Castle Hill Hotel, West Coast Road: Picturing Canterbury

Castle Hill Hotel, West Coast Road. File Reference CCL Photo Collection 22, Img02341.

Castle Hill Hotel, West Coast Road [ca. 1890].

The original hotel on this site was built in 1865. It was replaced by another, built by Fred Harris, in 1871. A second storey was added to the building in 1881 and increased the size of the hotel to 28 rooms. It was a favourite stopping place for the West Coast coaches and was particularly renowned for the hot scones and tea it supplied to travellers. Although it was built of stone, the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1904. At this time it was owned by Messrs Fletcher, Humphries & Co. of Christchurch.

Do you have any photographs of the Castle Hill area? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Share your photos and help us to create a true picture of our city’s rich history. Anyone can contribute.

Find out more

Labour Day: A reason to remember

The 22nd of October is Labour Day. Not only is this a public holiday – which is great – but it also serves as a great opportunity to remember workers’ history in addition to the rights that have been fought for, and won, throughout labour history in New Zealand.

Cover of Samuel Parnell: A legacyTo start at the start, Labour Day commemorates the successful fight for an eight hour working day. The right to the first eight hour work day was won by a carpenter in Wellington by the name of Samuel Parnell in 1840. This right was later enshrined into law with the Labour Day Act in 1899. This made Aotearoa-New Zealand one of the first countries in the world to introduce the eight hour work day. This was a great achievement and one that should not be taken for granted.

What Labour Day, and the history surrounding Labour Day, should serve to remind us is that the eight hour work day (40 hour work week) was not always the norm and that it was the result of a struggle. However this is not where this story ends: in 2008 the Department of Labour in New Zealand released figures that showed roughly 415,000 New Zealand workers were working in excess of 40 hours per week. This highlights the fact that there is, contrary to popular myth and perception, no longer any legislative rights to an eight hour working day in New Zealand.

Eight Hour Day Banner, Melbourne, 1856,
Eight Hour Day Banner, Melbourne, 1856 / Public Domain

For the reasons stated above, it is important to remember the history of days like Labour Day. Remembering the history is important in remembering the past and how far we have come as a country, but more importantly, to remember that there were struggles for these rights and to ensure that we don’t have to have to struggle for them again.

Other important events in worker’s history include:

  • The Formation of the Maritime Council in 1889 that formed in Dunedin with representatives from the wharf labourers’ and West Coast miners’ Unions.
  • The Maritime Strike of 1890.
  • The 1908 Blackball Miners’ Strike that won a 30 minute lunch break for the miners. This event would also lead to the rise of the New Zealand Federation of Labour.
  • The Maoriland Worker was launched in Christchurch in 1910 by the Shearers Union. It was a Monthly Journal that became influential during the Anti-war movement in the lead up to and during the first First World War.
  • The Waihi Miners’ Strike of 1912 was one of the most fierce industrial disputes in New Zealand’s history. 1,000 miners went on strike, bringing Waihi Gold Mine to a Standstill. Striking Miner Fred Evans was killed by a crowd of strikebreakers and the Police during the strike.
  • The Birth of the Labour Party in 1916 that was founded by representatives of the Social Democratic Party, the United Federation of Labour, and the Labour Representation Committees.
  • The 1924 Rail Strike.
  • The 1951 Waterfront Lockout and Supporting Strikes that lasted 151 days and involved 22,000 workers at the height of the dispute. This dispute arose when employers refused to agree to the 15% wage increase granted by the Arbitration Court.
  • The 1979 General Strike. The first general stoppage in the history of New Zealand’s industrial relations.

Resources on Labour Day and Labour History in New Zealand:

There are also many great books on New Zealand’s labour history that can be found in the library:

New Zealand Labour History

View Full List

Diego and Frida: A smile in the middle of the way – exhibition and events

South Library will play host to a stunning exhibition of photos of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera from Friday 26 October to Sunday 11 November.

