Robin Morrison’s work through contemporary eyes

As part of our exhibition A Decade of Days – Auckland through Robin Morrison’s eyes, we collaborated with Manukau Institute of Technology, Fresh Gallery Otara, the public and invited experts to explore people, places and themes represented by photographs within the exhibition.

Robin Morrison (1944-1993) was one of New Zealand’s most celebrated photojournalists. His striking, unpretentious images allowed us to see ourselves, and our way of life, as if for the first time. They are revealing and unexpected, and still provoke us today. We were curious to find out more about some of the photographs we selected for the exhibition; to gather local stories of the people, places and social history that Morrison captured for the New Zealand Listener all those years ago.

Otara Markets by Robin Morrison.

Morrison, Robin (1981). Otara Markets. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira. PH-TR650-M881-NP2

Opening worlds – taking the exhibition beyond our walls

In collaboration with Fresh Gallery Otara and Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), we took elements of the exhibition to other venues in Auckland. We installed image reproductions in Otara Town Centre and at MIT; including a few of the photos Morrison took of the early Otara markets, local community spaces and local people.

MIT window boxes

Reproductions of Robin Morrison’s images were installed at MIT asking the question ‘Do these spark a memory?'

To share some of these wider contextual stories with the communities they came from, on the 12th March 2014 Fresh Gallery hosted the first of two evenings. Our speakers, Janneen Love (Auckland Museum), Ron Brownson (Auckland Art Gallery) and Vinesh Kumaran (contemporary portrait photographer), conducted an interactive session.

What’s love got to do with it?

Janneen was the exhibition developer for A Decade of Days and our first speaker. She gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition with her unique insight into Morrison’s work. She titled her presentation “What’s love got to do with it?” and in six minutes (the time limit we gave her) she was able to define love (a strong feeling of affection) and how it was woven into not only Morrison’s photos, but also into the work the museum’s collections and exhibitions teams do when caring for the images and developing the exhibition.

Portrait of Dame Whina Cooper by Robin Morrison

Morrison, Robin (1975). Dame Whina Cooper. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira. PH-TR650-M881-n7p1

Love illustrated the process of culling the large number of Morrison’s black and white prints that he had compiled into a folder he titled ‘Decade of Days.’ In this way, Morrison had already begun to curate the exhibition. Through further discussion the team was able to identify strong thematic narratives that were evident in his collection, which then informed the final exhibition design. She offered a discerning and compassionate representation of Robin Morrison, and reiterated the importance of sharing these stories to wider audiences – breaking down the perceived institutional walls and reaching out into the community.

The exhibition team select images.

The exhibition team select images from one of Robin Morrison’s image folders which he labelled ‘Decade of Days.’

Morrison non-intrusively captured intimate moments

Ron Brownson – Senior curator of New Zealand and Pacific Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki – opened his presentation by listing the extensive number of publications that Morrison was involved with, a testament to the photographer’s prodigious creative output.

Brownson guided us through many of Morrison’s photographs, discussing his legacy as “one of the key photojournalists of our time” who had the ability to “make connections with his subjects.” He evidenced a series of Morrison’s images from Takaparawha/Bastion Point, where “Robin was one of the very few people Ngati Whātua allowed to photograph at the Marae – there was no sense of him being an alien to that environment.” He also drew comparisons with current photographers’ who are able to non-intrusively record intimate moments in the manner of Morrison.

'Target Māori men first' by Robin Morrison.

Morrison, Robin (1978). Target Māori men first. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira. PH-TR650-M881-N10p3

Documenting people and a sense of place

Contemporary portrait photographer Vinesh Kumaran gave us a fascinating insight into his own work, and how he, like Morrison, seeks to establish connections with his subjects. He spoke about his work and how photography can open worlds for its audience, as illustrated by his series of Auckland dairy owners—a theme which Morrison also explored in his images of Ponsonby shop owners. Both Kumaran and Morrison seek to convey the hard work and dedication of these business owners, hence Kumaran’s series title Open all Hours. As he said of one of his subjects: “he wants us to see his pride, that this is his shop”.

