The College in 1917
In January 1917, Auckland University College (AUC) advertised for a new Registrar to replace Canon Charles Nelson (1843-1919), who was retiring after 10 years in the post. Applicants had to be aged between 30 and 45 and were required to submit 15 copies of their application and up to five testimonials.1 In February, Reverend Albert Chappell, a Methodist minister from New Plymouth, was selected from a large pool of qualified candidates.2 Chappell arrived during the first week of the academic year and ‘entered at once upon his official responsibilities.’3 The appointment of Chappell, a keen tennis player, debater and Scout master, was well received by AUC students who appreciated that he took an active interest in many College clubs and encouraged ‘a genuine College spirit.’4
Other appointments during the first term included two additional lecturers, Frederick Bamford and Ashley Hunter, to teach in the new School of Architecture.5 Lectures in the subject were held three times a week in the School of Mines and began in early April with a preliminary lecture by Mr Bamford.6 In May, the Auckland Star reported that the lectures were open to women as well as men and that while it might not be generally known, there was ‘nothing to prevent women taking up architecture as a profession.’7
The number of women attending AUC in 1917 was higher than in the previous two years, with women accounting for 45 percent of the 503 students on the roll.8 Meanwhile, the introduction of military conscription in August 1916 had further reduced male student numbers, particularly among the senior student body. This was remarked on several times in the student magazine Kiwi, including by the Commerce Students’ Society, which was concerned that the loss of their senior men would result in fewer meetings.9 However, a recruitment campaign and ‘the inclusion of several enthusiastic lady members' on their Executive reversed the situation.10 The Debating Society also noted the part played by women members, who held their own debate on whether the ‘Modern girl is superior to the Early Victorian’ and competed in the First Year and Open debates.11
Among the debaters were Misses Beatrice Butterfield, Bessie Battersby and Beatrice Brendel, who were also members of the Student Association Executive (pictured below.) For Miss Butterfield, 1917 was a particularly busy year. In addition to student politics and debating, she gave an ‘exceedingly entrancing’ presentation to the Scientific Society, announced her engagement to the Physics Department Laboratory Assistant, Victor Johns and in July took over responsibility for maintaining the AUC Roll of Honour.12
Miss Butterfield was also one of several students who attended both AUC and the nearby Auckland Training College (ATC), which in October 1917 was rocked by the death at Passchendaele of former principal Herbert Milnes.13 Students who attended both institutions worked long days, attending ATC during the day and University lectures in the evening, grabbing meals where they could. ATC principal Herbert Cousins suggested this had contributed to the poor health of several of its trainee teachers.14
Just how late lectures ran at AUC was highlighted in April when the Minister of Railways advised that wartime shortages might require train services to end at 7pm.15 The Registrar argued that the plan would severely disrupt the University and that to ‘interfere with education was going beyond the necessities of the present situation’ and suggested that one late train between 9.30-10pm would meet the needs of students.16
During the year, the University College Council continued to campaign for a permanent site. In the interim, they spent £2000 updating the old Grammar School in Symonds Street, opposite the top of Wellesley Street, and had plans drawn up for a two-storey building on the Choral Hall site to house Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geology.17 Law and Music moved into the renovated Grammar School in March, although work on the building, including the installation of electric lighting, was ongoing in September.18
In November, AUC vacated the Old Parliament Buildings which were scheduled for demolition to make way for what is now Anzac Avenue. At a civic reception held to mark the occasion, Auckland Mayor James Gunson noted that the buildings were ‘probably the most historic and the most unique in the Dominion’ and suggested that an obelisk or similar memorial be erected on the site.19 In contrast, Professor Hugh Segar spoke of the disadvantages suffered by University staff and students because of the age and unsuitability of the buildings.20 The students held their own farewell concert and social. The hall was decorated with flags and the large gathering of past and present students of the University and the Training College were entertained with musical performances, charades and a conjuring display. The students finished the evening by singing the College song Gaudeamus igitur and the national anthem.21 The buildings were demolished in December and, despite their dilapidated condition, the College sought £20,289 and 1s compensation from Auckland City Council for their loss.22
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections.
- Auckland Star, 6 January 1917, p.12, accessed via Papers Past.
- Auckland Star, 14 February 1917, p.2, accessed via Papers Past.
- New Zealand Herald, 9 March 1917, p.7, accessed via Papers Past.
- The Kiwi: Official organ of the Auckland University College, 12, 1917, p.25.
- Auckland Star, 9 March 1917, p.4, accessed via Papers Past.
- New Zealand Herald, 13 April 1917, p.6, accessed via Papers Past.
- Auckland Star, 12 May 1917, p.16, accessed via Papers Past.
- This was the lowest enrolment at AUC during the war years. Of the 503 students, 275 were men and 228 women. Education: Higher Education E-7, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1914, p.4 and 1918, p.28, accessed via AtoJs Online.
- The Kiwi, p.55.
- The Kiwi, p.51.
- The Kiwi, pp.46, 52; Letter from Registrar to Miss Butterfield, 4 July 1917, Auckland University College letter book 1915 -1919, University of Auckland Administrative Archives.
- Manuka: occasional magazine of the Auckland College of Education, 9, 1918, pp.11, 58.
- Education: Primary Education, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1918, E-2 D, p.v, accessed via AtoJs Online.
- Auckland Star, 10 April 1917, p.6, accessed via Papers Past.
- New Zealand Herald, 11 April 1917, p.8, accessed via Papers Past.
- Education: Higher Education E-7, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1918, p.10, accessed via AtoJs Online.
- Auckland Star, 18 September 1917, p.9, accessed via Papers Past.
- New Zealand Herald, 16 November 1917, p.6, accessed via Papers Past. The site of the Old Parliament buildings, located behind the Auckland High Court, is marked by two plaques while the outline of the building is indicated by a low basalt wall.
- Auckland Star, 17 November 1917, p.6; New Zealand Herald, 17 November 1917, p.8, accessed via Papers Past.
- New Zealand Herald, 14 December 1917, p.4, accessed via Papers Past.