Archive for March, 2012

A gimlet

A gimlet

One of things that is really rewarding in my position is exposing treasures to a wider audience. On the flip side of that is a frustration when you can’t share those treasures.

We have nearly finished our digitisation program for our Masters Thesis Collection. This has been a gratifying project except for the small fact is that we can’t share the results with the wider world. Most of the theses will stay in our “closed” archive which is accessible to staff and students only. 😦

Which means when you come across beautiful bits of text like this I can’t share the source;

From a Victoria University thesis from 1948, on the early days of the New Zealand prison system:

“The first real attempt at law and order was made in 1838, when some of the more respectable elements amongst the thousand or so lawless inhabitants of Kororareka formed the Kororareka Vigilants’ Association. This association passed resolutions for the protection of life and property, and established a court, the decisions of which could be carried out by force. Fines could be imposed, or punishment inflicted by the effective means of tarring and feathering. Delinquents were confined in the first New Zealand gaol – an old sea chest ventilated by gimlet holes.”


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One of the elements I really like in my position is seeing new resources go up on the web.

Fifty years of Victoria University’s The Spike student magazine is now online. The University Library has digitised the complete run of The Spike Victoria College Review which ran continuously from 1902 – 1949, then in 1954, 1957 and 1964.

From the editorial in Issue one:

“We be wayfarers together, O Students, treading the same thorny paths of Studentdom, laughing at the same professorial jokes, grieving in common over the same unpalatable “swot,” playing the same games, reading the same indigestible books. Let us also pause for a few moments together and stretch out a hand of welcome to a small white stranger, that has come amongst us with little preliminary under the name of The Spike. Hast thou The Spike, fellow-student? If not, I pray thee make all haste to procure it, less worse things befall thee, and thou art impaled on its venomous point.”

The Spike is a fascinating view into student life at the University during the first half of last century. In particular we have found some interesting and moving pieces published during the World Wars. With the coming centenary of WWI in 2014 approaching these will be invaluable for researchers.

From the October 1916 The Spike in Extracts From Soldiers Letters;

Wellington,21st September, 1916.

Dear “Spike,”-

Extracts from Alan MacDougall’s letters will be of abiding interest to his old friends. These will be pardoned for thinking that when he died, Victoria College lost its most perfect student. In tribute to him, will you publish some extracts from certain recent letters of his which tell of the work he was engaged in and how he viewed it, and which unconsciously body forth those qualities of perception, faith, humour, generosity and noble courage which will keep his memory ever green in the hearts of those who loved him. At the end, with his friends in the line stricken down, he was lonely; and we do well to believe that he has passed into an immortal Fellowship.

I am, etc.,


“We are well fed and clad; frequently well housed in billets, as now, and always pretty happy. It’s just as well to try and be happy in the face of the ever present possibilities of this life. The way we look at the facts is that if a Jack Johnson or whizz-bang is addressed to you, it will find you. The goods are always delivered-fatalism of a cheery sort. How one finds out the real men in this sort of work! the cool quiet ones, the gasbags, the dare-devils, the paralytic, the shirkers. From what I know of other battalions I conclude that we are to be reckoned fortunate beyond most in our personnel, both officers and men. We trust each other and we shall back each other.”

The Spike joins Hilltop in the collection of Victoria student magazines found in the NZeTC .

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