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Clark: Presentation of bookset to Nat Library

Embargoed until 4.50 pm
Tuesday 2 September 2008


Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister


Address at
Presentation of rare bookset ‘Godley Gifts’ to the National Library


National Library
Wellington

4.50 pm


Tuesday 2 September 2008


It is a pleasure for me as Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage to accept, on behalf of the National Library of New Zealand, the rare bookset, ‘Godley Gifts’, which will be housed at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

My thanks go to Haydn Rawstron and the John Robert Godley Memorial Trust for this very generous gift. I know that the Alexander Turnbull Library will treasure and care for the gift, ensuring that New Zealanders will be able to enjoy it for generations to come.

The National Library of New Zealand, home of the Alexander Turnbull Library, is entrusted with enriching the “cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations”. In that role, the National Library collects, preserves, and provides access to its collections.

The ‘Godley Gifts’ now have a home which is highly appropriate for such a valuable piece of New Zealand literary history. This fine bookset of three volumes is hand finished to the highest standard of craftsmanship and carefully encased in a beautiful presentation box.

The set takes its name from Arthur Godley, the young boy who was gifted the 64 page part leather bound book, Seadrift, for Christmas in 1858. Seadrift is possibly New Zealand’s earliest fully illustrated children’s fiction book. It was created over a seven year period by James Edward Fitzgerald, for the son of Canterbury’s founder, John Robert Godley. Fitzgerald himself was a distinguished politician and the founder of the Lyttelton Times and The Press.

An exact replica of Seadrift itself is the second volume in the bookset. No further replica copies of Seadrift – over and above the one hundred copies within this limited edition and the ten printers’ proofs not available for sale – will ever be produced. Volume one of the ‘Godley Gifts’ is a collection of essays commissioned for publication from renowned writer and actor, David McPhail. Volume three is a collection of early Canterbury-related watercolours, most of which – like Seadrift – have never previously been published.

In 2000 I was delighted to be invited to write the foreword to the replica publication of Seadrift. Eight years on I am pleased to see this treasure available for others to enjoy. The ‘Godley Gifts’ give us insights into life into Victorian New Zealand and perhaps most of all, into the importance of celebrating friendship.

This gift comes at a time when the National Library of New Zealand is taking steps to raise its profile and make its collections more accessible. The Library’s New Generation Strategy aims to contribute to giving New Zealanders and the world a greater understanding of who and what we are and of the influences on our development as a nation. The impending redevelopment of this 1970s Molesworth Street building will reshape the Library’s services and, in line with New Zealand’s digital strategy, make digital opportunities and the Library’s collections available to broader audiences.

Once again I thank Haydn Rawstron and the John Robert Memorial Trust for this welcome gift. The ‘Godley Gifts’ will feature amongst the treasured collections which document New Zealand’s heritage in the Alexander Turnbull Library.

I now invite Penny Carnaby, Chief Executive and National Librarian of the National Library to receive this rare bookset, the Godley Gifts’ to be held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.


ENDS

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