Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Margaret Matilda White ( AKA surname Reed ) Photographer and Photography of that era

Bridge across Ohinemuri Karangahake Mining Settlement where Margaret Matilda White lived after marriage to Alfred Reed Photo from The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902.
Going to the  Women of Empire Exhibition at Thames during November 2015 , led me to thinking about other women before the war who stepped into what then, in the tail end of the 1800's, was an occupation in a man's world. One such was Margaret Matilda White who, aside from an occupation of nursing, was another early New Zealand photographer.
Often when looking back on a part of the past New Zealand History, it is the work left by those early New Zealand photographers that provide a visual history of  a place, a person or an event.  Especially in those goldfield and timber towns of the Coromandel Peninsula. Photographs of Daniel Beere, John Robert Hanna, Henry Thomson Gorrie, George Valentine, H B Morton, James Napier,  Una Garlick ( AKA Harriet Eunice) and Margaret Matilda White. It is known that White had contact with John Robert Hanna. There may have been exposure to the photography of the others via occupation, people and place. Although White may not have met Daniel Beere, she visited Thames taking photographs - a town in which Daniel Beere's family had lived, worked and been part of the gold mining community.

Gerald Butler Beere and family on veranda of house in Shortland. Beere, Daniel Manders, 1833-1909 :Negatives of New Zealand and Australia. Ref: 1/2-096138-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23007424   Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.”

View over township from hill, wooden fence in foreground  PH-NEG-B3594 Photograph by Margaret Matilda White  photo courtesy Auckland War Memorial Museum –Tāmaki Paenga Hira”.
By mid-1885, with a partnership with Hemus  dissolved, John Robert Hanna concentrated  on establishment and renovation of his own studio. In 1890 Hanna became President of the Auckland Photograhic Club. It is not known whether Margaret Matilda White  was a member of this Club.

John Robert Hanna 1850 - 1915
It is known that with Hanna President and a photographic exhibition in 1890, photos of George Valentine ( the South Crater was said to be "great triumph over no ordinary difficulties" ) , H B Morton and that of Hanna's were exhibited.  The members of the photographic club were interested in shots of scenery, and portraiture. H B Morton,  gum and general merchant  and shipping agent, was  joint vice-president of the Auckland Photographic Club 1891-1895 and patron in 1910.

South Crater – the termination of Rotomahana Rent  From photo 142 by George Valentine 1886
From JM Stewart family collection
H.B. Morton - photo in H. B Morton , Recollections Of Early New Zealand Auckland Whitcombe & Tombs (1925)

 There was much scope for these amateur photographers in this new raw country - New Zealand. John Robert Hanna also specialised in portraiture and all photographers then, with photos of the Maori way of life and culture. All of this was an excellent training ground for Margaret Matilda White.
The information on Waihi Cemetery records for Margaret Matilda Reed  ( nee White ) are almost  non-existent,  apart from  recording a Margaret Matilda Reed, date of death and burial unknown but listed in  Ang Section, Block F, Lot 14. It is known that Margaret Matilda Reed ( nee White ) died from tetanus which was the outcome of stepping on a  nail. That for Margaret Matilda , was back 105 years ago on 6 July 1910. The Northern Advocate reported the following:-
" Mrs A. Reed, jun., of Karangahake, and well known in Whangarei, died in the Waihi hospital last week. Her death was occasioned by blood poisoning, caused by a nail piercing her foot."   ( Northern Advocate 15/07/1910)
Albert Reed, Margaret Matilda's husband, born in Whangarei ,was the eldest son of Albert Reed who had arrived in 1859, a builder who in 1876 counted his work in connection with Walton's mine at Whau Whau Valley, Whangarei.
The Affidavit under oath  of Albert Reed, her husband, filed on 30 July 1910 in probate documents : -
  • gives her name as Margaret Matilda Reed
  • records her as wife of Albert Reed miner
  • records her as mother of two children Albert Sherlock Reed and Cyril Midford Ferguson Reed
  • gives the date of her death as the sixth day of July one thousand nine hundred ten.
A search of Find a Grave website produced a photo of Margaret Matilda's headstone.
Created by: Griffin  Record added: Dec 10, 2013  Find A Grave Memorial# 121546115 under the Creative Commons license http://www.findagrave.com/cgibin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Reed&GSiman=1&GSst=2926&GRid=121546115&
Behind the sparse information in Waihi Cemetery records, is a person whose collection of interesting photographs have  survived.  Thanks to the guardianship of her son Albert Sherlock Reed who donated these to  the Auckland War Memorial Museum in 1965. In  the Whangarei Museum photograph collection ,there is also more of White's photographs. Both sources  show  early Maori and settler life in Northland, Whangarei District, Auckland Thames, Karangahake, Owharoa and Waihi along with other places.
Margaret Matilda White was born on 9 January 1868, the daughter of  Irish born John White and  Mary Jane White ( nee Davison).  Little is known about White's childhood. It is known that her father was a merchant and died soon after her birth in 1969, leaving  two children - Margaret and Nathaniel, who was born in 1866.  Mary Jane, John's widow, remarried an  Alexander Orr Polley in Ireland in 1876. They were recorded as being parents of two children - Alexander Junior and James  Polley.
Little is known of Margaret Matilda White's growing up years. The threads of her life were picked up again, when White, aged eighteen years, was recorded as an immigrant passenger aboard the s.s. Ionic which arrived  at Auckland 18 March 1886. With White, other passengers recorded were  brother Nathaniel White ,Hugh White , mother Mary Ann Polley, husband Alexander Polley and their sons Alexander Junior and James.
Until White's marriage to Albert Reed in 1900, a varied and full life was lived in Auckland. A volunteer in various  hospitals,  amongst these the Auckland Mental Hospital (or Whau as it became known as ). Energies were put into the  Amateur Theatrics and Amateur Operatics groups in Auckland . White took up photography and gained some good skills in the mechanics and chemistry of photography from John Robert Hanna. White has in 2016, become known for her photos of nurses and nursing in what was then a " shut-away" environment - the Mental Hospitals of that era.

