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Two Auckland Council Libraries heritage collections receive UNESCO heritage recognition

Published: 17 February 2020

Auckland Council Libraries’ Richard Davis Meteorological Records and C P Dawes Collection have been inscribed on to the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register. This accolade recognises both collections’ significant value to New Zealand’s heritage.

The Richard Davis Meteorological Records (1839-1851) are to date the earliest and most consistently documented land-based meteorological records available for New Zealand. The quality of Davis’s observations has allowed NIWA climate scientists to develop a better understanding of the historical weather record of northern New Zealand and supports their research into global climate change.

The weather records consist of two volumes of meteorological observations made by Richard Davis at the Church Missionary Society (CMS) stations at Te Waimate and Kaikohe from 1839 to 1844 (including on the day that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed) and from 1849 to 1851. They contribute to our knowledge of early settler life and farming practice in New Zealand, and to our understanding of historic weather patterns and current climate change.

The 2200 fragile glass plates of the C P Dawes Collection (Charlie Dawes) are a photographic collection that document the people and communities of the Hokianga at the turn of the 20th century at a time when Kohukohu was not only the centre of New Zealand’s timber industry but also a base for its fledgeling viticulture. In particular, they are an important record of Nga Puhi and Te Rarawa and their interaction with European settlers along the Hokianga.

The glass plates are also historically significant as Dawes created a unique record of the 1898 Dog Tax Rebellion, regarded by some as the final stand of the New Zealand Wars. The collection includes many formal portraits, but more importantly Charlie often captured his neighbours informally at work and at play and also spans his transition from amateur to professional photographer.

UNESCO recognition draws attention to the significance of documentary heritage and the institutions, such as Auckland Council Libraries, that care for it. Inscription on the UNESCO register makes our history, our culture and our values more visible to New Zealanders and to the world. The five new inscriptions announced today will join the 35 existing inscriptions on the New Zealand register that include the God Defend New Zealand Original Score and Lyrics and Treaty of Waitangi.

Councillor Cathy Casey, Deputy Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee for Auckland Council, is delighted to see Auckland Council Libraries’ Richard Davis Meteorological Records and C P Dawes collections recognised as being of national significance and inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand register.

“Both the Richard Davis Meteorological Records and C P Dawes Collections occupy a significant place in New Zealand’s history and the work that Auckland Council Libraries do to preserve and store them for current and future generations of Aucklanders is hugely important.

“I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to look at these collections, and the many other taonga that our libraries store, either in person in the Central City Library or at Auckland Council Libraries Kura Heritage Collections Online. Kura gives Aucklanders free, quick access to over 750,000 heritage records, including fascinating images, documents and records of our past, with more being added all the time,” Councillor Casey says.

Other inscriptions announced today were:

  • Dr Muriel Bell Papers (Hocken Collections, Dunedin)
  • Sir Julius von Haast Collection (Alexander Turnbull Library)
  • World War II New Zealand Mobile Broadcasting Unit Recordings (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Head along to the Central City Library to see the Richard Davis Meteorological Records displayed in the Real Gold case or access digitised items from both collections at Auckland Council Libraries Kura Heritage Collections Online. Enjoy your library anywhere, anytime – it’s your place that offers free experiences to explore, experience, learn and connect.

Read more: Heritage Libraries


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