John Rykenberg’s trove of Auckland nightlife photos from the 50s & 60s

John Rykenberg’s trove of Auckland nightlife photos from the 50s & 60s

Essay by Gareth Shute

Published on The Spinoff, 2 October, 2018

John Rykenberg ran a studio of Auckland photographers from the late ’50s through until the late 1970s. Last year, 900 boxes from his studio were donated to Auckland Libraries. One of the researchers investigating this massive collection of images was Gareth Shute, who shares some of his favourites.

My interest in the Rykenberg collection came through my project to map the historic venues of Auckland (announced in The Spinoff last year). I managed to receive some support from the Auckland Libraries Heritage Trust to investigate the images of musicians to find any that might help with my maps for the ’50s and ’60s. However, I had no idea just how huge the collection was. Each of the 900 boxes contains dozens and dozens of rolled up sections of film, sometimes a few of them coiled together into one slot. Digitising even one box would take be a long process – but even if they library did one box a week it would take over 18 years to get through them all.

Fortunately, the team at Libraries allowed me to go down to where the boxes were being stored and look through boxes that seemed promising, using a lightbox and negative scanner on my phone (Rykenberg’s wife, Wendie Wright, had provided a rough list of what is in each box). This allowed me to prioritise some of the collection for scanning and get a sense of how fully these images capture the life of Auckland in the heyday of rock’n’roll dancehalls, jazz coffee lounges, and cabaret restaurants.

Read the full article on The Spinoff.

Rykenberg Studios,  THE PLAYDATES AT PICASSO COFFEE LOUNGE IN 1961 . (AUCKLAND LIBRARIES, RYKENBERG COLLECTION, 1269-E154-24)

Rykenberg Studios, THE PLAYDATES AT PICASSO COFFEE LOUNGE IN 1961. (AUCKLAND LIBRARIES, RYKENBERG COLLECTION, 1269-E154-24)




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