Monday, 10 June 2013

Remembering The 1901 Royal Visit to Auckland, New Zealand

"Welcome" : Flags and the Royal Coat of Arms atop
the Landing Arch on the Queen Street Wharf, Auckland.
[Photographer RA Cook]

This is a companion piece to my previous blog relating to the visit of [the then] HRH Prince George, Duke of Cornwall & York and HRH Princess Mary, Duchess of Cornwall & York (later King George V and Queen Mary) to New Zealand in June 1901. This blog specifically features the visit of the Royal couple to Auckland, using a number of unique photographs in my collection.

The Duke & Duchess of Cornwall and York, 1901
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

Those photographs attributed to Mr RA Cook are from my own collection. To the best of my knowledge these have never been seen before and are unpublished. We shall see more of Mr Cooks photographic work in future blogs. I have been unable to ascertain anything more about Mr Cook other than that he appears to have been an employee of "Smith & Caughey Ltd" in Queen Street Auckland, a member of the West End Rowing Club, and possibly residing in Ponsonby. There appears to be no record of his burial in Auckland. I would be interested in any further information on Mr Cook.

The Royal Yacht "Ophir" pictured in the Waitemata Harbour,
having carried the Duke and Duchess to New Zealand.
[Source : The Auckland Weekly News]

The Royal Yacht 'HMS Ophir" (actually the Orient line passenger steamer 'S.S. Ophir'), conveyed the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York on their tour of the British Empire, visiting Gibralter, Malta, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Canada.

The Auckland Wharf at the foot of Queen Street
decorated for the Royal Reception
[Photographer RA Cook]

Above we see pedestrians promenading along the Auckland Wharf at the very foot of Queen Street which has been decorated with various flags to welcome the Royal guests.  

The Auckland Harbour Board Arch
[Photographer RA Cook]

During the Royal Reception the Duke and Duchess would "progress" through a series of these celebratory arches. This image, taken looking south from the base of Queen Street Wharf, shows pedestrians walking through the nautically themed Auckland Harbour Board Royal Reception Arch. The words on the arch read (in Māori) "Haeremai", meaning "Welcome".  To the right can be seen Mrs H. Spargo's "Gladstone Coffee Palace" with the "Waverley Hotel" visible directly through the arch.

The Royal Reception, Lower Queen Street
[Source : New Zealand Electronic Text Collection]

A view of the large crowds gathered in front of the dais and Government platform at right, taken in Lower Queen Street Auckland during the Royal Reception, 11th June 1901

Another view of the Royal Reception, Lower Queen Street
[Source : Ed Kruger]

Two views of the military guard of honour and large crowd gathered in Lower Queen Street during the Royal Reception. The large building to centre left is the Waverley Hotel.

The Duke and Duchess were welcomed onto the dais by the Mayor of Auckland, Dr Logan Campbell; the Governor of New Zealand, Lord Ranfurly, the Prime Minister, Richard "King Dick" Seddon; and Pa Maretu Ariki, a Sovereign Chief of the Cook Islands. Unfortunately the rain came down during the reception and umbrellas promptly appeared amongst the crowd.      

Auckland Troops at the Royal Reception
[Photographer RA Cook]

The Friendly Society [a Masonic order] marching
along Queen Street during the Royal Reception
[Photographer RA Cook]

The Municipal Arch, Wellesley Street East
[Photographer RA Cook]

The Auckland City Municipal Arch on Wellesley Street East. The City Coat of Arms can be seen at the top of the arch. At left can be seen part of the Auckland Free Library building (now the Auckland Art Gallery). 

The New Zealand Government Reception Arch
[Photographer RA Cook]

The classically New Zealand Government Reception Arch, complete with Ionic columns. The wording on the arch reads in English and Māori : "Welcome - Aroha Tonu, Ake Ake Ake", meaning literally 'with continuing affection always', with "Cornwall" and "York" above the side arches.

Queen Street Auckland decorated for the Royal Reception
[Photographer RA Cook]

Queen Street Auckland festooned with flags, a profusion of greenery, and what appear to be floral ropes, for the Royal Reception. The large building to left of centre and surmounted with the small round tower is the Victoria Arcade Building, being on the corner of Queen Street and Fort Street. This building included 'George Fowlde Ltd', Outfitters, on the ground floor.

Smith & Caughey Ltd Department Store in Queen Street
[Photographer RA Cook]

Next to Smith & Caughey's at centre right is 'WC Dennes' selling pianos, organs, knitting machines, mangles & perambulators, and on the right is Rendell's Ladies' Warehouse.

The Duke and Duchess passing along a rather wet Queen Street
in an open horse-drawn carriage during the Royal Reception
[Photographer RA Cook]

A military Guard of Honour lines the route as the Royal part pass by. While the Duchess is using an umbrella (along with many in the crowd), the Duke is showing that stoical British spirit and braving the winter elements!

The Duchess is reported to have been "...simply dressed in a black cloth gown with a black fur about her throat, and a small black tulle toque." The Duke wore a Naval uniform, "The Duke's handsome Admiral's uniform was hidden under a great cloak. He smiled and doffed his cocked hat in response to the cheering".     

New Zealand Militia firing a 'feu de joie' in Auckland during the Royal Tour
[Source : National Library of New Zealand]

A 'Feu de joie' is a progressive firing of guns, literally the 'Mexican wave' version of firing off a volley of rifle shots into the air. I believe this may have taken place at "Potter's Paddock" in Remuera during a review and march-past of 4,000 troops in front of 20,000 people, being attended by the Duke and Duchess. Rain is reported to have fallen at times with the ground being "wet and muddy".

Not Forgotten

South African War veterans also attended the review, "some of them lame, and others apparently not quite robust, but the crowd had not forgotten the service they had rendered to the Empire; and the Empire had not forgotten it either, for later on they received their medals at the hands of the Duke."

Somewhat Upside-down

But an embarrassing faux-pas took place prior to the review. The grand stand had been decorated with flags "stretched from gable to gable.. [but] ..The principal flags had apparently been hoisted by some amateur, for the lions of the Royal Standard above the Ducal pavilion were on their backs, and even the Union Jack at the saluting base was upside down. There was something decidedly funny about this, but it must be remembered that we are at the antipodes, and naturally things are somewhat upside down. The Royal Standard was turned the other way around after the Duchess had taken her seat, but the poor, unoffending Union Jack fluttered to the end as it had been originally hoisted."

Bibliography :

- Papers Past
- Those images attributed to Mr RA Cook may be freely copied for personal, academic and non-commercial use provided a link is given back to this page. 


  1. I normally find receptions given to visiting royals to be too fast, too expensive and too monumental in the planning. Individual citizens got about 6 seconds of seeing the royals drive past, IF they were lucky.

    But the timing for Boer War ex-servicemen was perfect. I am so glad that their courage and sacrifice was recognised by the royals.

  2. Thank you Hels. Our grand preparations were rather over the top but one has to put it in the context of the time and also what was then the norm overseas. We would not have wanted to have been any less "welcoming". The primary reason for the tour was to thank countries who had assisted Britain in the 2nd Boer War so naturally Boer War veterans figured largely in the tour.


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