Auckland, New Zealand

Haere Mai!  As far out s the people of New Zealand could reach came all sorts of vessels with flags and banners and cheering multitudes to shout welcome, haere mai.  As the hills came into view they could be seen as black with people waiting, cheering, and singing songs.  The waterfront was thronged.  Great signs of welcome were strung on bluffs and buildings.


The postcard makers of Auckland created beautiful hand-tinted real photo postcards of the Fleet's visit.  Companies like C. B. & Company and Empire created this cards of the ships and of the sites and decorations of the City.  Most were never mailed and instead were kept as souvenirs of Fleet Week by the people who had come from all over the nation to welcome the American Fleet.



Arrival of the American fleet

These two cards were produced by the C. B. & Company, Ltd., numbers 344 and 354.  Both cards are clear and focused providing an excellent quality card even by today's standards.  The card at left shows the fleet executing a turn as they approach their anchorages.  The card at right shows the USS Connecticut leading the formation.




Guest Leaving Reception from USS Louisiana

Guest Leaving Reception from USS Louisiana

On Monday, August 10th the official landing of Sperry and Senior Officers happened at Queen Street Wharf.  The morning was spent with Prime Minister Ward, members of the Ministry and Legislature and the Mayor of Auckland who held a reception.  The procession of dignitaries passed through the street.  At right Admiral Sperry and Mayor Authur walk, possibly at Albert Park for tree planting ceremonies.

Admiral Sperry and the Mayor of Auckland at Arrival Ceremony

Admiral Sperry and the Mayor of Auckland at Arrival Ceremony


State Ball at the Government House

On Tuesday evening at 9:15 a ball was given by their Excellencies the Governor and Lady Plunket to Rear-Admiral Sperry and Officers of the Fleet.

This program dance card is from the Collection of Midshipman Lofquist who was on the USS Connecticut


the welcome arches of fleet week

The arch welcoming the Fleet erected on Queen Street was the hub for crowds during Fleet Week.  Constructed of cabbage trees and raupo over scaffolding, it made for quite a site.  It was through this that Admiral Sperry and his officers were driven through cheering crowds up to the Drill Hotel for a reception by the City of Auckland.  One of the amazing pieces of history that has survived from this visit is a 5 minute film that was taken by James McDonald part of the limelight camera team of the Salvation Army on contract to film important events for the Government of New Zealand.  It is the only film I know about that was taken during the cruise.  Worth watching at this link:

The film is shot on August 10th and shows the official landing and presentation to Rear Admiral Sperry by the Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Ward.  It then shows them being driven through the arch!

The view art right shows the arch looking from Queen Street towards the water.  The first photo below is an arch that was erected at the entrance to the drill hall.


"About one-hundred yards up the street was an immense arch with"Welcome" on it.  The entire length of the highway on both sides as festooned with the beautiful lycopodium fern." Franklin Matthews



The Fleet certainly did not escape the eye of photographers.  Both tinted and black & white photo postcards were available almost immediately to the the citizens of New Zealand and fleet sailors.

These two cards titled, "American Fleet Auckland Harbor" are labeled W.A.P Color Photographic Series, The Price Photo Company, Auckland, NZ





Photo taken from across the harbor from Auckland from a hilltop in Devonport

Photo taken from across the harbor from Auckland from a hilltop in Devonport


the new zealand railways

The North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) is the main railway line in the North Island of New Zealand between Wellington and Auckland.  This historic rail line was started in 1873 and the last leg was completed on August 7, 1908 with the first through passenger train, 11-cars carrying the Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Ward and other parliamentarians north to see the battleships of the American Fleet in Auckland.  This pass was provide to Midshipman Lofquist of the USS Connecticut for first class fare while visiting.


The scene in Auckland as the fleet approached was one of intense activity.  Finishing touches were being put on extensive decorations throughout the city and thousands of  visitors, arriving by steamer, rail, and road, swelled the city's population.

The evening before the arrival the finest train of the new North Island Main Trunk Railway set out from Wellington to Auckland with Prime Minister Ward, his Cabinet, and many members of Parliament, which had adjourned for the duration of the fleet's visit.

At 7:10 am on August 9th, as a mist began to lift from the calm surface of Hauraki Gulf, the maritime training ship NZS Amokura broke the early morning silence with a 13-gun salute to the Commander-in-Chief of the American Fleet.

At Right:  Hail Columbia!  The Harbor Boards Office Building is decorated for the fleet.  Sailors from the fleet enjoying liberty  pose for the camera.

In the group of card below, the 6th card is the rotunda in Albert Park decorated for the planting of the 16 trees planted in commemoration of the American Fleet's visit.  Located at the meeting of Victor Street East, Kitchener Street and Bowen Avenue.



photo postcards from around auckland



welcome: from the governor of new zealand

"We welcome you, not only as representatives of a great nation containing some 70,000,000 of white people, not only as sharing with us a common origin and a common language, but we welcome also this visible evidence of American's increasing sea power with genuine, hearty and undisturbed satisfaction.

