Chris Szekely interviewed by Kelly Dennett


Chris Szekely, one of the editors of Te Kupenga: 101 stories of Aotearoa from the Turnbull, was interviewed by Kelly Dennett:

‘In the introduction to Te Kupenga: 101 stories of Aotearoa from the Turnbull its co-editor, and chief librarian Chris Szekely imparts a story of his own. The legend of his mother’s great-grandmother, Sophia Gray (Ngāruahine), or Te Paea Hinerangi. Guide Sophia, she was called, as she toured visitors of the pink and white terraces at the central plateau.

When Mt Tarawera erupted, destroying the terraces in 1886, Sophia rescued people and gave them shelter at her whare. Just months earlier, she had met one Alexander Turnbull, who in turn had been brought there by a love of books, apparently inspired by James Kerry-Nicholls’ The King Country; or, Explorations in New Zealand.

Upon his death in 1918 Turnbull, unmarried and with no children, gifted his substantial book collection to be part of a national collection. In 1920 the Alexander Turnbull library opened on Wellington’s Bowen St. In 1965 it was incorporated into the National Library and in 1987 it moved to an amalgamated site on Molesworth St.’

Read the article here.​