Thursday, 20 December 2007

New texts for Xmas!

Just in time for Christmas ... the NZETC has added several new texts to our collection. A bit of a mixed bag this time; something for everyone I hope.

In collaboration with the University of Waikato Library we're especially pleased to be able to make the six volumes of John White's 1888 "The Ancient History of the Maori" accessible online. In 2002 the University of Waikato Library created PDF versions on CD-ROM and new print editions of the documents. Earlier this year they generously gave us permission to produce new versions for the web. This is massive!

Botanists are going to love the Plantarum Novarum Ex Herbario Sprengelii Centuriam by Johann Friedrich Theodor Biehler. (Well ... when we say "novarum" ... these plants aren't as new as they were in 1807). Seventeen species and one genus of plants from New Zealand and the South Pacific were first described and named in this Latin text published in 1807. Professor Phil Garnock-Jones from the School of Biology at Victoria University who has written about the significance of this work, reset the text and kindly agreed to allow us to publish it as part of the NZETC collection.

Bird Life on Island and Shore By H. Guthrie-Smith is a good quick read for those interested in NZ bird life - "should be swallowed at a single gulp" according to the author. Some good photos there too.

Another natural history addition is A Leaf from the Natural History of New Zealand by Richard Taylor, from 1848.

Infantry Brigadier by Sir Howard Kippenberger, from 1949, is a worthy addition to our substantial World War II collection.
In 1949 Kippenberger’s own account of the war, Infantry Brigadier, was published to wide acclaim. The book is a detailed and well-written account of his part in the Second World War, and shows much of its author’s modesty, reflectiveness, soundness of judgement, humane concern for his men, and dry sense of humour. It has been translated into seven languages, and is still used as a textbook of infantry tactics.
Harper, Glyn. 'Kippenberger, Howard Karl 1897 - 1957'.
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
, updated 22 June 2007

Aucklanders should find something of interest in Some Interesting Occurrences in Early Auckland By E. Earle Vaile:
In those days anything might happen to folk in the streets. Judge Munro told me that on one occasion he was walking up Queen Street with a “new chum” when a tattooed Maori chief spoke to him. The new chum asked “What does this curious looking old savage want with us?” The Maori asked “What the Pakeha say, e hoa”? Judge Munro replied “He is admiring your tattoo”. The Maori responded by exposing his rump saying “my moko (facial tattoo) is nothing, let him see this”. Maori men were often so closely tattooed from the waist to the knees as to appear clad in knickerbockers.
(from Chapter 11)
Last but not least, the fabulous War Economy Recipe Book will surely provide one or two (perhaps as many as 3) recipes suitable for your Yuletide feasting! In all seriousness, some of the recipes in this book (mostly named after battles and military leaders) are not for the faint-hearted:

A Very Good Home-Made Coffee.

5 cups of bran, 2 cups of treacle.

Put in a piedish and heat in oven, continually stirring. Care must be taken not to leave too long without stirring, as it will burn. Cook till dry—may take an hour—in a moderate oven. When cool put in airtight tin. Similar in flavour to “Instant Postum.”

Oh yeah ... Instant Postum ... look out for that in the shops eh?

Other recipes are definitely worth a try. I've tried and I can recommend the Tripoli Biscuits (you may know them as ANZACs), and I have a 5-year plan to try out Stalin Gingerbread. Because of war-time rationing, many of the recipes are egg-free.

From all of us here at the NZ Electronic Text Centre, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

For those with too many books...

Got so many books on your bookshelves at home that you don't know where to find the one that you're after?
For those bibliophiles who answer "yes" to the above, an interesting article has surfaced by someone who was determined to find the best way to catalogue their home library of 3,500 books.

The original question they asked, and the 300-odd comments / suggestions that it generated are also available.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Australia New Zealand Digital Encyclopedia Group meeting in Sydney

This week Jason, Jamie and Conal (that’s me!) from the NZETC attended the annual meeting of the Australia New Zealand Digital Encyclopedia Group in Sydney. The ANZDEG is a fairly informal gathering of people working on online encyclopedias and similar things in this part of the world.

