Don’t miss Matariki at the marae

A unique event on the Christchurch calendar, Matariki at the marae is a celebration akin to an open home at New Year’s.

For the next two weeks, Ngā Hau e Wha invites all-comers to experience a national marae, hear guest speakers, learn about aspects of Mā0ri culture and the stars above and have some soup in celebration of the beginning of a new year on the Māori calendar.

I spoke with Christchurch City Libraries kaitakawaenga Aurelia Arona about the programme for schools and the opportunities the public have to participate and experience Māori culture.

The open community evenings on Tuesday and Thursday nights include star-gazing and cultural performances. Guest speakers, including Rakiihia Tau, Ranui Ngarimu, Dr. Rawiri Taonui, Iaean Cranwell and Te Rita Papesch. Stone carving, soap carving, a weaver’s demonstration, weave a star, computer-based whakapapa research and soup are also part of the evening programme .

Nga Hau e Wha is a national Marae – take this opportunity to experience the heritage and the hospitality on offer – it would be rude not to! Learn more about Matariki, and see other Matariki events at Christchurch City Libraries.

The event is supported by Christchurch City Council and Christchurch City Libraries, who deliver Matariki learning programmes and matariki storytimes. Many other government agenices and community organisations make the event possible.


June 16 is Bloomsday – a day when fans around the world celebrate the the life and works of Irish writer James Joyce, author of the novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, a central character in Ulysses and the date on which all the events in the novel occur. June 16 was also the date of Joyce’s first outing with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. Love that name – it would fit a great character in a novel!

Ulysses has been surrounded by controversy over the years – it was banned in America from 1921 until 1933. The 1967 film directed by Joseph Strick was controversial in part because of the use of the “f word” and in New Zealand was shown only to gender segregated audiences! (It’s all true folks – I was there as bright eyed varsity student). I seem to have survived unscathed and managed to read my way through both Ulysses and the slighter (in size), but no less linguistically challenging, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ulysses weighs in at over 600 pages.

The British Board of Film Classification also had problems with the film and demanded 29 cuts to remove the strong language and crude sexual references from Molly’s final soliloquy. Joseph Strick replaced all the offending footage with a blank screen and a high pitched shrieking sound. The Board relented and passed the film intact.

What makes Ulysses a challenge and a reward to read is the stream of consciousness style of writing and the richly complex language – puns, allusions, parodies – you have to keep your wits about you!

Joyce lived an interesting and peripatetic life in Europe and the library has a number of biographies and critical works.

Dublin is the centre of Bloomsday celebrations – in fact they stretch the day out to a week – find out more on the Dublin Tourism website.

The unincorporated man

Is it bad form to recommend a book you haven’t finished? Oh well, too bad if it is.  I wanted to rave about a sci-fi book I’m only a third of the way into … The unincorporated man by Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin. The unincorporated man by Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin

It’s set over 300 years in the future, and yes there are flying cars in this imagined future. Instead of investing in company stock, the earth’s population invest in people stock – that is, you buy shares of a person. The goal of most people is to buy a majority share in themselves, so that they can make decisions about their jobs, their future and their life, rather than their shareholders. Banks no longer exist, instead, private companies print money. The government doesn’t manage the economy, the companies do. It’s an interesting incorporated world. Everyone, and everything, is incorporated to some degree.

Cryonics is commonplace, so much so that there are jobs for re-animators – that is, bringing people back to life from their suspension units. Normally folks are brought back to life within a matter or months, or at most, a few years.

So how does this world cope when an unincorporated man drops into the mix? Justin Cord is from the past, the distant past, way before anyone was incorporated. His suspension units was one of the first to be created, and he’s been hidden away in a cave for over 300 years.

Justin doesn’t fit into this structured corporate world. While he is navigating his way through a new future, one that he could only have imagined of 300 years ago, those around him are trying to work out how he fits into their world. It’s an interesting take on where the future might be headed.

Although I am not sure if the ending will match the start of this novel, it has high praise from Kage Baker on the back cover, and it is an intriguing read so far. So if you wanting something a little unusual, try this novel.

Southern Comfort

I had one of those wonderful serendipitous moments in the library last week.  It was right near the end of my lunch break and I had about 5 minutes to find a book and it was a desperate moment as I was currently without anything to read –  a situation I find very hard to be in. I was scanning the new titles and the recently returned when I happened on Mindy Friddle’s The garden angel

It is every thing I love in a novel – quirky, with memorable characters and set in the South.  I haven’t quite worked out why I love books set down there but any of the books that I have read, or movies I’ve seen seem to talk to my soul and Cajun food feeds it. Mmmmm Gumbo.   At the back of the book it had a website to visit and Mindy has written a second book, so I have been in touch with the book buyers at the libraries and the dears have ordered Mindy’s second offering Secret Keepers.

But back to The garden angel, this is the abridged blurb from the book jacket:

Cutter Johanson is plucky and eccentric, nostalgic about her family’s once-glorious past. In her spare time, she gardens in the family cemetery and knits hair doilies. While writing obits for the local newspaper and waiting tables at the Pancake Palace, she is desperate to ward off potential buyers from her dilapidated ancestral homestead – and goes to extreme and often hilarious lengths to succeed. …Elizabeth Byers rarely ventures outside the brick ranch she shares with her husband, Daniel, a professor at Palmetto University. Agoraphobic and stricken with panic attacks, she fills her days gardening and writing her dissertation on Emily Dickinson. But one day, an anonymous call brings disturbing news that propels her into action…Cutter is losing her house, and Elizabeth is losing her husband. Surrounded by offbeat characters, the women pull together to seek sanctuary, only to plunge into a string of misadventures that will irreparably disrupt their lives – and the lives of others.

So grab a mint julep (always wanted to try one – maybe this summer after the wee rugrat is weaned) and a bowl of gumbo and enjoy!