Sunday, 13 August 2017

Family Photographs for Genealogists

Portraits, Family Gatherings, Christenings...

These are all important items to keep and digitize wherever possible and NAME everyone in the photograph! In 10 years, 20 years whose going to know who they are or remember names? This is one of the most often things we hear at the Heritage & Research Help Desk, "this photo was taken sometime in the 1920,s or 1890,s  Mum/Dad are gone/cannot remember their names".

Family is how we figure out who we are and where we came from, and increasingly this means genealogy research is becoming our only way to find out especially as family members grow older and forget or in some cases choose not to pass on the family stories. With and other genealogy resources growing bigger and better and privacy laws changing it means we now have access to millions of records from all over the world.

Family photographs are often lost or destroyed through house fires, floods and other natural disasters so now is the time to record these for future generations. There are many technology tools available to save these precious items, here are just a few...
  • Use your smartphone as a scanner and save the image to the Cloud or pen drive, read this blog post by Dick Eastman for more ideas. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
  • Scan to email at your local library Rotorua Library Services
  • Use a digital camera and download all photographs to an external hard drive or USB, from there you can pay an online Photograph Book service such as SnapFish, Diamond Photo or PhotoBox, there are many to choose from, and this allows you to share with family via a password secured service or printed copy of the book.
  • Use genealogy software to record your family tree. Again there are lots to choose from, a great resource to figure out which one is best see Eastman's Blog or Cyndi's List
  • DON'T put precious photographs on Facebook or other social media, because when you read their fine print conditions you will find they own the digital image and can do what they or anyone on the WWW want to do with it.
Alan Lord kindly allowed Rotorua Library to add this photograph to
our online archive Kete Rotorua
Any one of the people in the photograph could be You! or your parents, brothers, sisters, cousins. Kete Rotorua and DigitalNZ are safe repositories for photographs like this one as they are secure sites which always give the copyright owners their rightful place.

Rotorua has had many professional photographers and here are a few that allowed their images, mostly weddings, engagements and coming of age photographs, to be published in the Rotorua Photo News 1963-1971.

Arawa Studios - Michael Burton
Bachelor Photographics - Alan Wilkinson
Camera Craft - Unknown
Fenwick Photographers - Peter Fenwick
Rotorua Home Portraits - Wyn Lambert
Michael's Portraits -  Mick Coebergh, Richard Krall & Russell Robinson
Modern Age Photography - Richard Krall
People Publishing Studios - B.J. O'Neill

Charles E. Jones ; Clarke Mahoney ; Louis Edwards ; Jack Lang as well as lots and lots of proud Mum's and Dad's  :)

The Rotorua Photo News can be viewed in the Heritage & Research area of Rotorua Library.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Family History Month in Rotorua

What did your ancestors get up to?

When you are researching your family member the basic details you might be looking for are : Birth Date, Death Date, Where they lived and where Buried, What did they do for a job/career, and who else are they related to.  

Something else to consider : What did they do for fun? or in the community?

To find out you can look for : Obituaries, newspaper articles and local history books, these are not always online for free.  

In NZ we have Papers Past which covers most New Zealand Newspapers and some journals dating from c.1839 to c.1948. One of those journals is Te Ao Hou "was a bilingual quarterly published by the Maori Affairs Department, and printed by Pegasus Press, 'to provide,' as its first issue said, 'interesting and informative reading for Maori homes ….. like a marae on paper, where all questions of interest to the Maori can be discussed" published 1952-1975.  There were often obituaries published in this journal.

Most Libraries have their own newspaper collections on microfiche or film. 