This year Aotearoa was represented by people from the NZETC, the National Library, and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage (which publishes Te Ara and the Dictionary of NZ Biography, amongst other things).Jason demonstrated a pre-release version of his latest opus, “Remote Writer”; a simple-to-use word-processor application which can be used to edit structured documents over the internet, similarly to a wiki or blogging tool, though additionally it still works even when the user is disconnected from the net. The idea is that organisations like the NZETC can allow remote contributors to produce and maintain structured XML documents using Remote Writer, without them having to learn XML, and without a lot of fuss.

Jamie presented about his new authority control software “Entity Authority Control System” (EATS), which is already in use at the NZETC to keep track of a few tens of thousands of literary works, people, places, and organisations (plus a few odd livestock including a particular dog, a couple of cats, and at least one pet chicken). EATS is a web-accessible database which allows users to maintain the names, unique identifiers, control numbers, and indeed any distinguishing characteristics of a large number of distinct things (”entities”) of whatever type. This is a common requirement of Encyclopedic websites, and also it’s increasingly a requirement that these websites can efficiently maintain links between each of their records and corresponding records on other websites. By storing identifiers from a number of authority files, EATS provides a mechanism to do this. For example, our EATS server has a record for Samuel Marsden, with an NZETC code name-208673 and a DNZB code of 1M16, which is how we include the link from our Samuel Marsden page to the DNZB’s Samuel Marsden page.

Conal gave a short presentation showing how we maintain the hyperlinks from the NZETC website to other sites, using EATS to unambiguously identify each person, book, etc. in those websites, and using TEI documents to describe how those people, books, etc, relate to each other, and to the individual pages of the websites.

The issue of Authority Control came up a lot - in particular the Australians are all hanging out for the upcoming launch of the National Library of Australia’s “People Australia” service, which is going to link together authority records for Australian people and organisations from a number of different sources.Another interesting software demo was “Heurist”, an “academic database” of web bookmarks, citations, and research data, with tagging, searching, and sharing features, developed at the University of Sydney.

A common topic of presentations was the integration of maps and timelines in online exhibits. We saw some beautiful examples of old maps of Sydney changing over the years as landfills ate away at the harbour. Another striking demo showed a map of Australia with a sliding control with which you could go back and forth in time during the last 50 thousand years, and watch the map change as sea levels rose and fell, Australia joining up with Papua New Guinea, its name changing between “Australia” and “Sahul” (as archaeologists call the joint land mass), and archaeological sites fading in and out of existence as environmental conditions for those settlements changed.

Wellington will host the next meeting in December next year. With a bit of luck and some organisation we should be able to get a few more New Zealanders along!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

'Maoriland' novels made available online

The New Zealand Electronic Text Emporium, having now procured an extensive stock of 19th Century Maoriland Novels, comprising divers tales of Romance and Adventure, &c, &c, respectfully intimates to you, Gentle Reader, that these fine Works of Literature may now be perused herein ....

Under-read and undervalued novels from New Zealand's literary past are being made available for the first time.

This has been made possible through the collaboration between Victoria University's New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, the University Library's JC Beaglehole Room and the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Associate Professor of English at Victoria University, Jane Stafford says the collection of nineteenth century 'Maoriland' literature represents an important part of our cultural history.

"Although the term 'Maoriland' can evoke a world of saccharine fantasy in which heroic Maori warriors and seductive Maori maidens inhabit outmoded Victorian literary forms, this colonial literature is lively, complex and significant, and marks the beginnings of a self-consciously New Zealand literature," she says.

One of barriers to further research in this area has been that virtually everything is out of print and in some cases only survives in one or two copies, kept carefully in rare book collections. Over the last twelve months we have worked to create a freely available digital collection of the novels of Maoriland published prior to 1900. Our hope is that by increasing access to these texts, however bizarre and at times unpalatable some of the writers' opinions might be, this project will stimulate further scholarly examination and a wider appreciation for the importance of this period of New Zealand literary history.