Group of female assistants, Auckland Mental Hospital Group of eleven women in uniform - white aprons and caps, black shirts with white cuffs, outside brick building - Photograph by Margaret Matilda White 
 PH-NEG-B3486 photo courtesy  Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira.
However White's  photo collection is also  a comprehensive coverage of people and places of that era in the Auckland Province.
Hanna specialised in portraiture including Maori ,  experimenting also with artistic shots of subjects. By 1902 Hanna was said to have a staff of seven assistants in his studio. It is not known if White was one of these. It is known that White  did set up a studio of her own, however it did not come to anything.
Photo from The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902.
The  Observer reported the marriage of Margaret Matilda White to Albert Reed in 1900: - 
" The following was crowded out of our social page last week : — On Wednesday week last Miss Maggie White, of Auckland (late of Belfast, Ireland) and Mr Albert Reed, of Karangahake and Whangarei, were joined in the holy bonds of matrimony, at the residence of the bride's mother, Pitt-street. The Rev. Mr Jellie, of the Auckland Unitarian Church, officiated."...... ( The Observer 15/12/1900)
Following the wedding, the couple went to Mackaytown, in the  Karangahake Gorge , where Albert Reed was a miner. With three large mines then - Talisman, Woodstock and Crown - the townships of Mackaytown and Karangahake ,  then, were busy mining settlements boasting shops, hotels and churches.
Karangahake photo from  Photo from The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, Vol 2, Auckland Province. Christchurch: Cyclopaedia Company Limited, 1902
The area had its share of amateur photographers. Amongst them , it is known that Henry Thomson Gorrie  , one of the directors  of Talisman Mine and James Napier, Metallurgist for NZ Crown Mines were involved with photography as a hobby. Margaret Matilda White ( Reed) also found an area rich in opportunity for photo shots - the mines including Woodstock where Henry Thomson Gorrie's brother William, was a director. Then, there were the people and communities of Ohinemuri and Waihi. 
School Children Owharoa School Group of school children posed for photo outside corner of wooden building, one male teacher - Photograph by Margaret Matilda White  PH-NEG-B3420photo courtesy   Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira.
Karangahake Fire Brigade - photograph  by Margaret Matilda White
This photo is in a number of collections including Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira and
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 5 May 1966
After the death of Margaret Matilda White (Reed), Albert returned to Whangarei. There were many cousins in both places amongst the families of Reed, White, Davison and Organ, also Hanna.  Along with a very relevant part of the past  New Zealand history - the photo collection of Margaret Matilda White showing the people, events, and places of that era.
Reference Source:

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