Hot Lakes Chronicle 1895
Rotorua Library holds: 
  • Hot Lakes Chronicle 15 Feb 1895 – 20 Feb 1897, 4-5 Nov 1905
  • Rotorua Chronicle 10 Aug 1931
  • Rotorua Morning Post 24 Aug 1931 – May 1948
  • Rotorua Post May 1948 – Dec 1960
  • Daily Post Jan 1961 – Present (with some gaps, please ask staff on the Heritage Information Desk for details on 07 3517047 or email
  • Rotorua Review Oct 1984 – current year
  • The Weekender 1993 – current year
We are also very fortunate to have an index done by Don Stafford up to 1987, which lists people that appeared in the newspapers above or in other research documents which Don used to write his 2 volume history of Rotorua.  We are also thrilled to have all of Don's research notes in subject folders and DVD's of Interviews he filmed with individuals who were long time residents of Rotorua.

A brief look at a club from 1940-c.1965  

The 30,000 Club was formed in 1940 and existed until c.1965 when Rotorua attained it's City Status.
The club did a lot of fundraising for worthy community projects. Foundation member, Hamilton Archie 'Dick' Spurdle, had his obituary published in the Daily Post in 1981, in which the reporter talked about his involvement in the community.  Included is the following information "He was Patron of Springfield Golf Club, Founding member of the Arawa Bowls Club, 25 year member of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, President of the Rotorua Lions Club, former Jaycee, played in City of Rotorua Municipal Band, the Rotorua Brass Band, and much more... all this information can be read in Don Stafford's Biography Folder.

Ask our experienced and helpful staff at the Heritage & Research area of the Library for advice and access to Don's folders.

Also for Family History Month the "Rotorua Branch of the NZ Society of Genealogists" will be available for free advice on each Wednesday of the month of August - Drop in from 10:00 am. They are also available on the 2nd Wednesday of every month (except December & January). 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Rotorua : our social history

Rotorua : Our Social Side 

Rotorua has from early in our history been a very social place, a place to visit but also a place to belong. 

Our Library has a collection of newsletters from clubs and organisations, the oldest of these being "The Waybill" Newsletter of the Rotorua Model Railway Club 1967-1969. Our earliest Rotorua Who's Who was published in 1961 and lists clubs and associations with contact information. 

The Rotorua Model Railway Club first appears in the 1964 edition.   This club still exists today and is a popular hobby for many.
This Rotorua Who's Who is available to peruse in the Heritage & Research Area.
Library has all copies for 1961-1988.

Another early enthusiasts club was the Rotorua Car Club, our sources show that this club goes back to 1957, but it may have been earlier.  
When did the club first begin? What are your memories and do you have photographs to share?

Air Scouts at opening of new Rotorua Airport 1964.
Published in Rotorua Photo News, Oct 24th edition, Photographer Michael Burton.

Rotorua Library has a Community Online Archive called Kete Rotorua, we would love to hear from anyone who was a member of a club that still exists today and ones that no longer exist, we would like to here from you too!     Join Kete Rotorua today and add to Rotorua's social history.

Rotorua's new Masonic Lodge in Rotorua Photo News Oct 23 1965 p.55 

Mobile Library outside the Fenton Street Library housed on
the ground floor of the Masonic Lodge 1987

Monday, 17 July 2017

Rotorua's Agricultural Heritage

Rotorua Agricultural, Pastoral and Industrial Association.

This awesome association was formed out of  a suggestion and enthusiasm for all things farming and agricultural by Rotorua's Mr. T. H. Sloane in 1909, he was at that time a member of the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce. The Association was duly formed and the first summer show was held in February 1910 at the Lake Front, then known as Marine Parade.  The first show was such a success they continued with annual summer shows moving to Arawa Park as the preferred location.

Their fourth show was rained out and it was decided after the committee meeting they did not have enough money to continue and Mr Sloane had to step in again and along with Mr J. Banks to re-energise local enthusiasm and competitive spirit. Thus in 1917 a summer show was successfully held.

In 1923 their first Winter Show was held and was successful enough that these shows also started being an annual event.   Excerpt from Don Stafford File "Rotorua Motor Transport Co. building had been available for the Winter Show Exhibition, but room was not there to provide space for efficient display of exhibits or to provide the amusement attractions necessary to draw public attendance"

In 1930 the Rotorua A&P Assn. ran a joint event with Dannevirke A&P Assn. to raise funds for a dedicated building for the summer and winter shows.  This was an 'Art Union' event. Following this Mr E. La Trobe Hill (Rotorua Architect) was given the go ahead to prepare plans & specifications for our new facility. This was built on Old Taupo Road and cost £2,900.