'Open all hours' by Vinesh Kumaran.

Kumaran, Vinesh (2012). Khandy K. Patel, part of a series from 'Open all hours'.

Morrison, Robin. Washing Machine Man. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira.

Morrison, Robin. Washing Machine Man. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira.

Kumaran showed us his work in South Auckland, particularly his portraits at Polyfest and of people inside their homes, in which he seeks to “put a positive spin on South Auckland”. This is another connection he has with Morrison, who was one of the first photographers to explore and document the people of South Auckland. Morrison’s photos of the early days of Polyfest provide us with a wonderful juxtaposition to Kumaran’s contemporary images, and together show the evolution of the festival and document the experience and community that has been built around this major Auckland cultural event.

Morrison, Robin. Polyfest. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira.

Kumaran, Vinesh (2012). Agene Filoa, Polyfest hair project.

Challenges in the digital realm

The evening ended with a Q&A that raised a number of topical points such as the correct identification of people featured in photos, and the ownership of an image in our digital world. Many of the people captured in Robin Morrison’s photos have not been identified. Is it the responsibility of the photographer or the institution displaying the work to ensure the subject is correctly identified? And if we don’t have correct identification, then should the images be left out of public view? Or do we share them with wider audiences in the hope of unlocking some of the background stories?

Ainslie Dewe, an advisor in our digital team, notes that “social media and the web provide the opportunity for co-creation of knowledge, not just from traditional experts but also drawing on the knowledge of the public in ways that have not previously been possible. The images may have already been publicly available but were hard to find. The web makes them more visible and social media provides the ability for anyone to contribute new knowledge about them.”

You are welcome to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments box below.

About the writers

Bethany Edmunds is Youth Outreach Programmer and Olivia Willock is Social History Programmer, in the Learning and Engagement team at Auckland Museum.

Image: From left Janneen Love, Vinesh Kumaran, Ron Brownson and Olivia Willock.

The Robin Morrison collection at Auckland Museum

In 1993 Robin Morrison bequeathed his entire collection to the Auckland Museum. Our current estimates on the collection size is it contains 50,000 colour, and 50,000 black and white images. It is one of the largest photography collections we have by a single photographer.

The exhibition A Decade of Days – Auckland through Robin Morrison’s eyes features a selection of Morrison’s black and white photographs of his city, Auckland, from 1971 to 1985.

Online reading

A Decade of Days – Auckland through Robin Morrison’s eyes

Our exhibition features a selection of Robin’s black and white photographs of his city, Auckland, from 1971 to 1985. Most were found in a folder labelled ‘Decade of Days’ amid the vast collection of images given to the museum before he died.

Robin Morrison

A brief biography of Robin Morrison and a selection of his images.

Robin Morrison online collections Auckland Museum

Browse Auckland Museum’s online catalogue for publications and images relating to Robin Morrison.

Robin Morrison biography on Art New Zealand

Read Rhondda Bosworth’s essay on Robin Morrison life and work.

Sense of Place: Robin Morrison, Photographer

Watch this full length Robin Morrison documentary on New Zealand On Screen.

Vinesh Kumaran

Visit the photographer’s website.

‘Friday Ladies’ dedicated to fashion

For the last seven years the ‘Friday Ladies’ have been volunteering on the costume and textile collection for the Museum’s Applied Arts and Design. The group, so named because they come in on Friday only, includes Vivien Caughley, Alwynne Crowsen, Kim Smith, Robyn Hart, Joan Hamilton and Deborah Peek. They spend the mornings in the basement assessing, cataloguing, measuring and photographing the reserve textile collection.

