The College in 1914
When war broke out in August 1914, Auckland University College had been open for 31 years. Much to the consternation of staff and students, it had yet to secure a permanent site or buildings. Instead, the College occupied a selection of ramshackle buildings which were demolished in 1917 when Anzac Ave was constructed. The largest of these was the Old Parliament Building, which was referred to by students as ‘the Shirt Factory’, ‘the Boot Factory’, or ‘the Shedifice.’ Built in 1854, the building was damp and the floors sloped but it was relatively spacious and apparently had a certain charm.
The College was one of four affiliated colleges of the University of New Zealand; it was administered by a College Council and had an academic staff of eight professors and 16 lecturers, demonstrators and assistants. In 1914, the College staff included three new professors, Frederick P. Worley (chemistry), Gwilym Owen (physics), John C. Johnson (botany and biology) and a new geology lecturer, John A. Bartrum. These new staff replaced Professors Algernon Thomas and Frederick Brown who had taught at the College since it opened in 1883. By 1914, 298 graduates had attained their degrees through the College.1
The College offered a surprisingly wide selection of subjects, including Classics, English language and literature, French, German, pure and applied mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, education, economics, history, mental science, law, commerce and music. In addition, the School of Mines offered courses in architecture, surveying, and civil, electrical, mechanical and marine engineering.
Lectures were open to all 'male or female, whether matriculated or not' on payment of a fee. In 1914, this amounted to 610 students, of whom 328 were men and 282 were women. Of these, 185 were younger, un-matriculated students who were studying towards the equivalent of today’s University Entrance, rather than a degree.2 As well as attending university, many students had day-time jobs as clerks and teachers, or attended the nearby teachers' Training College. To accommodate these ‘part-timers’, lectures were held well into the evening and on Saturday mornings.
Despite the criticism that the College was merely a night school, those who attended full-time enjoyed an intimate and close-knit society.3 To relieve the daily toil of study, there were many exciting, but chaperoned, student-led activities to take part in, including the Capping Carnival and Easter Tournament. These events were organised by the Auckland University College Students' Association (AUCSA), a student-led organisation founded in 1891 to provide students with an official voice in College affairs.4 Students could also join one of the many affiliated clubs active on campus, such as the Rugby Club, Literary Club, Debating Club and the Rifle Club. The affiliation of these clubs to the Students' Association, a practice which continues today, was introduced in 1899.
Student activities, opinions and literary endeavours were recorded in the lively AUCSA magazine, The Kiwi. The Women’s Common Room Club report in the June 1914 issue described a social, 'to which the members of the Men’s Common-Room Club were invited. The evening passed off more successfully than was at one time imagined’. Meanwhile, the Men’s Common Room Club reported that ‘Ping-pong, as usual, is much in evidence, and both old and new students find relief in this game from the weariness of lectures’, while ‘The provision of tea to members continues to add much to the popularity of the Club.’5
- Calendar, Auckland University College, University of New Zealand, Auckland, 1914, p.iii-vi; 127-134.
- Thirty-eighth Annual Report of the Minister of Education, E-1, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, Session I, 1915, pp.58-60, accessed via AtoJs Online.
- Keith Sinclair, A history of the University of Auckland, 1883-1983, Auckland, 1983, p.72.
- Fay Hercock, A democratic minority: a centennial history of the Auckland University Students' Association, Auckland, 1994, p.5.
- The Kiwi: Official Organ of the Auckland University College, 9, 1, 1914, p.23.