Sitting in storage in Archives New Zealand’s Wellington collection, alongside numerous seemingly identical materials, is the Treasury Civil Pensions Ledger, 1878-1886. This ledger is part of a wider series of Imperial Pension records, but there is something that makes the Civil Pensions ledger special – it’s entries primarily list Indian servicemen receiving pensions in New Zealand. It is a clear record of the imperial connection between British India and New Zealand, a connection that has been obscured in our own popular remembering.
The year is 1861. In the north, conflict between British-led government forces and Taranaki iwi has taken a brief pause. In April, several Te Ātiawa rangatira agree on terms of peace with the Crown. Wiremu Kingi, a notable exception, declares his consent for the peace but declines to sign and retreats into the Waikato. Grievances over land at Waitara in Taranaki continue to generate tension, the truce is uneasy, and the British military presence in the colony of New Zealand remains substantial.
Post by Summer Scholar Lily Pare Hall-Butcher
It’s 1860 and the Crown has just declared war on its Māori subjects in the province of Taranaki, Aotearoa New Zealand. In response, thousands of men from throughout the British Empire come to New Zealand as soldiers of the British Imperial Army. Over the next few years the Army fights battles all over the North Island and bolsters the white settler presence in the South Island. While the majority of these men leave Aotearoa with their regiments, others are officially discharged and stay as settlers. Yet another group left their regiments unofficially – the deserters. Elusive in the archives as they often were in life, most simply disappear from the records. Some became infamous, while others rose to positions of prominence in settler society.
In early December 2017 we held a symposium at Victoria University of Wellington on 'Garrison Towns in the Nineteenth-century Empire' bringing together people working on research within that broad topic from across the world for two days of excellent presentations and lively discussion.
Meet our presenters and share in the discussions: from Prof Doug Peers (University of Waterloo, Canada) on court martials in India; Dr Janice Adamson (Archaeology Solutions, Auckland) on 'The Evocative Nature of Things'; Dr Arini Loader, Mike Ross and Kelly Keane-Tuala on war texts in Te Reo Māori; to Dr Angela Wanhalla on the enigmatic Mrs Flowers, John McLellan and Daniel Thompson on their magnificent MA thesis work...and much more besides ....
A full copy of the symposium programme and brochure is available here.
An overview of the proceedings is available here.
Over the summer of 2017-18 we were once again very fortunate to be joined by 4 Summer Scholars.
At the Auckland War Memorial Museum Max Nichol was exploring the transformation of Auckland from a town dominated by barracks and the coming and going of military in the early 1860s to a confident colonial port city by the end of the century. The thorough and detailed report of his research findings looks at, among other things, the temperance movement in Auckland, leisure and social lives in Auckland, and the transformation of Albert Barracks to Albert Park.
At Puke Ariki Sian Smith worked with amateur photographer and collector William Francis Gordon’s photograph album “Some “Soldiers of the Queen” who served in the Maori wars and other notable persons connected herewith” (PHO2011-1997). A unique historical artefact, the album dates from around 1900 and contains over 450 photographs of soldiers, civilians and Māori involved with the New Zealand Wars. The portraits are loosely ordered into regiments and most are annotated in Gordon’s distinctive handwriting. The album is an integral part of Puke Ariki’s collection of Taranaki Wars material, memorialising those who are depicted and bringing their faces/identities into striking contemporary view/attention.
Sian began her project entering the 20% of the album not yet catalogued into Puke Ariki’s collection management system and created networks between images in the album with other items and records in Puki Ariki’s collection. Beyond this useful work that has made the full album more accessible to researchers, Sian developed biographical information for both a selection of people depicted in the album and the regiments mentioned.
At Te Papa Caitlin Lynch was also working with photographs compiled by W.F. Gordon, in this case a collection of carte-de-visite photographs acquired by the Dominion Museum in 1916. Caitlin worked to contextualise the photographs by identifying related objects in other collections across Te Papa. Beyond this linking of records/items in the collection, Caitlin meticulously pieced together narratives of specific individuals and battles. You can read about some of her speculations/thoughts/research trails while working on the project on the Te Papa Blogs linked below:
Our internal VUW Summer Scholar was Philip Little, who transcribed and analysed the ‘Effects and Credits’ pages of the WO 12 Muster Roll archives of the 50th, 65th, and 68th regiments in search of answers to such questions as where did they come from, what did they do, how did they live and how did they die. A poster of his findings is available here.