Diego and Frida: A Smile in the Middle of the Way takes an intimate look at the life and relationship between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as seen through the lens of some of the most notable photographers of that time, including Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Ansel Adams, Guillermo Kahlo, Leo Matiz, Nickolas Muray, Edward Weston, and Guillermo Zamora. The documentary prints in the exhibition come from the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, encompassing nearly twenty-five years of their marriage.

Diego Rivera became a legend in his native country for his vibrant murals while Frida Kahlo chose to become a painter after a car crash derailed her dream of becoming a doctor. A Smile in the Middle of the Way was presented for the first time at Casa Estudio Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City in 2002 and later around the world. This exhibition has been brought to New Zealand by the Mexican Embassy and will be hosted by Christchurch City Libraries.

Schedule of Events

Dia de Muertos: Day of the Dead

There will be a Dia de Muertos / Day of the Dead altar and informational display at South Library from Friday 26 October to Friday 2 November, and you can celebrate Dia de Muertos with a Mexican themed bilingual Spanish/English storytimes session:

Find out more about Dia de Muertos: Day of the Dead.

More about Frida and Diego

Find resources about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in our collection.

CoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCover

Gavin Bishop: Cook’s Cook book launch

Gavin Bishop, along with Gecko Press and Scorpio Books, launched his latest illustrated book at Tūranga, Cook’s Cook: The cook who cooked for Captain Cook. 2019 will be the 250th anniversary of the visit of the H.M. Endeavour to Aotearoa New Zealand and Bishop’s book offers a fresh perspective on their journey.

dav
Gavin Bishop at the launch of his new book Cook’s Cook, October 2018, Tūranga

A large audience heard how Bishop spent several years researching for the book, which he says he really enjoyed, but was overwhelmed by the information he found.

One thing that struck him was the number of books that contradicted each other.

His challenge was how to find his own unique angle on the Endeavour story. As he looked through the names of the crew on the boat and their occupations, he began to wonder about the lesser-known members on board and was particularly struck by their curiously one-handed cook, John Thompson.

The story of the crew’s journey is told through food “as a point of context,” explains Bishop, with the cook as narrator. And, as his publisher Julia Marshall from Gecko Press notes “you can tell so many different stories through food—everything is here: culture, class, adventure, humour and much more.”

Cook's CookThe Endeavour was originally the collier Earl of Pembroke and was designed for a crew of just 16 but when it sailed as the Endeavour it had 94 crew on board, packed in like sardines. And the meals were prepared on the mess deck where 74 men slept!

The cooking process on the Endeavour seemed to involve throwing everything together in a pot or bag and boiling it. Bishop says the meat became so rank that it was towed in a net behind the boat to soften it up and every second day was a vegetarian day consisting of Pease Porridge. To avoid scurvy, the cook served up stinky German cabbage. But all was not awful for the men, as it was noted how much booze was aboard the ship.

The book contains a little story about each of the countries the Endeavour visited and explains some of the names of the recipes featured such as Poor Knights Pudding, Stingray Soup, Kangaroo Stew, Dog and Breadfruit Stew and Albatross Stew “which you wouldn’t get away with today.” There were goats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cats and chickens on board. And when the ship crossed the equator everyone aboard, including the cats, were apparently tied to a chair and dipped into the water 3 times in an equator crossing ritual.

Bishop told his audience that there are two stories about the Endeavour that you won’t find anywhere else except in his book. One was told by Pete Beech, whose family was there in Picton when the Endeavour came with Cook, and tells the story of how a Māori woman was tricked into giving her taonga away for a bag of sugar. And the second story comes from an obscure poem that mentions a slave named Dalton on board who was a servant of botanist Joseph Banks. Like the Endeavour, not a centimetre of space in Bishop’s book was wasted, he says, and even the endpapers are full of illustrated facts.

