THE DEPARTURE OF THE SECOND CONTINGENT FOR THE BOER WAR

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The following notes are from Chris Pugsley, May 10, 1994:

The film is of the Second New Zealand Contingent filmed on January 13 or 14, 1900 at Newtown Park, Wellington. It shows the Contingent members in fatigues undergoing riding tests or training. It is almost certainly the A H Whitehouse film of the Second Contingent, which makes it the only known surviving Whitehouse film and now the second oldest surviving moving film taken in New Zealand.

I have been able to identify similar uniforms in a photo taken of the 2nd Contingent at Newtown Park (Alexander Turnbull Library F59914 1/2). Both the details of dress and weapons establish it as having been taken before the end of February 1900. During this period three Contingents were raised for the Boer War. The First Contingent trained at Campbells farm in Karori, the Third Contingent was raised and trained in Canterbury, leaving the Second Contingent, which was raised and trained at Newtown Park, as the only possibility.

Talking to Clive Sowry the film is almost certainly that filmed by A H Whitehouse. The Pegler connection is still to be explored and would require someone to examine the scrapbooks and diaries with the family to see if the film’s provenance can be traced. The film cannister has been identified by Clive Sowry as being a Karbutt Film Container. Karbutt was an early film manufacturer that supplied Edison with some of his early nitrate film and later supplied the trade. That, and the film stock characteristics, support the 1900 date.

The following notes are from Len King, June 21, 1995:

I believe it is the Second Contingent at Newtown Park. It is possible to eliminate all other contingents that sailed in 1899 -1900.

The First camped on Campbell’s farm in Karori and marched directly to the wharf. The area about this camp was much more open than the footage viewed and would not have picked up any significant tree line. I have not seen any shots that suggest there were large numbers of the public visiting this camp; most show crowds lining the roads and wharf as they marched through the suburbs.

The Third was mainly raised in Canterbury. It had various reviews in Hagley Park and sailed from Lyttelton.

The Fourth was raised mainly from Otago, camped at Forbury and sailed from Port Chalmers.

The Fifth was the only other early contingent based at Newtown, but I have eliminated them as a possibility based on the following reasoning: The equipment issue to the early contingents was the 1882 pattern infantry set, consisting of a pair of ammo’ pouches, belt and shoulder straps. This was not satisfactory really for mounted troops as it concentrated weight about the waist when pouches were full. This equipment, based on photographs, was only issued to the First, Second, Third and some of the Fourth Contingents. After that the 1889-94 bandolier equipment replaced it, which is quite different. By the time the Sixth sailed in January 1901, the carbines had also been replaced by Long pattern 1896 Lee-Enfield rifles, so this film well pre-dates the Sixth.

The provenance of the film is also important to any particular attribution. Fortunately it has been held by the same family of the cameraman(?) for the past 95 years and they may be able to provide some further documentation. Apart from this I believe it has been established that the family lived in Palmerston North around the turn of the century and were involved in a photographic business, so it would not have been more than a day trip to come to Wellington for some special event.

Hence my conclusion that the Contingent is the Second, with the footage most likely shot on January 13 or 14, 1900 at the open day and parade held over that weekend. If I had to settle on a date I would go for 13 January when a sham fight was held. In the film the troopers are wearing a mixture of serge tunics and undress / stable duty jerseys. Possibly they were split into 2 forces in different dress as an easy way of identifying the opposing forces. Photographs show that a large crowd was in attendance and this appears in the background of the footage, somewhat elevated, as they would have been from reference to photos of the camp’s layout: the parade ground below an embankment surmounted by trees. The Contingent sailed on January 20, so this was likely to have been the farewell event, apart from dockside speeches.

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Year 1900

Reference number F22555

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Actuality

Duration 0:01:14

Production company A. H. Whitehouse

Credits Camera: W. H. Bartlett