All together, the group examined more than 560 boxes and catalogued around 10,000 objects. Associate Curator Finn McCahon-Jones, and lead co-ordinator on the project, says each member contributes “a unique set of knowledge and experience; objects often trigger immense conversation about technique, use or style. The combined knowledge of the team is outstanding”. The ‘Friday Ladies’ have finished stage one of the project, and McCahon-Jones says the next stage we focus on distinct areas within the collection. “This is where we will build and strengthen existing knowledge.”

McCahon-Jones, who played a pivotal role in the current exhibition V&A’s Selling Dreams, looks back on some of the group’s achievements.

The ‘Friday Ladies’ with Associate Curator Finn McCahon-Jones.

We keep our textiles in acid-free costume boxes, known internally as a ‘texbox’. The boxes are roughly the size of a winter coat, if you roll the shoulders in. Where the contents of the boxes have been sorted into categories, the box will be labelled ‘Japanese Clothing’, ‘Baby Wear’, ‘petticoats and undergarments’, ‘Lace, Needlepoint’, ‘Printed Textiles’ and so on. Each week I would bring a box up from the basement to the workroom. Every week it was like a lucky dip. On opening the boxes a gasp would follow as the contents were revealed.

Fashion objects in our basement storage.

Until the Friday Ladies started working on the textile collection, only some objects had good information or digital images. The idea was to go through the entire collection to see what we have; and to measure, describe and take identification photographs for the database. At the same time, everything was wrapped in acid-free tissue and repacked.

Opening a storage box containing Chinese textiles.

There is nothing like opening up a box of fine Chinese embroidery and seeing the silk and gold threads shimmer under the fluorescent lights, closely studying a piece of honiton lace or looking at the picots and fillings to ascertain if it was handmade or not.

One of the last objects we catalogued was a two piece red suede leather suit. The leather was purchased in a shop off Cook Street, down town Auckland and made into a suit by Sir Dove Myer Robinson’s daughter, Heather Robinson in 1973. According to the donor, Heather Robinson was making and selling similar garments in the ‘hippy style’ to boutiques around the city. The cut of the trousers and the seam accentuate the wearer’s legs and behind. It would have looked stunning on the wearer!

Leather two piece suit, made by Heather Robinson, 1973. This garment cost $117.00 to make at the time. gift of Miss Anne Andrews,1997, collection of Auckland Museum, 1997.48.1.

The project was initiated by Auckland Museum’s former Applied Arts Curator Louis Le Vaillant with the aim ‘to know what we have and where it is; so anyone could find any object at any time’. By adding images and cataloguing the collection, the Friday Ladies have made the collection more accessible both internally and externally. It is the interest in the collection that brings them back each week – they consider looking through the textile collection first-hand to be a real privilege.

Factory of Ideas and Experiments

V&A’s Selling Dreams exhibition chronicles 100 years of fashion photography—and with it all the glamour, mystery and drama. Auckland Museum talks to WORLD founder Denise L’Estrange-Corbet about the label’s own Eureka moment in the 90s, selling their dream and channelling a vortex of creativity onto the runway.

AM: Irving Penn said of his role with Vogue: “I always thought we were selling dreams, not clothes.” How would you describe what you do?

Denise L’Estrange-Corbet : WORLD’s by-line since our inception in 1989 is ‘Factory of Ideas and Experiments…’ which is how we see ourselves. Our studio is a constant hive of activity in the product and development stages of garment construction, with fabrics and the other mediums we have worked in. We are always pushing boundaries and collaborating with different techniques and artisans in an effort to extend ourselves. All designers today have to produce wearable ranges if we are to continue funding what we really love—which is completely losing oneself in an idea. The true genius of a fashion designer is to create pieces which are outstanding, which gives the audience a glimpse of how their creative minds work. A catwalk with everyday boring clothes is a show I do not want to be at. I want to be inspired, regenerated, enthralled, mystified, drawn in, elated, flummoxed, all at the same time, which is how people feel when they attend a WORLD show. They want to see more, they want to know how you did what you did, and complain the show was too quick. At a WORLD show they see things never seen before in fashion. I want them to walk away thinking “How did they do that?”, as opposed to “Why did they do that?”