The first thirty-two titles from the digital collection to have just been made available online and can be accessed along with an introduction by Jane Stafford. We will be adding more titles and more associated scholarly commentary next year.

As always we would be very pleased to hear any comments on the project.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Zinio Mobile Newsstand for iPhone

Further to my earlier post about the possibility of using the iPhone / iPod Touch as an eBook reader, I've just been pointed to a product called the Zinio Mobile Newsstand, which allows for reading of popular magazine titles via this device, and seems to be a very slick commercial means of delivering digital versions of print magazines.

My hunch is that we'll be seeing plenty of developments similar to this over the next year.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

The "Moko; or Maori Tattooing" Project

Kia ora koutou katoa!

A current project being undertaken here at the Centre is the digitisation of "Moko; or Maori Tattooing" by Horatio Gordon Robley and 6 associated texts. "Moko", published in 1896, contains a brief history of the practice and nearly 200 images detailing moko-ed people, moko design and mokamokai (preserved heads).

Because of the Mātauranga Māori contained within the text and the images of mokamokai we felt that we needed to consult with Māori communities as well as other groups who would be potentially impacted by the digitisation of the text. This was to ensure that we were aware of all the issues that could result from its ditigisation and to help us make an informed decision about how we would go about presenting the text online. We have now reached a decision and have made available a paper outlining our consultation process, the responses we received, the options we had and the decisions that we made. This can be found here.

Comments on the project can be left here or you can post to the messageboard at

Monday, 15 October 2007

Against Indifference, De Luxe Glory and the Cult of the Arty-Crafty: The New Zealand Design Review Online Archive

In a 1950 editorial the "New Zealand Design Review" identified the "horrible forces ranged against good design" as Indifference, Cheapness First, Unnecessary Novelty, Mass Production, De Luxe Glory, and the cult of the Arty-Crafty. The bimonthly "New Zealand Design Review" was published by the Architecture Centre from 1948 to 1954. A complete online archive of the journal has just been launched by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre and the Wellington Architecture Centre. All 29 issues are now freely available online where users can search and read the full text of articles as well as browse the many photographs and design illustrations.

The "New Zealand Design Review" addressed design topics as broad as furniture, town planning, theatre and stage design, packaging, church design, book-binding, poster design, industrial design and of course architecture. It was the first journal of its kind in New Zealand, reflecting an interest in architecture, design and the arts in the broadest sense.

The editorial of April/May 1949 explicitly asked the question "What is Design?", answering this with a statement about the purpose of the Design Review:
"Like everything that has to do with the arts, design cannot be tested for its quality in a laboratory … The elusive quality that a consensus of opinion agrees to call good design is not to be defined in terms like an axiom in geometry … So we will leave the making of formulas and rules to those who like that sort of thing ... we shall publish in each number a discussion on some particular object; a house, a chair, a teapot or what have you. The contributor will tell you his or her opinion about the merits or demerits of the way that thing is designed, omitting any waving of the big stick to lay down laws of design. It is for you to decide if you think they are right."

The project to make this content available in a digital format has been a collaboration between the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (, the Wellington Architecture Centre ( and the Architecture and Design Library, Victoria University of Wellington ( We are also grateful to the Alexander Turnbull Library who allowed the digitisation of two issues of the Review which we would not have otherwise been able to include in the online collection.

The "New Zealand Design Review" archive is online

New Texts

Several new texts have been added to the NZETC online collection. They include historical essays on mathematics in New Zealand, an early Maori Grammar and the text of two lectures given in 1851 by the Methodist missionary Thomas Buddle. The full list is given below.

In addition the NZETC collection is now enriched by links to articles in Te Ao Hou. The links are to articles by authors who are also represented in the NZETC collection. For example the topic page for Rewiti Kohere includes links to three texts in the NZETC collection and four articles he contributed to Te Ao Hou. The NZETC web pages now include links to content in Te Ao Hou, the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society, and Early New Zealand Books.

