Monday, 22 December 2008

Genealogical information

The lastest site update brings into view some of the genealogical information we have on a few of the people mentioned in our collection. Dates of birth and death and some familial relationships are now shown. Currently the presentation is entirely textual, but we hope to provide a variety of family tree diagrams in future, as well as GEDCOM files.

Some examples: John Cawte Beaglehole, Bishop William Williams, Herea Te Heuheu Tukino I, and Katherine Mansfield.

Friday, 14 November 2008


Great Mo-ments in Time

A Colonial Movember

For this year's Movember the NZETC have selected some of the best, worst and scariest moustaches from the Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Published between 1897 and 1908, the six-volume Cyclopedia offers a truly jaw-dropping array of turn-of-the-century fashions in whiskers. Check out the the rest of the gallery in the two volumes now online: Wellington Provincial District and Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington Provicinal Districts. The other four volumes will be online soon.

We think we have assembled some of the more hirsuitically distinct personalities below, but we are interested if people find others in the Cyclopedias that they think worthy of inclusion here!

Mr J. AyersSamuel CostallLieutenant R. A. BentCaptain S. Wolf
Mr Edward Cephas John StevensMr Frank AllenCaptain John ColemanMr R. S. Williams
David Boyle, The Earl of Glasgow, Govenor of New ZealandMr. W. CrowMr William Thomas GlasgowMr James Crawford Hanna
Mr R. KearneyDr W. J. DarbyMr Charles Augustus TabuteauMr J. C. Lethaby
Mr. J. J. NicolCaptain-Adjutant W. J. StrongCaptain J. ReidDr R. V. Fulton

Friday, 3 October 2008

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has made a digital version of New Zealand's first encyclopaedia - complete a glimpse of prison life in 1897, talk of teenage boys' smoking rooms at church and a state-of-the-art electric belt which guaranteed its wearer a steady galvanic current of life-giving force.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Volume One: Wellington Provincial District—which weighs 5.1 kilograms in hard copy—was produced in 1897. Also available now is Volume Six: Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington. Both volumes are online from today

This has been a big project for the NZETC and we hope that the volumes will be a great digital resource for researchers and genealogists. The Cyclopedias contain a wealth of information on New Zealand’s social history and include a collection of biographical portraits, a town and country gazetteer and surveys of local trades and businesses. It was the sort of thing you had to pay to get yourself into unless you were a particularly prominent person. The volumes were a money making venture.

The other four volumes, covering Auckland, Canterbury, Otago & Southland, and Nelson, Marlborough & Westland, will be digitised later this year.

The first volume reminds readers that Wellington was once known as the ‘Empire City’ of the Colony of New Zealand. It takes readers on a tour which includes:

· a curate whose efforts to keep teenage boys out of mischief included providing them with smoking rooms: The Rev. Charles Archibald Tisdall, curate of St Paul’s is “an advocate of muscular Christianity. He believes that the churches should do more than is usually done to provide counter attractions for the youth of the Colony. He has, therefore, succeeded in founding a boys’ club, for lads of sixteen and upwards. A membership of seventy-five has already been attained, and the good work grows and increases. Suitable apartments have been provided for gymnasium and reading and smoking rooms...”

· a state-of-the-art electric belt which guaranteed its wearer a steady galvanic current of life-giving force: The Pononga Electric Company, Manufacturers of Pononga Patent Electric Belts: “The subtle forces of nature which can be communicated through the electric current are beneficially applied by means of the Pononga Electric Belt. As the blood is the life of the body, so electricity is the life of the blood. … This marvellous belt can be worn as required, and may be put on at bedtime and removed in the morning, or can be worn as any special time when needed, and removed when the object has been attained. The writer had the opportunity of testing a belt that had been in use for some months, and can testify that there was a sensible current of electricity being generated continuously. The belt is worn round the hips, the positive pole being placed immediately over the spine, while the negative touches the abdomen in front, or vice versa as may be needed according to the complaint. A gentle current at once passes through the vital organs of the body, whereby organic action is stimulated, the vital energy is renewed, digestion is assisted, and the blood, nerves, and tissues are beneficially influenced.”