WORLD has done all of the above to the public since our first show and worked in mediums never used in clothing before. We do this for the public as much as for ourselves, as we want to challenge our creative genius, so our brains don’t shrivel up, wither and die. I still want to wake up in the middle of the night thinking “I’ve got it” when thinking of how to create something. I want my ideas to keep me awake at night working out how it is going to come together. Our last catwalk show featured LED lighting, and was so intricate, nobody could possibly imagine. I want the left side of my brain to collapse from exhaustion as opposed to boredom. I want WORLD to leave its mark in the history books of New Zealand fashion, as the most experimental and boundary-pushing brand of its time—it has limitless possibilities. That is where WORLD is. That is how WE are. That is the genius of WORLD.

AM: Are there stand out moments where you observed New Zealand’s own story of selling dreams start to take shape?

Denise L’Estrange-Corbet: I guess it was in 1999 when we were the first brand out on the catwalk at London Fashion Week. We had been forewarned by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, that it is unheard of for London buyers to place an order for an unknown brand—especially a little one from New Zealand, that arrived without fanfare or masses of promotional material. It was explained that even small buyers preferred to wait three seasons to ensure the brand they are looking at was reliable, as there are so many things at play here. Rack space is one, as another label has to be dropped to accommodate a new one in the stores—and that is just the start, there are a whole myriad of issues at play here. We showed our collection, did a few interviews, and expected nothing more. That evening a cocktail party was held on the roof at New Zealand House in Haymarket for all the NZ brands involved. No sooner had we walked in, we were approached by a lady called Debbie Taylor, the Head Buyer of Women’s Designer Fashion brands at Selfridges. We had no idea who she was, and she said “Hi, are you WORLD? I want to buy your entire collection for Selfridges, has anyone else bought it yet?” At first we thought she was joking! She was relieved she was the first department store to nab us, and we were gobsmacked.  The next day Liberty approached us with the same offer.  We were the first NZ brand to achieve this sort of recognition after one showing; we knew then that selling our dreams was taking shape. We realised our vision was being recognised and understood by the fashion elite—that is incredible ideas, and what fashion is about. To do something different, to claim your own fashion signature, and to run with it, and that was all we needed to know we were really good at what we do.

Auckland Museum thanks Denise L’Estrange-Corbet MNZN, and WORLD for their support of V&A’s Selling Dreams exhibition.

August 22, 2013

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ANZAC education programme

My name is Olivia, the museum‘s new Human History Educator. Over the past few months I’ve been busy delivering our WWI and WWII programmes. I was fortunate enough to start in early April when we were in the midst of delivering our fantastic Anzac programme, in which students alternate between an interactive drama in the Scars 1 Gallery and the Educator session in the WW1 Hall of Memories.

School children explore the Hall of Memories

School children explore the Hall of Memories

We are so fortunate to have our great actors, Col and Saraid who really bring the experience of WWI alive. It’s a great segue into the educator session where we look at the scale of loss, as illustrated by the 7297 names engraved on the marble walls.

Museum actors run WWI education session with school children

Actors, Col and Saraid, help to bring alive the WWI experience.

Our extensive handling collection of objects from WWI has proven to be an invaluable resource as they really help bring the stories alive. Students love having the opportunity to handle objects such as helmets, dog tags and periscopes.

A school child examines a WWI era gas mask

A school child takes the opportunity to examine a WWI era gas mask

I have been so impressed by the respectful and reflective attitude of the students – they understand the gravity of the space and the significance of our contribution and loss in international conflict.

The Anzac programme is offered annually in term two and three and I am already looking forward to delivering the programme next year. The opportunity to work with students of all ages and from a variety of schools has been a fantastic experience. Each group has helped remind me just how important it is for us to ensure we don’t forget the sacrifice and loss of so many men and their families.