List of new texts in date order:

The Aborigines of New Zealand, by Thomas Buddle (1851)
Grammar of the New Zealand Language, by Robert Maunsell (1862)
The Maori: Yesterday and Today, by James Cowan (1930)
Hero Stories of New Zealand, by James Cowan (1935)
The Study of Mathematics, by James Tower Campbell (1946)
Mathematics at Victoria in Retrospect, by C. J. Seelye (1974)
In Peace & War: A Civilian Soldier's Story by Haddon Donald (2005)

Thursday, 11 October 2007


Jonathan O'Donnell's kindly created a customised Google Search for the ANZDEG group, (Australia New Zealand Digital Encyclopedias Group) which includes the NZETC.

It's included here near the bottom right, so give it a go if you want to search across content in the online collections of the participating ANZDEG members.

Normally, I guess, people would appreciate the wide-range of a general Google search, but there could be occasions where this restricted search would be useful. For example, if you want to search on New Zealand and Australian content about Cook, in order to get an idea of the Antipodean perspective, enter "James Cook" in this search box.

Friday, 5 October 2007

The Names Project

Names are something dear to our hearts here at the NZETC, as we have so many of them (something like 40,000 people, places, organisation, and titles of works) represented in our collection.

So, in light of this, it's heartening to see that a panel of experts convened for The Names Project in the UK is putting some thought into how to treat names authoritatively to allow for better searching and matching of names between different collection.

There's been other attempts at similar work, notably the now-finished LEAF project (which is covered in quite full detail here), though to date there appears to be nothing like a suitable / sensible solution that can be widely used by organisations such as NZETC to link their collections with others via shared name authorities

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Connexions: peer-reviewed creation of content

Relating to some research that we're doing surrounding the generation of content, both for our own website and for others, I've been thinking about the question of how to create collaboratively create content in a way that allows both ease of use (for non-technical users), while at the same time allowing for advanced editing functions by more technical users, such as the use of structured markup and authority identifiers.

I stumbled on Connexions, an open-source plone-based system developed by Rice University, and used by them to collaboratively create educational and academic content.

Connexions allows for creation of XML-based content, as well as importing from other formats such as Word, and appears to have a nice collaborative environment.

Where this gets interesting is that Rice University Press have in recent times re-invented themselves as a fully digital publisher, producing print-on-demand books using the Connexions system.

They claim that, using Connexions to create the digital content and then partnering with an on-demand printing service, they can create peer-reviewed academic publications for a tenth the cost using the traditional model of a University Press.

As Connexions is open-source, it is also downloadable for use by others.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

iPhone for eBooks?

The iPhone and recently-released iTouch are gathering a bit of attention as an eBook platform.

As this article from Tim O'Reilly points out, Apple already has quite an effective distribution platform in the form of iTunes, and there's speculation about Apple extending its reach to encompass eBooks, and publishers HarperCollins have even launched an eBook service tailored for the iPhone.

The iPhone and iTouch have pretty good resolution displays (about 160ppi — twice that of a PC screen), and the actual user interface is getting lots of praise for its ability to deal with presenting web-based content on a small device — have a look at the guided tour video of the iTouch from the Apple site.

There are a number of custom-made solutions out there already including one being developed on the Google code site, though often they're a little bit fiddly to install and use.

Given the iPhone / iTouch's use of a fully-fledged browser (Safari), it may be that the eventual mechanism for reading eBooks on these devices will be browser-based. Although you can use Safari on the iPhone / iTouch to read PDFs and HTML pages, the current obstacle to eBook reading is the fact the the browser only works well when in a place of WiFi reception — there's not a good mechanism of cached or offline browsing (though Apple's in bed with Google, and Google Gears would do the trick). Again, so people have been busy trying to find ways to overcome this hurdle, including the use of the mostly forgotten data URL standard.