· a poultry, pigeon and canary association which refused to tolerate foul play: “The New Zealand Poultry Association will serve the same good service as many more pretentious societies. It will bring together from various parts of the Colony, men engaged in a common pursuit that will enable them to compare notes and to compete in friendly rivalry, substituting a spirit of healthy emulation for narrow minded jealousy, and overweening self-conceit born of ignorance of the merits of others.”

· the Welch Football Club, a team made up entirely of members of the Welch family of the Wairarapa: “The late Mr. Henry Welch and his three brothers settled in the Hutt Valley in the early days, and in 1873 removed into the Masterton district. That they were of the genuine material needed for the subduing of rough country may be inferred from the fact that their sons, now mainly resident in and around Masterton, constitute one of the most formidable football teams to be found in any county in the Colony.”

· a vision of Friday night in Eketahuna at Carter’s Temperance Hotel…

· a glimpse into prison life at The Terrace Gaol, Woolcombe Street, Wellington, where good conduct was rewarded by baked, rather than boiled meat – but never milk in your tea. And where bad conduct might still result in flogging – or the gallows: “ The cells are each provided with a hammock, blankets, and pillow, a dish, a pannikin, a tin knife, and a wooden spoon. A bible and hymn book are also provided for each cell. … [The prisoners] have three meals a day, the midday meal consisting of soup, meat, and potatoes. Mutton and beef are served boiled on alternate days. The special class good-conduct men are allowed baked meat; and all are served with a mug of tea without milk. … Very great efforts are made to insure that the prison shall be a reformatory institution, and not a “training-school for criminals,” and to keep the prisoners as much apart as possible is a necessary step to all measures of reform. …Flogging has almost ceased, and cannot now, as formerly, be administered on the authority of two visiting justices. The sentence of the judge of the Supreme Court, delivered at the time of trial, is the only authority for flogging. Capital punishment, as everyone knows, has not yet been abolished; but the little plot in front of the gaol contains but seven mounds, of which all are neatly preserved and labelled with the initials only of those whose remains lie beneath. A gallows is kept at this gaol for the use of the Colony, and is erected here or shipped away as the locality of the case may require.”

The NZETC would like to thank both Wellington City Libraries and Colonial CD Books for making the project possible.

Friday, 19 September 2008

New Texts from the NZETC

The NZETC is pleased to announce the addition of forty-one new texts to the online collection:
  • A significant expansion of the 19th century New Zealand novels collection which now contains fifty-eight volumes. The twenty new titles released today include the very first novel to be set in New Zealand, the 1778 "The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman" and Jane Stafford and Mark Williams's 2006 literary and cultural history "Maoriland: New Zealand Literature, 1872-1914". The full collection of 19th century New Zealand novels and associated scholarly works is listed here in chronological order. The texts are of course fully searchable and can also be downloaded as both a PDF of page images or a Microsoft Reader eBook. We plan to add another twenty novels to this collection before the end of the year.
  • Other assorted titles from 1885 to 2006:
Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood by M. Mosley. (1885)
The Jubilee History of Nelson: From 1842 to 1892 by Lowther Broad. (1892)
Sketches of New Zealand Colonization in New Zealand and its Phases of Contact with the Maori Race, by "Te Manuwiri" (1907)
White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 To 1900, by Henry Brett (1924)
White Wings Vol. II Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885, by Henry Brett(1928)
Indirections: A Memoir 1909-1947 by Charles Brasch. (1980)
Recollecting Mansfield, by Margaret Scott (2001)
State Authority, Indigenous Autonomy by Richard S. Hill (2004)
'A Curious Document': Ta Moko as evidence of Pre-European Textual Culture in New Zealand by Sarah K. J. Gallagher (2003)
A Life of J. C. Beaglehole: New Zealand Scholar by Tim Beaglehole (2006)
Geoffrey Alley: Librarian, His Life & Work by W. J. McEldowney (2006)

Where possible digital editions have been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license.