Modelling a mako (and a great white, bronze whaler and a thresher)

Go behind the scenes of our upcoming marine exhibition Moana – My Ocean to see our life size sharks being created in a Miramar workshop.

“If you’re someone that’s surprised to hear there are sharks in the Hauraki Gulf then you don’t know Auckland.”

So says shark expert Clinton Duffy, a marine scientist with the Department of Conservation and one of a team of scientists and technical specialists that have contributed to Auckland Museum’s major new marine exhibition Moana – My Ocean.

In the first of these “behind the scenes” blogs for Moana – My Ocean we’re giving you a look at the model-making process that went into creating four life-size shark replicas that appear in the Hauraki Gulf section of the exhibition, alongside real shark specimens and large scale 2-D illustrations.

The incredibly realistic specimen models created especially for Moana – My Ocean are of a Great White, Mako, Thresher and Bronze Whaler.

Wellington-based company Human Dynamo Workshop took on the challenge of creating these models and has spent three months perfecting the form and detail of each one to give visitors a true sense of what they’d see if they came face-to-face with these incredible animals.

Co-Director Sue Dorrington described the project as being at the “demanding end of model making” because the sharks have to be scientifically true to type.

Last month we went behind the scenes to film the shark making in progress at Human Dynamo’s fabrication facilities in Miramar Wellington.

Wellington company Human Dynamo creating the lifesize shark replicas for Auckland Museum’s marine exhibition Moana – My Ocean. Filming & editing: Ollie Logan

These shark models will be on display in the free exhibition Moana – My Ocean from Friday June 21.

Full size Great White – before the detail on the mouth is added

Full size Great White

Bronze Whaler – ready for moulding and casting

Bronze Whaler

Bronze Whaler

Working with sharks in the Miramar workshop

Working with sharks in the Miramar workshop

Sir Edmund Hillary’s Diary – 31st May

Reaching the Summit – in Hillary’s own words

May 31. IV to Base

Had a good night. Packed up in morning and left in great heat about 10.30. Feeling terribly tired and trip down was a nightmare. The icefall had completely changed for the worse and we got down with difficulty. What a day! Perhaps it was reaction from previous efforts. Staggered into Base Camp about 4.30. Sherpas arrived in at all sorts of hours up to 8pm.”

PLAY AUDIO (for non-flash users)

Excerpt from Hillary’s expedition diary, 1953, handwritten, ring-binder style with loose leaves. Nepal. The diary is on display at Auckland Museum until 29 September 2013 - Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery on level two.

A scene in the Himalayas on a later journey. This image is part of Sir Edmund Hillary’s personal archive at the Auckland Museum library.

Read all diary excerpts in this series.

Auckland Museum thanks the Hillary family for their permission to reproduce these excerpts from Sir Edmund Hillary’s diary.

Visit Auckland Museum’s exhibition - From the Summit – Hillary’s Enduring Legacy, 19 April – 29 September 2013, Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery level two, free.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s Diary – 30th May

Reaching the Summit – in Hillary’s own words

May 30. South Col to IV

Another foul night with strong wind and very cold. We all packed up and left and then with Tenzing and me on O2 we crossed traverse and down to Camp VII. Here we were cheerfully greeted by Charles Wylie and some Sherpas. A cup of lemon juice gave us the strength to stagger down to VI, to V and finally to IV. Here we were greeted by the whole gang including James Morris, Mike Westmacott and Griff. All were very pleased at the news and James Morris took a quick despatch. “

PLAY AUDIO (for non-flash users)

Excerpt from Hillary’s expedition diary, 1953, handwritten, ring-binder style with loose leaves. Nepal. The diary is on display at Auckland Museum until 29 September 2013 - Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery on level two.

Read all diary excerpts in this series.

Auckland Museum thanks the Hillary family for their permission to reproduce these excerpts from Sir Edmund Hillary’s diary.