At the moment, the iPhone / iTouch is not quite there for eBook reading, largely due to the problem of easily accessing content offline but it wouldn't take too much for Apple (or a capable hacker) to solve this.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

J C Beaglehole: James Cook Essay Collection

The latest addition to the NZETC collection is a series of essays by John Cawte Beaglehole on James Cook. J C Beaglehole was an internationally acknowledged historian and Cook scholar. In preparation for the massive three volumes of "The journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery" and the acclaimed biography "The life of Captain James Cook" he published a series of papers and lectures, ten of which the NZETC has now gathered together and republished online. The essays, dating from 1956 to 1970, cover both aspects of Cook's character and the process of editing the journals:

"On the Character of Captain Cook"
"Some of the Problems of Editing Cook's Journals"
"The Death of Captain Cook"
"The Wandering Scholars"
"Captain Cook and Captain Bligh"
"Cook the Navigator"
"Some problems of Cook's biographer"
"Eighteenth Century Science and the Voyages of Discovery"
"Cook the Man"
"Cook the Writer"

The NZETC is able to publish these texts online thanks to the kind permission of Professor Tim Beaglehole, Chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington. These essays add to a small collection of letters and academic works by J C Beaglehole already available as part of the NZETC collection

Monday, 10 September 2007

Pacific Memory of the World

An article on the Pacific Memory of the World Project appeared in the July issues of
Islands Business
. The NZETC undertook the research upon which the project is based in 2006. An extract from the article is reprinted below. The full text can be found

"There are currently no items from the Pacific and the purpose of the Pacific MOW Register is to build awareness for the global programme and to have up to six Pacific items inscribed on the global list during the next UNESCO medium term (2008 to 2013).

Spearheaded by the Communication and Information sector of UNESCO’s Apia office, the Pacific region will be pitching for inclusion in the global MOW project as a collective body of countries.

The Pacific Register was completed in 2006 and the Apia Office will be working with the Australian MOW committee to build a website, said Caine.

So far, the Pacific MOW register has identified over 300 national documents from 14 Pacific islands countries as having historical significance.

While it may be argued that Pacific islands nations should be the ones to make the decisions on what documents qualify as having historical and national significance, the level of awareness on the need to preserve memory and the UNESCO MOW Programme is very low, according to Caine.

“Ideally, each Pacific islands country should form a national IFAP (Information For All Programme) Committee who would agree on the list and priority ranking, ultimate ownership/custodianship of the item, as well as work to inscribe the item of the global MOW register. The committee should consist of all national stakeholders and infostructures.”

As this was not often the case in the Pacific, the task of locating and digitising documents on the Pacific MOW register as well as the footing of costs involved are left in the hands of UNESCO Apia.

While progress has been achieved with the list of important documents from the region, PICs may as well suffer from historical amnesia as the existence of a number of those documents are not known and therefore, it is not clear whether they can be located for digitisation.

Documents relating to the election of Niue’s King in 1878 for example, or the sale of Micronesia to Germany by Spain in 1885, are among the many others from across the 14 PICs whose whereabouts are not known.

Caine said this formed part of the challenges in getting the Pacific MOW Programme together.

Most of the listed items have disappeared or there is only vague knowledge of the last location.

When there has been contact with the ‘owners’ or holders of the items, negotiation for the return of the items have been hampered by either the purchase or ‘transfer fee’ or the owners’ real concerns of the ability of the country to properly maintain the items, he said.

Caine urged PICs to take ownership of this project and to see it as “a source of collective pride and joy from being able to remember their history and how it formed their identity”.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Links to the New Zealand Book Council

The NZETC author topic pages now include links to author profiles on the New Zealand Book Council website for writers such as Maurice Gee,
Hinemoana Baker, and Alistair Te Ariki Campbell.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Whakanuia Te Wiki o te Reo Māori!

Celebrate Māori language week by accessing some of the Māori dictionaries and texts in the NZETC collection

Also included in the collection are various significant English language texts by Sir Apirana Ngata, Sir Maui Pomare,Reweti Tuhorouta Kohere,Te Rangi Hiroa,Makereti Papakura,Hori Ngatai and Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi Te Waharoa. The collection also contains several historical ethnologies, war histories – including Cody’s “28th Maori Battalion” – and modern fiction.

