Golder Editorial

Characteristics of the Edition

This web edition has been designed to take advantage of the distinctive capabilities of digital media and the Web.

It includes: page images which represent as faithfully as possible the look and feel of the original publications; transcription of the contents and their encoding so that they will be searchable; inclusion of related pictorial and textual materials, including critical commentary; links between these materials and specific poems; links to other sources of primary information.

The inclusion of other texts which were published or created during the same period that Golder wrote and published his poetry, and the results of new research, is intended to assist readers to interpret Golder’s poetry. This work is progressive; at present, development of the edition is focussed on the first and third volumes of poetry. New materials for these and other volumes which are in the process of being made available are indicated below.

The poetry provides the focus for the collection. Each poem is displayed together with the pertinent page images from the original publications and, where such material is already available, links to other related materials in the collection.

The newspaper reports and the pictorial materials are not intended to be read as exact equivalents to the poems. They are different modes of representation informed by different conceptions of their social purpose. The accounts given in the newspaper reports cannot be assumed to represent Golder’s views; and the scenes drawn by Swainson and others are not presented here as scenes which Golder specifically had in mind when composing his poems. What they do offer is further insight into the cultural and physical environment in which Golder lived and wrote and therefore the opportunity to produce richer and more fully contextualised interpretations of his poetry.

Encoding conventions

This edition observes the conventions established by the Text Encoding Initiative for the representation of print texts in a digital and web environment, as implemented by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. The specific encoding conventions are available. The edition is based on archival quality digital images of the original publications, which are held by the Hocken Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library. These images were produced by the Heritage Materials Imaging Facility. The poetry has been transcribed and will be searchable (see below).

Components of the Edition

The core of the edition is the poetry William Golder published in New Zealand. Additional material which can assist interpretation of the poetry is also provided in the following categories:


Among these poems is a number of lyrics for which Golder has included the name of a traditional Scottish tune. Music from contemporary and authoritative sources for these tunes, and the traditional verses which were written for them, are included.

It is not known whether Golder drew upon a particular print collection of Scottish traditional music. The versions of the tunes included here are taken from George Farqhuar Graham, The Songs of Scotland adapted to their appropriate melodies, arranged with pianoforte accompaniments by G. F. Graham [et al.]; illustrated with historical, biographical, and critical notices (Edinburgh : Wood, 1856).

John Purser, Scotland’s Music. A History of the Traditional and Classical Music of Scotland from Earliest Times to the Present Day (Edinburgh and London: Mainstream Publishing in conjunction with BBC Scotland, 1992), writes of this collection that “Copious notes and a high standard of piano accompaniments make this an important collection” (289).

A comparison between the traditional verses and those written by Golder can provide a clear understanding of the models Golder was employing, and the nature of the changes which he made to the traditional wording. Those changes are particularly indicative of the new environment of New Zealand and its incorporation into, and modification of, the Scottish traditional form.

As performances of Golder’s lyrics to the traditional tunes he named for them can be arranged, the record of the performance will be added to the edition.

Newspaper reports

Reports in the Wellington newspapers provide a valuable context for the poems Golder wrote in response to local events. Transcriptions of these reports are linked to the related poems.

The newspapers are The New Zealand Gazette, The New Zealand Gazette and Britannia Spectator, The New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, and The New Zealand Spectator, and Cook’s Strait Guardian.


Golder’s poetry is focussed on the scenes and situations of his immediate physical environment and the places in the lower North Island which he visited. Stanzas can often have the effect of completed images, like a drawing or a photograph. A number of his poems are responses to local events which were well known to the settlers in the Wellington area.

Among the collections of the Turnbull Library are a remarkable group of drawings by another early settler in the Hutt Valley, William Swainson (1789―1855). Partly because Golder and Swainson were acquainted, and partly because many of Swainson’s drawings are of scenes in the Hutt Valley during the 1840s, a selection of them (with a few pictures by others) has been included and links made to specific poems.

For further information about Swainson see:

More than 100 new images, many by other artists, are to be added to the edition in the near future.


The following titles have been digitised, and will be incorporated into the edition in the near future. They have been selected either because Golder referred to them or because they contribute to defining the intellectual and cultural contexts in which Golder’s poetry is written.

