Oxford to Oxford: The emigration of Henry Smith

Another a treasure of Christchurch City Libraries archives (namely Arch 1029) has been digitised and is now online for the enjoyment and edification of all.

The latest is the shipboard diary of Henry Smith, who journeyed from Plymouth to Wellington aboard the R.M.S. Rimutaka in 1885. Written in pencil, the diary documents shipboard life and includes many interesting observations about what it was like to live aboard a ship for weeks. Not the least of which was food and meals which Smith describes thusly –

Opened a tin of condensed milk today, also pickled cabbage, which was very acceptable indeed. Our meals are something like feeding wild animals. Every man helps himself, or else he falls short, that is the case at the present anyhow.

Mmm. Sounds delicious.

Henry, a blacksmith in his mid-twenties, is quite interested in music and seems often to enjoy a singalong with his fellow passengers, though others prefer to read.

H. Smith [1875]
H. Smith, H. & G. Harwood Photographers [1875] CCL-Arch1029-2-007

Borrowed a concertina from one of my mates & had a few tunes this morning. Lent Miss Morrison “The Old Curiosity Shop” this afternoon, lent another young man on Friday last “Percival Keene”.

Where travellers these days might purchase easy to read “airport fiction” along the lines of James Patterson or Lynda La Plante to occupy the time on a journey, longer sea voyages meant Dickens was probably an appropriately-sized read, though it’s interesting to see that coming-of-age adventure novels like Percival Keene obviously had their place too.

According to the letter of reference that Smith brought with him from England he had been active in his church in his home town of Oxford as part of the choir, so clearly he had a musical bent. Indeed, even his last entry in his diary is concerned with music.

Went to church in the morning, congregation scanty, singing went very well.

Henry Smith went on to settle at View Hill, just west of Oxford setting up a blacksmithing business before becoming a sheep farmer with a freehold estate of 4280 acres. In 1890 he married a local woman named Mary Mounsey and they had several children. Smith was very active in the community,  taking interest in the local library, school committee and eventually as a member of the Oxford County Council.

This digitised archive in addition to the shipboard diary includes photographs, letter of reference, and an invoice for a View Hill property in te reo Māori.


Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Mahana (warm)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.


Tā te tamaiti mahi, he wawāhi tahā

It is the job of the children to smash the calabash

This proverb is similar to “boys will be boys”. The calabash was a valuable tool for the transportation of food and water and was also used to heat water. A child who has clumsy and of a playful nature has no idea of the importance of this tool and through neglect may accidentally break it. This is not the fault of the child and they should not be punished for what is their nature.

Kīwaha (idiom)

Koia kei a koe
What a sad guy

Kupu (word)


Kei te mahana te wai?
Is the water warm?

Whāngahia te Reo


This week in Christchurch history (5 to 11 October)

5 October 1899
First Boer War contingent leaves Lyttelton.

5 October 1982
Paraplegic archer Neroli Fairhall (in competition with able-bodied athletes) wins gold medal at Brisbane Commonwealth Games.

8 October 1989
Redesigned portion of Victoria Square opened.

Photo of The Town Hall
Christchurch Town Hall view, Flickr CCL-CWF10-P1100071

9 October 1962
Christchurch Town Hall site chosen in Kilmore Street. Assisted by advice from visiting Professor Gordon Stephenson, the unanimously accepted proposal ended years of dispute over this choice. Other sites considered were the old public library site in Hereford Street and an area near Latimer Square. Another often debated site was Victoria Square.

10 October 1885
Life insurance fraud (The Case of the Severed Hand) at Taylor’s Mistake. The perpetrator, Arthur Howard, was sentenced to 2 years’ prison on April 11 the following year.

11 October 1988
“The Wizard” wages war against the “Tasteless tyrants of Telecom” by repainting the new blue telephone boxes traditional red.

11 October 1989
Waitangi Tribunal Hearing of land claim by Ngai Tahu closes at Tuahiwi Marae.

Photo of The Ngai Tahu land claims : a South Island hui : Maori gathering at Tuahiwi, North Canterbury. [1925]
The Ngai Tahu land claims : a South Island hui : Maori gathering at Tuahiwi, North Canterbury. [1925], CCL PhotoCD 7, IMG0001
More October events in the Christchurch chronology: a timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

The (very) long list

Cover of Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me DiesBooks I couldn’t resist adding to the For Later shelf this week.

Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies: The Life of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini
Because the title is a deathless quote, because the cover features Gore Vidal with a cat on his shoulder, because the author has written a biography of William Faulkner.

Cover of Vintage Paua Shell JewelleryVintage Paua Shell Jewellery: Art Souvenir, Tourist Kitsch, Kiwi Icon by Elly van de Wijdeven
Because the words vintage, paua shell, art, souvenir, tourist, kitsch and kiwi are irrestistible. Icon is overused. Now where did I store all those collectible fern leaf brooches?

4 Real & True 2: Landscapes, Photographs by Wim Wenders
The great German director turned 70 in August. What better way to celebrate his birthday than by looking at some of the landscapes and images he has chosen to record with his analog camera?

Cover of The Memory of TimeThe Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art by Sarah Greenough
Photography’s relationship to time, memory and history investigated by contemporary photographers. The main attraction is Sally Mann, whose Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs is one of my reads of 2015.

Cover of Diversity in Disney FilmsDiversity in Disney Films: Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Disability
This should be interesting: Disney films explored with perspectives from critical whiteness studies and masculinity studies as well as old style race and gender.

Read my previous posts about the comings and goings on my For Later shelf.

Take a trip with the 2015 Christchurch Photo Hunt

Since 2008, Christchurch City Libraries has been pursuing your old photos. Why? Because they are a fantastic record of local history. The pics go onto our Kete Christchurch – the repository of all kinds of Ōtautahi images.

This year’s theme is ‘Arrivals and Departures — The journeys that have shaped us’. We want your images related to this subject. You could win a tablet or eReader. Find out more, and enter in a library or online.

Christchurch Photo Hunt

There are four cool postcards you’ll spot in libraries – feel free to grab a few. They feature some top travel pics – perfect inspiration!

Christchurch Photo Hunt postcards
Christchurch Photo Hunt postcards [2.24MB PDF]

Akaroa Regatta
Regatta. Akaroa. 1907. Kete Christchurch 1907_Regatta_Ship_R_3391B.jpg
Boyce Refrigerated Truck being manoeuvred off the steamer Hinemoa
Boyce Refrigerated Truck being manoeuvred off the steamer Hinemoa, Kete Christchurch CCL-Kete001-002.jpg
London to Christchurch Air Race 1953
London to Christchurch Air Race 1953, Kete Christchurch IMG_0001.jpg
Waka, Okain’s Bay, 1977
Waka, Okain’s Bay, 1977.  Flickr HWC08-SO-101

Have a look back at Photo Hunts gone by:

Guts and Girls and other matters

Cover of GutGut: the inside story of our body’s most underrated organ has apparently taken Europe by storm and it is way up the nonfiction bestseller lists in Spain (as La digestion es la cuestion) and France, where they have paraphrased the title of the Luis Bunuel classic film, calling it Le charme discret de l’intestin. The book was originally German, where it was a huge hit under its original title Darm mit charme  (which translates as Charming bowels ). In Europe this fragrant title has even knocked the Pope off the top three.

Cover of The Girl on the trainAnd what has this to do with girls? It’s all about The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. The top fiction in France is La fille du train and in Italy it’s La ragazza del treno  with La chica del tren in Spain. It’s everywhere else as well (way up the list in Britain and the U.S., and presumably if there is life on Mars, it will be up there as well).

The film version will be underway with British Rail soon and Emily Blunt is the girl. Tate Taylor, who directed the adaptation of that other big bestseller The Help is on this one. It is interesting that film rights were sold well before publication of the book, which implies that it was a train that was on schedule from the beginning.

Fiction selector

Cool stuff from the Selectors

Art, fashion, religion, sport with a touch of history and death thrown in for good measure.  Check out some cool stuff from the selectors this month.

Art and Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons

Cover of Art and Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons

Spanning numerous eras, men and women’s fashion, and a wide range of art mediums, these 25 collaborative projects reveal the astonishing work that results when luminaries from the art world (such as Pollock, Haring, and Hirst) come together with icons of the fashion world (including Saint Laurent, Westwood, McQueen).  A good book for flicking through admiring the pictures, but also includes thoughtful essays for those of you who like a bit more detail.

