New book reveals secrets of history

As the guardian of the record of government, Archives New Zealand is a storehouse of historical secrets and treasures – some of which come to light in a new book by Ray Waru.

Secrets and Treasures is a fascinating insight into the lives of New Zealanders the Minister of Internal Affairs Hon Chris Tremain said when he launched the book.

For him the book brought to life many of his own family’s stories. For example, New Zealand’s longest place name: Taumatawhakatangihangakohuauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu was situated on the farm of Sir Brian Lahore who played rugby in the 1950s and 1960s with his own father, Kel Tremain. The ‘coat hanger’, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, he connected to the place where his father grew up.

“Archives New Zealand is a valuable storehouse – He rua mai onamata ki anameta; maiangi te tāhūhū iringa kōrero,” he said.

Known for his work in television and radio, Ray Waru said he was only scratching the surface in terms of the book’s contents. However, writing it gave him the opportunity to draw on the foibles, the prejudices, the knowledge and the experiences of the people who have made New Zealand what it is today.

“I am grateful to the many Archives New Zealand staff who assisted me in putting the book together here at the Wellington office and in the regional offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin,” he said.

He noted that the volume looked as impressive as it did due to the photographic skills of Senior Adviser Archives Online and professional photographer David Sanderson. “Without doubt his skill has showcased the treasures.”

Archivist Tony Connell, for his knowledge and experience of the more than 100km of archives, was also given a special mention.

“Tony Connell doesn’t need a GPS to find his way around the archives,” he said. “He is one in his own right – I am sure he knows more about what’s in the countless boxes of archives than anyone in the business. He knows what to look for and he is a real asset.”

Chief Archivist Greg Goulding said he was delighted that the two-year project had come to fruition as it showed Archives New Zealand’s valuable role in keeping the record of how we have behaved as a nation.

“It is the untarnished evidence of what had gone on before – we have the real oil,” he said.

Some 40 people attended the launch at Archives New Zealand’s Wellington office in October. The book is published by Random House.

Archives New Zealand staff celebrating at the launch of the book Secrets and Treasures.Archives New Zealand staff celebrating at the launch of the book Secrets and Treasures.
The book's author, Ray Waru with Hon Chris Tremain.The book’s author, Ray Waru (left) with Hon Chris Tremain. 
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