The A&P Grounds are between Uta Street and the Utuhina Stream.
This  copy of  the 1935 Map is owned by Rotorua Library, copyright belongs to Wises Maps.
Rotorua Library would welcome any memories and photographs of this site and shows held there.  Please Email :

Friday, 30 June 2017

Business in Rotorua : Timber Mills

Early Timber Mills c.1888-1915.

Book Review : Tall trees & tramways / by Bryon Somervell c2011.

Mr Somervell, local Rotorua resident until his death in 2013, wrote this book about the early mills of Mamaku, Rotoiti, Ngatira, Oropi, Te Whaiti, Urewera, Maungapohatu, Pukareao and Reporoa-Rerewhakaaitu, and the tram-ways built to transport the timber to sale yards.

Most of these mills are no longer in business, but in their heyday when native trees were plentiful, the owners employed many men in various jobs.  The earliest mill belonged to the Steele brothers who were able to purchase leases, from the government railways owners, of bush land in what is known as Mamaku, in 1888. The brothers continued in business until 1954, owning some land also in Tutanekai Street which bordered Amohia & Eruera Streets, of Rotorua where they sold the timber, built an Assembly Hall and a stately home.   Other early pioneers in this industry were the Kusabs brothers, A.W. Roe & Co., Arahiwi Timber Co., and a number of smaller mills.   The author has researched widely and in depth to bring us this fascinating look at Rotorua history and the founding industry that continues to this day.   Illustrated throughout with photographs and maps.

Steele's Assembly Hall, Tutanekai Street. Original photograph owned by Rotorua Museum

Monday, 19 June 2017

Business in Rotorua : A spotlight on Tutanekai Street

Businesses of Tutanekai Street 

Tutanekai Street named after the famous Te Arawa Chief who fell in love with Hinemoa highborn chieftainess of Owhata.

When the Rotorua Town was formally laid out, Tutanekai Street began with Hotels and Guest Houses as the main businesses, Steele's timber yard, C.A.C. Clarke's Cordial Factory and little else as Arawa Street was the focus of the CBD at that time.

Many of the buildings we see today on Tutanekai Street were built in the late 1920's to 1930's such as Graeff's Building, Woolliams Building, Musgrave's Building, Inverness Building, French's Building (demolished 2016), Jubilee Building, Harris & Co Building, Central Chambers, Mokoia Buildings and the Rotorua Buildings.

Photograph by Faeryl Rotherham,
Other photographs of building facades can be seen on Kete Rotorua

Hotels and Guest Houses of Tutanekai Street
Tarawera House c.1891
Windsor House c1898
The Palace Hotel (moved to Tutanekai from Lake Road) c.1899
The Waiwera built 1903
The Australia built c.1900
Thirwell House c. 1901
The Empire built c.1907
The Waverley c.1917

Postcard from the Dave Fuller Collection

Rotorua's 1st Assembly Hall was built by the Steele Bros. who owned a large Timber Yard on the corner of Eruera and Tutanekai Streets in 1899. This was to continue as Royal Pictures,  King's Theatre and later the Majestic Ballroom. Dismantled in the 1930's to make way for McKenzies Department Store.

Published in the Daily Post, City Celebration Issue, January 1963

Friday, 9 June 2017

Business in Rotorua : A Spotlight on The Palace Hotel

The Old Palace Hotel : Lake Road to Tutanekai Street

You can view this image at Kete Rotorua. Photograph supplied by Dave Fuller.

Image from Papers Past : Advertising for the Palace Hotel, 24 Aug 1933, NZ Herald.

Let us know your memories of this iconic Hotel 
Demolished 1975.  The Palace Tavern was built behind this building on Arawa Street in 1966. It now houses Vic's Turf Bar ; Rotorua Secondhand Market ; Speedy Signs and Spark Business.