The TEI XML source for all texts is now also available to download for those who like their resources raw!

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Digital Encyclopaedia Conference - Call for Presentations / Demonstrations / Workshops

The Australia and New Zealand Digital Encyclopaedia Conference will be held in Wellington on 25th and 26th November 2008 and we'd like to hear from anyone who is interested in presenting this year.

Please email me with a title, a short description of your topic and whether you have any special needs for the presentation beyond the usual computer, projector and internet access. If you would like to run a demonstration, tutorial or workshop requiring a computer lab please let us know as soon as possible. Deadline for expressions of interest in presenting: 1st September 2008


The Australia and New Zealand Digital Encyclopaedia Group is a loose affiliation of people working on, or associated with, online reference collections. We include people working on small, individual projects and members of large institutions - the definition of "digital encyclopedia" is deliberately vague so as to encompass a broad range of projects and interests. The group includes people working in eResearch and digital humanities, libraries and archives, museums, web publishing and computing science.

Our annual conference has covered such topics as:

* resource discovery services
* incorporating maps and spatial data into encyclopedia applications
* topic maps
* searching across multiple collections
* handling maintenance and workflow issues in growing projects
* metadata and tagging
* authority control
* showcases of particular digital projects

There is a more information on ANZDEG at

Conference Details:

Dates: 25th and 26th November 2008 with additional capacity for workshops on the 27th (Note that the National Digital Forum will be held in Auckland on the 27th and 28th November)
Location: New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.
Cost: There will be a $75 fee to cover hosting costs.
Details of accommodation options to follow.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A rare slice of NZ railway history now online

A contributor to the last issue of the New Zealand Railways Magazine in 1940 wrote that those who had not experienced a railway train had been “cheated” and “failed to share in one of the grandest experiences of life”.

All issues of the magazine, an official publication by the New Zealand Government Railways Department from May 1926 to June 1940, have been launched online today by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC) at Victoria University.

“The launch of this online archive is particularly interesting and important considering recent debates in New Zealand about the future of rail, and the KiwiRail ceremony in Wellington today,” says Alison Stevenson, director of the NZETC.

The magazine was produced during the economic expansion of the late 1920s, the Great Depression, and the years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

“It was the brainchild of Prime Minister Joseph Gordon Coates, who saw it as a way of improving industrial relations within the railways, and disseminating ‘useful knowledge’ to railway workers, their families, and the public at large,” says Ms Stevenson.

In his address to railway staff in the first issue of the magazine, Prime Minister Gordon Coates said: “The object of the Magazine should be to bring more interest into Railway life, to expand its possibilities not only for personal profit but for public appreciation, to help towards conditions which make for satisfaction in all ranks within the Department, by reciprocal and mutual service, benefiting each other by the improvement of the conditions of service for all”.

Later issues broadened the Railways Magazine's horizons. Wellington journalist Pat Lawlor was engaged to write a regular literary column, 'Among the Books', and, from 1927, the magazine included a women's page, entitled 'Of Feminine Interest'.

As time went by, the Railways Magazine evolved into a general interest publication, with articles on tourism, literature, local and British history, and Maori mythology, as well as short stories and reader-contributed poetry.

By 1940, when war-time paper shortages forced it to cease publication, the Railways Magazine had published work by some of the most prominent New Zealand writers of the day, including Robin Hyde (Iris Wilkinson), James Cowan, Alan Mulgan, and Denis Glover.

The online archive also includes a brief introductory extract from Neill Atkinson's Trainland (2007), reproduced by permission of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The publication will appeal to railway enthusiasts, as well as anyone interested in social and women's history, design, advertising, and the shape of New Zealand's pre-war literary culture.

This project was run in partnership with Wellington City Libraries and the Alexander Turnbull Library, and can be viewed at

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

TEI XML guru wanted

Lead Architect, NZETC, Victoria University of Wellington, Kelburn Campus

This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced technical specialist with outstanding semantic web programming skills and an enthusiasm for all aspects of text digitisation and information representation to join the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC).

