Farewells on the Auckland wharves, captured by photographer John Rykenberg
by Frances Walsh
Metro Magazine, 19 January 2018
On Auckland’s wharves in the late 1950s, photographer John Rykenberg took pictures of families and farewells, of people embarking on exciting journeys.
The photographer John Rykenberg (1927-2014) had some experience of leaving and of being left. In 1952, aged 24, he emigrated to New Zealand from the small Netherlands city of Woerden, where his parents had a drapery shop. By then he had endured the five-year German occupation of his country, telling his New Zealand-born children years later of Jewish schoolmates who went away and never came back.
Soon after Rykenberg flew into Auckland with hope in his heart and 40 Dutch guilders ($30) in his pocket, he found work pressing suits for the Cambridge Clothing Company in New Lynn and labouring on state houses in Tamaki. All the while, he dreamed of turning his hobby of photography into a livelihood. By 1958 he was going to clubs and restaurants in the evening, snapping patrons who were willing to pay for documentation of their night out. He began to get commissions too – for engagement and 21st parties, and for weddings and other knees-ups.
Rykenberg Photography images can be accessed through Auckland Libraries’ Heritage Images database. If you recognise anyone in the photographs, contact the library at email@example.com.