Cover of Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin BishopAt the book launch, Gecko Press were also celebrating 10 years of working with Bishop, starting with his collaboration for Joy Cowley in illustrating their successful Snake & Lizard. Marshall  said what a treat it is working with Bishop: “Gavin is a true artist and very knowledgeable.” Gavin’s other book published in the past year is the illustratively stunning Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story.

Our Painted Stories

You can see more of Bishop’s work in the Our Painted Stories exhibition at about the presence and importance of local Canterbury settings in children’s literature. Original artworks in the exhibition are from Bishop’s Mr. Fox and Mrs. McGinty and the Bizarre Plant as well as Margaret Mahy’s Summery Saturday Morning.

Mr FoxMrs McGinty and the Bizarre PlantA Summery Saturday Morning

The books and exhibition feature scenes from around Christchurch such as the Edmonds Factory with its ‘Sure to Rise’ signage as well as further afield on Banks Peninsula.

The Importance of Identity

Join international award-winning writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop and invited guests as we explore the Our Painted Stories exhibition and have a conversation about how seeing ourselves and our city in children’s literature helps grow a sense of identity.
Wednesday 24th October 5:30-6:30pm 
Tūranga
Free, no bookings required
Created in partnership with the Painted Stories Trust. 

While visiting Tūranga, Gavin was delighted to discover a picture of his family on our Discovery Wall that even he didn’t have a copy of.

Gavin Bishop, with his youngest daughter Alexandra and his book “Chicken Licken”, 8 June 1984, Reference ID: CCL-StarP-00740A

It is auspicious that just as Gavin Bishop was the first author to have a book launched at the old central library, he is also the first author to launch a book in the new library, Tūranga, 36 years later.

Gavin Bishop at the Mr Fox book launch
18 September 1982 Gavin Bishop, with his book “Mr Fox” which was the first book to be launched at the Canterbury Public Library on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace. Reference ID: CCL-StarP-00739A

More about Gavin Bishop

From Canterbury Public Library to Tūranga – 1982 / 2013 / 2018

Tūranga opened on Friday 12 October 2018. We did a bit of a historical re-enactment with the Tūranga staff.

Back in 1982, staff were moving into their fab new digs on Gloucester Street. In 2013, librarians were clearing out stuff from their old workplaces in the Central Library. In 2018, Tūranga staff were excited about opening to the public.

Canterbury Public Library staff outside the new library building on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace [1982] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0091 Previous Photo ~ Next PhotoCentral Library staff, Gloucester Street, 28 September 2013. Flickr 2013-09-28-IMG_9406Tūranga staff. Flickr 2018-IMG_1061

One of the notable features of the old Central Library was the escalator. In Tūranga, there are the mighty Harry Potter-esque stairs.

Staff group on escalator, Central Library. Flickr CCl-150-702Gloucester Street. Saturday 28 September 2013. Flickr 2013-09-28-IMG_9380Tūranga staff. Wednesday 10 October 2018. Flickr 2018-IMG_1047

So here it is, in black and white – new central library 1982, Tūranga 2018.

Canterbury Public Library staff outside the new library building on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace [1982] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0091Tūranga staff. Wednesday 10 October 2018. Flickr 2018-IMG_0210

And the first customers arriving is the biggest moment of all! We are so happy to welcome you to your new central library, Tūranga.

Customers waiting to enter library. January 1982. Flickr CCL-150-472Customers entering library, 1982. Flickr CCL-150-470Customers entering new libraryThe people arrive in Tūranga. Tūranga opening day. Friday 12 October 2018. Flickr TU-2018-10-12-IMG_1258Crowd waiting for ribbon-cutting

Customers at the ribbon-cutting ceremony

More

NZ Bookshop Day 2018

Saturday 27th October is New Zealand Bookshop Day. Hurrah for the bookshop! There will be events, great deals on books and competitions too.

