It would be good to pin down the year for this photograph by dating the cars. We think it is a Chevrolet advert, but it may not be. The date could be any time from the late 1920s to mid 1930s. I think it was taken at Manthel Motors, in a building that still stands on the corner of Wellington’s Taranaki and Wakefield St. The flooring has probably long gone, and the interior is apparently soon to be gutted and a multi-story office block built within the façade.
Tramping the Track
Donald Sutherland cut a track from Milford Sound to the Sutherland Falls in 1888, and Quintin McKinnon cut one later in the year from Lake Te Anau to join up with Sutherland’s, so creating New Zealand’s world-famous Milford Track. By 1895 guided walks, with supplies laid on ahead, were being offered to the more adventurous tourists. Women were not uncommon on these trips, though not all may have abandoned skirts for the controversial but more practical breeches like these women. The question is, which hut is this, if it is at the head of Lake Te Anau as titled? Is it the Clinton hut? I can’t find any historic photos of this. It’s not the Pompolona, as that looked different and is further up the valley.
Fields of France?
This photograph is pasted into an album that includes other rugby matches, team photos and boxers. It appears to have been compiled by a NZ soldier in the UK following WWI. Various bits of evidence point to it being a NZ combined services team playing in France. Any rugby historians out there who could confirm or otherwise?
The MS Akaroa depicted here at New Plymouth was formerly the Euripides and renamed and refitted by Shaw, Saville & Albion line in 1932 to continue on the United Kingdom to New Zealand and Australia route. It appears that locals are having a general look over the ship, suggesting that this may be her maiden voyage under the new name. The Press noted that the ship was to depart London on 30 December 1932 for New Zealand. And the Evening Post reported the governor general inspecting the ship when it was in Wellington on 14 Feb 1933. Unfortunately Taranaki newspapers have not been digitised to that date, so I can’t easily check the shipping news for that region to see if the Akaroa called in to New Plymouth on that voyage. I suspect so, but it would be good to confirm.
The refit created a very modern vessel. It was a one-class ship, so passengers paying less for lower deck cabins were not restricted in enjoying all the amenities on board, including a swimming pool and gymnasium. The latter, proclaimed the Press, was equipped with ‘rowing machines [and] stationary bicycles on which opponents may race, their speed being shown by a clock indicator. There are punch balls, electric vibrators and grips, dumb bells, and Indian clubs, and an electric horse. On this last one may, by pressing one of three buttons, obtain the motion of trotting, cantering, or galloping.’ (28 Jan 1933, p. 13)
Which Bridge and When – Te Aroha?
Is this a bridge about to be constructed on the far bank? I have conflicting information on when, and what sort of bridge was built. Perhaps there were two, and who knows if either were at this spot. One history of the area says a swing bridge was built in 1882 that could be deflected to allow ships through. Perhaps this was out of shot and unable to take a stagecoach? A newspaper report of September 1884 said that completion of a railway bridge was 3 months away. In July 1885 it was agreed to make the railway bridge available for general traffic. Confirmation that this occurred comes in the form of reported complaints that the ‘new and costly’ road and rail bridge (described as a combined drawbridge in another newspaper report) had still not been painted in 1886. So… is this a bridge site? And if so, which one, and what does that say about the date of the photograph (which could be a year or so either side of 1884).
An Easy One
Now someone must know where this is. It may be in the Coromandel area, or Northland. I’m picking 1970s going by the cars, but any opinions on date are also welcome.
Any information or leads gratefully received. Substantiating your views is useful, as we need to be confident of our source when we change information on our collection database.
− Athol McCredie, Curator of Photography