NZEI has been delivering a magazine to members since 1899. And now you can read the early versions – more than a century’s worth of New Zealand’s educational and social history is online.

Launched in November 2013, NZEI Heritage is a full-text archive of the union’s journals dating from 1899-2009. The entire collection has been digitised for researchers and anyone else who’s interested in social history and the story of public education in New Zealand.

The project was the brainchild of NZEI executive officer information services Sharon Jones and she was spurred into action by PhD researcher Paul Adams, who’s writing about the revolutionary New Education Fellowship Conference of 1937-38. The digitisation has been done for both access and preservation. The only complete set, at NZEI, will be sent to the Alexander Turnbull Library for safekeeping once the project is complete.

Sharon says it’s a rich resource on many levels, tracking educational and social issues over the years: “You can see the impact of world wars, changes in fashion, photos of teachers smoking, changes in the curriculum, the impact of television, and discussions on whether or not computers were here to stay.”

Two excerpts from the very first issue” NZ Journal of Education Vol 1 No 1 1899:

Sewing instructions from the Gazette

All girls in any public school in which such there is a mistress or assistant mistress shall learn needlework, and the Inspector shall judge all other work done by the girls more leniently than that done by the boys in a degree as would be implied in reducing by 10 per cent. the minimum marks required for any examination pass.

Mission statement for journal

“While he [a teacher] is labouring to give so much information, to build up and to strengthen the intellectual powers, his personal characteristics are telling far more in real education than all the stored wealth of the schools. It has been charged against us in these days of standards, when there is a universal cry for practical information that “it is thought more educationally useful to know the principle of the common pump than Keats’ ‘ Ode on a Grecian Urn.’ “It is because we do not altogether agree with this charge that we intend in the pages of the organ of the public school teachers of New Zealand to set apart a small portion of space where the Grecian Urn will occupy pride of place, and the common pump be left to perform its useful functions in peace.”