The Best of 2016 - the new PapersPast

No Comments »

Bridget tells us one of her highlights for 2016 - the new format for that indispensible family history aid, Papers Past.

One of the highlights for me was the new format for PapersPast that was introduced by the National Library.
PapersPast has always been intuitive to use but the way it's set up now makes it even more so. Also, the loveliest thing is having on the same site access to the databases Magazines and Journals, Letters and Diaries and the Parliamentary Papers. The way it has been formatted makes it easier to see more of the Māori content in newspapers and magazines. It also means that if you were unaware of these other resources, they are there on the home page, easy to click on and explore.
Te Ao Hou/The New World, Maori Affairs Department, 1952-1975
The Newspaper section contains digitised NZ and Pacific newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries. If you are wishing to make a specific search, you will have a more rewarding experience if you use Search Articles using the different sections to limit your search.

The Magazines and Journals section contains digitised New Zealand journal publications. Each magazine and journal has its own page containing information about the publication, including the date range available online. Well worth exploring if you haven't visited lately.

Bridget - Central Research

The Best of 2016 - Brad Argent, DNA and Identity

No Comments »

Brad Argent (Ancestry) gave a talk in October at the Central Library on DNA.  The talk came after the Family History Expo in Auckland, and was focused on the science of identity. As Brad said, DNA testing is no longer "just" a tool to help you work out your family history. It is so much more than that and it brings with it potential issues.
He posed some thought-provoking questions:
Does the absence of something in you change who you are, and how you see yourself? For example, if you grew up in a Maori community, and saw yourself as Maori, then get a genetic result back that says you're not Maori... do you stop being Maori overnight? He talked about the memetic self  - that is, the part of you made up of those "things" passed down to you through your culture, your family, and the family stories.
What, he asked, happens when you've grown up hearing stories but learn you are not biologically connected to them? Do they just go away?
Likewise, if you learn you're adopted and want to find out who your parents are, does that then negate all the family stories your adoptive parents gave you, that you grew up with, that have shaped who you are?
Someone raised the point in the talk about the security of your DNA with the firms that test it. Brad asked the question: what is your responsibility with your DNA and the information contained in it, that could affect a whole lot of people?
I could go on and on, but take a listen (or a re-listen) to this fascinating talk yourself on YouTube.
The talk is captioned, and you can check out other speakers from the Auckland Libraries Lunchtime series on our website here.
DNA is an incredible new tool but also with an unknown future. Brad made the point that we no longer build up our identity over years and years of painstaking research, microfiche-by-microfiche, card-by-card, record-by-record. Now we spit in a tube, six or eight weeks later click on a button, and suddenly we are, potentially, someone else. A lot to think about in the amazing world of family history research.

Joanne - Central Research

The Best of 2016 - He manu hou ahau, he pi ka rere

No Comments »

Continuing our series on Family History - The Best of 2016. Here's Maata, our Maori Reference Librarian, with her "best of."
He manu hou ahau, he pi ka rere – I am a chick just learning to fly
The above Maori proverb describes my recent experience as a new staff member at Te Kohinga Rangahau o Tamaki Makaurau - Auckland Research Centre, aptly. Albeit perplexing at times, my seven months navigation of the research centre and its environs, the nearby stacks, the library basement and the Sir George Grey Special Collections has been very rewarding. Also discovering the depth and breadth of the cultural and historical material within the numerous collections held on the Heritage floor has been inspiring. As an unwitting fledgling, now airborne, I feel very honoured to be a kaitiaki/guardian of this extremely important environment that is rich with the cultural heritage of Aotearoa-New Zealand, the Pacific and Great Britain. I would like to share some of the highlights of this wonderful journey.
Hinemihi: Firstly, locating information about the Whare tipuna Hinemihi of Te Arawa was emotive but enormously worthwhile. This treasured Whare Tipuna was uprooted from Aotearoa/NZ and relocated to England by William Hillier, 4th Earl of Onslow, a colonial Governor of New Zealand during the late 1800s. He purchased the meeting house as fond memorabilia of Aotearoa, to take back to his family home in England. There are many books in Auckland Libraries on Hinemihi, along with a blog post from Heritage et Al.

Hinemihi meeting house at Te Wairoa. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 8. Ref: PAColl-6075-19. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Piuipiu:  I also responded to an international enquiry from Utah regarding the current status of the Piupiu in Aotearoa. The art of piupiu making is thriving in Aotearoa and is being upheld by custodians such as Hetet whanau, Christina Wirihana and many others. Traditional and contemporary piupiu making techniques are currently used, and a number of Maori Art and Craft training providers throughout Aotearoa provide piupiu making as a part of their curriculum. Furthermore, piupiu are worn at the official Matatini Kapa Haka Festival which is a major New Zealand event 
'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 471-9724' 

Waihorotiu: An enquiry by a local artist concerning Te Waihorotiu revealed some very interesting information about this tipuna arawai/ancestral waterway of Ngati Whatua, now known as the Ligar canal. This, too, was an emotive research experience and one I aim to explore further in 2017. Check out the following online links from Auckland Libraries' digital database for more information about this historic Auckland waterway.

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-400

Awheto: An Iwi based research enquiry regarding Awheto or the Vegetable Caterpillar fungus was also fascinating. The numerous Maori names given to it (awato, awheto, hawato, hawhato, horuhoru, hotete, ngutara, and nutara) certainly add to the mystery of this most unusual fungus. Unfortunately the Porina moth is prey to this unforgiving species. 
Transactions New Zealand Institute, Vol. XXVII, Pl. VIII

Maata - Central Research