Events

Scorpio Books

What: Author talks and readings, as well as an evening literary quiz.
Author talk with Dr Simon Pollard at 10.30am (Simon is a spider biologist and award-winning author of The Genius of Bugs). Free event, activity sheets provided.
The Great Scorpio Lit Quiz at 6.30pm ($80 per table, bookings required).

When: Check Scorpio’s events page

Scorpio Books will also be running a campaign to encourage customers who make a purchase on NZ Bookshop Day to nominate a Christchurch school of their choice. Nominated schools will receive a copy of Aotearoa, Gavin Bishop’s multiple-award-winning, richly illustrated visual history of New Zealand. Scorpio Books will be donating 15% of their sales on the day towards this campaign. All nominated schools will also go in the draw to win a prize pack of New Zealand children’s books, specially selected by Scorpio staff. With support from RDU98.5FM.

Piccadilly Books

What: Childrens Book Reading 

When: Saturday 27 October, 11am to 11.30am, 2pm to 2.30pm

<h2>All about NZ Bookshop Day

Simpson & Williams, 238 High Street, Christchurch [1925] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0007
Simpson & Williams, 238 High Street, Christchurch [1925] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0007

Now I love working in a library. For just under forty hours a week I am surrounded by books: what more could a bibliophile want? Books have existed in one form or another since the advent of the written word. These were the days of the clay tablet, in the 3000’s BC. And we have them in abundance (books, not clay tablets).

A History of the Book in 100 Books

So it follows that I also have a tender spot for the old bookshop. For whilst I relish bringing books home from the library, there are some that I don’t much want to take back. The library may frown upon me keeping their books indefinitely, but if I’ve really fallen for one, I simply must own my own copy. I put this down to nostalgia, wanting to show off to house guests how well read I am and financial impulsivity…I’m woman so naturally when that magical word ‘SALE’ pops up out comes the credit card. That week when Scorpio Books upped sticks and had their big moving sale was a good week for me and my bookshelf.

Thankfully we do have plenty of exceptional, local, well established bookshops here in Christchurch. They come in all sorts. Old, modern, cosy, expansive, dusty, sterile…

There are the chain bookshops (seem more like gift shops to me), the independent and specialist bookshops, and of course the beloved secondhand bookshops where you can find all manner of out-of-print, sentimental gems. I still cherish my older editions of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five; I get a lot more enjoyment from seeing them on my bookshelf than if they were sparkling and new (or, god forbid, those treacherous 21st Century-ified editions). Oh, and there’s the online bookshop too. A bottomless pit where a person like me can inexplicably lose hours of life.

Aside: There was one aforementioned chain bookshop I did very much enjoy spending time in – Borders – but we know how that turned out. I could spend hours in Borders with my dad, perusing the ancient history/mythology section. Alas.

Mythology offering: witty Stephen Fry’s latest, Mythos

Canterbury Bookshops

Here are a few of the local Canterbury bookshops – new and secondhand – where you might just find your inner peace, and something to add to your permanent collection.

Local Christchurch Bookshops

  • Scorpio Books – after residing on Riccarton Road for a while, plus a stint at the container mall, they have now settled at the BNZ Centre in the CBD. They are a friendly bunch, and if they don’t have exactly what you’re after then they seem happy enough to order it in. Scorpio Books is a place where I must always take my time. Great range!
  • UBS – University of Canterbury Bookshop. Anyone can shop here! They have a good selection of books, at surprisingly palatable prices (excluding textbooks, eek). While you are there, be sure to visit one of the University libraries. They are trialing free membership to Canterbury residents until the end of the year (and hopefully beyond).
  • Piccadilly Books – situated in Avonhead Mall, they have an impressive magazine selection and friendly staff.
  • Christian Superstore – oh boy, I might need a good dousing in holy water before stepping here. They are a large bookshop with an expansive array of Christian material. They supply churches around the country and in the Cook Islands too.

