Posts written by Kirstie Ross

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 »

Berry Boys in the fourth ballot: Battersby and Scambary

Portrait of Walter George, George and Ida Scambary, 1917, Wellington, by William Berry. Purchased 1998 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (B.046400)

During WWI, monthly conscription ballots were drawn between November 1916 and October 1918 to make up for a shortfall in numbers volunteering for the army. History curator Kirstie Ross shares the stories of two Wellingtonians whose names were selected in the fourth ballot. On 13 February 1917, 100 years ago, marbles with the military registration numbers… Read more »

‘Bone dry’: The ups and downs of banning booze

Christmas and New Year empties, 4 January 2017. Photo by Kirstie Ross

Like a tipple? History curator Kirstie Ross looks at the ways New Zealand tried to curb excessive drinking in the early 1900s and its affect on society. As you get rid of the last of your Christmas and New Year’s empties, stop for a minute and reflect back 98 years, to 17 January 1919 when the 18th Amendment of the… Read more »

20th century history mixtape: ‘B’ side

Record - "Hit Tunes" by Johnny Devlin, circa 1958, New Zealand, by Johnny Devlin, Southern Music. Purchased 2001 with New Zealand Lotteries Grant funds. Te Papa (GH009364)

Slice of Heaven: 20th Century Aotearoa is Te Papa’s exhibition about four crucial social and political changes that occurred in New Zealand after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and before the millennial panic of ‘Y2K’ (‘Year 2000’). I hope that the exhibition, which closes on 23rd January to make room for the new… Read more »