Visit Auckland Museum’s exhibition - From the Summit – Hillary’s Enduring Legacy, 19 April – 29 September 2013, Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery level two, free.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s Diary – 29th May

Reaching the Summit – in Hillary’s own words

May 29. Summit

At 4am the weather looked perfect and the view superb. Tenzing pointed out Thyangboche. We commenced making drinks and food and thawing out frozen boots over the primus. I got the O2 sets into the tent and tested them out.

At 6.30am we moved off and taking turns plugged up the ridge above camp. The ridge narrowed considerably and the breakable crust made plugging tedious and balance difficult. We soon reached the two O2 bottles and were greatly relieved to find about 100 lbs pressure in each. The narrow ridge led up to the very impressive steep snow face running to the South Summit. The other boys had ascended the rocks on the left and then descended the snow on return, their tracks were only faintly visible and we liked neither route. We discussed the matter and I decided for the snow.

We commenced plugging up in foot deep steps with a thin wind crust on top and precious little belay for the iceaxe. It was altogether most unsatisfactory and whenever I felt feelings of fear regarding it I’d say to myself, Forget it. This is Everest and you’ve got to take a few risks. Tenzing expressed his extreme dislike but made no suggestions regarding turning back. Taking turns we made slow speed up this vast slope. After several hundred feet the angle eased a little and the slope was broken by more rock outcrops and the tension eased.

At 9.00am we cramponed up onto the fine peak of the South Summit. We looked with some eagerness on the ridge ahead as this was the crux of the climb. Both Tom and Charles had expressed comments on the difficulties of the ridge ahead and I was not feeling particularly hopeful. The sight ahead was impressive but not disheartening. On the right long cornices like fingers hung over the Kangshung. Form these cornices a steep slope ran down to the top of the rocks which dropped 8,000 ft to the West Cwm. I thought I saw a middle route by cutting steps along the snow above the rocks and sufficiently far down to be out of danger from the cornices.

Our first ¾ bottle was finished so we discarded them and set off with a light 11 lb apparatus, one full bottle and 3 litres a minute.

We dropped off the South Summit and keeping low on the left I commenced cutting steps in excellent firm frozen snow. It was first class going and as I was feeling very well we made steady progress. Some of the cornice bumps proved tricky but I was able to turn them by dropping right down onto the rocks and scrambling by. Tenzing had me on a tight rope all the time and we moved throughout one at a time. After an hour or so we came to a vertical rock step in the ridge. This appeared quite a problem. However the step was bounded on its right by a vertical snow cliff and I was able to jam myself between the rock and snow. With considerable effort I was able to work my way up this 40 foot crack and finally got over the top. I was rather surprised and pleased that I was capable of effort at this height. I brought T up with difficulty. I noticed he was proving a little sluggish but an excellent and safe companion for all that. I really felt now that we were going to get to the top and that nothing could stop us. I kept frequent watch on our oxygen consumption and was encouraged to find it at a steady rate.

I continued on cutting steadily surmounting bump after bump and cornice after cornice looking eagerly for the summit. It seemed impossible to pick it and time was running out. Finally I cut around the back of an extra large hump and then on a tight rope to its top. Immediately it was obvious that we had reached our objective [It was 11.30am]. We were on top of Everest! To the North an impressive corniced ridge ran down to the East Rongbuk. We could see nothing of the old North West route but were looking down on the North Col and Changtse.

The West Ridge dropped away in broad sweeps and we had a great view of the Khumbu and Pumori far below us. Makalu, Kangchenjunga and Lhotse were all dominant to the East looking considerably less impressive than I had ever seen them. I noticed that the Barun approaches to Makalu looked very difficult if not impossible – a 1,000ft rock cliff.

Tenzing and I shook hands and he so far forgot himself as to embrace me. It was quite a moment! We took off our O2 and for ten minutes I photographed T holding flags, the various ridges of Everest and the general view. I left a crucifix on top for John Hunt and T made a little hole in the snow and put in some food offerings, lollies and biscuits and chocolate. We ate a Kendal Mint Cake and then put back on our O2. I was a little worried by the time factor so after 15 min on top we turned back at 11.45am.