Secondhand Bookshops That are Far From Second Rate

  • Smith’s Bookshop – Their old shop was destroyed in the earthquakes but they have a new permanent home in the Tannery (a very hip place where, by the way, you may also find some amazing pastries). They stock rare books; antiquarian books; secondhand books; new books; magazines and art supplies! My kind of place. Here you will find plenty of local content and first editions. Just you try not to sneeze.
  • Dove Bookshop – in Bishopdale Mall, New Brighton Mall and Harewood Road. I have unearthed some nice pre-loved finds in here.

  • The Chertsey Bookbarn – it’s a bookshop in a barn and it’s in the middle of nowhere…well in Chertsey, just after the Rakaia River and right before you hit Ashburton. But you will not regret the petrol spent. Imagine: you arrive to find a dimly lit, relatively secluded barn. You step inside – tall shelves tower above, brimming with books- and as you move forward the narrow passage closes in and you find yourself amidst a veritable labyrinth…of books. Where was the exit again? You don’t know and don’t care. Are those footsteps you hear from behind? Is it a scene from a horror film? A dream?

My Pick of the Online Bookshops

  • The Children’s Bookshop – a smaller online bookstore with material aimed at children and young adults. There is also a handy learning resources section with books on foreign languages, te reo, language, vocabulary and maths.
  • Mighty Ape – a NZ owned online bookshop operating out of their distribution centre in Auckland, with really fast shipping (same day shipping offered to most of the major cities).
  • Bookhaven – another NZ online bookshop, selling used books. They do have a small shop in Wellington but most of their stock is contained in warehouses around the country.
  • Abebooks – but you must be patient. Sourced from somewhat further afield, your order will likely be coming from the US or UK! Abebooks searches the catalogues of independent bookshops worldwide, to find great deals. I have often found exactly what I want on here, and at good prices too. They list both new and used titles, and some shops offer free shipping. In fact this is a great place to get textbooks from, just be somewhat organised about it and don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Book Depository – an international online bookshop, with free delivery and oftentimes great discounts.

And should all else fail, your local library could probably get a copy 😉

Digital Images

Here are some photographs of Christchurch bookshops gone by, for reminiscences.

Second Hand Books, 390 Colombo Street. Kete Christchurch Colombo_Street_390.jpg
Second Hand Books, 390 Colombo Street. Kete Christchurch Colombo_Street_390.jpg
Arnold Books. Kete Christchurch New_Regent_Street_-_6_June_2006__DSCN3794.JPG
Arnold Books. Kete Christchurch New_Regent_Street_-_6_June_2006__DSCN3794.JPG
Smith’s Bookshop 127 to 139 Manchester Street. Kete Christchurch Manchester_Street_127_to_139_Corner.jpg

These images are from Kete Christchurch, our online local history resource.

Books About Bookshops

Cover

Are there any Christchurch bookshops you love that I have missed? Any online book-shopping secrets you wish to divulge? Happy NZ Bookshop Day!

Before Tūranga – The Masonic Hotel and Montague’s Corner

The first in a series of posts that looks at the history of the central Christchurch sites on which your new library, Tūranga, has been built.

Tūranga from Colombo St
Tūranga, as viewed from Colombo St near Armagh St intersection, 10 October 2018, File reference: TU-2018-10-10-DSC03935

Imagine you are peeking through Tūranga’s ground floor window on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo, possibly drooling over all the yummies in Foundation Café… insert TIMEY WIMEY STUFF…

You are now back in 1855 on the very same spot and are again drooling, this time over all the yummies in Gee & Co.’s bakery and confectionery.

Thomas Gee was a biscuit maker from Lambeth who arrived in 1851. He quickly established a business in Lyttelton selling “bride cakes, jellies, blanc-manges, patties…and ginger beer”and later a shop on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo. In 1855 the Christchurch store was transferred to his son-in-law William Stringer who continued to sell baked goods but also diversified into booze. He applied for a license to sell wine and beer in 1857 and by 1860 his business was known as Stringer’s Hotel.

