Category Archives: Non-Fiction Interest

Colenso’s Curios

Today I am at the Alexander Turnbull Library to see some printing ‘curios’ that belonged or were used by William Colenso in the 1830s.

The Type – I was surprised by the state of the type.
Generally ordinary, largely very clear distinct lines, no visible ink residue, discoloured black
But, I pulled out single piece, a capital A, significant damage of the ‘stem’ or ‘bulk’ of the piece of type, if not a disintegration, more likely a defect in the type casting or an anomaly in the metal composition.

This made me very nervous that it might break in half- that thought in mind and having to feel the type through gloves – it felt more vulnerable / fragile that I expected.

The nick is still visible below the defect. A curved nick as expected (angular nicks came later).

This was the only piece out of the properly packed type that I looked at.

Are all the pieces just like this?
Was this just dud type that Colenso never/barely used?
Did it only feel delicate because I wore gloves?
How low is the lead content? Usually 50-60% for handset type, is this defect more likely in higher or lower percentage lead type?
Did the type actually belong to Colenso? Afterall, all the type Colenso used belonged to the Church Missionary Society. But Robert Harding received all of Colenso’s type ‘curios’ that were in Colenso’s possession when he died. Perhaps this was type Colenso aquired after his employment with the CMS had finished. Or perhaps he took the type with him when he left for Gisborne. From Harding’s account, we know Colenso took his cases with him to Gisborne.

Other than this properly packed box of type that I couldn’t get a proper look at, there was also an additional assortment of unsorted type. The type is much later, with lots of variation in nick shape, number, depth and style.  There was also some brass rule, leading and three image blocks.

I got the most excitement out of Colenso’s composing stick:

That’s my hand holding Colenso’s comp stick. We can be more definitive about composing sticks than we can about type. If this is Colenso’s comp stick, and I believe it is, then it is almost 200 years old. Comp sticks are personal. Colenso likely learned to compose on this stick in Cornwall. He brought it here in 1834, we know this from Colenso’s own account. It is unlikely he ever had another. And so this comp stick was used to handset the print versions of He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti.

The magic of the archive!

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Filed under letterpress, Non-Fiction Interest, Printmaking, Typography

Facing down the hegemonic order

The University of Auckland has launched a new peer reviewed academic journal for undergraduate writing in the English, Drama and Writing Studies department.

The journal is called “Interesting”
Edited by Bella Nina Horlor and Susanna Collinson


One of my essays “Facing down the hegemonic order: the role of art as a record of counter histories” appears within its pages, but also online:

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Filed under Non-Fiction Interest

Child Poverty in NZ – how can you help?

Finally! The media is awash with articles, columns, opinion pieces on NZ’s shameful Child Poverty.

There is no need for me to repeat or reword these articles, they are readily available for you to read all over the internet.

What I want to blog about is to let you know what you can do about it and to spread the word of the Charity KidsCan.

Child Poverty in New Zealand is not something to be pushed under the rug. For the future of our country, of our communities and for the dignity and decency of our nation and our people, we should all be supporting our less fortunate citizens. These children are our future and it is up to us as to whether they contribute to the ills of the country or the greats.

I vote we support these children so they can be among the greats.

Through KidsCan, your donation goes to pay for socks, shoes and raincoats. Your donation goes to pay for food in schools. Let’s enable these children focus on their learning and on their futures, not their empty stomachs, cold feet, and ill health. These are BASICS that we all deserve. They should be rights, not luxuries for the middle and upper classes. All children in this country should be properly dressed for the weather and have enough to eat.

You can donate one off sums of whatever you can afford.

You can donate multiples of $15 a month ($15 goes to each child in the scheme).

Or you can donate your time through volunteering.

Please have a look at the KidsCan website, see how you can help.

Yes, the government should be doing more to help. But in the meantime KidsCan are doing all they can do support the children in our communities most in need. Do your bit to help them!

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Filed under Day to Day, Non-Fiction Interest

Upcoming Solar Eclipse

While researching for a short story, I discovered there will be a solar eclipse visible from Auckland quite soon.

14th November 9.18am it begins. It is only considered a partial, but it will cover a considerable amount of the sun.

See details here:

Local times for eclipse in Auckland on Wednesday 14th November 2012

Event Time in Auckland Looks like Comments
Partial eclipse begins 14 Nov at 9:18 a.m. Eclipse as seen from earth The Moon touches the Sun’s edge.
Maximum Eclipse 14 Nov at 10:28 a.m. Eclipse as seen from earth Moon is closest to the center.
Partial Eclipse ends 14 Nov at 11:45 a.m. Eclipse as seen from earth The Moon leaves the Sun’s edge.

I created a facebook event so that I wouldn’t forget. If you want don’t want to miss it (sitting inside or sleeping in) you might want to join the event on facebook to remind you.

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Filed under Day to Day, Events, Non-Fiction Interest

Angie Lewin

I love Angie Lewin. She’s a Scottish printmaker; her work is so beautiful. The colour schemes are fantastically retro and the mark making is sure, fine, and certainly reminiscent of the Scottish highland flora.

She has also designed a number of fabric and textile designs

I am in absolute awe of her carving and cutting skills. Such intricate and fine line work, the detail!

As a living artist, there are always prints of hers available. Take a look at her website

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Filed under Non-Fiction Interest, Printmaking

Kuwharuwharu Tuna Eels

New Zealanders  have an affinity and deep empathy for endangered species, knowing that most our native creatures are far fewer in numbers than they should be. The fauna of this land are rich and varied, and New Zealanders are all too aware of how many of the native species are endangered.

We think first of the kiwi, at the last count there are 72600 across 5 species (The Okarito Kiwi being the most endangered). Of the Takahe, there are 225, most of which are on Tiritiri Matangi.

We’re aware of how endangered our birds are, of how rare our lizards are.

How aware are you of the Kuwharuwharu Tuna Eel?
Also known as the New Zealand Longfin Eel or Anguilla dieffenbachii.

Tuna eel breed only once in their lifetime. In Autumn the mature female tuna begin a migration from Lake Forsyth (Te Roto o Wairewa) to the Pacific Ocean, up the Kermadec trench to Tonga where spawning takes place. They produce between 1 and 20 million eggs, it is unknown how they are fertilised. The mature eels then die there. Their eggs make their way back to NZ. The eels range from 20 – 60 years old at the time of migration. Though they have been known to live to 106 years old if they do not migrate/breed.

The tuna eel is currently classed as in ‘Gradual Decline’.

They breed only once in their lifetime. If they do not get to the spawning ground, they may never breed.

There is no restriction on harvesting tuna eel. Any eel caught has not had the opportunity to breed. This has a devastating effect on the reproduction rates of the eel which is already considered to be very slow.

In June it was reported by 3news the eel was being used in petfood.

Would you like to know more? Have a look at this great resource by Joseph Potangaroa.

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Filed under Non-Fiction Interest