‘Images of Albertland’
Book Review by Ralph Williams
‘A wonderful book is just that – a wonder’
Simple words from poet extraordinaire, Sam Hunt, at the launch last Sunday at Wellsford, of a stunning book on the opening up of the Northern Kaipara by our early settlers.
The book is Images from Albertland, by local author and historian, Paul Campbell, who also produced Child of the Kauri about Matakohe matriarch, Mavis Smith, and Kauri Cameraman, on the exploits of famed photographer, Tudor Collins.
Photographs too are the keynote of Images from Albertland. It portrays a Kaipara history through the lens of an old glass-plate camera used to capture more than 7,000 images during the life of former Warehine farmer and family man, Harold Marsh.
My partner, Marina, is the daughter of legendary Kaipara fisherman, Ted Pook, who appears in the book. Immersed in its pages,she comments: ”It generates a flood of memories — I can see my mother doing the washing under a puriri tree. The pictures are beautiful — they say it all, exactly as it was.”
The Wellsford community centre was packed for the launch occasion, to hear Albertland Museum chairman, Peter Marsh, outline his grandfather’s legacy — now preserved in this book. A huge amount of work has gone into sophisticated restoration of these old photographs, some dating back more than a century. They look now, as they must have when viewed through the lens of Harold Marsh’s camera on the day they were taken.
For production value, to my mind, the book is something of a benchmark. It doesn’t get much better than this, in photographic reproduction. Top quality art paper makes the pictures come alive, with Paul Campbell’s text bridging the images in a comprehensive account of the life and times of its subjects.
Indeed, as Sam Hunt told the packed community centre, as images from the book played on the cinema screen on the stage, it is ‘a wonderful book’.
It is a worthy signpost to next Easter’s 150th Albertland Reunion in the wider Kaipara — and surely a must addition to every public and private library in the country.