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2013 Anniversaries to Look Forward To

Happy New Year!  2013 has arrived and I thought this might be a good opportunity to take a look at what historical anniversaries are coming up this year.  Some I hope to blog about in more detail over the next 12 months in-between my regular ephemeral broadcasts.

First of all lets take a look at what happened one hundred years ago.  In my early days as a collector of historical trivia I used to make the mistake of thinking that 1913 was relatively dull compared to the years either side.  1912 had the Titanic (a centenary that History Geek made sure to not miss out on last year) and 1914 was of course the start of the war ‘to end all wars’.  However there were of course many notable events that took place a century ago.  Here are some of the upcoming New Zealand centenaries that jump into my head when I think ‘2013’.

  • The HMS New Zealand was a battleship funded by the NZ taxpayer and gifted to Britain.  She was launched in 1911 and would go on to fight in the infamous Battle of Jutland in 1916, but 1913 is notable as the year she toured New Zealand, to the delight of huge crowds up and down the country.  She was scrapped in 1922 but the cost of her construction wasn’t fully paid by the New Zealand Government until the mid 1940’s.
  • The Waterfront Strike of 1913.  Medals awarded to the “Special Constables” that helped quell the riots sometimes appear at auction and are highly sought after by collectors.
  • The Opening of the Auckland Exhibition. Souvenirs from the great exhibitions are very collectible, ranging from stamps and postal history to pianos and glassware.  They were also places where innovation were celebrated.  Here is an awesome photograph of some punters enjoying an introduction to the wonderful world of aviation.

Auckland Industrial, Agricultural and Mining Exhibition (1913-14) :[Postcard. 1913]. Ref: Eph-A-EXHIBITION-1913-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22832682

Auckland Industrial, Agricultural and Mining Exhibition (1913-14) :[Postcard. 1913]. Ref: Eph-A-EXHIBITION-1913-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22832682

To me 1913 naïvely conjures up romantic images of a society about to lose its innocence.  It must’ve been an amazing time to live, with technological advancement promising so much.  Aircraft had been in the skies for a decade, although were still novel enough to draw crowds (as they did at the Auckland Exhibition mentioned above).

Of course centenaries aren’t the only anniversaries to watch out for this year.  2013 will also mark the 150th anniversary of the following events:

  • The sinking of the HMS Orpheus, the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand waters.
  • The Dunedin Botanic Gardens, the oldest public gardens in New Zealand.  Details of the commemorations should be published here on the DCC Website, and you can also check out this post of mine where I dug up some old 3D photos of the gardens.
  • The Otago Gold rush was in full swing in 1863.  Check this site for details of upcoming commemorations.  West Coast, you will have to wait until 2014.
  • The British invasion of the Waikato including the Battle of Rangiriri.  This was one of the largest and most influential campaigns of the New Zealand Wars (also known as the Land Wars or Māori Wars).  It is an often under-taught episode in New Zealand history, something that I hope will continue to change for the better.
  • Another more widely known domestic dispute was also in full swing – the American Civil War.  The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in 1863.  To get you in the mood for the 150th anniversary you should check out the Lint in My Pocket, a blog written by an author that specialises in Civil War-era poetry.  There is some great reading there!

As mentioned before, I hope to blog about some of these events throughout the year, but also I will of course also cover many lesser known snippets of history.  Every day is an anniversary for someone somewhere and there is much more to history than just commemorating major events.  While I enjoyed seeing so much about the Titanic in the media last year there were also plenty of other centenaries that went unnoticed.  For example this 1912 Railway Workers ball in Lyttelton!

I wish you all the best for 2013.  Are there any historical anniversaries this year that you are looking forward to?

© Lemuel Lyes

4 replies »

  1. 1913 was a tremendous year here, not least because of the visit of HMS New Zealand. I actually wrote my masters’ thesis on the politics of that ship, there are some wonderful stories behind it. The visit drew in just about the whole population, one way or another, and a large proportion managed to get on board her – there are photos of crowds pouring up and down the gangways and spilling off the wharves. The other big mass event was the strike of 1913, because the outcome essentially defined the relationships between labour and employers that guided New Zealand for the next few decades. To my mind, both drew in ordinary everyday Kiwis in huge numbers, in ways not seen before – and not seen again, I think, until the Springbok Tour of 1981.

    • What an interesting topic for a thesis! The visit has always interested me, having first become aware of it as a youngster through the wealth of collectable items associated with the 1913 tour. It was of course the golden age of postcards and as I’m sure you know there is a fantastic amount of photographic coverage of the tour. Unfortunately for me, despite being relatively common the HMS New Zealand postcards used to always be out of range of my pocket-money, testament to the popularity of the subject a century on!

      The WW100 committee have a fantastic project lined up to commemorate the centenary of the HMS New Zealand visit. They will be tracking the visit ‘real-time’ in a virtual tour, one hundred years to the day. It is a forerunner to similar projects lined up for the WW1 centenary. http://ww100.govt.nz/the-bulldog-the-battlecruiser#.UOYw67bOV_k

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