History’s appendices – New Zealand observed

First post office, Colombo Street, Christchurch

The Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AtoJs or AJHRs) are an essential resource for anyone interested in New Zealand’s history. Good news today is that the Digitisation of ‘AtoJs’ reaches 1906.

What does this mean? You can now get contemporary information and observations on events like:

Yes there are facts and figures, and analytical information but sometimes it is the smaller observations that open up history. A report on the Tarawera eruption 1886 from Doctor Hector mentions :

One of the most unfortunate results of the eruption, in addition to the disastrous loss of life and the destruction of the country, is the disturbance of the sense of security which has grown up amongst those residing at the Hot Springs and I believe that many persons are so thoroughly shaken by the horrors experienced on the morning of the 10th that they will not recover their equanimity until they have been for some time resident away from, the sounds, smells, and shocks that characterize the district.

The reports on events at Parihaka includes a discussion on potatoes:

The Hon. Mr. Bryce to Lieutenant-Colonel Robeets. Wellington, 13th April, 1882. —Colonel Roberts, Opunake.- —Toil are perfectly right. Natives must be prevented from taking supplies to Parihaka, which would give an excuse for reviving and attending the monthly meetings. I have no objections to carts going to the Parihaka Block for supplies, as there is a superabundance there but taking supplies to Parihaka is in every way objectionable, and must be stopped. Please have this explained to the Natives with the carts, as it is not unlikely that they may wish to get potatoes from Parihaka. —John Bryce.

Lieut.-Colonel Robeets to the Hon, Mr. Bryce. Pungaeehu, 14th April, 1882.—Hon. Mr. Bryce, Wellington.—Natives who were not allowed to go to Parihaka with pork said that they would be ashamed to go there with empty drays, and would therefore not go for potatoes. —J. M. Roberts, Lieut.-Colonel.

Thanks to The National Library of New Zealand for managing the collaborative programme that is digitising the Appendices to the Journals to make these records easy to access and freely available online. Brilliant stuff.