Christchurch historical newspapers now online

Great news for historians, researchers, genealogists and students … or anyone interested in Canterbury (and New Zealand) history. Historic editions of the Lyttelton Times, from 1862 to 1866, and the Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, from 1921 to 1939, have been digitised and are now available on the  National Library’s Papers Past website after a collaborative project between the National Library of New Zealand and Christchurch City Libraries.

Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser

The Akaroa Mail’s first bi-weekly issue was published on July 21 1876. It was begun by the peripatetic ‘rag-planter’ Joseph Ivess who began nearly 30 newspapers in clusters of small towns around New Zealand for three decades from the early 1870s. Ivess sold the Akaroa Mail a year later and there were several owners before, in 1881, the paper was bought by Howard C Jacobson. The Jacobson family was to own and run the newspaper for 71 years.

The Lyttelton Times’ new premises [1904]

Lyttelton Times

Even before the arrival of the first colonists in Canterbury, they had highlighted the need for a newspaper: a “Prospectus of Newspaper to be established in the Canterbury Settlement” proposed the publication of a weekly newspaper to be called the Lyttelton Times.

National Library digitisation

The Lyttelton Times and the Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser were included in the latest release of digitised newspapers by the National Library. The other collaborative partners in this release are Horowhenua Library Trust, Whangarei Libraries, Hamilton City Libraries, Hutt City Libraries, Whakatane District Museum & Gallery, Westport Genealogy & History Group, and Palmerston North City Library. These institutions contributed towards the digitisation of:

•    Lyttelton Times (1862 – 1866)
•    Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser (1921 – 1939)
•    Horowhenua Chronicle (1910 – 1920)
•    Northern Advocate (1921 – 1925)
•    Waikato Times (1872 & 1887 – 1892)
•    Hutt News (1934 – 1945)
•    Bay of Plenty Beacon (1939 – 1945)
•    Westport Times (1875 – 1878)
•    Manawatu Standard (some pre 1900 & 1906 – 1910)
•    Manawatu Times (some pre 1900 & 1906 – 1908)

The digitised newspapers are accessible through the National Library’s Papers Past website.

Thanks for the information from The National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa and Department of Internal Affairs – Te Tari Taiwhenua

Chandran Nair talks about Consumptionomics

It’s now a few weeks since we returned from the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, and some of the sessions and speakers are still floating in and out of my rather erratic brain.  Chandran Nair’s session on Consumptionomics is one of the ‘stickiest’ ones …

Chandran Nair is a brave man.  He is very upfront about a few things: he is NOT an author, NOT a writer, NOT an economist, and he strenuously denies it when people suggest he might have a “greenies” interest in the environment. And when we don’t even get through the Chair’s introduction to the Michael King Memorial Lecture without a Shouty Man’s heckling from the balcony, he is serene and forthright about how very unpopular his message is.

To really understand the message, as with many non-fiction speakers, you need to read the book, and I thoroughly recommend finding it and doing just this.  In the meantime, however, here’s my attempt to summarise what will probably (for me at least) turn out to be 2012’s most unsettling and thought-provoking Festival session.  (So don’t go shooting the messenger!)

In essence, these are the main points:

  • The current narrative of economics is from the West, and as such is heavily weighted towards Western ways of thinking – individualistic, consumer-driven, reliant on democratic models.
  • Most of us have a “pedigree of denial”, and dwell within “a climate of lying and denying” (purposeful or not)
  • The 2008-2009 crisis was the trigger: Asians were told that they were the new environmental and consumeristic ‘bad guys’ and that the responsible thing for them to do was to spend their way up and out of the crisis, but ALSO to use fewer resources while doing so – this is actually not possible.
  • We are seeing the dying pangs of the US and EU as global superpowers, leading to the rise of Asia as world leaders
  • BUT the painting of the 21st century as the “Asian century” is bad because it leads Asians to think that it is now “their turn” to have “all the things”, to “win at consumerism”, to have lots of stuff.
  • For Nair himself, the challenge of coming from Asia means that his message had to get more and more extreme in order to be heard, and he also decided that he’d never have a big audience anyway, so it didn’t matter …
  • His message is actually quite simple, if controversial: Bling is Out, and Less is More; Asia must reject the Western model (which promotes relentless consumerism, voodoo economics, and the constant ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ mantra); we need fewer human rights.  (You can see why his message might be seen as a little confrontational …)
  • The only way for this to work is to follow traditional Asian societal models – Asians cannot live like Westerners.  They must embrace the “restrain and restrict” message of societies like Singapore, and (even more contentious a suggestion) China.

This slightly dizzying summary in no way illustrates the nature or ‘feel’ of the session, with its already-mentioned Shouty Dude, myriad of business suits interspersed with a fair sprinkling of more alternative-looking types, and a really very challenging message, but will hopefully inspire those with a socially- or economically-enquiring mind to explore further!

Reality bites?

Book cover: "Gifted"Patrick Evans offended Janet Frame so badly she sent him the angriest letter he ever got from someone he wasn’t in a relationship with. She called him a ‘person from Porlock’, likening him to the unwanted intruder who disrupted Coleridge’s inspired creativity as he set down his dream of the poem Kubla Khan.

Evans never met Frame, but he has spent 40 years thinking and writing about her; reading and teaching her. She called herself New Zealand’s greatest unread writer; he calls her the richest we have ever had.

Gifted, Evans’ novel about Janet Frame and Frank Sargeson, is an interesting addition to the ever increasing genre of books about ‘real’ people featuring some events that did happen and some that did not.

C.K. Stead met them both – he said the Frank and Janet in Gifted are much nicer than the real Frank and Janet. Others thought not. Few would know the ‘truth’.

So who owns the story of a person’s life? Does Patrick Evans have the right to attempt another narrative of Janet Frame’s life, when she had Book cover" "Wulf"already created one with her autobiography?

Who owns the stories of Te Rauparaha or Paratene Te Manu? Where does history end and the novel begin?

Maurice Shadbolt wrote fiction about the New Zealand Wars and said “it’s true if I say it is”.

Peter Carey wrote fiction about the Kelly Gang and said “I made it all up”.

What do you think?