Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori we are publishing kupu (words) and whakataukī (proverbs).

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

E mea ana koe
You bet

Kupu (word)


Kei ngā rangi ngā manu e rere ana.
The birds are in the sky flying about.


He manako te koura i kore ai.
There are no crayfish as you set your heart on them.

This is similar to not putting all your eggs in one basket. You could also consider this as Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

Browse our Te Reo Māori resources.

It is 40 years since the death of Prime Minister Norman Kirk, M.P. for Sydenham. He had earlier been M.P. for Lyttelton, and Mayor of Kaiapoi.

Some facts from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and NZHistory:

  • Norman became a foundation pupil at Linwood Avenue School in April 1928.
  • At school Kirk quickly learned to read. He developed a lifelong passion for libraries and books and acquired an extensive vocabulary.
  • He built his own family home in Kaiapoi.
  • Norman worked as an engine driver at the Firestone factory in Papanui, and cycled between Kaiapoi and Papanui to work.
  • On 9 December 1965, 42-year-old Norman Kirk became leader of the parliamentary Labour Party, and leader of the opposition.
  • Kirk led Labour to victory with a majority of 23 seats on 25 November 1972.
  • He applied pressure to the French to stop testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific, then sent a a frigate to the test area ‘to provide a focus for international opinion against the tests’.
  • His government reformed Māori land law – the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 set up the Waitangi Tribunal. See television footage of Waitangi Day ceremonies on 6 February 1973.
  • He grew progressively more unwell, and died in our Our Lady’s Home of Compassion hospital in Island Bay on Saturday 31 August 1974 of ‘congestive cardiac failure’ and ‘thromboembolic pulmonary heart disease’. He was 51. Kirk was survived by his wife and family. He had a state funeral, and it was attended by thousands of New Zealanders.
View image of Norman Kirk's coffin

Alongside the coffin of the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk at Parliament House, Wellington. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: 1/4-021782-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Gallery - Norman Kirk The First 250 Days

Cover of The Mighty Totara Cover of Diary of the Kirk years
Read more:

Last night’s event at the Cardboard Cathedral was a corker.  SEVEN guests did their thing, and MC John Campbell was so engaging and literate I can’t help thinking – when is his book coming out?

I livetweeted the event, and hope it conveys the colour and brightness of this very special WORD Christchurch night.


More WORD stuff

Cover of Peace, power, and politicsMaire Leadbeater was a spokesperson for Auckland CND in the 1980s. She is the daughter of local Canterbury hero Elsie Locke, who was renowned for her fiction, and also for her role as a peace campaigner. Elsie wrote the book Peace People on the peace movement up until 1975. Maire’s new book Peace, Power & Politics How New Zealand Became Nuclear Free – more than five years in the making – is a continuation.

People Power saw Maire was in conversation with investigative journalist Nicky Hager. It was a brilliant, potent discussion of politics, peace and power. The near-full room had many listeners who had been part of the peace movement with both Maire and Nicky – it was a place of people who respected each other and were keen to listen.

Peace, power, and politics

The book has a strong photographic element, and the session began with a slideshow of images. Maire said:

There is no better way to describe a demonstration than with a photo.

The discussion ranged through the 1980s:

  • The visit of Dr Helen Caldicott in 1983. She raised such topics as If the bomb dropped in Cathedral Square, how many people would be incinerated.
  • The 1984 Labour Government’s commitment to nuclear-freee and hwow
  • The USS Buchanan refused entry in 1985 (Maire named this “the peak of our nuclear free story).
  • Women’s centrality to the movement. The selling of 250,000 nuclear free stickers was dubbed a “girlcott”.
  • The first Waihopai demonstration – 153 days of a peace camp in the middle of winter.
  • Gaining an “unambiguous nuclear free policy”.

Foreign policy

Maire Leadbeater: People PowerMaire had a lot of interesting observations on foreign policy. Her highlight was when New Zealand helped with Bougainville in 1997. In that case, New Zealand used its independent image to very good effect – we should do it more often.

Foreign affairs should be subject to democratic input … It is so important to be exposed to what is going on.

She also wrote about East Timor. Negligent Neighbour: New Zealand’s Complicity in the Invasion and Occupation of Timor-Leste charted the hypocrisy of New Zealand’s support of Indonesia, using the OIA a lot to get access to documents and information.

Maire wished New Zealand foreign policy focused more on the self determination of nations, instead of constantly looking at World War One and Two and battles.

Writing the book – and researching the next

Peace, power, and politics took around five years to write. Maire interviewed people from peace movements all over the country. She made use of “wonderful libraries” like the Macmilla n Brown and Alexander Turnbull.

I love being in the archives and finding things out.

She is already researching her next book on MFAT and West Papua. The documents are “shocking” and are not redacted as those obtained under the OIA are.

“Thank goodness for people who get to the truth”

Luke Harding was in the audience, and asked about surveillance and infiltration. Maire said the Philippines Solidarity Network was being watched by the SIS. But “it doesn’t stop you doing what you’re doing”:

Thank goodness for people who get to the truth … keep pushing and pushing.

Nicky Hager and Maire Leadbeater

Nicky Hager and Maire Leadbeater

Christchurch music lovers – every week get your Freegal on and download your three free music MP3s (or one video and one MP3).

Cover of Nick Cave Cover of Pitbull Cover of Tyler the Creator Cover of Patrick Wolf Cover of Sun Ra Cover of Hottest 100 Australian Albums

  1. Straight To You – triple j’s Tribute to Nick Cave
  2. Pitbull
  3. Tyler the creator
  4. Patrick Wolf
  5. Sun Ra
  6. triple j’s Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time

Download with your library card and PIN. What have you downloaded this week? Do tell!

