Social, Morris, Sword and Step Dance
in New Zealand, 1905/1940

Archival Photographs and Newspaper Cuttings

Engagement Cards in Auckland Library

from formal balls held at Government House in Auckland in the late 1800s. These cards were found in the local records section of Auckland City Library.

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New Zealand Graphic - March 4, 1905

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Maypole dancing in Devonport

New Zealand Graphic - March 25, 1905

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Brophy dancing an Irish Jig to a brass band

N.Z. Society for English Folk Dancing

There was a branch of the N.Z. Society for English Folk Dancing in almost every N.Z. city and many towns during the late 1930s/1940s. Membership was mostly women. They learnt Cecil Sharp-style English Country Dancing to 78 rpm records, and also morris dancing and sword dancing. Documentary records of these activities, which included an annual English Folk Dance Summer School, may be researched in the magazine English Folklore in Dance and Song, which was published between 1938 and 1944 (13 issues). Many of the originals are in Christchurch City Library, Christchurch University Library, and in the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. There are also some copies in the Ralph Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House in London.

Flamborough Sword Dance & Lock

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Flamborough Sword Dance
"Spreading the gospel at Granity District High School," - 1939

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Flamborough Sword Dance in Wellington - 1950?

Morris Team, 1940

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New Zealand Morris Men at Wellington Summer School - 1940
                               Courtney H. Archer (obsc.), W. H. Allen (obsc.), John Oliver
Francis A. Shurrock, Peter Roberts, Leo Bensemann              

Note: Courtney H. Archer used to own and run the flour mill at Rangiora.
He had a b&w film of the team dancing. Attempts to locate this in the 1970s drew a blank.
It was reportedly in too bad a condition to show and may have been thrown away.

Selenger's Round

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English Folk Dance and Song Summer School at Wellington - 1940
(Notes on back: "This was a summer school by Wellington EFDS. Women are in the white blouses & flared skirts with coloured ribbon stripes.
I think Hilda Taylor is at extreme right, with ribbon in hair. I'm (Barbara Woods) in the inside circle, facing camera.
I can see John Oliver but can't put names to other familiar faces" - Barbara Woods - 1976)

Miss Hilda Taylor
trained and certificated by Cecil Sharp, then emigrated to New Zealand

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Miss. Hilda Taylor

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Miss Hilda Taylor trained under Cecil Sharp in the 1920s and then emigrated to New Zealand.
There she taught English country dancing and morris dancing in schools around NZ.
Attempts to locate the statuette have resulted in nothing.
The Dominion Art Gallery does not now exist (2013).

Papers Past - Miss Hilda Taylor new.gif (902 bytes)

Folk Dancing - Y.W.C.A. Concert new.gif (902 bytes)
Northern Advocate , 4 June 1925, Page 5
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Y.W.C.A. Concert & Folk Dancing new.gif (902 bytes)
Northern Advocate , 1 June 1925, Page 8
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PIONEER CLUB new.gif (902 bytes)
Evening Post, Volume CXXII, Issue 102, 27 October 1936, Page 17
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Women in Print new.gif (902 bytes)
Evening Post, Volume CXIII, Issue 19, 24 January 1927, Page 13


of Queen Margaret College.

Folk Dance and Song new.gif (902 bytes)
Evening Post, Volume CXXVI, Issue 79, 30 September 1938, Page 5
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Hutt Valley News new.gif (902 bytes)
Evening Post, Volume CXXVII, Issue 148, 26 June 1939, Page 14
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Women's Court new.gif (902 bytes)
Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 120, 17 November 1939, Page 9
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End-of-Term Party new.gif (902 bytes)
Evening Post, Volume CXXXII, Issue 52, 29 August 1941, Page 8
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Christchurch Country Dance Club - 1980

There's a film of the ladies dancing in 1987 on YouTube new.gif (902 bytes)

Click to enlarge...

Nancy Page, Kennah Moor, Betty Moon, ????

chch1-1980.jpg (129694 bytes)

Further Research

Further research on local folk dance activities could easily be done simply by browsing through old copies of the newspapers. These are now all scanned and available online at Papers Past up to about the mid-1940s. Using keywords for searches such as "hornpipe" "clog dance" "morris dance" "sword dance" "efdss" etc. all produce interesting results. Also searches could be made of old copies of N.Z. Graphic and other local magazines at various libraries.

Reports of formal balls at Government House and elsewhere would elicit the social dances enjoyed at that time, although most reports concentrate upon the ladies' ball gowns!

Fancy Dress Costumed Balls of many and various themes were in vogue in Australia and New Zealand throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, as indeed they were throughout the U.K. and Ireland (a rarely researched area of formal social dance). So too were 'coming out' balls for the young women.

Interestingly but not surprisingly during the period 1900-1960 both in Australia and New Zealand nearly everyone wanted to emulate the fashions of contemporary British society. The word 'home' at that time very much meant the 'home country,' that is the British Isles.

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