Inside Christchurch’s Death Star command post

With so many events and festivals cancelled over the last months, it was  a huge treat to be able to go to one event that has managed to rearrange itself – the ironically appropriate  Armageddon festival.

With its usual venue both red-stickered and red-zoned, the Armageddon organisers managed to not only find another venue, but also to put on a show that, in terms of both attendance and spirit, feels just like any other end-of-the-world party.  Over 7000 bodies through the door, and most of them human, or at least human-ish (not sure about the dudes in the white armour, and I definitely have doubts about the guy in the corner who was oozing intestines).

Although the “names” were mostly lacking this year (except for a signing panel from The Almighty Johnsons), the teens turned out in their hundreds, with the usual complement of bewildered-looking parents being towed along by nine-year-old boys holding lightsabres and sonic screwdrivers.  Outpost 42 stormtroopers were everywhere, although Darth Vader only arrived on Sunday, probably to check out his Death Star command post (really truly impressive, built here in Christchurch by a group of very clever guys).

And there was heaps to do: commission your own artwork for as little as 10cents; buy whatever you want to eat as long as it’s deep fried; learn about MMP, the Greens party or organic popcorn snacks; plan your career at NatColl; buy a model helicopter and try out all the new PS3 games; watch anime on the giant screen; see Princess Leia dance a saucy dance (my goodness, she must have been cold in that!); cuddle up to any number of comic or manga characters; buy a katana or hire a replica machine gun, or just hang out with the Doctor(s).

For fun, entertainment and forgetting about the New Normal for a few hours, it’s the best $5 I’ve spent in ages, and I’m already diarying the 2012 event.  You should too.

A rōhi by any other name?*

As a lover of language and romantic teenager, I  was somewhat underwhelmed when I first arrived in New Zealand and discovered some of the prosaic (dare I say boring?) names which the European settlers had bestowed on our fair country.  Were “North Island” and “South Island” really the best that they could come up with? Was it necessary for so many of our place names to be Southern Hemisphere duplicates of European locations?  And why on earth should our name acknowledge the fact that the first European to sight our shores was the Dutchman Abel Tasman, when we have no particular links with The Netherlands?

So I was entranced when I discovered that the vast majority of places have traditional Māori names. These names drew me through the looking glass into a world of lore and myth, where the North Island was a fish and the South Island a canoe, and where mountains were cloud piercers.  Having not been introduced to them as a child at school, I immersed myself in storybooks about Maui slowing down the sun, and fishing up the North Island with his magic hook carved from his grandmother’s jawbone.

However, as the years went by, and as my ears became attuned to the sound of Te Reo, I started taking the history that surrounds us for granted. Papanui was the name of the suburb where I worked, not the ‘platform in a tree from which birds are snared’ which gave its name to the native bush which still occupied some 200 acres of the area in 1856.

Then recently I came across Ti Kōuka Whenua, one of the library’s digital resources, and the commonplace became remarkable once more. Ti Kōuka highlights sites of significance found throughout Ōtautahi (Christchurch City), Horomaka (Banks Peninsula) and the wider Canterbury region, and has fascinating snippets of information.  Who knew that Motukārara meant island of lizards? Or that Pūtaringamotu, the Māori name for Deans Bush, can be translated as either ‘the place of an echo’ or the more gruesome-sounding “the severed ear”?

My favourite placename, however, is  Castle Rock’s traditional name, Te Tihi o Kahukura, which means “the pinnacle of the rainbow”.

Why not browse through Ti Kōuka and share what gems or quirky facts you discover about places of interest to you?

*In case you are wondering, “rōhi” is the Māori for “rose”.

Rātū / Tūrei – Te kupu o te rā

Kia oraKia ora, it is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori and each day we will bring you a new word related to this year’s theme Manaakitanga (hospitality, kindness, and making visitors welcome).

Rātū / Tūrei– Tuesday

Nau mai, haere mai ki Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi.

Welcome to Christchurch City Libraries.


Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week runs from 4 Hōngongoi — 10 Hōngongoi 2011 / 4 July — 10 July 2011. Each year The Māori Language Commission sets a theme, and in 2011 it is “Manaakitanga” — hospitality, kindness, and making visitors welcome.