Paul Diamond, Curator Maori at the Turnbull Library, talked about the current exhibition in the Turnbull Gallery, “Not One More Acre …”, commemorating the Land March of 1975. The emphasis was on photographs, starting with the “defining image” of Whina Cooper and her mokopuna, as Paul explained the enormous significance of more than 250 colour photographs taken by an American, Christian Heidegg, which were donated to the Turnbull but are now serving an important new role in jogging memories and helping illuminate the sequence of events and the simultaneous process of consciousness-raising which occurred.
On 10 November Barbara Francis, Wellington researcher and retired teacher spoke about Agnes Moncrieff and China, 1930-1945: ‘You don’t travel in China at the full moon’. Agnes (Nessie) Moncrieff worked as International Secretary with the YWCA in China from 1930 to 1945, describing her experiences and achievements in vivid weekly letters to friends and family and in monthly reports to the YWCA in New Zealand. Barbara Francis became a close friend in Nessie’s later years, and then she spent eight years transcribing and annotating Nessie’s papers – deposited in the Turnbull Library. She has now transcribed and edited Nessie’s correspondence for publication by Victoria University Press.
On 13 October Peter Scott, with Philippa Durkin from the Rona Preservation Trust, spoke about the campaign to save the Rona: Alex Turnbull’s racing yacht. The Rona, a classic kauri racing yacht built for Turnbull, has been called as historically significant to Wellington as Katherine Mansfield’s house. Peter Scott (a former National Librarian) told the story of Alex Turnbull becoming a keen yachtsman and commissioning his first racing yacht in 1892. The wealthy young businessman – already an avid book collector – was happy to devote most of his weekends to yacht racing. And he was unstinting in his energy and enthusiasm: he bought smart outfits to look like a sailor, but he was also definitely competitive in his desire not just to take part but to win his races.
On Tuesday 8 September, Fergus Barrowman, Wellington publisher and literary editor, spoke about New Zealand Publishing Today, exploring trends in New Zealand publishing from the perspective of his 30 years as Publisher of Victoria University Press. Changes in technology, dwindling numbers of stock-holding bookshops, the influence of Bill Manhire’s creative writing course, the continuing need for subsidies and many other aspects of the book trade were covered in Fergus’s excellent overview.