• K168-171, Photograph Album 10, Auckland Harbour Board archives [19136], courtesy of the New Zealand Maritime Museum. This features the Hobson Street, Birkenhead and Northcote vehicular ferry berths, and is dated 13 September 1923.
Tags: History

Archival material at the New Zealand Maritime Museum goes online

Since 2020, the New Zealand Maritime Museum has made annual funding applications to the New Zealand Lottery Commission for an intended five-year digitisation programme. Digitisation started in February 2021 and the museum is now applying for a third year of funding.

The museum has a total of over three million items. Currently over nine thousand items have been both digitised and made available on the museum website. Files for future digitisation include Auckland Harbour Board (AHB) engineers' correspondence from 1907 to 1988, AHB engineers' files from 1908 to 1972 and head office correspondence from 1871 to 1989. The museum is exploring a method to make PDFs available. It is also in the process of digitising all the AHB Minute Books and Indexes from 1871 to 1989, along with AHB photograph albums. The earliest album is of sketches, with images dating between 1840 and the 1980s. The Auckland Harbour Board operated from 1871 to 1989, and when it was wound up its records went to the Maritime Museum.
I checked out the site for North Shore-related material and found photographs taken in Northcote, Birkenhead, Chelsea, Takapuna, Bayswater, Narrow Neck and Devonport. Those from Northcote include black and white photographs from the early 1960s of the coal hulk ‘Eure’, while those from Takapuna include colour photographs of yachts taken in 1989. There are also colour photographs of powerboats off Bayswater taken in 1979. Amongst other photographs, I also located older photographs of Bayswater Wharf and Narrow Neck Beach.
Devonport is represented by a number of photographs, in the main featuring the Devonport Naval Base and the Devonport Yacht Club, as well as three fully digitised files regarding the latter from the old Auckland Harbour Board. There is also, for example, a partially digitised file regarding the cargo wharf at Devonport for the period 1925 to 1983.
Some will remember ‘Sea Spray Magazine’, briefly called ‘Boating World’ from 1992 to 1996, and also known as ‘SeaSpray’. The museum has both a near total run from December 1945 to Autumn 2010 and an associated collection of 2639 photographs from that magazine from the 1960s to the 1990s. It also has a good run of copies of the ‘New Zealand Yachtsman’, from 23 April 1909 to 18 June 1918.
I have also received inventories of the AHB engineering files and correspondence yet to be digitised. As appropriate to Harbour Board files these concentrate on the Naval Base and especially the passenger ferry wharves at Devonport, but also have relevance to such topics as the Devonport Borough District Scheme (likely the maritime aspects), mooring areas for boats, dinghy lockers and even the water supply for the Devonport Steam Ferry Company. There are similar files for the Birkenhead, Northcote and Chelsea wharves. Note that the Auckland Harbour Board managed the port of Auckland and later Onehunga as well, covering both the Auckland and Manukau harbours.
Other files include those on the Kauri Point Reserve (1914 to 1953), the Kauri Point Naval Depot (1935 to 1974), the Chelsea housing estate (1965 to 1983), the proposed Meola Reef harbour bridge across the Waitemata Harbour (1972 to 1977 and 1983) and the buoys and beacons in that part of the harbour (1965 to 1975).
Many of the photographic albums include images of the Devonport wharves, but there are also those of the vehicular wharves at Birkenhead and Northcote, particularly from the 1920s (see above). Other photographs include those of ‘up river’ wharves operated by the Auckland Harbour Board. They include Birkdale (later renamed Beach Haven), lower Albany and Herald Island, from November 1921.
Altogether a wonderful collection of photographs and other material much more readily available, with the promise of much more to come! Go to - https://collection.maritimemuseum.co.nz/explore


Issue 129 April 2022