Colombo Street, Christchurch, looking south towards the Cathedral [ca. 1930]
Colombo Street, Christchurch, looking south, with Wells’ Hotel visible to the left of the Cathedral [ca. 1930] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 9, IMG0041
In 1860 Stringer’s Hotel license was passed to George Henry Tribe who renamed the premises the Central Hotel.

By 1872 mine genial host was Edward Hiorns. Edward originally hailed from Warwickshire and arrived in Christchurch during the 1860s, marrying Amelia Heighton in August 1868. He was heavily involved in the community both as a member of the Christchurch City Council, and later the Linwood Borough Council, and as a Freemason. He must have found the hotel trade financially advantageous as he was able to buy Linwood House, a very fine residence built in 1857 for Joseph Brittan.

In August 1897 architect Joseph C Maddison was retained by Edward Hiorns to draw up a plan for a new section to the Central Hotel. In brick and stucco the new hotel had 30 rooms, and two shops on the ground floor one of which had frontage on both Colombo and Gloucester. The main entrance was on Gloucester Street with a private and public bar on the ground floor, dining room overlooking Colombo Street on the first floor and bedrooms and bathrooms, with hot and cold water and showers, on the second.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand in 1903 had a delightful puff-piece where the hotel was described as an “ornament to the street architecture of Christchurch” and as being “furnished throughout with luxury and excellent taste.”

Masonic Hotel 3
Page 2 Advertisements Column 3, Press, Volume LV, Issue 10182, 1 November 1898

The hotel was renamed The Masonic and the license was transferred to William James, then E. Carroll.

The Masonic Hotel was the scene of a “Strange Death” in 1912. Loyal Stawell Cherry (yes, that was his name) fell 6 feet from his bedroom window to a recess while feverish with influenza. His cries alerted staff who returned him to bed and sent for medical assistance but the Hobart-native died 30 minutes later.

Montague's Corner Masonic Hotel
Montague’s Corner, Colombo and Gloucester Streets, Christchurch looking towards Cathedral Square. Webb, Steffano, 1880-1967 : Collection of negatives. Ref: 1/1-005316-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22479010

One of the most memorable businesses to lease shop space in the rebuilt Masonic Hotel was Montague’s Corner. Owned by the exotically named Israel Montague, Montague’s Corner sold fancy goods and toys. Fancy goods, I’m reliably informed are “items (as novelties, accessories, or notions) that are primarily ornamental or designed to appeal to taste or fancy rather than essential” but I’m sure the major draw was the underground toy cave.

Ad from 1909
Page 9 Advertisements Column 4, Star, issue 9715, 4 December 1909

Bankrupted back in the 1880s when he owned his own fancy goods business in Strange’s Building, Israel then spent 22 years at the D.I.C. (Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Ltd) before opening up again on his own in August 1906.

Israel fell foul of the law several times for breaching the Shop and Offices Act by staying open outside the prescribed hours but hey, fancy goods don’t sell themselves!

Israel died in 1936 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery at Linwood. His wife Ada, daughter of  Simeon Isaacs, former President of  the Jewish Congregation of Dunedin, had predeceased him by many years.

J R Mckenzie
Page 3 Advertisements Column 2, Press, Volume LX, Issue 18010, 29 February 1924

Montague’s Toy Cave and fancy goods was replaced by J R McKenzie’s. Modelled on America’s five and dime stores, John Robert Hugh McKenzie eventually owned over 70 stores throughout New Zealand and employed over 1800 staff. John McKenzie was also well known in horsey circles owning Roydon Lodge Stud on Yaldhurst Road. Throughout his lifetime McKenzie gave generously to charities and was actively involved in Rotary. he later set up the J R McKenzie Youth Education Fund and the J R McKenzie Trust, both of which still operate today.