Art and religion in the 21st Century

Cover of Art and Religion in the 21st CenturyThis book shows how religious themes and images continue to permeate the work of contemporary artists from across the globe.  Some exploit the shock potential of religious imagery, but many also reflect deeply on spiritual matters. Each of the ten chapters opens by introducing a theme, followed by a selection of works of art that develop that theme. The book encompasses a wide range of media and genres, from sculpture to street art, and considers faith in its broadest sense from Islam and Christianity to Aboriginal mythology and meditation.

Old Sparky: The Electric Chair and the History of the Death Penalty

Cover of Old Sparky: The electric Chair and the History of the Death PenaltyOld Sparky covers the history of capital punishment in America and the “current wars” between Edison and Westinghouse which led to the development of the electric chair. It examines how the electric chair became the most popular method of execution in America, before being superseded by lethal injection. Famous executions are explored, alongside quirky last meals and poignant last words.

The Rugby World Cup: The Definitive Photographic History

Cover of The Rugby World Cup the definitive photographic historyA visual history of rugby’s greatest sporting event, this beautiful photographic book is a chronological exploration of the matches, teams, heroes and surrounding stories of the tournament. Each chapter covers a Rugby World Cup, starting with the inaugural competition in 1987,  the historical 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa after the end of apartheid, through to England’s win in 2003 breaking the southern hemisphere’s dominance and up to the 2015 qualifiers.  A handy reference guide to keep you awake for those early morning starts!

Make a Fun Palaces comic

Get your Fun Palaces on right now with the Fun Palaces Comic Maker!

You can drag and drop characters inspired by Emily Medley’s original Fun Palaces illustration into a comic-book story. Just move the images around, and add captions to tell your own Fun Palace adventure. Once it is looking slick,:

  • “Preview” – you can save the image to your computer
  • “Submit” and add to the already expanding collection of Fun Palace comics which will be shared at funpalaces.tumblr.com.

Here’s my maiden effort.


Kia ora and big ups to the very talented Talia Yat and Phil Gullberg of the State Library of Queensland who made the Fun Palaces comic maker, based on a concept by man-who-makes-things-happen (and library lover)  Matt Finch.

See you at Fun Palaces – it is on tomorrow and Sunday (3 and 4 October). The first Fun Palaces in the world this year will be the Christchurch ones!

All creatures great and small – celebrate World Animal Day 2015

Cover of Brother Sun, Sister MoonWorld Animal Day is an international day of animal rights. It is held annually on 4th October, on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.

On this day, some churches have the blessing of the animals. I don’t have any experience with this, but if the Vicar of Dibley is anything to go by, it’s a bit chaotic.

On a more serious note, it is good to know that (even in 13th century Italy) someone was sticking up for the animals. Animals need our help and protection, whether they be family pets, farm animals, zoo animals, or animals living in the great-out-doors.

Organizations such as SPCA, Cats Protection League, Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird and our own Christchurch City Council all champion the right for animals to have a good life.

For those who want more, we have a selection of books on animal rights. If you are a pet owner, check out our books on pet care. If your interest is wild animals, our collection of books on wildlife conservation will be of interest.

To get involved with other animal lovers, search for the specific animal you are interested in in our CINCH directory.

Cover of Why Animals Matter Cover of A New Zealand Book of Beasts Cover of All Creatures Great and Small Cover of The Ten Trusts

When “Plus” size is good news!

There is something about spring and the arrival of longer nights that makes the blood in your veins get all itchy. Before you know it you are ready to shake off the winter inertia and pull weeds in the garden and donate clothes that are no longer your size and never will be again.

Australia New Zealand reference centre plus logoEverything likes a tidy up and our eResources are no different. This year our popular Australasian eResource Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre has undergone an upgrade and expanded into “Plus” size territory.

What this means is that it has added more content including a number of new journal titles including Australian Financial Review and Choice, which is basically the Australian version of Consumer. I love Choice as it has just released its “Shonkys” for 2015basically awards for the worst in consumer products. They have pointed the finger this year at Kleenex flushable wipes which are only flushable if you want a visit from your plumber!

Designed for libraries in Australia and New Zealand (a rarity in itself), Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre Plus combines Australasian magazines, newspapers and online reference books to create a large collection of regional full text content. There are also full text biographies and a collection of images containing more than one million photos, maps, and flags (but which one?).

So have a look at this new Plus size eResource for your New Zealand or Australian research needs. It will help make everything “sweet as”.

You also might like to check out our other Australia/New Zealand eResources