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‘Capturing the West’

‘Capturing the West’

The West Auckland Historical Society has been involved in the ‘Capturing the West’ essay competition since 2003. It began to honour West Auckland historian JT Diamond and encourage more historical research in the West. Diamond’s extensive writing and photographic collection has ensured that we have retained a public record of many of the important events and local people who have lived in the West since the early 1860s.

Those who compete in the competition will have their stories added to his at Auckland libraries’ West Auckland Research Centre. The Capturing the West essay competition opens on the 1st of June and closes on September 20th 2014.

The West Auckland Historical Society began the essay competition to collect the voices of the West, to encourage the use of the resources of the Centre, and to nurture further oral and written history projects.

The competition has two essay categories:

1. Memories – an essay based on your own experience or upon another person’s recollections.
2. Research – an essay based on research which includes the use of archival material such as oral histories, photographs, diaries and letters.

The essay competition is open to all ages and is divided into four entrant categories:

1. Student - either under 18 or not yet concluded school year 13.
2. Adult – over 18 and whose work has never been published publicly.
3. Semi-professional – over 18 and who may have had work self-published, contributed to magazines or books or other media with some recompense or who are paid for writing in other genre or subject matter than culture, heritage and history.
4. Professional – over 18 and who earn their primary living writing on culture, heritage and history.

The essays which have been written over the last ten years are available at the West Auckland Historical Society and most can also be viewed at the West Auckland Research Centre. They cover a wide variety of topics. The overall winner of the JT Diamond award in 2012 was a young 8 year old from Oratia School. Anyone can enter has the chance of winning one of the many different prizes. The prizes available are: the Morris photographic prize, Bob Harvey Prize, WAHS prize, Bullock Trophy and the Franich Jewellers Diamond Prize, as well as the category prizes.

Those that enter will have the opportunity to have their work published in the Societies’ journal West of Eden.

Resources for research for the essays include:

The West Auckland Historic Society archives held at the Mill Cottage in Henderson.

‘The J. T. Diamond Collection is West Auckland Research Centres’ single largest manuscript collection (30 linear meters). It consists of the research papers, personal library and photographs of self taught archaeologist and West Auckland historian John (Jack) Thomas Diamond, M.B.E. (1912-2001). The collection reflects his interests in Maori history, early settlement and the timber and clay industries. A highlight of this collection is the extensive visual archive, containing over 10,000 images (prints and negatives) taken by J. T. Diamond or collected or copied by him over his research career. A printed finding aid is available for this collection of several thousand images of the Western districts which cover from the 1890s through to the 1980s. The majority of the images cover the Waitakere Ranges and the pottery and ceramic industry.’

There are other general print and several photograph collections such as the Frank Morris Collection which consists of several hundred glass plate negatives and prints of Henderson in the 1920s-1940s (there is an photographic essay prize available in his name), and the Bert Jones Collection which has over 500 glass plate negatives from the Edwardian era primarily of Whatipu.


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