You can go through the Lyttelon Road Tunnel on foot, by bike, or skateboard on Sunday 31 August, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. At the other end of the tunnel, there will be a market day in Lyttelton hosted by the Lyttelton Harbour Business Association. The library mobile van will be outside the Lyttelton Library, with storytelling for children.This occasion celebrates 50 years of the Tunnel, the opening of the new tunnel control building and national recognition for its engineering heritage. Read more: Triple celebration for Lyttelton Tunnel. NZ Transport Agency: Southern Region

On Monday 1 September at 7 pm Jack Smith, who was involved in the tunnel construction, will speak in the Lyttelton Library about his experiences and promote the book he has written as part of the Fletcher Construction history series, No job too hard.

The Lyttelton Road Tunnel opened 27 February 1964 creating a vital link between the city of Christchurch, New Zealand and its port Lyttelton. The tunnel complemented the long established Lyttelton Rail Tunnel. It is the longest road tunnel in New Zealand.

Opening of Lyttelton Road Tunnel

27 Feb 1964. People were invited to walk through the tunnel on opening day. Flickr: HW08-IMG-FE062

The Lyttelton Road Tunnel Administration Building at the Heathcote (Christchurch) end of the tunnel was designed by Christchurch architect Peter Beaven. The distinctive building was demolished in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.

NZTA reports the new $1.5 million tunnel control building, designed by Wellington-based Architecture Lab and built by local company Higgs Construction to 160 percent of the Building Code, signals a new era for the operation of the tunnel.

Ceiling panels being lifted into place during the construction of the Christchurch-Lyttelton Road Tunnel

Ceiling panels being lifted into place during the construction of the Christchurch-Lyttelton Road Tunnel. ca. 1963. Flickr: CCL-KPCD-11-035

Plunket Society procession in Sumner 1937. Wolseley car in front is mayoral car in front with mayor of Sumner Thomas Newburgh and Eleanor Newburgh (plaque under tree at Scarborough Reserve). Float in middle with brass band. Note mini golf-course on right and lack of houses on Scarborough hill. Kete Christchurch, PH13-254

National Poetry Day is a one-day celebration of poetry run each year in conjunction with the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It takes place on Friday 22 August 2014. There are lots of things happening this year so get your poetry on.

National Poetry DayNational Poetry Day competition 2014

Write an original piece of poetry and drop it into your local library or enter online by emailling entries to for a chance to win prizes.

Any style or topic, 200 word limit. You can enter as many poems as you like. The first prize will be book vouchers to the value of $100. There will also be a $50 book voucher for the runner up. Entries open Monday 28 July and close 5pm on National Poetry Day (22 August 2014). Winners will be announced Monday 8 September 2014.

See conditions.

More poetry competitions you can enter.

More Christchurch events

Information from Booksellers New Zealand.

Christchurch – Poetic Licence

When: Friday 15 August, 5.30pm -7.30pm 
Where: Sydenham Room, South Library, Christchurch
What: Following the success of last year, South Island Writers (SIWA) and Airing Cupboard Women Poets would like to once again invite you to polish your best poem and air it in public to get you warmed up for the 2014 National Poetry Day celebrations. An Open Mic, open to all fabulous emerging or published poets – SIWA and Airing Cupboard give you the licence! Bring your friends and family. Sign up at the door if you’re reading. Drinks and nibbles provided. See you there!  (Note: An official warm-up event, the week before National Poetry Day)
Entry details: Free entry. Sign in at the door if you’re reading

Christchurch – Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology: Christchurch Launch

When: Wednesday 20 August, 6:00–7:00pm.
Where: Room 3, Upper Riccarton Library, 71 Main South Rd, Sockburn, Christchurch
What: The year-long 2014 Poems4Peace programme provides a platform to make contemporary poetic voices heard and contribute to influencing a whole new generation of peace-makers in NZ and beyond. Earlier in 2014, Printable Reality and Splice, in association with New Zealand Poetry Society and Michael King Writers’ Centre ran a poetry competition as part of  the project. General public, local and international poets were invited to compose poetry expressing the concept of inner-peace and peace for our world. The results are collected together in the Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology, which will have its Christchurch Launch in the lead-up to National Poetry Day. Christchurch poets will read their poems and books will be available for sale. Everybody welcome!

