Photographer Extraordinaire, Albertland Museum

26 September 2008

Albertland Museum

The Albertland Museum is proud custodian of the Marsh collection of over 7000 glass plates and magic lantern slides and equipment. His diaries record times, dates, events, names, and even camera settings, all of which now assist those researching local family history.

His many expeditions, mainly on horseback, took him to remote parts of surrounding districts where he compiled themed documentaries of life and subjects as they were at the time.

In 1926 he travelled to the rugged isolated Pouto peninsula and wild West Coast beaches, camping out under the stars beside pristine fresh water lakes. He sampled toheroa for the first time, visited the Pouto Lighthouse from where he viewed the notorious Kaipara bar, scene of dozens of shipwrecks.

February 2009 sees the centenary of the opening of the Wellsford railway. Harold Marsh was there in 1909 to photograph the first train arriving. Previously he had captured the construction of the line as it inched its way though the country side. Massive cuttings being dug totally by hand give an awe inspiring glimpse of the hard life.

On the lighter side there are comical themes, on the sombre side funerals and a wake around a coffin in a gum diggers camp. Happy family moments with children, weddings, and community events such as picnics about the harbour and early agricultural shows illustrate how differently the settlers spent their leisure time.

This is truly a fascinating kaleidoscope of pioneering life. Life the way it used to be!

Take a look at or come and visit us at Wellsford, just one hour north of Auckland city.

Image: Harold (W H) Marsh at work, Albertland Museum