UNESCO honours early New Zealand heritage documents

Sir John Logan Campbell webThe papers of Auckland’s founding father Sir John Logan Campbell (pictured right), the Katherine Mansfield Literary and Personal papers, the Waipu Scottish Migration Collection and Lancelot Eric Richdale’s Papers on research of New Zealand seabirds in the early 20th century are this year’s inscriptions onto the UNESCO Memory of the World New Zealand documentary heritage register, announced on 8 November.

UNESCO recognition draws attention to the significance of documentary heritage and the institutions that care for it.

The Memory of the World New Zealand Trust Chair Dianne Macaskill said, “the Memory of the World Trust is delighted to now have 20 inscriptions of significant documentary heritage items on the register. All greatly contribute to the story of our nation’s history and heritage and are significant to the identity of New Zealanders today.

“The Sir John Logan Campbell Papers are significant to the business and social history of the early days of Auckland, now New Zealand’s biggest city and economic powerhouse.

“The Katherine Mansfield papers are highly significant to the works of the author and the international recognition it receives today.

“The Waipu Scottish Migration Collection is the first successful inscription from outside a main centre. The collection documents a significant international migration by the Reverend Norman MacLeod and his followers in the 1800s from Scotland to Nova Scotia, via South Africa to Australia, and to New Zealand, reflecting the spread of the British Empire of the time.

“Lancelot Richdale papers document early research into New Zealand seabirds. They are of great scientific value and include rare early films of albatrosses at the now world-renowned Otago Albatross Sanctuary.

“These documentary heritage collections are excellent sources of research for historians, researchers, educators and many others in the wider community.”

Sir John Logan Campbell (1817-1912), Auckland's founding father and most esteemed pioneer, remained at the heart of that settlement's commercial and cultural affairs for over 60 years. He is also honoured as the city’s greatest benefactor, his bequests taking their most enduring form in his gift of Cornwall Park to the people of New Zealand.

Philippa Price, Heritage Manager, Cornwall Park Trust Board (Inc) says, “Sir John was a diligent preserver of documents, which bear upon the story of his life and that of Auckland, the city of his adoption. These papers along with those of the Sir John Logan Campbell Residuary Estate reside in the care of Auckland War Memorial Museum.

“The Sir John Logan Campbell Papers remain a treasured part of Auckland’s cultural heritage because of their diverse scope and rich historical worth.”

Katherine Mansfield (Kathleen Beauchamp, 1888–1923) is New Zealand’s most enduringly important writer. Her principal significance is as a writer of short stories, for which she has gained an international reputation for reinventing the modern form in English.

Turnbull Library’s Chief Librarian, Chris Szekely says, “the Katherine Mansfield papers held at the Turnbull Library comprise the world’s foremost collection of her personal and literary writings. They include original correspondence, notebooks and journals, and other documentation relating to her life and works. As a whole they reveal the writer’s artistic preoccupations, development, influences and methods. They cover her troubled and complex personal life, her society and relationships. In their breadth and scope the collection provides a multi-faceted account of a particular historical moment and all its tensions, refracted through a most singular sensibility.”

Waipu Museum Manager Fiona Mohr says the Museum is excited to receive the UNESCO honour of inscription onto the Memory of the World New Zealand register. 

“The collection documents a significant international migration from Scotland to Nova Scotia via South Africa to Australia and New Zealand reflecting the spread of the British Empire in the 1800s. The Waipu Scottish migration, led by the Rev Norman MacLeod, was influenced by political and economic events in Scotland between the 18th and 19th centuries. The cultural decimation of Scotland from the Battle of Culloden, followed by the Industrial Revolution, when textiles was the dominant industry, influenced landlords to vacate their land of crofters (Scottish Clearances) in favour of sheep grazing. These influences and that of the desire for ownership of land and prosperity caused a global diaspora of Scots.

“Waipu’s story is unique in New Zealand, in that it was for over 70 years a singular community of <1000 Gaelic speaking Scots, cohorts of Reverend Norman MacLeod.”

The collection comprises 1,350 photos (200 plus portrait photos of original settlers), 11 diaries, 211 personal correspondence letters, 113 official correspondence, 76 printed documents with handwritten inscriptions, 3 cadastral maps, 2 maps, 13 inscribed books, 16 shipping records, 3,248 genealogy lists and 14 drawings.

Anna Blackman, the Hocken Collections Curator of Archives and Manuscripts, says “receiving this honour recognises the national significance of the research archives held at the Hocken Collections, and is one way we can publicise these important holdings.

“This extensive and unique collection of field notes, photographs, negatives, motion picture film and research papers document Lance Richdale’s meticulous and internationally recognized research into the lives of New Zealand seabirds in particular the Northern Royal Albatross at Taiaroa Heads, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin on the Otago Peninsula and the petrels and prions of Whero Island.

“Richdale’s use of motion picture film to record the behaviour of the birds is probably a New Zealand first.”

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 and sits alongside UNESCO’s World Heritage List and Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Memory of the World register is the Programme’s flagship and promotes heritage stories at three levels, international, regional and national. The New Zealand Programme was established in 2010. Further information about Memory of the World and the inscriptions on the register can be viewed at www.unescomow.org.nz

Photo: Sir John Logan Campbell