Thursday, 5 April 2007

New text, including Buller's Birds and Kendall's Grammar

Kia ora koutou!

There are several new texts online at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre and I'd like to draw your attention to a few of them.
  • A History of the Birds of New Zealand, By Walter Buller (1888)

    New Zealand's most infamous ornithologist, Dr Walter Buller published this enlarged edition of his history of the birds of New Zealand in 1888. It became a New Zealand classic, especially for J. G. Keulemans's chromolithographic plates and these plates are still the standard images of New Zealand birds. According to Ross Galbreath's book about Buller "Although 1,000 sets of the 1888 edition were produced, a total of 251 copies were lost in the wrecks of the Matai and the Assaye in 1890" (Galbreath p.172). One of the remaining copies is held in the Fildes Collection of the JC Beaglehole Room and the project to digitise the book was a collaboration between the NZETC and the J. C. Beaglehole Room at VUW. All the images are now browsable alongside the full text of Buller's work. Have a look at the beautiful huia.

  • A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand, by Samuel Lee and Thomas Kendall (1820)

    This book laid the orthographic foundations of written Maori. According to one report "Kendall's first rough list of 1815 was revised and sent off to Samuel Lee, Professor of Arabic at Cambridge. Kendall and two Maori chiefs, Hongi and Waikato, joined him there in 1820, and together they produced the text. It was printed later that year by R. Watts, printer to the Church Missionary Society in London. Kendall, unlike Marsden, was determined that Maori should not be anglicized; c, q and x were dropped for a start, but the Grammar at that stage still included letters for non-Maori sounds thought necessary for foreign words -f, hard g, j , v, z - and so it still ran to five vowels, eighteen consonants, and one digraph ng (as in Ngaio Marsh). It included sample sentences such as 'the performance of the white man is good, the performance of the white man is exceeding good', but linguistically at least the performance of the white man still left room for improvement." (D. F McKenzie "The Sociology of a Text: Orality, Literacy and Print in Early New Zealand"). As for the Buller text, the source copy used is part of the Fildes Collection in the JC Beaglehole Room.

  • Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook, by Una Platts

    This guide is regarded as the finest single source of information on early New Zealand artists. It has long been out of print and is made available online with the kind permission of the late author's family and Christchurch City Libraries who initiated the digitisation of the book. A PDF of the page images is available on the CCL website.

  • New Zealand Bird Songs, by Eileen Duggan

    "Eileen Duggan was the first New Zealand poet to gain an international reputation ... Her poetry is characterised by its conspicuous religious dimension, which ranges from simple devotional writing, through poems that celebrate the sacredness of the created world, to more spare and sombre meditations on the moral implications of human actions."(From the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography). These poems are made available with the kind permission of the estate of the late author.

  • The Old Whaling Days: A History of Southern New Zealand from 1830 to 1840, By Robert McNab

    "Robert McNab's historical method was unashamedly that of the compilation historian, unearthing fragments of information and documents from a painstaking search of the primary sources and presenting them in a chronological narrative." (From the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography). The NZETC already has online two other McNab histories ("Murihiku" and "From Tasmen to Marsden"). He assiduously gathered primary sources for NZ's early history and "The Old Whaling Days", which was published in 1913, covers the years 1830-40 and deals with the bay whaling period of southern New Zealand's history. We also have available online the first volume of the "Historical Records of New Zealand," edited by McNab's.

  • The Journals and Correspondence of the Rev. John Butler, compiled by R. J. Barton

    John Butler (1781-1841) was a pioneer, missionary, farmer and New Zealand's first ordained resident clergyman. Butler's journal of his years at Kerikeri gives many arresting details of his contacts with Hongi, Te Morenga, and other chiefs, and of the contemporary Maori culture. His entry for May 3rd 1820 records the first use of the European plough:

    'The agricultural plough was for the first time put into the land of New Zealand at Kideekidee, and I felt much pleasure in holding it after a team of six bullocks brought down by the "Dromedary." I trust that this day will be remembered with gratitude, and its anniversary kept by ages yet unborn. Each heart rejoiced in this auspicious day, and said, "May God speed the plough."'
We would be grateful to receive feedback from readers: comments both positive and negative, suggestions, and errata.

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