26 May 2021 6:00pm — 7:00pm

In partnership with the Southern Heritage Trust, Dunedin Public Libraries is pleased to host a series of inspirational talks on the third Tuesday of the month throughout the year, exploring visions of Dunedin’s past, present and perhaps more importantly, its future.

MAY’S TALK PRESENTED BY:Susan Irvine and Sarah Gallagher.

Susan Irvine is a Senior Heritage Consultant with New Zealand Heritage Properties, and has a Masters in History from the University of Otago and a Masters in Information Studies from Victoria University. Working at the Hocken Collections, she eventually became the Arrangement and Description Archivist.

Sarah Gallagher is a Heritage Assessment Advisor for Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. She has a Masters in Classics from the University of Otago and a Masters in Information Studies from Victoria University.  Sarah has worked as an information professional in the private, public and tertiary sector.

In March 1869, the ODT ran an article entitled, “City and General Improvement’s”, that highlighted the Bell Hill excavation and its “vast importance” to the city. The excavation would go on to open up access to the commercial, political and education centre of Dunedin, based around the site of the current Exchange – what was the historic landing place of the Toitu Tauraka Waka, and later, the John Wickcliffe and Philip Laing, which saw the official beginnings of the Otago settlement by the Scots in 1848.

The blowing up of Bell Hill united the city divided by this monstrous geological formation, an “abrupt barrier in the direct line of the principle thoroughfare.” A constant employer, and “where crime was punished and infamy expiated with honest sweat” for over 20 years, the completion of the Bell Hill excavation was considered the most extensive public work project in the colony.

The talk explores how the removal of physical and geographical boundaries echoes the aspirational removal of religious and educational boundaries, thereby shaping the environment to create the world the people of Dunedin wanted to live in. Bell Hill will be described as it originally stood, the stages of work as it progressed, and how Dunedinites of 1869 experienced the traverse between these two halves of the city – known as “Mudedin”.

Dunningham Suite, 4th floor, Dunedin City Library



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