Disappearance of Rongotai Terrace, Wellington

Google map showing Wellington airport runway and Bridge St.

You won’t find Rongotai Terrace on current maps of Wellington. It disappeared in the 1950s under an extension to Wellington airport (called an aerodrome at that time). It ran roughly parallel to (and to the right of) Bridge Street (shown in the map). The houses on the west side of Calabar Road in Miramar also disappeared.

My great-grandparents, Samuel and Susannah Morrell, once lived at 44 Rongotai Terrace (I wrote about them in this post) Samuel and Susannah bought section 27 of a subdivision surveyed in Deposit Plan 1773, Block 2 in 1912 – later to become 44 Rongotai Terrace.


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Unpacking my photo albums 3 – English places

KnaresboroughThe third album I’ve re-photographed is a compilation of photos taken in the 1980s and 1990s by me and by a friend of places in England where my ancestors came from.

You can read about the Unpacking my photo albums project in the first post and the second.

I have already written posts on many of these ancestors and used some of these photos there – I will refer to them as I go.

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A truth universally acknowledged

Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, 1995

Currently I am doing a free online course on Jane Austen: Myth, reality and global celebrity taught by the University of Southampton with some of it filmed at Chawton House and the Jane Austen house museum.   It is only a two week course and I enrolled in it rather late so most people have probably already finished it – there were well over 2500 people doing it and I have not bothered to try to read all the comments as there are usually hundreds on each topic!

Nevertheless I am a bit of a Jane Austen (1775-1817) fan as these books and DVDs/videos I own show. I don’t regard myself as a ‘true Janeite’ though, as I have owned other books about her over the years but have got rid of them – I used to own a copy of her Letters, and her juvenilia (what she wrote when young), for example. I never studied her books at school or university, although several years ago I did a paid continuing education course on her and was introduced to the NZ Jane Austen Society and have been subsequently to one or two of their events. I have never visited her house museum in the English village of Chawton. Continue reading

Treasure Palaces

Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums is the title of a book I bought at a discount Book Grocer shop in Melbourne recently (edited by Maggie Fergusson). I had seen it at the Te Papa store and thought it looked interesting. The book came about from a series of commissioned short essays for the English magazine Intelligent Life (a “sister magazine” of The Economist.) A distinguished writer – not an art critic – was asked to write about a museum that had played some part in their life and what they liked or didn’t like about it, “weaving in a thread of memoir”. From the eventual 38 essays, 24 have been chosen for this book. One of the ones I particularly enjoyed was Allison Pearson on the Rodin Museum in Paris. I had never heard of her, but one of the things I enjoy with a book of good essays is ‘discovering’ some new author.

Of the 24, I have visited the following six. The photos are mine, when I can find some! I will follow this with my own comments on two museum visits I made on a 2006 art history tour.  Continue reading

Unpacking my photo albums 2: The 1970s

DSC02905 I have found my third photo album and rephotographed (with digital camera) the photos I would like to keep. This is no. 2 in a planned series of blogs on ‘unpacking’ my photograph albums – getting them out of their various storage places and digitising the photos I want and then I can decide which albums to keep. You can read no. 1 here.

This album covers four years of the middle 1970s and like much of the 1970s is a brown colour! Many of my clothes at the time seemed to be shades of earthy browns, yellows, oranges, greens with blues for contrast. It was also the era of the hand knitted (my mother) and hand crocheted (me) garments before clothes became cheaper to buy than make. Continue reading

Unpacking my photograph albums?

Those of you who know Walter Benjamin’s essay ‘Unpacking my Library’ – you can read a PDF copy here – will know where I’ve taken my title from. Benjamin  (1892-1940) is described by Wikipedia as a philosopher, cultural critic and essayist. He was talking about unpacking his books, which had been in storage for a couple of years. His essay was more about “the relationship of a book collector to his possessions, into collecting rather than a collection”. I read about him when I studied art history – in particular during a paper on Collecting and Collectors.

So, why ‘unpacking my photo albums’ – in fact they aren’t really packed up. They are just stored in various places around my house – stuffed under a sofa, put in the triangular corner space of a bookcase, leaning against walls, inside a piano stool and a footstool, and so on.


I have been thinking for some time about what to do with them. Young people may be somewhat bewildered by this as most photos these days are digital things – held on a camera, computer, in a ‘cloud’ – not taking up physical space. But many of mine are pre-digital relics (as I am, really!) Continue reading

Dark Imaginings in Melbourne

Recently in Melbourne, I visited the University of Melbourne campus. There are a number of galleries and museums spread around the campus, but I went to only two: the Ian Potter Museum of Art and the Noel Shaw gallery in the library. The name Ian Potter  is ubiquitous in Melbourne – he was a businessman and philanthropist with at least two art galleries named after him and a new part of the State Library will be named after him.

References to Greek and Roman Classical statuary were also rather prominent on this visit. The Ian Potter (at Melbourne Uni) has some trying to escape out the front wall and at the NGV International (National Art Gallery of Victoria) was a large Xu Zhen work with the long title of: Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana, the Dying Gaul, Farnese Hercules, Night, Day, Sartyr and Bacchante, Funerary Genius, Achilles, Persian Soldier Fighting, Dancing Faun, Crouching Aphrodite, Narcisse Couché, Othryades the Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton. There was also a smaller version (for sale – price on application![1]) in the museum shop. Continue reading