  1. Thomas Buddle, The Aborigines of New Zealand (1851)
  2. Thomas Moser, The Mahoe Leaves (1863)
  3. William Lyon, Chaldee Manuscript (1849)
  4. James Edward Fitzgerald, The Nature of Art (1868)
  5. James Edward Fitzgerald, On Government (1870)
  6. The New Zealand Evangelist (1849-1850)
  7. James Coutts Crawford, Survey reports to the Wellington Provincial Council
  8. Thomas Dick, The Christian Philosopher (1850)

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre as publisher

The NZETC is at the forefront of work to digitise and deliver online texts and associated resources. Mass digitisation projects such as Google Book and Project Gutenberg mean that the full text of millions of books, newspapers and journals is now available online. The NZETC works on projects that explore how best to take advantage of the fact that these millions of texts are not longer separate physical entities on shelves but digital streams of data that can be computationally processed and enhanced. The Topic Map Delivery Framework that has been developed by the Centre is a step towards presenting the complex cross-references within a collection of material as a navigable framework. The literary ontology being developed for the Golder edition represents a significant enhancement of that framework — enabling the identification and encoding of a series of sophisticated interrelationships based on scholarly interpretation. Applying the ontology first to the Golder texts and then potentially to many of the other works in the NZETC collection (as well as publishing the ontology for use by other international electronic text projects) will produce a series of cohesive academic ‘editions’ from distributed resources. It will allow the addition of layers of meaning (computationally interpretable academic commentary) to digital collections.

On Searching the Edition

The guiding conception of the Golder e-edition is one in which interpretation of Golder’s poetry is opened to any reader through the provision of full-text versions of related contemporary materials and the ability to search among those texts.

When work was begun on the edition, one of the advantages of its being a web-based edition and part of the digital collections of the NZETC was that it could be searched by the full-text search capability available on the NZETC server. This capability has now been superceded by the Topic Map Delivery Framework.

Golder’s texts have been temporarily excluded from this semantic framework because further work has been needed to determine how the texts specifically relating to Golder could be maintained and accessed as a “collection”, and because it was recognised that a topic map for Golder needed to provide for the modelling and display of interpretive as well as factual connections and cross-references. A draft literary ontology has been established and is currently being reviewed. Once confirmed, it will be tested through the marking up of selected texts in the Golder corpus.

There is an additional context, as well. The Golder texts are intended to become components in the NZETC’s digital collections — which are increasingly of out-of-publication New Zealand heritage cultural documents, especially from the nineteenth century. The effect will be both to widen the contexts for the interpretation of Golder's poetry and to increase dramatically the value of the collections to researchers of all kinds, because of the diversity of interpretive links between items which the topic map structure will make possible.

This project is a further stage in thinking through and exemplifying what is required to create a scholarly edition in a digital environment of poetical works originally published in print. An important part of the challenge has been to respond fully to the potentials and distinctive capabilities of the web as a publishing medium.


General: Margaret Calder (Chief Librarian, Alexander Turnbull Library, to 2007), Philip Rainer (Manager, Research Centre, Alexander Turnbull Library), Stuart Strachan (Chief Librarian, Hocken Library, University of Otago), Elizabeth Styron (Director, NZETC, to 2006), Sanjan Kar, (Project Manager, NZETC, to 2005), Alison Stevenson (Director, NZETC, from 2006), Jason Darwin, (Project Manager, NZETC, from 2005).

Research Assistant: Kevin Cudby.

Scanning: Simon Gotlieb and Rick Stapa, Heritage Materials Imaging Facility.

Encoding: Virginia Gow, Conal Tuohy (NZETC); Giovanni Tiso, Kevin Cudby, Rachel Becker (School of English, Film and Theatre, Victoria University of Wellington).

Design: Imogen Mitchell, Tarn McDonald (NZETC).

Programming: Jamie Norrish (NZETC).

Topic Map Development: Dr Fiona Oliver; Alison Stevenson, Jason Darwin, Jamie Norrish, Conal Tuohy (NZETC).

Funding: Victoria University of Wellington, Alexander Turnbull Library.

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