The Role: The Lead Architect will lead the technical development at the NZETC, working on projects that are at the forefront of digital content generation and delivery efforts in New Zealand. The purpose of the role is to maintain and further develop the NZETC as a centre of excellence for the scholarly encoding, management and web-based representation of digital resources and particularly of electronic text. The NZETC, which is part of Victoria University of Wellington Library, is the provider of a sophisticated digital library, a partner in digital humanities research projects within the University, and a contractor for the digitisation projects of other cultural heritage institutions in New Zealand and overseas. This role is engaged in each of these areas, providing technical expertise, working collaboratively with other staff and delivering positive results for our client and partners.

The Person: Your excellent technical skills in XML, XSLT and web programming will be matched by your knowledge of TEI and a range of knowledge representation technologies and metadata standards. You will have a proven ability to lead the development of creative, robust solutions to complex issues around the online delivery and sharing of digital content. You will have a keen interest in the application of emerging technologies to the digital cultural heritage domain and will enjoy working a part of a small, highly skilled team. As an experienced technical leader you will be innovative in your approach and have excellent people skills.

Please see the Role Description for the full requirements and competencies essential for this position.

To view details of this position and to apply, please go to:
Ref: G246-08B

Applications close: 2nd July 2008.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Legal Maori Archive

A senior lecturer in law at Victoria University has attracted funding worth $673,000 for a research project that aims to produce an online archive of 19th century legal Maori texts with the NZETC and New Zealand’s first Legal Maori dictionary.

Mamari Stephens has received a $5,000 New Researcher's Fund grant, $20,000 from the University Research Fund, $55,000 from the University Library Contestable Fund and $593,000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology - the first time a project from the Law School has been funded by the Foundation.

"We have a bilingual legal past - at least until the late 1800s - but much of it is hidden in the Alexander Turnbull Library, says Stephens. Early Acts of Parliament and many other legal documents were translated into Maori - mainly because Maori became a written language very early on."

The first stage of the research is gathering and accessing any texts in Maori from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries about any legal topic. Those texts in print format will be digitised and en estimated 10,000 pages of 19th century texts will be made freely available through the NZETC collection.

The second stage involves seeing where gaps exist and what new terms might need to be made. A steering group which includes Maori language experts, legal academics and members of the judiciary has been formed to inform this process and develop principles for the adoption of new terms.

A third stage is the compilation of the dictionary and putting it together in a useable form. "The aim of the project is to have work that is user friendly and helpful to those working in areas involving Maori language. This is an ever increasing sphere - the Maori Affairs Select Committee, for example, now have their reports in Maori as well as English," says Stephens.

"It is my sincere wish that this project results in a key resource that not only allows us to understand our bilingual legal history, but provide a frame of reference for the future."

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Creative Commons license for some NZETC content

We’ve just updated the NZETC website to use a Creative Commons license for those digitised works where the original is now out of copyright. There are now 433 individual titles available under the New Zealand Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License (CC BY-CA) license including Walter Buller’s “A History of the Birds of New Zealand”, the 1914 edition of the Edmond’s Cookery Book, Katherine Mansfield’s fiction, Elsdon Best’s monographs, and the many 19th century New Zealand novels.

We hope this will encourage more use of the resources by making it obvious to our users that in many cases they can take the digital editions to share and transform as they like (as long as the attribution and share-alike conditions are met).

Of course much of the material in the NZETC collection remains in copyright to the original author and/or publisher. For those texts we have retained a conditions of use statement which advises users that they must seek explicit permission to re-use the digitised material.

The information as to which conditions apply to a given text will appear in the left sidebar. If you go to a digitised text at the moment and don’t see the license information you might just need to force the page to refresh as the old copies of the pages will still be sitting in our cache.

We look forward to seeing what creative uses people put the material to ….

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Collected Parliamentary Reports of Robin Hyde

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre would like to announce the publication of the Collected Parliamentary Reports of Robin Hyde, edited and annotated by Dr. Nikki Hessell (Massey University).

