Issue 22: 21 November 2008

In our first column in January we asked two questions. If you have kept an eye on the columns over the course of the year you will now know that the University’s caretaker was paid £100 in 1895, and that the Men’s Common Room was the only place smoking was allowed according to the 1933 Regulations for the Conduct of Students.

These are tiny details in the rich and complex 125-year history of The University of Auckland. We hope the columns published this year have provided interesting and occasionally humorous historical details of this kind, together with a broad picture of some key features of the University’s past.

In selecting the material for the columns we wanted to address different aspects of the University’s history - academic, cultural and social life, staff and students, the University’s campuses and buildings, its faculties and divisions and its controversies and celebrations.

Sources for the columns include the archival material held in the University Library and gathered by Professor Keith Sinclair ahead of his comprehensive A History of the University of Auckland 1883-1983. We also used the archived minutes of Council and Senate (and Senate’s predecessor, the Professorial Board), the Registrar’s holdings of Auckland University College and University of Auckland Calendars, Convocation addresses, Craccum, New Zealand newspaper accounts, Hansard, the Auckland City Library, and of course, archived copies of the University of Auckland News.

Pressure on space meant that some favourite discoveries could not be included. For example:

  • extracts from the parliamentary debate over the Auckland University College Bill in 1882, ‘…the question was, whether the colony was in a position to afford this extravagance – this little toy for Auckland’;
  • accounts of capping stunts, such as the appearance of small cars in lecture theatres;
  • the Craccum editorial from 1945 suggesting that because ‘few women continue to make full use of their extensive training’ they should be restricted to 10 per cent of the annual intake…

We hope that we have highlighted some of changes that have occurred in the University since 1883. We have very much enjoyed researching the material over the course of the year and would recommend anyone interested in the University’s history to visit the recently created New Zealand and Pacific Digital Collection on the Library’s LEARN network, including an electronic version of Sinclair’s A History of the University of Auckland and a number of historical photos.

The ‘Retrospective 1883-1983’ columns published during 2008 can be found on the 125th Jubilee Celebrations section of the University website.

Enjoy the last column in the University News issue 23, that will come out on 5 December.

Heather Merrick
Nina Herriman
Vice-Chancellor’s Office