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Handwritten account of shipwreck in museum archives

Research grant recipient uncovers handwritten account of shipwreck in museum archives - new grants up for grabs

Three more researchers stand to make significant discoveries with research grants being awarded next month.

Auckland Museum and the New Zealand Society of Authors are offering one national and two regional research grants. Applications for the grants are open until Friday 14 December.

One of last year’s recipients, Tania Hutley, made a surprising discovery in Auckland Museum’s library while researching the SS Wairarapa shipwreck of the late 1800s.

“My research subject is Great Barrier Island around 1894, and what it would have been like for the survivors of the shipwreck of the SS Wairarapa, a steamer out of Sydney. My novel has a survivor of the shipwreck as its protagonist.”

“The museum library has precious material I would never have found elsewhere incuding a journal with a handwritten account of the shipwreck that was written by one of the survivors.”

Hutley’s fascination with the story of the SS Wairarapa started with stamps in her father’s collections.

“My father is a stamp collector, and since I first saw the pigeon post stamps in his collection, and learned about how the commercial pigeon post on Great Barrier Island was started as a result of the shipwreck, I have been fascinated by that remarkable chain of events. I think it's a story crying out to be more widely told.”

The national grant is for $3500 (supplemented by an optional 4 weeks of accommodation in Auckland at the Michael King Writers Centre) and the two regional grants, for Auckland based writers, are for $1500. Each of the grants is available to provide assistance to writers wishing to undertake research in the Auckland Museum Library for a writing project during 2013.

Auckland Museum’s library houses one of New Zealand’s major documentary heritage collections with a wide selection of historical papers, documents and associated ephemera, including substantial collections in the following areas:

Personal papers
Nineteenth century papers relating to many families, including the pioneering Williams family, Sir John Logan Campbell, James Busby and the Reverend Vicesimus Lush.

Nearly 300 manuscripts are described as being Māori or having Māori elements. Most of these are recorded in Jenifer Curnow's Ngā Pou Ārahi — a tribal inventory relating to Māori treasures, language, genealogy, songs, history, customs and proverbs (1995).

About 600 manuscripts contain material by or about women. These provide insights into the lives of both pioneering and contemporary women, and are described in the museum publication Womanscripts, compiled by Sue Loughlin and Carolyn Morris (1994).

The museum collections hold material relating to the New Zealand Wars, World Wars One and Two, and more recent deployments in Asia. Letters and diaries of individual service men and women, along with the ephemera and images of wartime experience, as well as the records of military organisations such as 21 (Auckland) Battalion Association, provide a solid resource to observe New Zealand’s military history.

Society and religious organisation records
The collection includes both local and national society records. Some examples include: Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Auckland Society of Arts, Auckland Acclimatisation Society, Auckland Amateur Operatic Society, the Auckland Choral Society, Auckland Studio Potters and the Auckland Photographic Society.

Company and organisation records
Extensive company records provide research opportunities into organisational histories and into the development of business and the economy, and the lives of individual workers. Local company examples include: Auckland Gas Company (1863-1987); Crown Lynn Potteries (1959-1987); Martha Gold Mining Company (1915-1951); seed merchants Arthur Yates & Co., (1882-1940); Farmers' Trading Company, (1909-1987), Whitcoulls (1842-2000).

Further information on the research grants including application forms, and terms and conditions can be viewed at: http://www.authors.org.nz/wa.asp?idWebPage=38553&idDetails=193

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