It is true that for the safety of our empire, no matter the sacrifice, our navy must always be equal to a possible combination of two other great Powers, but let me remind you that though we have a full appreciation of the vast potential resources of American she has never been reckoned as one of such possible combination.  But even that 'two Power standard' would not be enough if we had to support all that we have taken upon our shoulders in the past.  For centuries the British Navy, almost apart from its country's defense, has borne, almost alone, the burden of policing the seas, capturing the slaver, charting the oceans, overawing the tyrant, championing the oppressed."  Lord Plunket

Franklin Matthews describes the reception in Auckland:  "When one went ashore he was amazed at the decorations.  Nothing so elaborate had been seen on this trip before.  Of course the buildings were dressed lavishly in British and American Bunting.  You can only do so much and no more in that way, but the main highway, Queen Street, was literally a bower from end to end.

At the wharf the landing stage was covered with palms and ferns and signs of "Ka Ora Koutou" (Maori for good luck) and "Haere Mai" (Maori for Welcome to You).  About one hundred yards up the street was an immense arch with "Welcome!" on it.  The entire length of the highway on both sides was festooned with the beautiful lycopodium fern.  Every lamp post was dressed in palms.  The trolley poles were painted in green and gold, typical colors of the country.  Hanging across the highway were great banners, one from very town in the dominion, bidding the fleet welcome.




The above two photographs show the fleet marching in front of the Town Hall in downtown Auckland.  These two photographs were most likely done by a professional photographer for a publication.  These are the only two photographs that I have found showing the parade.


Rifle match - 13th august, 1908

At left is a menu for lunch or dinner in conjunction with a "rifle match" between the United States Fleet and the Auckland District Volunteers.  The menu items are associated with the states, "Louisiana" Ham and "Vermont" Peaches.  (to bad they didn't know it was Virginia Ham and Georgia Peaches).  Over-written on the card are some names of the members of the Auckland District Volunteers, J. P. Reed, Lieut-Colonel, R. G. Cross, Capt. A.  R. Leam, W. B. White Lt. Col. N.Z. Vols., and others.  Below is a souvenir postcard booklet provided by W. H. Woollams, Chemist.




photo postcards of the fleet of c.b & Co ltd.

This series of cards were created during the Fleet's visit to Auckland.  Many of the cards were photographed by Ernest de Tourret of Whangarei, NZ.  Ernest was a photographer, picture framer and photo stock dealer of Whangarei.  He produced postcards under 'Gordon real series' from about 1909.  The subject of his photographs included everything from churches and houses to people and scenic views.


One of the most popular series of cards were these photographs of the battleships in Auckland.  C. B. and Company must have had boats in the water first thing and these cards available for purchase within the first 24-hours.  These real photo postcards were not all used but I show the back to share comments, "Dear Bill, I was a board this war-ship yesterday.  Big crowds in town.  Having a grand time.  Will be home next Tuesday.  Hoping you are well, Jack"


The language of the Maori tribesman was used by the people of New Zealand to greet the American Fleet.  There was an effort to explain a common heritage between the two nations and images of a common history were common especially Columbus and the New World.  New Zealander's certainly wanted Americans to feel as children of the same mother and help defend them should the need arise.



Copy of Maori-Roosevelt


The Fleet's visit included a trip inland to Rotorua, home of the Maori tribesmen.  The fierce Maori were described as "the only savage people in the world never conquered by the white man."  Admiral Sperry was part of the group that made the trip and was greeted by a Maori Chief who embarrassed by  shouting "Bully" through a mask of Teddy Roosevelt.

The chief had the admiral dress in Maori battle dress and descirbed how Maoris were seafaring people  and had sailed in canoes all over the pacific.


The image of Teddy Roosevelt was taken from a special edition of the News providing pictures of the fleet in the harbor, activities, photos of the ships, and pictures of the admirals and government officials.

The card at right showing traditional Maori thatched house with carved entrance is part of the Battey collection on this website.





These four cards were mailed to Petty Officer Lewis on the USS Georgia after he departed Auckland.  Three were sent to Sydney and one two Manila.  "Dear Mr. Lewis,  I hope this will reach you the same as it leaves me, quite well.  From your True friend, Oliver Elliott."



The Ellerslie Race Course has been a fixture in the events of Auckland since it's start in 1842.  For the fleet visit the course had a special complementary race day featuring races named after Roosevelt, USS Connecticut and the Fleet.  The Photograph of the grandstands was taken by Midshipman Child who attended the race and captioned the photo, "Grandstands Ellerslie Track, N.Z.  A race will last all day and between races warrier parade in front of stand.



auckland orphans' club

Special Evening for the Entertainment of Two Hundred Officers from the American Warships now visiting Auckland.  Thursday, August 13th, 1908

At first glance you might think that this was a charity fundraiser for the Auckland Orphanage - not the case.  The Orphans' Club was a local group of actors, musicians, literary and art people who used to meet to play and entertain one another.  In London, the original club was the "Savage Club" and was attended by many famous actors.  In New Zealand many clubs were formed under the same name, normally meeting in pubs for their events.

The Orphans' Club was a breakaway group when the original club became too crowded.  For the officers of the fleet that attended they were probably treated to music, comedy, poetry, and a fun-spirited bunch with a keen wit.

In 1908 electricity had become a big thing.  Lighting up buildings and cities for special occasions was popular, so with the arrival of the American Fleet, Auckland turned on the lights, and so did the ships! 


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