Christchurch – Poetry for Lunch

When: Friday 22 August, 12:00pm -1:00pm
Where: Canterbury University Bookshop, University Drive, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
What: Join UBS for its traditional National Poetry Day celebration with readings from wonderful local poets Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Roger Hickin, Frankie Macmillan, Ben Brown and James Norcliffe. Free coffee vouchers for the first 20 audience members.
Entry details: Free.

Poetry at WORD Christchurch

WORD ChristchurchWORD Christchurch Writers and Readers festival starts on 27 August, and it has a great lineup of poetry events including:

Twitter Poetry Night

Twitter Poetry Night will be teaming up with The Pantograph Punch and publishing a poetry mix-tape and then a favourite NZ-poem-themed Poetry Night on Sunday 24 August, at 8pm. It will be a ‘favourite NZ poem’ themed night. What you need to do is record yourself reading one of your favourite New Zealand poems, then send the recording to @PoetryNightNZ.

Find out more

11 August 1923
Christchurch Radio Society begins regular radio transmission with station 3AC.

13 August 1974
Kurashiki (Japan), becomes a sister city.

15 August 1872
Novelist Anthony Trollope visits. Search DigitalNZ for information on his trip.

15 August 1945
V.J. (Victory over Japan) day celebrations.

Photo of VJ Day celebrations

CCL Photo Collection 22, Img02312

Some of the crowd who celebrated VJ Day (14 August 1945) shown at the corner of Strowan and Normans Roads, Bryndwr
[Aug. 1945]
Some people dressed in fancy dress to help create a carnival atmosphere.Second from the left is Jean Parr (nee Lee), third from the left is Nancy O’Dowd (nee Baird)

Anti-tour poster

The first test between the Springboks and the All Blacks took place in Christchurch at Lancaster Park on Saturday, 15 August 1981.

More photos of VJ Day in Christchurch.

15 August 1981
Massive demonstrations in Christchurch against rugby test between All Blacks and Springboks. See our collection of posters.

16 August 1868
Tsunami (“tidal wave”) in Lyttelton Harbour. Part of the harbour bottom was laid bare, then a wave swept in, damaging the “Novelty”.
Read Bank Peninsula Impact 1868 Willem de Lange and Eileen McSaveney. ‘Tsunamis – New Zealand’s tsunami history’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 9-Jul-13

16 August 1890
First inter-provincial soccer match held in Christchurch. Canterbury beat Wellington 2-0.

17 August 1903
City abattoir opens at Sockburn.

More August events in the Chronology.

Survivors of the first six ships grouped around the Godley statue, Cathedral Square, Christchurch [1925] Passengers who arrived by the Charlotte Jane, Randolph, Sir George Seymour, Cressy, Castle Eden and Isabella Hercus took a prominent part in the celebrations of Christchurch's 75th anniversary. They are shown at the foot of the statue of John Robert Godley, the founder of Canterbury

Survivors of the first six ships grouped around the Godley statue, Cathedral Square, Christchurch [1925] Passengers who arrived by the Charlotte Jane, Randolph, Sir George Seymour, Cressy, Castle Eden and Isabella Hercus took a prominent part in the celebrations of Christchurch’s 75th anniversary. They are shown at the foot of the statue of John Robert Godley, the founder of Canterbury CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0075

The Godley statue was finally unveiled on the 6th of August 1867, after much delay.

It was inscribed:

John Robert Godley, Founder of Canterbury

The statue, the first public commemorative statue in New Zealand unveiled to a single person, was sculpted by the English Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner. In 1907 the statue was hidden from public view by the tram shelter. Despite public deputations to the Council, the statue was not moved to a more prominent public position on the north side of the Cathedral until 1918. There it remained until 1933 when it was returned to its present and original site. The statue fell from its plinth during the 22 February 2011 earthquake and has become one of the most photographed symbols of the damage to Christchurch. It is currently on display in the Quake City exhibition in the Re:START Mall.

