Barney Whiterats by Glenn Colquhoun

Barney Whiterats was a famous swagman who spent nearly forty years travelling the roads of Southland and Canterbury. At the time – from the 1870s right through until the 1930s – there were a lot of swagmen in New Zealand. They walked from place to place, looking for work and a meal, and maybe a bed for the night.
This aspect of our history brings to mind the homeless people in our society today, and the different way other people treat them.

Roadside Stories by Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Roadside Stories is a series of audio guides that follow major road trips in New Zealand. The stories cover the places you’ll pass along the way – their people, their history, their cultural and natural significance.

Matakohe kauri - Roadside Stories by Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Northland was once covered in magnificent kauri forests - but almost all were logged after Europeans arrived in New Zealand. Felling the giant trees was dangerous work, and dams were built so the logs could be floated down rivers. Today a museum at Matakohe showcases the history of kauri forests and their exploitation.

Hapuakorari - the lost lake

Heading southwest from Pukaha (Mt Bruce) there is a place of significance in a small lake that Maori know as Hapuakorari. It has been located near the headwaters of the Ruamahanga River in the Tararua Mountains for time immemorial. Few people have probably even heard of it but for those that have it is hard not to become fascinated. This is in no small part due to the many stories that have been attributed to the lake and the name Hapuakorari. Hapuakorari was said to have been a place of unparalleled beauty, a sacred place shrouded in mysticism. For a start a legendary bird, the Hokio, lived by the lake in the company of the Kotuku (white heron), Huia, Kereru, and Kaka. Living between beautiful Beech and huge Rimu trees were a variety of rare plants, all surrounding a pebbled beach on the water edge. Within the crystal clear waters massive two headed eels swam.

Settlers, Squatters, and Surveyors: Shaping the Canterbury Settlement, 1848-1851

An online gallery about the Pākehā settlement of Canterbury with digital images and added description. The gallery includes digitised images of maps, correspondence, survey notes, minutes, and diary entries. Of use to Ngāi Tahu and those studying the colonisation in Canterbury; Kemp’s Deed of 1848.

Provenance of Power – Constitutional Documents

A curated online exhibition that features twelve of the most important, historic, and significant constitutional milestones from our holdings. It includes Te Kara (the United Tribes Flag), He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, 1839 Letters Patent, the Charter of 1840, the 1852 Constitution Act, the Kohimarama Conference, the Māori Representation Act 1867, the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition, and others. Each document is described and available to download. Includes te reo Māori in the documents themselves, but not as part of the learning resource.

Ventnor Project

A project documenting the history and memorialisation of the SS Ventnor, which sank in 1902 with the loss of 13 people and the remains of around 500 Chinese men whose bodies were being returned from New Zealand to China for burial. In 2007 members of the early settler Chinese community were told the history of the Ventnor sinking from the Hokianga point of view. They were told that for some time after the sinking in 1902, remains had washed ashore and locals had carefully gathered them up. Some sets of remains were collected by Te Roroa and Te Rarawa, who buried them in their own ancestral burial grounds. A meeting with iwi representatives confirmed this was the case, and that knowledge of the remains and responsibility for care had been passed down from generation to generation to this present day.

The Voyage Out, by John Wilson

From the Scottish port of Greenock to Dunedin in New Zealand’s South Island is close to 20,000 kilometres – as far as you could travel to start a new life. By sailing ship, the journey took months. Voyagers endured boredom, terror, and misery, and with only the vast, unpredictable ocean to look at. Many of those who stepped on board owned few possessions, but they had what it took: plenty of courage and hope.

New Zealand History topic in National Library Services to Schools

The Māori were the first settlers of Aotearoa, followed by the Europeans. Discover the history of New Zealand’s landscape, its people, events, places, identity, and cultures from sites like Te Ara, Te Papa, DigitalNZ, and NZ History. SCIS no. 1808403.

He Tohu Colonial Life in New Zealand topic in National Library Services to Schools

Colonial New Zealand covers the years 1769-1914. The resources include European discovery of New Zealand, contact with Māori, New Zealand wars, Pākehā colonisation, social life, economy, politics and major events of the time. SCIS no: 1838439.

Lost in Translation, in NZonScreen

Inspired by an epiphany at the Waitangi Treaty grounds in 2000, and after learning New Zealand’s founding document was actually several pieces of paper, comedian Mike King went on a quest to learn the stories behind Te Tiriti O Waitangi. King traces the 1840 path of the nine sheets as it accrued its 540 signatures, meets Māori and Pākehā descendants of those involved, and connects with his Māori heritage. The 10-part series screened on Māori Television. Dominion Post critic Linda Burgess acclaimed it as “dignified, conciliatory, informative ...”