The steps along the ridge made progress relatively easy and the only problem was the rock step which demanded another jamming session. At 12.45 we were back on the South Summit both now rather fatigued. Wasting no time (our O2 was getting low) we set off down the great slope still in considerable trepidation about its safeness. This was quite a mental strain and as I was coming down first I repacked every step with great care. Tenzing was a tower of strength and his very fine ability to keep a tight rope most encouraging.

After what seemed a lifetime the angle eased off and we were soon leading down onto the narrow snow ridge and finally to the dump of O2 bottles. We loaded these on and then rather tired wended our way down our tracks and collapsed into our Camp at 2pm.

Our original bottles were now exhausted. They had given us 4 ¾ hours running and allowing 800 litres in these very full bottles our consumption rate had been 2 5/6 litres per minute.
At the ridge camp we had a brew of lemon and sugar and then packed up all our gear and connected up our last bottles 1/3 full. At 3 pm we left the ridge camp and although we were tired made good time down the ridge to the Swiss Camp and the couloir. The snow in the couloir was firm and we had to recut all the steps. We kicked down the lower portions and then cramponed very wearily down to meet George who met us with soup just above camp. My comment was “Well we knocked the bastard off.”

Wilf Noyce and Pasang Puta had come up the same day and it was good to see their fresh faces. Had a long talk and then to bed on O2.”

PLAY AUDIO (for non-flash users)

Excerpt from Hillary’s expedition diary, 1953, handwritten, ring-binder style with loose leaves. Nepal. The diary is on display at Auckland Museum until 29 September 2013 - Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery on level two.

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Hillary Diary May 29th

Computer generated image of Mt Everest

Read all diary excerpts in this series.

Auckland Museum thanks the Hillary family for their permission to reproduce these excerpts from Sir Edmund Hillary’s diary.

Visit Auckland Museum’s exhibition - From the Summit – Hillary’s Enduring Legacy, 19 April – 29 September 2013, Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery level two, free.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s Diary – 28th May

Reaching the Summit – in Hillary’s own words

May 28. –IX

A fine but windy morning -25°C. First blow was that Pemba was sick leaving us only one Sherpa – Ang Nima. We decided we’d have to carry up the camp ourselves. George took 3 LAs on frame weighing about 41 lbs. Greg had RAF set plus primus and food – about 40. Ang Nima had 3 LAs – 41 lbs. Tenzing had 2 LAs and all personal and so did I – at least 49-50 lbs.

George, Greg and Ang Nima departed at 8.45 and made a lot of height up couloir by the time Tenzing and I left at 10am. Our loads slowed us down but we were going well. The couloir was hard wind blown snow and had to be cut for many hundreds of feet. George was going very well and did most of this cutting. All the Sahibs were on 4 litres and Ang Nima on 2 litres. Tenzing and I caught up to the others on the ridge by the Swiss tent 27,200 approx. Another 150 ft up we came to the dump made by John and Da Namgyal of tent, fuel and food and oxygen.

After discussion we decided to push on carrying all the gear. I took on the tent making my load over 60 lbs. George and Greg made theirs up to at least 50 and Ang Nima and Tenzing were over 45 lbs. Continued on up the ridge, George doing most of leading and plugging. Ridge steep but little snow over rocks with upward sloping strata gave easy going. Continued for some time but no sign of camping site. Oxygen was running low and we had to switch over onto some of assault supplies.

Position getting a bit desperate when Tenzing did a lead out over deep unstable snow to the left and finally to a somewhat more flattish spot beneath a rock bluff. We decided to camp here at approx. 27,900ft. Gave others some oxygen and sent them down. It was 2.30pm. T & I took off O2 and set to work making campsite – a frightful job. Chopped out frozen rubble with iceaxes and tried to level area. By 5pm had cleared a site large enough for tent but on two levels. Decided it would have to do so pitched tent on it. Had no effective means of tying tent down so hitched some ropes to corners of rocks and O2 bottles sunk in snow and hoped for the best.

