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Meet the real Wellingtonians in a new book

17 October 2011

Meet the real Wellingtonians in a new book from the Turnbull

The vaults of the Alexander Turnbull Library have been scoured to provide new insights into Wellington’s often-chequered history and the quirky characters who’ve lived there.

David Colquhoun, Manuscripts Curator at the Turnbull, has selected the images and written the stories behind them in a new book called Wellingtonians: from the Turnbull collections. Photographs, paintings, cartoons, manuscripts, posters, sketches and novelty postcards have been chosen from the huge collections held by the Library.

The overriding theme is a very simple one, says David: “Wellington has always been a very lively place. There is nothing boring about it. It really is a little city truly like no other, and always has been.

“There is deliberately no chronological sequence. My main aim in laying out the book was simply to make sure every page turning revealed something completely different. For example, the 1855 earthquake sits next to Town Hall pandemonium when the Rolling Stones hit Wellington. An account of the royal visit festivities in 1901 precedes a cartoon about the chaos of six o’clock closing. A story about twenty-first century protests at Parliament is followed by Te Aro pa in 1841.

“There are wrestlers and rugby players, flying boats and electric trams, gales and shipwrecks. There is even a singing ventriloquist and a venomous Sumatran rat monkey.”

David has been a curator at the Turnbull for over 20 years now and the images featured come out of his daily work. “Some of them have been inspired by new documents acquired by the Library. Others have come out of discoveries made helping visiting researchers.”


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