nau mai, haere mai ki to tātou whare. Tena koutou, tena koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.


Visual

Drawers opening full of photographs. Man looking through photographs. Pulls a picture of two cloaked Māori women. Photo of pohutukawa and caravan, paper with photo and Chinese script, small ceramic box, drawing of indigenous people sitting around a fire, poster, record. Words Chris Szekely, Chief Librarian appear on screen.

Audio

Chris Szekely: I absolutely believe that every New Zealander has a right to expect that the documentary record of their family, their community, their culture, their country is kept, cared for, and made available when they want it or when their descendants want it. That's what this is all about.


Visual

The Turnbull Endowment Trust thanks all who participated. Alexander Turnbull LIbrary staff and whānau. National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, Studio Carolina Izzo.

This film was made with support from a Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee Grant. Special thanks to Women's Refuge for permission to film the Kate Sheppard sculpture. All other items featured are held in the Alexander Turnbull Library collection.

Music
Douglas Lilburn — collection, Xiing Wang, Jian Liu, Flying Nun, Maria Dallas, Jonathan Besser, Ana Kenny and choir, Afokoula Singers ‘Atenisi Institute, Tonga.

Editor — Peter Metcalf
Sound mix — Ian Leslie
Camera — Ivars Berzins
Director — Anna Cottrell AC Productions

Special thanks to all Alexander Turnbull Library staff who appeared in this film.
John Sullivan, Leader Curatorial Services
Jenni Chrisstoffels, Research Librarian Pictorial
Cecilia Ng, Research Librarian
Rita Havel, Research Librarian
Ulu Afaese, Librarian
Samuel Ardell, Librarian
Lynette Shum, Oral History Advisor
Brendan O’Brien, Conservation Coordinator Exhibitions
Keith McEwing, Assistant Curator Music
Laura van Echten, Conservation Technician
Greg Weiss, Conservation Technician
Cellia Joe-Olsen,. Heritage Advice Coordinator Outreach Services
Dale Cousens, Team Leader Collection Development

Producer — Anna Cottrell
Executive Producer — Paula MacLachlan, Turnbull Endowment Trust

Logos, Turnbull Endowment Trust, ATL100 Alexander Turnbull Library National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. Lotto, Funded by NZ Lottery Grants Board.

Audio

Piano music.

Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we'll fix them email digital-services@dia.govt.nz


Caring for documentary heritage and working together

Anniversaries are more than milestones. They are crossroads at which we decide to live in the past or use our experiences to inform and empower our future. — John Gray, Director, National Museum of American History

Over the next several weeks I will be on tour in different communities around the country using the Turnbull centenary as a platform for public talks about documentary heritage and why it matters.

With a New Zealand history curriculum becoming compulsory in New Zealand schools from 2022, there is a tremendous opportunity for heritage groups and institutions large and small to work together, to strengthen community connections and shine a light on the challenges, benefits and value of what we are about.

I have a personal belief that in New Zealand we can reasonably expect that the documentary heritage of our communities, cultures and country will be kept, cared for and available when New Zealanders want it.

The Turnbull has had a good run for a century or so because there has been outstanding generosity, strong support and good work by many. It is the next hundred years that now counts.

In the meantime, thanks Alex for 100 wonderful years, and thanks everyone who has had a hand in getting the Turnbull to this milestone. Kia ora koutou katoa.

Group portrait of Alexander Turnbull Library staff many holding their hands up and smiling for the camera.
From the Turnbull team in 2020: Thanks Alex. Thank-you New Zealand. Kia ora koutou katoa. Photo: Mark Beatty
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