Among Sunny Southern Isles

In 1885, local businessmen Russell Duncan and Charles Ellison set up a merchant firm in Waghorne Street, Ahuriri. The original building was destroyed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. It was replaced in 1933 by a building designed by architect Louis Hay, with his trademark Mayan-inspired motifs. When the building was demolished in the 1990s the facade was relocated to Barry Street, Ahuriri, where it still stands today. In 2005 the façade was restored in a project led by Auckland-based preservation specialists Salmond Reid which included a contemporary Art Deco style mural by local artist Brenda Morell.

Ellison and Duncan Ltd. building, post 1933 Waghorne Street, Ahuriri, gifted by Margaret Hay  collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m99/97/117

Ellison and Duncan Ltd. building, post 1933
Waghorne Street, Ahuriri, gifted by Margaret Hay
collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m99/97/117

Russell Duncan was deeply interested in New Zealand history particularly in Māori culture and in the Hawke’s Bay region. Throughout his lifetime he amassed a significant collection of books and pamphlets. He travelled widely around New Zealand, and kept photograph albums of these trips. Copies of these albums are also held in the National Library of New Zealand, Wellington. In the late 1940s Russell bequeathed his collection of over a thousand items to the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi.

Hearing about the gift of this collection, Alice Woodhouse, who had been assistant chief librarian at the National Library, came out of retirement principally to catalogue the items. These continue to be a rich resource for researchers today.

Russell Duncan’s personal bookplate, 1897 Ko Te Mātauranga Te Kaha Knowledge is strength linocut designed by Hilda Wiseman (b.1894, d.1982)  warrior from a sketch by Horatio Robley (b.1840, d.1930) collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m2009/82/1-16

Russell Duncan’s personal bookplate, 1897
Ko Te Mātauranga Te Kaha Knowledge is strength
linocut
designed by Hilda Wiseman (b.1894, d.1982)
warrior from a sketch by Horatio Robley (b.1840, d.1930)
collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m2009/82/1-16

In the 1890s Russell travelled with his wife Emma through the Pacific on the steamer S.S. Waikare, stopping in at several islands including Tonga, Fiji, Rotuma, Samoa, Niue, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

S.S. Waikare photographed by Russell Duncan (b.1855, d.1946) collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi

S.S. Waikare
photographed by Russell Duncan (b.1855, d.1946)
collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi

 

During the trip, Russell took photographs that captured the islands, the people and the tourists as they were at that time. The album of these photographs will be part of an exhibition at MTG Hawke’s Bay Museum opening in early September 2015 titled Among Sunny Southern Isles curated by Tryphena Cracknell.

Group portrait, Samoa, 18 July 1899 photographed by Russell Duncan (b.1855, d.1946) gifted by Jasper Herrick collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m96/6-3

Group portrait, Samoa, 18 July 1899
photographed by Russell Duncan (b.1855, d.1946)
gifted by Jasper Herrick
collection of the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m96/6-3

Tryphena Cracknell, Curator Taonga Maori

 

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