Wells masonic
Looking south down Colombo Street through Cathedral Square from the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Street, Christchurch, with J R McKenzie signage visible on Wells’ Hotel building [ca. 1925]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 14 IMG0009
The Masonic Hotel went through several modifications and licensees. Alfred William Wells and his wife Eva owned and ran the Masonic for many years. Alfred died in 1961 leaving Eva a generous annuity and the rest of his estate including the freehold of the Masonic in trust for up to 21 years. The Church of England bought the hotel, and on Saturday 12th of September 1981 the Masonic Hotel closed its doors for the last time and was shortly after demolished.

Construction started on a new seven storey building in early 1982. Completed in November 1982 it included a basement car park, offices and ground floor retail.

A variety of businesses populated this space over the years most recently an internet café and Mum’s 24 café and restaurant with its awesome replica/fake food displays.

Office building, corner of Gloucester and Colombo, October 2011
The intersection of Colombo and Gloucester Streets looking south-east by BeckerFraserPhotos, 15 October 2011. Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0

And so, we end up back where we started, peering in at a café window.

It’s good to know that Tūranga’s café and Lego play area (not exactly a “toy cave” but close enough) are just an extension of a long history of businesses and institutions that have brought life and activity to this particular corner of the central city.

Next week: Hobbs’ Corner

Further reading

When Death Jumped Ship exhibition – 12 to 27 October

Hard on the heels on World War One, the 1918 influenza pandemic was the worst health disaster of the 20th century. Worldwide, over 50 million people died and here in Aotearoa 9,000 New Zealanders lost their lives to the flu in only two months. What was it like? How did people deal with this disaster 100 years ago?

When Death Jumped Ship - Remembering the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
When Death Jumped Ship – Remembering the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. When Death Jumped Ship – Remembering the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Lyttelton Library and Lyttelton Museum Exhibition on from 12 to 27 October 2018. Flickr 2018-October-IMG_3054

For Heritage Week this year, almost exactly on the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the pandemic in New Zealand, Lyttelton Library and the Lyttelton Museum have teamed up to tell this story in an exhibition detailing the local response in Lyttelton and Christchurch. We’ve brought together a fascinating range of images, artifacts and stories from that time and recreated a 1918 medicine depot complete with an inhalation device for preventative treatment!

The exhibition runs for two weeks until 27 October. We also have two fantastic free talks here at the library:

FREE public talks at Lyttelton Library 7pm to 8pm

Tuesday 16 October 7pm to 8pm: Anna Rogers, who has written about WW1 nursing, will discuss the pandemic and New Zealand’s military medical contribution.

Wednesday 17 October 7pm to 8pm: Dr Geoffrey Rice, acknowledged expert on the pandemic, will look at the question: could it happen again?

If you’d like to read more about the 1918 influenza pandemic and the local response take a look at Geoffrey Rice’s Black Flu 1918 and Black November: The 1918 Influenza Pandemic in New Zealand and information and images on our website.

Changing the tyre: Christchurch Photo Hunt 2018

October is Photo Hunt month at Christchurch City Libraries. We invite you to share any of your photos and help grow the city’s photographic archive. All entries must be received by 31 October.

Christchurch City Libraries has produced a set of four postcards promoting the competition which are available from your local library. Each week during October we’ll be featuring one of the postcard images on our blog.

Changing the tyre. Kete Christchurch. PH15-019. Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2015 Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Changing a flat tyre on the way to Hanmer Springs on holiday with our grandmother Lillian Marker [on right] and a friend.

Date: early 1960s

Winning entry for a collection in the 2015 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Flora Marker.

About Kete Christchurch

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Katherine Mansfield’s 130th Birthday

Sarah Laing’s graphic memoir Mansfield and Me.

Katherine Mansfield was born as Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp on the 14th of October 1888, into a prominent family in Wellington. Her father, Harold Beauchamp, became the chairman of the Bank of New Zealand (then, curiously enough, owned by New Zealanders). He had been born in Australia, but moved to New Zealand with his family when he was three years old. At the age of 65, he was made a knight of the realm. Katherine’s mother was Annie Beauchamp, whose brother would marry the daughter of Richard Seddon, former Prime Minister of New Zealand. This marriage wove the Beauchamp family into New Zealand’s prominent social circles.