Cover of Cardboard CathedralWORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival began last night with two events – a poetry slam, and Pritzker Prize winning architect Shigeru Ban in the Cardboard Cathedral.

As a lover of the smell of books, I smiled at the introduction to this session about Shigeru and the new book on the Cardboard Cathedral:

Most books smell wonderful, this book smells divine.

Word. This session was a conversation between Shigeru Ban and the book’s author – Dr Andrew Barrie Professor of Architecture at the University of Auckland, formerly based in Tokyo. It covered Shigeru’s architectural career, his humanitarian focus, and his work on our own Cardboard Cathedral. He also revealed his rugby playing past, happily using the laser pointer to show which young player was him.

The session had great visuals – photos of Ban’s work, plans, and a fabulous timelapse of the Cardboard Cathedral taking shape.


Shigeru’s mother and his family home both played a role in his love of architecture. His mother is a fashion designer, and as a childe he watched how the carpenters did extensions on his family home. In both cases, he watched how things were made.

Shigeru went to the United States to study architecture and his career blossomed from there.

Shigeru talked about architecture as a job mainly working for priviliged people:

They hire us to visualise their power and money in monumental architecture … Architects are lucky people, always working with people who are very happy.

He was interested in materials early on. In seeking out a replacement for timber, he tried paper tubes and found them to be much stronger than expected.  A lovely visual of a toilet contained within a paper tube structure came onto the screen, and he smilingly admitted you could use the walls for toilet paper if you needed.

He isn’t keen to any claims of being an ecologist or environmentalist, saying simply:

I hate to throw things away.

Architecture after disaster

His humanitarian career started in 1994 with the crisis in Rwanda, when he wrote a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees offering his services. When no reply was forthcoming, he went anyway and worked on shelters costing $US50 each.

After earthquakes, he built a church in Kobe (Japan) and worked in China and Italy. He expressed the importance of providing comfortable and beautiful spaces to people who have been damaged physically and psychologically by earthquakes.

Cardboard Cathedral

After Christchurch’s earthquake in February 2011, Shigeru was contacted by Craig Dixon of the ChristChurch Cathedral who had seen the paper church in Kobe. Shigeru agreed to work on the project pro bono, as long as the Cathedral could be used by the public.

Shigeru noted that the Cathedral in the Square is one of the most important monuments for tourism. He used its proportions, analysed its geometry, in his design of the Cardboard Cathedral. The process wasn’t easy, not least finding a site. He kept getting new sites, and having to redesign.

Shigeru Ban is quite an astonishing person – extraordinarily talented, but also kind, modest, and a thinker:

What is temporary? What is permanent? … Even a temporary building can be permanent. It depends on whether people love the building ot not.

Bishop Victoria Matthews and Shigeru Ban

Bishop Victoria Matthews and Shigeru Ban

Andrew Barrie and Shigeru Ban

Author Andrew Barrie and Shigeru Ban

Cardboard Cathedral

Kia ora, welcome to Ōtautahi if you are in town for the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Here’s some things to check out while you are here.

Hunting the art

Sheep in Latimer Square

Crafty sheep in Latimer Square

Check out these woolly guys just across the road in Latimer Square.

The newest Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition (upstairs at 209 Tuam Street – C1 Espresso/Alices) is Edwards + Johann: Rebels, Knights and Other Tomorrows: “Vividly imagined photographic sequences featuring elaborately costumed warrior knights and rocks suspended in jewel-like voids combine with sculptural elements”. See also the ArtBox on the corner of Madras and St Asaph Streets.

Christchurch Art Gallery has done an awesome job of taking art outside too. And there is some ultra-stellar work on the streets of town by artists like Wongi, Yikes, and Ikarus. Sydenham and New Brighton are the suburbs to visit if you want more street art action.

Chris Heaphy's Whare in Cathedral Square

Chris Heaphy’s Whare in Cathedral Square

Big walls - street art on Hereford Street

Bird – part of a mural on corner of Colombo and Hereford Street;

Pop into the library (includes more art)

Central Library Manchester (not open on Sunday) and Central Library Peterborough are both pretty handy. There is free wifi. Plus Christchurch Art Gallery’s exhibition – part of the Festival –  Proceed and Be Bold: The Pear Tree Press is on at Central Library Peterborough. It’s an exhibition of beautifully crafted, designed and hand-printed books from New Zealand’s most renowned private press.

Explore our website for local history if you want to find out more about Christchurch.

Visit the Gardens and the Museum
A favourite local outing is a visit to the Canterbury Museum and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Highlights are the daffodils, the new Visitor Centre at the Botanic Gardens, gaudy, gorgeous Peacock fountain, the re-opened conservatories, and the interesting Christchurch Antarctic collection at the Museum – a couple of new Antarctic exhibitions open on Saturday 30 August.

Cuningham House

Cuningham House, Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens visitor centre

Christchurch Botanic Gardens visitor centre

Take a pic in a big chair
A great photo op for you book-loving types is the Reading Room on Gloucester Street (close to New Regent Street which has gorgeous Spanish Mission architecture, and cafes).

Mobile Library on Gloucester Street

Stormtroopers test out the Reading Room

Food & drink

The venues in close proximity to the Festival (as recommended in the brochure):

At Rydges Latimer (the venue for many sessions)

High Street

New Regent Street

Barbadoes Street

Madras Street

If you want to explore more things to do in Christchurch, try:

Any other tips locals would suggest? Share them here!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 800 other followers