In The Press on 7 August 1867:

The Godley Statue inaugural address by C. C. Bowen, Esq., R.M.

In some future day, when this generation is dead and gone, to those who look up inquiringly at this statue it will be told how the fathers of the colony left their homes and tamed the wilderness under the leadership of a man of heroic type; how, when he died, the representatives of the people, appreciating his character, determined to erect a monument worthy of his memory, and how a great sculptor in executing the work impressed it with the stamp of his genius. “So shall some old man speak in the after time To all the people, winning reverence.” And now I may congratulate the city that this statue is about to be handed over to its care, worthy as it is of admiration, like King Arthur’s sword of old, not only for the memory of a great man, but on account of its own intrinsic beauty not like that sword, to disappear from the eyes of men, but to be preserved by us and our successors as a possession for ever.

Inauguration of the Godley Statue Press, Volume XII, Issue 1480, 7 August 1867, Page 2

John Robert Godley statue at the Quake City exhibition

John Robert Godley statue at the Quake City exhibition. Flickr: CCL-2013 -02-15-IMG_3592

At 3pm on 5 August 1914, the New Zealand Governor, Lord Liverpool, read a telegram from His Majesty King George V to a crowd of 15,000 people gathered at Parliament in Wellington. The telegram expressed The King’s appreciation for the solidarity of his overseas dominions after Britain declared war with Germany. Lord Liverpool responded with New Zealand’s own commitment to make any sacrifice necessary. With that commitment, New Zealand officially entered the First World War, forever changing our society.

News was received in Christchurch by 3:45 PM. The evening paper The Star had a special edition out by 4 PM with a 5 PM edition containing the details of the New Zealand commitment. The next day The Press found space on page 6 to share the news of war.



Find news via Papers Past including the local papers Press, Star and Sun.



For the past few months interest in the centenary of the outbreak of World War One has been growing. This major anniversary is now upon us and over the next four or so years we have the opportunity to reflect on and discover all aspects of this global conflict at a local, national and international level.

A month after the assassination on 28th June 1914 of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. Over the next few days other countries and empires declared war on each other, with Britain declaring war on Germany on 4th August. This news was received in New Zealand on 5th August. Many New Zealanders had close ties to Britain and there was strong support for the war. The conflict we now call World War One or the First World War had begun.

Cover of From the TrenchesBefore the month of August was out the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) sent to capture German Samoa had succeeded in their objective – this was the second Germany territory to fall to the Allies in the war. The main body of the NZEF set sail in October 1914, seeing service at Gallipoli, on the Western Front in France and Belgium and also in Egypt and Palestine.

In Canterbury on 12th August 1914 men started to report to the mobilisation camp at the Addington Showgrounds to establish a mounted rifle brigade. Many had brought their own horses and where suitable these animals were taken into service by the government and then re-issued for use to their former owners. Many more reported than were taken into the regiment and the medical test was a significant reason for large numbers to be turned away.

The regiment was equipped and trained at Addington and Sockburn until 23 September 1914. In the early hours of the morning the Canterbury Mounted Rifles left the mobilisation camp for the last time and rode to Lyttelton. Their route took them across the Avon where they watered their horses, on over the Heathcote Bridge, Ferry Road and through Sumner to the transport ships. They were taken first to Wellington and in October that year they sailed for Egypt via Australia and Sri Lanka.

Want to know more about the outbreak of war or about how to research those who took part?

Want to find out about projects to commemorate the war?

4 August 1878
Severe snowstorm over the South Island.

4 August 1914

First World War declared. Check out The Star front page for August 5 1914 on Papers Past. During the evening, The Press reported “a large number of youths, many of them members of the Territorial forces, combined in a patriotic demonstration.”

