Richard Greenaway – Local Historian extraordinaire

Genealogy librarian at Christchurch City Libraries, Richard Greenaway, has been awarded the 2008 A.C. Rhodes History Medal. The medal is awarded annually by the Canterbury History Foundation to recognise and honour a significant contribution to the study of history in Canterbury, particularly one that has excited interest in history in the wider community.

Richard has given advice and information to countless users of the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre of Christchurch City Libraries. When he became archivist at the library in 1980 he began a project to transcribe church registers, assisted by many genealogy volunteers. This card file is a fantastic resource for family history researchers. He has also written library guides for family research, addressed genealogy meetings and conferences, and created local history resource lists for suburban Christchurch. His entertaining cemetery tours which take place during Heritage Week have seen him appear on television and be interviewed in newspapers.

His first book, Church on a sandhill: All Saints, Burwood, was written when he was a student at the University of Canterbury. He graduated MA(Hons) in history in 1972. His thesis was on Henry Selfe, a member of the Canterbury Association and the settlement’s agent in Britain from 1856 to 1866. Among his many articles and book chapters are four contributions to the Dictionary of NZ Biography and a bibliography of the eastern suburbs of Christchurch. To commemorate Women’s Suffrage Year he wrote, in 1993, Unsung Heroines, a collection of short biographies of women of note, who, he believed, had been forgotten or neglected in the records. in 2000 he produced another series, Rich man, Poor man, Environmentalist, Thief.

Richard draws on an encyclopaedic memory of dates, names, places and events.

5 thoughts on “Richard Greenaway – Local Historian extraordinaire

  1. Erin 6 August 2008 / 7:01 pm

    Richard certainly is a library treasure and it is great to see him being recognised in this way. He is part of a wonderful team in the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre who are all well- equipped and very happy to handle enquiries.

  2. Philip 7 August 2008 / 12:25 pm

    I agree absolutely with Erin here. I went along to see Richard get his medal last Sunday and certainly it made me proud to be part of CCL as tributes to Richard and the library flowed freely.

  3. Steve 12 September 2010 / 4:12 am

    I have GREENAWAY ancestors from the Cornwall/Devon area in the UK, and wonder if Richard Greenaway may be related.

    If there is a possible link, please contact me via my blog at Hayes & Greene Family History

  4. Kaye Hayes 6 August 2012 / 6:53 am

    I have information about early Christchurch families that I would like to pass on to Richard Greenaway. Could he contact me at

    • Donna 6 August 2012 / 8:49 am

      Kia ora Kaye, I have passed your details on to Richard. Thanks.

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