On the 25th of June 1925, the then nineteen-year-old Robin Hyde sat for the first time in the Ladies’ Gallery overlooking the New Zealand House of Representatives. Employed by the conservative Dominion newspaper, her job was to produce a daily column about events in the House—‘Peeps at Parliament’. Using the pseudonym ‘Novitia’, Hyde wrote in the persona of a naïve but sardonic female observer of New Zealand political life. After she left the Dominion, Hyde would reprise her role as parliamentary reporter for the Mirrorand New Zealand Observer newspapers.

These columns have now been collected, edited, and extensively annotated, and are freely available through the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. Dr. Hessell has also written a scholarly introduction to Hyde’s political journalism, and provided a biographical key to the figures mentioned in the columns. The Collected Parliamentary Reports of Robin Hyde provide both a valuable addition to Robin Hyde scholarship, and an illuminating insight into New Zealand’s social and political culture in the years leading up to the Great Depression.

The Parliamentary Reports and their supplementary texts are hosted here.

Friday, 4 April 2008

NZETC wins "Topic Maps Project of the Year" award at Topic Maps 2008

At the Topic Maps 2008 conference dinner in Oslo tonight, the NZETC picked up the annual "Topic Maps Project of the Year" award for its online library website, described as a model for other digital libraries.

Monday, 31 March 2008

2007's Best New Zealand Poems online today

You have been warned: the 2007 Best New Zealand Poems collection could make you laugh, weep or even want to write your own poem.

Best New Zealand Poems is an online anthology of the finest poetry by New Zealand writers in the preceding year. It is published annually by the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) and hosted by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, both based at Victoria University.

This year's editor, poet Paula Green, says the task of selecting 25 poems in a year "rich in good poems" was difficult.

"A good poem has the ability to lift us out of the mundane and make us laugh, weep, reflect and wonder, to entice us to re-read it again and again, or to write poems of our own," she says.

A NZ Listener review by Gerry Webb describes Ms Green's poetry as "musical, sensuous, tender, quick witted…she sketches subtle emotional shapes that only real writing talent can bring to light".

IIML director Bill Manhire says the aim of the Best New Zealand Poems is to introduce readers to leading contemporary New Zealand poets. He says poems are chosen to show the vitality and range of current writing, and over half the site's readers come from beyond New Zealand.

"This year we stretched the contributor rules slightly to include a poem by the visiting US writer Dora Malech. It's a lovely riff on her habit of mishearing certain parts of the New Zealand accent."

Other poets published this year include Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Jenny Bornholdt, and C K Stead.

Best New Zealand Poems is supported by a grant from Creative New Zealand which goes entirely to the contributors and editor.

The 2007 edition, of 25 poems, can be viewed online at:

Monday, 17 March 2008

New Texts

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre would like to draw your attention to another batch of texts which have recently been made available online. Details are given below. As always, we would be thankful for any feedback on the selection of material. Among other things we are currently working on the 1897 Cyclopedia of New Zealand the New Zealand Railway Magazines which we hope to make available in the next few months.

In this batch of texts several are related to Pacific Exploration and the Journals of Joseph Banks include many of his famous illustrations:

The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volumes One & Two] edited by J. C. Beaglehole
Explorers of the Pacific
by Te Rangi Hiroa
Discoverers of the Cook Islands and the Names they Gave by Alphons M.J. Kloosterman

We also have a number of biographies and autobiographies by or about notable New Zealanders: nurse and hospital matron Hester Maclean, cricketer Daniel Reese, politician Sir Donald MacLean, teacher and farmer Helen Wilson, Nga Puhi leader Eruera Maihi Patuone, taxidermist and collector Andreas Reischek, and agent and farmer E Earle Vaile,

Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences by Hester Maclean
Sir Donald Maclean by James Cowan
The Life and Times of Patuone
by C. O. Davis
My First Eighty Years by Helen Wilson
Was It All Cricket?
By Daniel Reese
Yesterdays in Maoriland by Andreas Reischek
Pioneering the Pumice by E. Earle Vaile