We are keen to increase the amount of Māori language material, as well as the number of historical texts written by Māori, whether in Te Reo or in English, in the collection. More texts will be added later this year. If you have suggestions for texts which should be considered for digitisation please email

Sunday, 1 July 2007

La Trobe Journal

NZETC has just completed a project for the State Library of Victoria in Australia to create an online archive for their "La Trobe Journal". This highly regarded journal was founded by the Friends of the State Library of Victoria in 1968 to promote interest in the Library's Australiana collection. It was originally published as the La Trobe Library Journal under the editorship of distinguished historian Dr Geoffrey Serle.

In 1998, the State Library of Victoria Foundation became the sponsor of the journal, enabling the publication to expand considerably. Published twice a year in Autumn and Spring, the journal now includes scholarly articles on many known and unknown aspects of the Library's collection.
The La Trobe Journal online

Launched in July 2007, the full-text online archive of the La Trobe Journal allows researchers to access every article in every edition published since 1968. The La Trobe Journal website features scanned images of actual printed pages, as well as transcriptions of all text. Illustrations in articles can also be viewed and printed independently from the text.

Friday, 15 June 2007

"Tuatara" journal online

The NZETC has just completed a project to digitise "Tuatara" a journal of biological science published by the University between 1947 and 1993. The 82 issues report on important New Zealand biological research and feature articles and illustrations on a variety of topics from botany and zoology to marine ecology and biodiversity in New Zealand.The full text of all the articles and all associated illustrations are now freely accessible and fully searchable as part of the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre online collection:

Discover combat behaviour in the Common New Zealand skink, how to identify weta, what to eat in the bush and how read kauri tree rings.

Read about important figures in New Zealand botany including D C Solander, T F Cheeseman, James Adams.

Find out about the NZ fresh-water eel, hebe on the Auckland Islands, whitebait, whales, fur seals, fungus, moa, giant petrel, microscopic spores and, of course, tuatara themselves.

The "Tuatara" collection is fully integrated in the larger NZETC collection such that, for example, a "Tuatara" article on the "History of New Zealand Marine Biology" which mentions William Colenso contains a link to the NZETC topic page for Colenso and thus to additional relevant resources including the entry for Colenso in the "Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists", other "Tuatara" articles which mention Colenso, and the full text of Colenso's own writing "Notes on the ancient Dog of the New Zealanders" (1877). The William Colenso page is here:

We're also pleased to announce that the NZETC collection now includes direct links to content in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961 made available by the National Library. There are over 200 authors in the NZETC collection who also contributed articles to the Royal Society journals and those connections are now made visible and navigable for users. A good example is Dr Raymond Forster - a past Director of Otago Museum and spider expert - who wrote 3 articles for "Tuatara" and 5 for the Royal Society journals. Links to the full text of all 8 are available on his topic page

One of the interesting connections we've noticed is a number people who wrote articles for the Royal Society journals and are also listed in Platts "Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists" - William Colenso, Sven Berggren, and James Hector are three.

As always we are keen to receive any feedback on the project.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

More of Katherine Mansfield's works available online

The NZETC is pleased to announce the addition of 15 new texts to the online collection.

Katherine Mansfield

We already have a number of Mansfield's short stories online and we're expanding this part of the collection with more fiction, letters, extracts from her notebooks and diaries and an early "Life of .."

We plan to add more letters and poetry from Mansfield to the collection in the coming months.

J C Beaglehole

Thanks to kind permission from the current VUW Chancellor, Emeritus Professor Timothy Beaglehole, we are able to republish some of J C Beaglehole's essays on Captain Cook. Again we will be adding more of these essays to the collection in the coming months.

New texts by authors already featured in the NZETC collection:

Other new texts:
As always we are keen to receive any feedback on the new texts or suggestions for future projects.

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.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Iconic Cook Book Online

New Zealanders can get a taste of the past, with the third (1914) edition of the iconic Edmonds Cookery Book now in cyberspace, thanks to Victoria University.

The University's New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has converted the book, lent by publishers of the modern text, Goodman Fielder, into a digital format. It is now freely accessible to the world via the New Zealand Electronic Text collection.

