Thank goodness for our local authors

CoverNew Zealand Book Month is time to appreciate our books, our literary heritage and our authors. We are indebted to writers. Not only do they provide us with hours of entertainment, but they answer our questions about all sorts of things, inform us about our world and document all sorts of things that would otherwise be lost.

Right now we are particularly indebted to some of them in Christchurch because they have preserved for us a heritage that would otherwise be forever lost. I’m talking about the local authors who have documented our architecture – buildings we have walked past all our lives and often appreciated only in the sense that we know they contribute to our pleasant environment.

Our local authors have taken the time to research and photograph them leaving us with permanent record of their contribution to our city and you’ll find quite a selection of their books at your library.

The books range from the unpretentious series called The Architectural Heritage of Christchurch, with short profiles of buildings accompanied by line drawings (also available on our website), through to full colour coffee table books.

One beautiful browsing book is City and Peninsula byCover John Wilson. He has also been responsible for a number of other valuable books about Christchurch architecture including Lost Christchurch and a book on the Provincial Council Buildings .

One book I’m particularly happy to note on the catalogue is Judith Hamilton’s Early Churches in and around Christchurch which was published, with excellent timing, in 2008.

If you looking for our more recent architectural history some of it makes it into the prosaically named, but nevertheless appealing Selected Architecture by Gavin Wills. New Territory documents the work of Warren & Mahoney who made such a contribution to modern Christchurch, including designing the Central Library, which may be one of only a few of their public buildings to survive.

Houses are perhaps not as well represented, but quite a number of well known dwellings are sketched in Christchurch Heritage Houses.

If you want to get right up with the play and missed Bruce Ansley talking about his book Christchurch Heritage a celebration of lost buildings and streetscapes it’s not too late – you’ll find a copy at your local library.

We also have a great selection of Christchurch places on our website – including memorials, statues, and architectural plans.

Should you have been wearing green? Find out at Find My Past Ireland

I have to admit I am relieved St Patrick’s Day has been and gone. It is true I am getting old and grouchy, but just how many people out there with green hair and bad fake Irish accents can actually claim any real Irish ancestry?  To put my dismissiveness in perspective, I have spent my whole life having people chortle at my full name and then have them imitate an Irish accent and talk about potatoes.  Would this make the Irish the only group of people left that everyone is allowed to make fun of?

Now I have been to Ireland and even stumbled dangerously near the River Liffey and I can confirm that the Irish know how to unwind. I also defy anyone to listen to Irish music and not end up with their knee going up and down as if it attached to an invisible piston. Perhaps it is this ability to find joy that is so attractive in the Irish.

If you are so keen to join this group, it does take more than a Guinness and a green t-shirt. Have a look online at our many family history resources including Find My Past Ireland and see if you do have any real claim to the  “Wearing of the Green”. That way next St Patrick’s Day you can not only have a drink but enjoy another favourite Irish pastime – talking and fighting about family and Irish history!