Finally we have another eight texts which we hope further enriches the cluster of New Zealand and Pacific history material online:

Maori and Missionary, by T. A. Pybus
The Maoris of the South Island by T. A. Pybus
The Maori Situation by I. L. G. Sutherland
Anthropology and Religion by Peter Henry Buck
An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology by Te Rangi Hiroa
A Sketch of the New Zealand War by Morgan S. Grace
Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z. by Joseph Angus Mackay
Takitimu by Tiaki Hikawera Mitira

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Moko; or Māori Tattooing

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre is pleased to announce a new collection of historical texts on Ta Moko as the result of a project which tries to take into account sensitivities around the digitisation of mātauranga Māori and textual taonga.

The collection can be found here

The project was centred on the digitisation of an annotated copy of the 1896 publication “Moko; or Maori Tattooing” by Horatio Gordon Robley. An additional six texts have also been digitised to provide contextual information about Ta Moko, mokamokai, Robley himself and his art. These texts include

The project raised various issues for the NZETC because, notwithstanding the status of the Robley text as a significant part of our documentary heritage, the Centre recognised that the mātauranga that it contained belonged to the wider Māori community and providing online access to this material had the potential to offend as much as to inform. The NZETC therefore undertook consultation with a range of groups such as academics, librarians and the general public, as well as source groups, Māori and Ta Moko artists. As a result of these conversations “Moko; or Māori Tattooing ” has been made freely accessible online with additional contextual material and those images depicting mokamokai or human remains have been suppressed and cannot be viewed. The same approach has been taken to all other images in the NZETC collection.

The decision to provide contextual resources and to suppress parts of the digitised book is an attempt to balance the interests of scholarship in the integrity of the work, the importance of free public access to New Zealand’s documentary record, the need to respect the tupuna depicted in Robley’s illustrations, and the need to inform readers about the context in which the text was created. A full report of the project provides more details on the issues that were considered. It can be read here

We would welcome feedback on the project and the paper.

Further Information:

Horatio G. Robley came to New Zealand, as an officer in the British Army, in 1864. While here he had many opportunities to sketch those Māori he encountered and he became interested in moko design. Later, after Robley had retired from the army, he began to collect mokamokai (preserved heads), buying them from dealers, auction houses and the owners of private collections. He used his collection as well as those available for viewing in Europe as the basis for his sketches that he included in his book.

The copy of “Moko; or Māori Tattooing ” which was digitised is part of the J C Beaglehole Room collection at Victoria University of Wellington Library. It is particularly interesting because it contains both handwritten annotations by Horace Fildes, a Wellington book collector and historian, and several letters from Robley to Fildes about the text and its content. Robley’s memoirs, organised and annotated by Fildes, are also held in the University Library and the NZETC intends to digitise these in the coming months.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Remote Writer released!

As Conal mentioned in an earlier post, we've been working on a browser-based word processor to allow people to create content for collections and projects such as the NZETC via a simple interface without having to learn the intricacies of TEI XML.

Well, the good news is that it's finally free for all to use (and extend if desired), and can be found at

If you follow that link, it should explain the features and answer questions about it, including what it is, what it's good for and how to install it, but briefly, Remote Writer is an open-source tool for collaboratively creating documents using a simple-to-use interface in a similar fashion to other browser-based word-processors such as Google Docs and Zoho Writer.

Like Zoho Writer, Remote Writer even allows the creation and maintenance of documents using your browser while offline (for example, when travelling). When online again, all changes are synchronised to and from the server, though it is also possible to use Remote Writer as a stand-alone client.

However, what makes Remote Writer unique is:
  • the ability to define custom block-level and inline styles

  • its status as the only open-source solution (at least to this point) that features both online and offline functionality
Because Remote Writer is open-source, and is built on other open-source efforts (including the tinyMCE Javascript content editor, and Google Gears), it is freely available to anyone for use and further modification / enhancement.

We're happy to make it freely available, and would be interested if anyone has any feedback to offer about it.