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About Hocken Collections

Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to the Hocken. We are a reference-only research library, archive and gallery open to the public.

The Collections

Hocken's collections celebrate the histories, cultures and natural environments of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific and Antarctica with special emphasis on southern New Zealand.

The collections include archives, books, drawings, journals, maps, music and film, newspapers, paintings, photographs and posters, dating from the seventeenth century to the present day.

Dr Hocken's gift forms the foundation. Since its opening in 1910, the collections have continued to grow with ongoing acquisition of heritage and contemporary material.

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Research Services

Our research guides are a good place to start.

A written reference service is offered freely for those unable to visit in person. Please contact us with specific enquiries.

Tel +64 3 479 8879

On-site, staff are available to assist visitors to the collections at all times.

Reading room rules

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Copying services

Researchers can order photocopies and digital images of material in the collections. All orders are subject to copyright conditions and must be approved by staff.

Photocopy orders will be processed within 24 hours. Digital orders can take up to four weeks to be processed.

Read our reproduction and copying conditions of use and price list for our services, copyright conditions and fees.

Researchers may use their own phone or camera to take research-only images of most collection items. Scanners are also available in the reading room. Please bring a USB.

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Guided tours and classes

Tour in Hocken publications stack

General tours every Thursday at 11am

  • open to all
  • no need to book
  • take about 50 minutes
  • include a tour of the stacks

Community, tertiary and school groups wishing to tour the Hocken must contact us in advance of your visit to arrange a time.

Subject classes are offered for students at secondary and tertiary levels. Classes include an introduction to using the collections and are designed to support teaching requirements.

For further information, please contact Liaison Librarians Katherine Milburn or Amanda Mills on (03) 471 6143.

Researchers, curators, school, tertiary and community groups can arrange specialised research visits of pictorial collections by email or by phoning (03) 479 8871.

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Who was Dr Hocken?

DrHockenThe Hocken Collections owes its existence to the vigorous collecting and subsequent generosity of a Dunedin doctor, Thomas Morland Hocken (1836-1910). Born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, the son of a Wesleyan minister, Hocken qualified in medicine in 1859 and worked as a ship's surgeon between England and Australia until settling in Dunedin in 1862.

As a doctor, and coroner for 22 years, T.M. Hocken became one of the city's best-known figures - 'a neat, dapper little man, with a short-clipped beard and dark lively eyes. Bustling, energetic, intensely industrious, he had a winning personality and infectious enthusiasm.'

Hocken applied his drive and talent to the acquisition of books, newspapers, maps, pamphlets, photographs, pictures and artifacts relating to New Zealand, the Pacific and early Australia. He shared his knowledge widely through lectures, exhibitions, his own books and writings and the important Bibliography of the Literature relating to New Zealand, published in 1909.

In 1897, Dr Hocken offered his fine collection to Dunedin and the people of New Zealand. Public subscription lists opened in 1906, and a Deed of Trust was drawn up by which the Hocken Collection was housed in a special wing added to the Otago Museum, and managed by the University of Otago in trust for the nation. Too ill to attend the opening on 23 March 1910, Dr Hocken died two months later.

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