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

Early 1940s newspaper picture in early 1940s.

There was a branch of the NZ 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), and which may be accessed online here. Many of the originals are in Christchurch City Library, Christchurch University Library, and the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.

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Spreading the gospel at Granity District High School, 1939

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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                              

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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)

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Hilda Taylor trained under Cecil Sharp in the 1920s and then emigrate to new Zealand where she taught
English country dancing and morris dancing in schools and around NZ.

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Miss. Hilda Taylor

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Flamborough in Wellington - 1950?

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Nancy Page, Kennah Moor, Betty Moon, ????
Christchurch Country Dance Club - 1980

Further research on local folk activities could easily be done simply by browsing through old copies of the N.Z. Graphic and other local magazines and newspapers. This would include old archival copies of school magazines. Reports of formal balls at Government House and elsewhere would elicit the social dances enjoyed at that time. Fancy Costume 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 then British society. The word 'home' at that time very much meant the 'home country,' that is the British Isles.

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