Alison Stevenson, Director of the Centre, says the project has been very exciting. "There aren't many families in New Zealand who have grown up without a copy of the Edmonds Cookery Book, so it's been great to see what it was like almost at the beginning."

The Edmonds Cookery Book started life in 1907 as a 50-page pamphlet of recipes promoting Thomas John Edmonds' baking powder and jellies. The marketing ploy proved so successful that the second edition, in 1910, had a print run of 150,000. It is not known if any first editions survive, however some second editions do. Today, more than three million copies of the book have been sold.

The Centre has scanned and digitised all 50 pages, including advertisements and testimonials for the baking powder from happy housewives, for example Mrs A.T. Phillips of Taranaki, who wrote: "I use 1½ tins a month, and always refuse any other offered to me."

Recipes include more typical treats such as rock cakes, Christmas cake, and the Kiwi favourite, pikelets. More peculiar are Marmalade Cheese Cakes (which don't in fact contain cheese) and several recipes without eggs, including Egg Drink (without eggs).

The Centre, which is part of the University Library, hosts an ever-expanding free internet archive of New Zealand and Pacific Island texts and materials at In addition to its own digitisation of important New Zealand history and literature, the NZETC provides digitisation and consultancy services to other cultural heritage institutions in New Zealand.

The Edmonds Cookery Book can be accessed at For further information, contact Alison Stevenson on 04 463 6847 or email"

Friday, 19 January 2007

New texts, including Tutira and Sir Peter Buck's Ethnologies

Kia ora kotou,

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre is pleased to announce that a number of freshly-digitised New Zealand and Pacific books are now freely available online.

These titles include:

  • First Lessons in Maori, by William Leonard Williams

    Writing a review of this book in Te Ao Hou in 1968, the reviewer had this to say:

    "Although the last ten years or so have seen a very rapidly growing interest in Maori, a great improvement in teaching techniques and an increasing number of modern textbooks, this Grammar, in spite of certain weaknesses and omissions, is still the most valuable book of its kind for those interested in the structure of the language. All teachers should own and study it for, apart from the modern works of such trained linguists as Dr Bruce Biggs, Dr Pat Hohepa and J. Prytz Johansen, no subsequent grammar book of this type has added anything of significance to this pioneering work; these modern linguists would undoubtedly each acknowledge his debt to 'First Lessons' as a major reference."

  • Tutira: A New Zealand Sheep Station, by H. Guthrie-Smith

    Written in 1921, this book is a loving and detailed account of the ecology of a 40,000-head sheep station on the shores of Lake Tutira in the Hawkes Bay, and the impact of land-clearances and farming practices on the environment. It has been called "one of the great English-language classics of environmental history".

  • The Early Journals of Henry Williams 1826-1840, by Lawrence M. Rogers

    A major figure in the drafting and signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Henry Williams was the leader of the Church Missionary Society mission in the Bay of Islands from 1823, and was instrumental in helping to familiarise the early missionaries with the Maori language.

  • Legends of the Maori, I and II, by Maui Pomare:

    "In 1911 Pomare, Ngata and Buck had agreed to divide between them aspects of the study of Maori history and ethnology; Pomare's portion was to be myths and legends. The two-volume Legends of the Maori, written in collaboration with James Cowan, was published posthumously." (from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography)

  • The Past and Present of New Zealand; with its Prospects for the Future (1868), by Rev. Richard Taylor

    A contemporary of William Williams, Richard Taylor conducted missionary work in the central North Island, particularly around the Wanganui. According to the 1966 Encyclopedia of New Zealand, "Although much of Taylor's life was devoted to his missionary work, he was an acute observer of, and a prolific writer upon, natural and ethnological phenomena."

  • Through Ninety Years 1826-1916, by Frederic W. Williams

    Notes on the lives of William and William Leonard Williams, First and Third Bishops of Waiapu.
Other books hopefully of interest to readers in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands now online include:
Any feedback on these titles, including suggestions for future digitisation, errata, and general comments are most welcome.