Saturday, 9 February 2008

The Darling Starlings and Searching Newspapers

I've been trolling around the online newspapers on the PapersPast website looking for early references to Otautau and found some interesting trivia regarding starlings.

Stated in the Otago Witness, there was a meeting of the Otago Acclimatisation Society on 21 May 1880 in which it was reported that 122 starlings were given to a Mr Ellis of Merrivale, Otautau, to release. Approximately 490 starlings were released in Otago/Southland that year and we got a fair amount of them. Our darling starlings have been around for 128 years!

This made me wonder what other species have been released here. The only other species I found is trout. In 1892, 7000 trout were released into the Otautau Stream and in 1893, another 10,000. This spawned (sorry) a very active interest in angling amongst local fisherpeople and even resulted in a poaching problem for a time.

I recommend the PapersPast website for family history research as well as just general knowledge. I've learned a lot already about early Southland by just reading a few issues. Many of the papers are searchable by using keywords. You can put in the name of a family member or placename and up comes a list of articles and illustrations from newspapers all over New Zealand. You can view the actual newspaper image or read a transcription.

Unfortunately the Invercargill Times/Southland Times is not searchable. You have to read each issue, image by image. But if you're looking for something important, it's probably worth it. The Southland Daily News and the Western Star are unfortunately not on the site but may be found at the Invercargill Library on microfilm. I believe the Riverton SDC may have the Western Star on microfilm as well.

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