In recent weeks, I have been up at Auckland War Memorial Museum doing some research for the project. In doing so, I realised (as I have so many times over the past year and a half) what a rich treasure-trove of New Zealand’s Middle Eastern history is out there, once you start looking for it. Here are some highlights from my recent visit.
Auckland War Memorial Museum, PH-ALB-495-1
The AWMM houses the five souvenir photo albums that Sergeant John Starr collected during the Second World War. Each of the albums was unique in its material and design, but this album of ‘Views of Jerusalem’ stood out. It is a small album, each page only big enough for one photo, but the front and back were embellished with decorated wooden blocks, that appear to have been glued over top of the original leather covers. These blocks have been hand painted with the words ‘Souvenir of the Holy Land’, ‘Jerusalem’, and a scene of 'Rachel’s Tomb'. Souvenir albums were popular with New Zealand soldiers in the Middle East, but I have never seen one like this before, with such a high level of customisation done to the cover.