4 August 1923
Railway to the West Coast opens. The much delayed opening of the Otira tunnel on June 18, 1918, had prevented earlier completion of the line.

The Godley Statue, Cathedral Square, Christchurch [192-?]

The Godley statue, Cathedral Square, Christchurch [192-?] CCL PhotoCD 17, IMG0014

6 August 1867
Unveiling of the Godley statue in Cathedral Square New Zealand’s first public statue. However, the statue’s inscription acclaiming him ”founder of Canterbury“ is possibly over generous. Wakefield should at least share the title.

7 August 1982
Opening of City Mall, a major new pedestrian amenity created by the closure of parts of Cashel and High Streets. The project had first been mooted in 1967.

8 August 1945
More flooding in City, worst at Shirley, Radley and Sumner.

8 August 1989
Christchurch Central MP and Deputy Prime Minister, Geoffrey Palmer appointed as Prime Minister after resignation of David Lange. See some photos from his career on DigitalNZ.

9 August 1840
Captain Langlois in the “Compte de Paris” arrives in Pigeon Bay with 63 French settlers.

10 August 1840
Captain Owen Stanley in HMS Britomart dashes to Akaroa and raises the British flag to proclaim sovereignty over the South Island. Read our digitised copy of Mission of the Britomart at Akaroa.

10 August 1932
Statue of Captain James Cook unveiled in Victoria Square.

More August events in the Chronology.

Construction of Christchurch Railway Station, Moorhouse Ave, 1953. Christchurch City Libraries, CCL-Arch978-1-026

Everyone knows that the best place to get a book from is the public library, but where is the best place to read it? I have decided to look for the best places to read a book in Christchurch and share them with you.

Starting with home, the best place for reading in the morning is on the two-seater.  Nice and sunny all day and there is a coffee table within reach.  On cold days, the cat will occupy my lap.  On really cold days the best spot is in the corner seat of our corner lounge suite. Heater on and wrapped up in the quilt made by Mum, the cat finds this reading spot hard to resist.

When the weather is just right, I like to take my book off the property, but where is the perfect outdoor reading spot?

  • The Botanic Gardens: large areas of lawn, a river bank, shady trees and an ice cream shop.
  • The banks of the Avon River. The ducks on the river are lovely, there are plenty of park benches under chestnut trees, and at the Antigua Boatshed there is an ice cream shop.
  • The beach. If you don’t mind getting sand in your books, the beach is a good spot with beach umbrella, beach towel, sun block and an ice cream shop.
  • The library is a great place to read if the weather does not permit al fresco reading. Our displaced reader has visited most of them. The best part is, if you finish your book, you are already at the library, so you can return it and choose another. If you like reading e-books, bring in your e-reader or laptop and enjoy downloading books via wi-fi. I don’t think there are any libraries in Christchurch that sell ice creams, but some of them do have a cafe. A flat white will do when rum and raisin ice creams are not on the menu.
  • Akaroa. I would like to take my book to that picturesque paradise called Akaroa. I think it would be a great place to read. I would like to sit with my back against the lighthouse and as the sun moves, so would I. I might be worried that ma glace might melt, so I might have to have une baguette instead.
  • University of Canterbury. I have heard that the University of Canterbury is a good place to read a book. I thought that was a bit odd until I was told that the Avon River with grassy banks flows right past the University of Canterbury Students’ Association building. I am not a former UC student, so I don’t know where the ice cream shop is, but I’ve heard that they do make a good coffee.
  • A cafe. I have had no luck reading a book in a cafe. When the coffee arrives, it is too hot. Unfortunately I get so engrossed in the book, the coffee gets forgotten until it’s too cold. The waitress then tries to wipe down my table and give me the surely you are finished look. My colleague Di has told me that Ballantyne’s has a cafe downstairs with comfortable couches where reading is an acceptable pass-time.

So dear reader, your challenge (should you wish to accept it) is : during August, find the perfect reading spot in Christchurch.

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