When Katherine was five, her family moved from Thorndon to the then country suburb of Karori for health reasons. Katherine spent the happiest years of her childhood in Karori. Her short story Prelude published in 1918, was inspired by her memories of this happy time.

Katherine Mansfield’s childhood home in Thorndon, 2007. Photo by Lanma726. Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

Mansfield’s first published her short stories in 1900 in a society magazine called New Zealand Graphic and Ladies Journal.

Mansfield expressed a feeling of alienation in her journals. She became disillusioned with New Zealand because of her observations of Māori being repressed by the Pakeha settlers. This is probably why Māori characters are often portrayed in a positive light in  a story such as How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped, first published in 1912.

At age fifteen, Mansfield moved to London to attend school there. When she returned to New Zealand, aged nineteen, she began to write short stories prolifically. She was determined to become a professional writer and returned to London at the age of 21.

Financially, Mansfield was sustained by an annual allowance from her father of one hundred pounds. But Mansfield was a woman ahead of her time and led an unconventional lifestyle, being bisexual and becoming pregnant while unmarried. Her mother was horrified and raced over to London (well, as quickly as you could race in 1909) where she dispatched Katherine to Bad Wörishofen, a spa town in Bavaria. Mansfield miscarried soon after arriving in Bad Wörishofen and, to compound her woes, her mother cut Katherine out of her will.

CoverHowever, her stay in Germany was to enhance Mansfield’s writing career. Here she first encountered the works of Anton Chekhov, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. Her experiences of Germany produced the stories which became her first published collection In a German Pension published in 1911.

Mansfield was profoundly affected by the death of her younger brother, Leslie Beauchamp, who was killed fighting in France in 1915. “Chummie”, as the family called him, had been very close to Katherine in their childhood. Perhaps mindful of this shadow of mortality, Mansfield wrote prolifically from 1916 onwards.

This was to prove prescient as Mansfield was diagnosed with tuberculosis in December 1917. In order to lessen the effects of her disease, Mansfield went abroad to Europe, staying in France and then Italy. During this time she published two more collections, Bliss and Other Stories (1920) then The Garden Party and Other Stories (1922).

Bliss KMgarden Party KM 2dove's nestchildish

Katherine Mansfield spent the latter part of her life seeking unorthodox treatments for her tuberculosis, but, unfortunately, she died on the 9th of January, 1923 from a pulmonary haemorrhage. Mansfield left a lot of unpublished stories behind, but her former husband, the editor, John Middleton Murry, took it upon himself to gather and publish several posthumous collections of her work.

Mansfield’s legacy is writ large in the New Zealand literary landscape. Our most prestigious literary residency is the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship which all the big knobs of Kiwi literature have enjoyed since it was inaugurated in 1970. Many a grand poobah of Kiwi writing has resided for six months in Menton, France, at the Villa Isola Bella, enjoying the freedom of writing without the financial pressure of the everyday world. Katherine Mansfield lived and wrote at the Villa Isola Bella in the latter years of her life.

I hate to end on a slightly sour note, but I wonder in New Zealand where we have had several highly talented short story writers like Mansfield, Frank Sargeson and Owen Marshall, why the short story writer seems to be regarded somehow as a lesser being and not taken seriously until they publish a novel. We have let the novel become the Olympus to which all writers should aspire. Some writers like Mansfield clearly felt their talent lies in writing the shorter form fiction. Living, as she did, far away from the claustrophobic literary milieu of New Zealand, clearly Mansfield never felt any pressure to write a novel but she produced a myriad of smaller literary treasures.

More on KM

NZOnScreen has material on Katherine Mansfield, including the 1986 documentary A portrait of Katherine Mansfield.

A Portrait of Katherine Mansfield