Exhibition sheds light on early New Zealand history

Auckland Libraries Sir George Grey Special Collections manager Georgia Prince.
KARINA ABADIA

Auckland Libraries Sir George Grey Special Collections manager Georgia Prince.

The early years of Maori and European interactions are revealed in a new Auckland Libraries exhibition.

Putahitanga. A meeting of two worlds in the North, 1769 -1842 coincides with the 175th anniversary of Auckland on September 18.

Auckland Libraries Sir George Grey Special Collections manager Georgia Prince is one of the curators of the show.

"The aim is to help people realise the significance of the material held in Auckland Libraries and make sure they know that when items aren't being exhibited they're available for people to see in our reading room," Prince says.

"People tend to think 1840 is the date that our country was formed but there was a whole 70 years before that where Pakeha were visiting New Zealand shores."

The history of the first two two capital cities forms part of the exhibition.

The capital moved from Okiato near Russell to Auckland in 1840 because of land availability, she says.

"They fairly quickly realised that they wouldn't have enough flat land to develop into a capital city in the Bay of Islands with all the required services and government offices."

At the time the Crown had recently purchased land from Ngati Whatua which stretched from Remuera to Cox's Creek, Prince says.

The exhibition also showcases the first book printed in New Zealand, which is a catechism written in Maori and entitled Ko te katekihama III.

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The only other known remaining copy of the 1830 book is in Wellington's Alexander Turnbull Library.

"It was part of the very early 19th century work done by a combination of Maori leaders and missionaries.

"The fact that it's a religious publication is entirely in keeping with the fact that the missionaries were the instigators of literacy for early Maori."

* Putahitanga. A meeting of two worlds in the North, 1769 -1842 runs till October 18 at Sir George Grey Special Collections on Level 2 of the Central City Library. 

 - Stuff

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