Neighbourhood Week: Getting to know your neighbours

When the September quake struck I had only been in my house for a few months and had met few of my neighbours. Within a day I met a many more. Suddenly I felt part of the community. It didn’t last though, because many people moved on from our mud-strewn street over the months following the February event. However, I get another chance, because some kind person has organised a street party as part of Neighbourhood Week.
Birthday Party

Many of us have had to move in the last couple of years and need ways to get to know our new community, but how do you do it if you are not lucky enough to have a neighbour organising a street party?

My first port of call would be to CINCH. I’m not a church goer, but I had so many of the local churches knock on my door after the earthquakes that I could have held an inter-denominational conference in my living room – so I know that there are many active in my area. A search for church groups in St Albans brings up an impressive list. Likewise I can look for any groups involved in activities I enjoy, such as the St Albans Art Society or Garden Club.

I could also visit my friendly area community centre and have a chat. Fortunately the Council has just given us a temporary facility to replace the one we lost in September 2010.

If you want to plan your own event for Neighbourhood Week, the Council has lots of good ideas on their web page.


NaNoWriMoJust when things were settling down in my life, I’ve gone ahead and done something crazy. I’ve signed up to NaNoWriMo!

On Thursday this week I am about to embark on a creative writing marathon and I’m panicking. 50,000 words in a month. That averages out at 1666.66 words a day. Eeek. Am I ready for such a commitment? Do I have the concentration? Will the muse even bother to talk to me? Have I stockpiled enough pencils and Arabica espresso beans to keep me going?

I’ve joined the National Novel Writing Month Christchurch Group and they’re a friendly, supportive bunch. There was a kick-off party over the weekend and we were encouraged to wear a crazy hat so you see can see that although writing is an introvert’s sport there is still a chance to get together and have some fun. The group will meet at Central Library Tuam and Upper Riccarton Libraries during the event so people can touch base and support each other. I think we’re going to need it!

Vanessa, who’s in charge of organising the group tells me that even NaNoWriMo veterans like  herself (this is her fourth year) have pre-event insecurities so I’m not alone. It’s going to be tough but if I manage 50,000 words I’m going to feel pretty darn pleased with myself. There is no editing or revision involved. There is no marking, assessment or prize giving. This is an exercise is ‘an experiment in pure output’. Bring it on!

I’ll be blogging about my experiences over the next four weeks. If you’re keen to join in, there is still time to sign up. For more information on National Novel Writing Month visit or to contact a Christchurch Municipal Liaison email Vanessa

Psst! – hidden treasures #5

So far, while exploring, I’ve mainly talked about old stuff in our Aotearoa New Zealand Collection. This time around I want to let you in on a little secret:  whenever our library selectors buy New Zealand titles for the libraries, they buy a special copy for the Aotearoa New Zealand Collection. Just like its brothers and sisters out circulating in the community libraries, it gets processed and organised and added to the records, but after that it (most often) makes its way here to Tuam Street, where it is freely available to read, as long as you don’t leave the room!  Seriously, don’t make me chase you …

Remember that these books are reference only, and not to borrow, so unfortunately if you are number 72 on the list for a popular recent release, you can’t jump the queue; but if you truly are DESPERATE to get a head start on the latest must-read, Central Library Tuam and the ANZC are a great place to visit. Poking round the shelves this morning turned up these treasures:

  • Julie Le Clerc’s Favourite Cakes (for when you need something yummy)
  • Dennis Greville’s Easy on the Pocket Vegetable Growing (in case you spent all your money buying those cake ingredients)
  • Witi Ihimaera’s The Parihaka Woman, and Paula Morris’ Rangatira, both recent novels by two of our most well-known writers
  • Joanne Drayton’s The Search for Anne Perry (for those who saw, or didn’t see, Joanne at The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival)
  • and a series of large and hauntingly beautiful books featuring the photographic work of Doc Ross. I was particularly moved by the 2012 title Quietus: Observations of an Altered City, a large white-covered book recording the changing face of Christchurch, with a mixture of black and white, and colour photos, and script by Andrew Paul Wood. This is one of only 50 copies printed, and it is a real privilege to have a copy here on the shelf at Tuam Street to be read and admired by all.