Happy and Glorious

What a “Happy and Glorious” week it’s been as the Commonwealth, and indeed the whole world, has sent well wishes to Queen Elizabeth for her Diamond Jubilee.

Now for some of you out there the phrase “Happy and Glorious” will elicit some interesting and wonderful memories.  But for others, myself included, this phrase meant absolutely nothing when Rose Young the museums’ History Curator rocked in with this T-shirt.

Now for some of you out there the phrase

Rose Young's t-shirt was produced by the Victoria & Albert Museum for the Queen's Golden Jubilee

The words are of course lyrics contained in the second verse of the national anthem “God Save the Queen”. In New Zealand this was the sole national anthem until 1977 when “God Defend New Zealand” was added as a second.  Hence, as a Generation X’er I never had the pleasure of singing this version, and so “Happy and Glorious” were not in my vocab.  Truth be told I don’t even know the words of “God Save the Queen” at all but can belt out “God Defend New Zealand” a lot better than some of those All Blacks on that football field can!

The T-shirt was produced by the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and here we are, another decade later, and another anniversary.

As Rose says “some people do not immediately comprehend the meaning of the words but they were once a fundamental aspect of our lives as New Zealanders to be heard in many venues”.  She remembers if you were heading to the picture theatre to watch a movie everybody would have to stand for the national anthem prior to the movie starting.  If you didn’t, (and Rose being the rebel that she is, sometimes didn’t) you were singled out by the usher with the torchlight and commanded to stand.  After a time the anthem changed from the beginning of the movie to the end when of course you had to stand to exit the picture theatre.  This shift signalling the cultural shift that was also occurring as generations of New Zealanders who had grown up in Godzone increasingly identified with New Zealand as home rather than the Mother Country and its monarch.

What does Happy and Glorious mean for you today as we celebrate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign?  What memories does it evoke for you?

Let us know and if you have any other Queenie T-shirts upload them to the website www.identi-tee.com.

Identi-tee - My T-shirt, My Story

Sighting the elusive transit

Like a scene from an eighties Sci-Fi movie, spectactors wearing special ‘Eclipse shades’ finally get a peak of the transit. After a disappointing morning’s viewing, the clouds parted at around 3.30 to reveal the sun and a tiny black spot tracking across bottom left. Budding astronomers were estatic about capturing this once-in-a-lifetime experience. In a few brief moments it was all over, the sun slipping behind another bank of clouds.

Finally, a sighting of planet Venus tracking across the sun


The author points at the magic spot

transit over skytower

Tracking the Transit of Venus

As the Transit of Venus gets underway at 10.15am, the sun miraculously breaks through the clouds. Here comes the Sun. The crowd gathered on the footsteps of Auckland Museum’s main entrance surge forth excitedly to collect a pair of solar viewing glasses. “I can see it, the black dot just on the edge of the sun,” yells one excited young visitor.  Stardome astronomer Dr Grant Christie looks up from one of the three powerful telescopes set up to capture this historic moment. “You won’t see this again until 2117.” 

Waiting for the sun to appear

Transits of Venus are extremely rare celestial events. They occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits occurring eight years apart and separated by gaps of up to 121 years.  Weather permitting; you can watch this miniscule black dot travelling across the sun till around 4.45pm tonight.   But after a promising start, the sun disappears behind a thick layer of cloud and there are audible groans from the crowd.   

It was here in the Domain, 130 years ago that a crowd gathered in the early hours of December 7th to watch the planet Venus glide across the sun’s face.  At that time, there was no Museum building and the skies were clear. The group were assembled near a fenced-off enclosure occupied by an astronomical team from America who were setting up to record the 1882 transit.  A signal post was erected, and from it fluttered a stars and stripe flag. Inside the compound, the Americans had installed an array of instruments in the hope of determining the sun’s distance from the earth.  Since 1857, when the Astronomer Royal for England launched an investigation into the transits, astronomers worldwide were consumed with solving the mystery. Photographing the transit was cumbersome compared with our digital era. Mr Smith, the chief astronomer gave the orders. “The chief photographer will remove the plates from the box, place them in the holder, call out the number, and after the exposure, will pass them to the assistant photographer for development, or put them in the box.” Only one New Zealander, a Mr J.T Steveson, was permitted inside the enclosure.  The Auckland Star reported on the morning of the grand event: “The very general interest felt in this astronomical phenomenon was manifested throughout the city this morning by the appearance of little knots of people in their backyards or on their verandahs surveying the heavens through contrivances of a more or less crude and simple character, and by the assemblage of some fifty or more persons outside the American Observatory enclosure at the Domain. “

Steveson’s account of the observation was reported the following day in the Auckland Star: “At 4.45am (a few good minutes after sunrise) I obtained a good view of Venus; she was then plainly visible to the naked eye.”  So far, 2012 transit watchers are not so lucky. But whether you watch it outdoors or online, make sure you witness this historic event. Back in 1882, they were reminded that the next transit was in 2004 – “long ere which time every human being now in existence will have made his final exit from the stage of life.”

Crowds gather at the Museum

Talofalava – 50th Anniversary of Samoan Independence

With the 50th Anniversary of Samoan Independence marked last Friday, the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa on 1st August, as well as having just celebrated le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, Samoan language week, it’s all things Samoan at the moment.

Samoa Tee

Le Va Fealoa’i: Strong and Respectful Relationships has been the theme of le vaiaso o le gagana Samoa, and it’s a vision and aspiration we can work toward into the future of this increasingly multi-cultural city of ours. Here’s a little known fact for you – Samoan is the second most spoken language in Auckland.

Samoa Tee 2

The Identi-tee team acknowledges the momentous occasion of the 50th year of independence. We note also that Samoan t-shirt designers have been at the forefront of the contemporary use of the ‘t-shirt as bill board’. Collectives such as No FeFe of Australia and Fa’a Samoa of Los Angeles were early protagonists. Today a strong phalanx of Samoan graphic designers, hip hop exponents, contemporary artists and of course the straight up entrepreneurial types continues this creative enterprise. They continue to at times challenge, at other times take the micky, but always, to be proudly Samoan – manuia le soifua.

Samoa Tee 3