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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


ANDERSEN, Johannes Carl, M.B.E.


Author and librarian.

A new biography of Andersen, Johannes Carl appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

Johannes Carl Andersen was born at Haritzler, Denmark, on 14 March 1873, the son of Jorgen Andersen, a watchmaker, and of Johanne, née Hansen. He came to Christchurch at the age of two years. In 1887 he joined the Lands and Survey Department as a cadet, transferring to the General Assembly Library, Wellington, in 1915. Upon the founding of the Alexander Turnbull Library, he was appointed Librarian in 1918, continuing until his retirement in 1937. With wide and scholarly interests, he was an industrious writer and active in many cultural societies. For nine years he edited the Transactions of the New Zealand Institute, and for 22 years the Journal of the Polynesian Society (q.v.). He served long terms on the Dominion Museum Board of Management, the New Zealand Geographic Board, the Maori Purposes Fund Board; he was a president of the Ex-Libris Society and the Numismatic Society, and was a fellow of the latter as well as of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He was made an M.B.E. in 1935.

Andersen was a popular lecturer on bird song, poetry, literature, folklore, and Maori life. He will be remembered for his work in editing learned scientific journals, in popularising the study of the Maori and of New Zealand birds, for his development of the Alexander Turnbull Library, for his writings on prosody, Maori place names, and South Canterbury history. In addition he was a facile poet and a colourful prose writer with imagination and a sense of humour. Apart from numerous periodical and newspaper articles, Andersen's principal publications are Songs Unsung (1903), Lamp of Psyche (1908), Maori Life in Aotea (1907), Jubilee History of South Canterbury (1916), Bird Song (1926), Place Names of Banks Peninsula (1927), Maori String Figures (1927), Laws of Verse (1928), Myths and Legends of the Polynesians (1928), Elfin Dell (1934), Maori Music (1934), Contributions to Annals of New Zealand Literature (1936), Lure of New Zealand Book Collecting (1936), Contributions to History of Printing in New Zealand (1940), Maori Place Names (1942), Polynesian Literature (1946), Maori Tohunga (1947). Old Christchurch (1949), and with G. C. Petersen, The Mair Family (1956).

On 9 May 1900, at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Woolston, Christchurch, Andersen married Catherine Anne, daughter of James McHaffie, by whom he had two sons. He died at 61 Allendale Road, Mount Albert, Auckland, on 19 June 1962.

by Clyde Romer Hughes Taylor, M.A., DIP.JOURN., formerly Chief Librarian, Turnbull Library, Wellington.


Clyde Romer Hughes Taylor, M.A., DIP.JOURN., formerly Chief Librarian, Turnbull Library, Wellington.