Posts written by Kirstie Ross

Fate of the Berry Boys and the ‘disastrous fiasco’ of Passchendaele

  • El Mariscal de Campo Sir Douglas Haig, circa 1918, Spain, by Francis Dodd. Te Papa (CA000316/001/0017/0001)
  • Three portraits each on one negative of William Horace James and Gertrude Miriam James., 1915, Wellington, by William Berry. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.045525)
  • Portrait of Francis Edward Beaufort, 1917, Wellington, by William Berry. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.045050)
  • Portrait of Harry Luckman with Ellen Luckman and baby Harry George Luckman, 1917, Wellington, by William Berry. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.043586)

The death of over 840 troops over a single day during the Battle of Passchendaele, compounded by a further 1,860 wounded, was a low point in New Zealand’s military contribution to WWI, 100 years ago today. History curator Kirstie Ross outlines the impact of the battle on seven New Zealand soldiers, all of whom were photographed… Read more »

Adkin diaries update: Your help still needed to bring them to life

  • Screenshot of a search result in Collections Online
  • Empty paddock
  • Two women and a baby sit on a picnic blanket
  • Man stands in a field holding a scythe

An update from history curator Kirstie Ross on the progress made transcribing selected diaries from those kept by Horowhenua farmer Leslie Adkin for 40 years. Thanks transcribers! A few weeks ago I invited blog readers to transcribe diaries from October 1917 to November 1918 kept by Leslie Adkin, a Levin farmer, photographer, husband and father,… Read more »

We need you to help bring Leslie Adkin’s diaries to life

  • George Leslie Adkin's diary, well-worn and with a sticker on the cover saying May 1917 to Feb 1919
  • Poster featurign the flags of the Allies nations
  • Palmerston North library building from the early 1900s
  • Close up of Nancy in pram with teething bone in mouth

Horowhenua farmer Leslie Adkin kept a diary for 40 years from 1905, recording a huge amount of information of early 20th century New Zealand life, through war and peace. Te Papa is calling for volunteers to transcribe Leslie’s dairies from October 1917, just after he was conscripted to serve in the army, through to the end of… Read more »

Old new money: New Zealand’s decimal currency turns 50

Practice money, $1 note, 1967, New Zealand, by Decimal Currency Board. Te Papa (GH023090/8)

History curator Kirstie Ross looks back 50 years to July 1967 when the contents of New Zealanders’ pockets and purses changed radically after the country shifted from pounds, shillings, and pence – to dollars and cents. Going decimal In 1963, the government decided that the country would decimalise its currency. Wellingtonian James Berry designed the decimal… Read more »

The missing Military Cross from the Battle of Messines

  • Ruins of a building, Messines, during World War I. Photograph taken 1917 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Ref: 1/2-012778-G, Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918: H Series negatives, PAColl-5311-3, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
  • Uniform sleeve (partial), cap badge and hat pins, 1914-1918, New Zealand, maker unknown. Gift of Marianne Abraham, 2010. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (GH016805)
  • Doll, Soldier, 1914-1916, New Zealand, by Dorothy Broad. Purchased 2009. © Te Papa. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (GH016389)
  • Officer’s medal stripes, 1914-1918, New Zealand, maker unknown. Gift of Marianne Abraham, 2010. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (GH016807)

Wyville Rutherford’s ‘conspicuous gallantry’ during the Battle of Messines won him a Military Cross. But the medal, like Wyville, didn’t make it back to New Zealand. History curator Kirstie Ross shares details of Wyvillle’s WWI experiences and a unique group of mementos that survived him instead. Wyville Rutherfurd (sometimes spelled Rutherford) was awarded a Military… Read more »

Appealing the lottery of death

MA_I221614.640x640 answer the call right quickly

What would you do if your wife was expecting your first child and you were compulsorily called up for military service? James Dempsey faced this dilemma in January 1917. History curator Kirstie Ross shows how James, like thousands of New Zealand men who juggled the calls made by King and Country, work, and family, appealed his conscription…. Read more »

Can New Zealand sustain its 119-year-old pension scheme as the population ages?

Sign, ’Polling Booth’, 1969, New Zealand, by Ministry of Justice. Gift of Chief Electoral Office, Ministry of Justice, 2007. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (GH011741)

As the government announces plans to raise the pension age for the first time since Richard Seddon passed old-age pensions in 1898, history curator Kirstie Ross questions whether New Zealand can afford to support its aging population based on historic practices and attitudes. Historians agree that the 1898 law introducing old-age pensions was one of… Read more »

Wellington’s Central Park: A ramble through its history

Central Park gate (deatil). 2008. Photogrpah by Kirste Ross

Wellington’s Central Park – less familiar to many than the famous park of the same name in New York City – is one of the Wellington’s oldest public green spaces. History curator Kirstie Ross rambles through some of the highs and lows of its 114 year history. Central Park’s formal genesis, in 1913, is connected to… Read more »