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The Journal of the Early Settlers and Historical Association of Wellington
The Early Settlers and Historical Association of Wellington (since renamed The Wellington Historical and Early Settlers’ Association) is one of New Zealand’s oldest historic societies. The Association was formally incorporated in June 1912 but its genesis dates back to 1890 when jubilee celebrations were held in Wellington to mark the 50th anniversary of the European settlement of the city in 1840. The businessman and philanthropist William Hort Levin (for whom the Horowhenua township of Levin is named) gifted £1000 to the Jubilee Committee for the primary purpose of establishing a ‘free’ public library as a way of celebrating the anniversary; the birth of what we know today as Wellington City Libraries. With sizable contributions from other citizens and the City Council, Wellington’s first muncipal public library opened in 1893.
With that project completed, the number of other public donations which had been gifted meant that there was still £400 remaining in the Jubilee Fund; a considerable sum which if inflation adjusted would be close to the equivalent of $80,000 in today's (2020) terms. With the committee being unable to decide on how this surplus should be spent, it was administered by a trust for nearly 20 years until a portion of it was used to help establish the Early Settlers Association as its aims were in alignment with the trust’s original deed which stated that the fund was only to be used to commemorate and celebrate Wellington’s historic past. At the time there were still a number of Wellingtonians alive whose childhood's dated back to the 1840s and 1850s and it was felt it was important that their stories be captured before they were lost. To that end, shortly after it was established the Association organised the printing of a series of journals in what was to be their first publishing venture. The first volume consisted of four issues printed in quick succession over the following 14 months. However, the intervention of World War I and its aftermath meant that the first issue of the second volume was not printed until June 1922, a gap of nearly eight years. Three further issues were printed but in May 1923 the Association concluded that magazine was not financially viable and the publication ceased. A lot of the information contained in the journal was later re-used by Louis Ward in his book Early Wellington (1929) which for many decades was regarded as the ‘standard’ reference work about Wellington’s colonial history.
The Association continues to operate to this day; their full story can be found in the book 100 Years: The Story of the Wellington Historical and Early Settlers’ Association, 1912 – 2012, by Judy Siers (Millwood Heritage Publications, Wellington, 2012).
Note that the pagination of each issue within a volume continues from one issue to the next so the page number on Recollect will differ from that printed in the journal. The description of each volume includes a contents list with the page number given for the digitised copy.External Link100 Years: The Story of the Wellington Historical and Early Settlers’ Association, 1912 – 2012