At 6pm moved into the tent. Tenzing had his lilo along bottom level overhanging slope. I sat on top level with my feet on bottom and was able to brace the whole tent against the quarter hourly large gusts of wind. The primus worked like a charm and we consumed large amounts of very sweet lemon water, soup and coffee and ate with relish sardines on biscuits, a tin of apricots, dates, biscuits on jam.

I had made an inventory of our oxygen supplies necessarily low due to the reduced lift and found that we only had 1 3/4 LAs (2000 litres) left for the assault. By relying on the two 1/3 full bottles left by Tom and Charles about 500 ft below South Summit I thought we could make an attack using about 3 litres a minute (I had adjustments for this and fortunately Tenzing’s set on 4 litres was really only a true 3 litres).

We also had a little excess O2 in three nearly empty bottles and this would give us about 4 hours sleeping O2. Although the thermometer registered -27 °C it was not unpleasantly cold as the wind was confined to casual strong gusts.

I spread the oxygen into two 2 hour periods and although I was sitting up I dozed reasonably well. Between O2 sessions we brewed up and had lemon juice and biscuits.
It was very noticeable that though we had no O2 from 2.30 until about 9pm that we were only slightly breathless and could work quite hard.”

PLAY AUDIO (for non-flash users)

Excerpt from Hillary’s expedition diary, 1953, handwritten, ring-binder style with loose leaves. Nepal. The diary is on display at Auckland Museum until 29 September 2013 - Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery on level two.

Hillary Diary May 28th

Hillary Diary May 28th

Hillary Diary May 28th

Hillary Diary May 28th

Hillary Diary May 28th

Hillary Diary May 28th

Ice axe. Purchased by Edmund Hillary in 1951. European Ash handle, with forged steel head and spike.

Read all diary excerpts in this series.

Auckland Museum thanks the Hillary family for their permission to reproduce these excerpts from Sir Edmund Hillary’s diary.

Visit Auckland Museum’s exhibition - From the Summit – Hillary’s Enduring Legacy, 19 April – 29 September 2013, Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery level two, free.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s Diary – 27th May

Reaching the Summit – in Hillary’s own words

May 27.

One of the worst nights I have ever experienced. Very strong wind, very cold -25°C and very uncomfortable. T & I and George and Greg were in pyramid on oxygen. John, Tom and Charles in Meade and three Sherpas in small dome. A very windy morning indeed and couldn’t get warm. Tom and Charles were completely exhausted. They finally decided to get away. Ang Temba had been sick all night so he too was to go down. John after discussion (rather pointed) decided to descend. It was a pathetic sight to see the bunch climb the slope above camp. Tom was on his knees on numerous occasions and we had to give him an oxygen bottle. John too was very tired and the determined Charles seemed the only rational member of the party. They finally disappeared and had a most difficult descent to VII where fortunately Mike Ward was in residence and was able to give them help. “

PLAY AUDIO (for non-flash users)

Excerpt from Hillary’s expedition diary, 1953, handwritten, ring-binder style with loose leaves. Nepal. The diary is on display at Auckland Museum until 29 September 2013 - Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery on level two.

Hillary Diary May 27th

Hillary Diary May 27th

Wood span used for crossing crevasses in the Khumbu Icefall in 1953. Found in icefall by Peter Hillary May 2003. This wood span is not featured in the From The Summit exhibition but is part of the Sir Edmund Hillary Archive held at Auckland Museum.

Wood span used for crossing crevasses in the Khumbu Icefall in 1953

Read all diary excerpts in this series.

Auckland Museum thanks the Hillary family for their permission to reproduce these excerpts from Sir Edmund Hillary’s diary.

Visit Auckland Museum’s exhibition - From the Summit – Hillary’s Enduring Legacy, 19 April – 29 September 2013, Sainsbury Horrocks Pictorial Gallery level two, free.