This week in Christchurch history (30 September – 6 October)

30 September 1972
New Town Hall complex and James Hay Theatre (designed by Warren and Mahoney) opens.
Ferrier Fountain commissioned.

1 October 1870
Opening of Canterbury Museum building, designed by B.W. Mountfort.

3 October 1988
Park Royal Hotel opens in Victoria Square.

5 October 1899
First Boer War contingent leaves Lyttelton.

Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in
chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

More September and October events in the Chronology.

Kids’ Books: picks from our September newsletter

Some picks from our September Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover of Art DetectiveCover of Bo at Ballard CreekCover of The Dragon's ToothCover of LEGO Man in SpaceCover of The  Name of This Book is SecretCover of The Mouse with the Question Mark TailCover of Romeo BlueCover of Smells Like TreasureCover of The Glitch in Sleep

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight to your inbox.

For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

Haere ra Central Library on Gloucester Street

The future plans for the central city mean the Central Library is going to be demolished; we are saying goodbye.

Christchurch City Libraries began in 1859 as a Mechanics Institute collection in temporary premises in the then Town Hall in High Street. In 1863 the library moved to a wooden building on the corner of Hereford Street and Cambridge Terrace. The wooden building was replaced with a handsome brick building in 1901 and this was the Central Library until 1982.

The 4th incarnation of the Central Library – located on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace – opened on 11 January 1982. Warren and Mahoney were the architects and C. S. Luney the principal contractor. Governor-General the Hon. Sir David Beattie officially opened the building on 2 February 1982.

Here are some of the keen first people to arrive.
Customers entering library

I started going to the Central Library in Gloucester Street when I moved to Christchurch in the 1990s. I would toddle in once a week for my supply of CDs and books. Later on I was stoked to get a job at Central. I’ve got many good memories of all sorts of things:  talking with customers on the Popular desk on the ground floor, the neat views over Gloucester Street to Cathedral Square, great friends, staffroom chats, oohing and ahhing over new books and CDs and DVDS, breastfeeding my daughter in the sick room, listening to NZ Music Month concerts and author talks. In Central you really did feel part of town’s action and bustle. Central Library staff and customers were (and are) an awesome bunch.

Cover of Canterbury Public LibraryThe riverside land the library stands on is required for the planned Convention Centre. A new Central Library is to be built on a site bordered by Gloucester Street, Colombo Street and Cathedral Square.

We’d love you to share your memories and comments at the bottom of this post

Until we are back again in a new Central Library, enjoy our temporary Centrals – Central Library Peterborough, Central Library Tuam (until it closes on 1 November) and the upcoming Central Library Manchester.

More about the Central Library


There are lots more photos of the Central Library on Flickr.
Demolition in progress on the site for the new Central LibraryThe new Central Library nearing completionCentral Library
Literature Arts and Music DepartmentBody Festival 2008.Zinefest 09
Gay Maher and Mary Flatman cut the cakeCentral LibraryCraig Smith at the Central LibraryCentral Library

Name that car: Picturing Canterbury

Car float and rollerskaters
Car float and rollerskates, Hay’s Christmas parade, [197-?]

Have a go mate

Give it a go slogan“Have a go” is such a Kiwi expression. It speaks of generosity – offering to share an opportunity, confidence that any person has the right to try and enjoy a pursuit. It harks back to more equitable times when people had more freedom to have a go – access to beaches, rivers and the countryside was not so bounded by ownership and rules and people shared their knowledge of different skills.

During the week of 28 September to 6 October in Lyttelton there will be a generous sharing of skills and knowledge and a cheerful invitation to “Have a go” at the Lyttelton Harbour kura – festival of learning programme. On Saturday 28 there will be a drumathon, flax weaving, organic vege garden advice, tap dancing, blues dancing, Maori performing arts, drawing and much more.

Making sand saucersSunday seems to have a strong foodie theme – more garden advice, butchery, bread and tortilla making and sausage making. As well there is stilt walking and mandala creating. Monday has felted brooch making, more foodie stuff for kids and adults and so it goes on through the week. Ukelele jams, ecology field trips, becoming a self-sufficent library user, improvisation, reclaiming broken jewellery into new wearable pieces, superhero singing – phew.

The weekend of the 5 and 6 October rounds off with more workshops, a book fair, body percussion, cheesemaking, foraging and upcycling frocks. Some events are free and some have fees to cover ingredients and materials.

Just so many fun things to have a go at.

Trist for tackle: 1902

View in our collection


We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.

Kathy Reichs really does know everything

Cover of Bones of the lostWith a capacity crowd at the aptly-named Legends Lounge on Monday night, the amazingly over-talented Kathy Reichs kept the audience at The Press Christchurch Writers Festival event  well entertained. Missy T and I arrived early, and it was just as well, as the room filled rapidly with adoring fans both young and old.

Most of what she said should have come as no surprise to fans. The questions from both QC Chris McVeigh and the audience were good and she graciously took every lead and followed it well. I’d not heard her speak before, and she looks like one of those frighteningly well-put-together women who manages everything and everyone into submission.  She is, however, warm and witty, charming and very easy to listen to.

She told stories of life both real and fictional, and I have to say sometimes I forgot whether it was Kathy Reichs or Tempe Brennan we were talking about, which was a bit disconcerting. For those who aren’t as familiar with her work, Dr Reichs is as fully qualified in real life as her main character is in the books, and she always uses a real-life case as the basis for each one of her books (albeit changing all details on the way). She explained that in real life her job is always about answering the same two questions – identity (who is this person?); and cause of death; and for both of these questions, it’s always about the bones.

So what can we tell you that might be new?

  • Contracted to write 19 Tempe Brennan and 5 Virals books, she is currently working on numbers 17 and 5 respectively.
  • The Bones TV series is now in its 9th season, with no sign of slowing down, but as with all TV there are no guarantees.
  • There’s an episode coming up called The Dude and the Dam, which will contain easter eggs – 5 clues from the book Bones of the Lost. Those who watch the episode and read the book will be able to enter an online competition to win stuff.
  • She knows the TV series has a different feel from the books, and gracefully accepted criticism from the audience suggesting that sometimes the show can seem a little flippant and Hollywood-y. She said everyone can see that the two storylines (book and TV) are different, and for those who are worried by this, it might help to see TV Tempe as being a younger, less polished version of Book Tempe – like a prequel.
  • She really loves working with her kids. She co-authors the Virals series with her son (who has been known to proclaim after a particularly brutal editing by Kathy “Mom, you’re murdering my art!”; and works on the TV series with one of her daughters.
  • Kathy often finds character names by reading local obituaries – if the book is set in a specific town or city, she will read past newspapers from that town and gather names from there.
  • The idea to do the Virals series came about after a conversation with one of her children, who suggested that teens would also love to read about forensics. The more unusual aspects of the books (what Kathy calls ‘elements of grounded fantasy’) were added because her publisher noted that teens nowadays seem to be obsessed with the supernatural, and she really didn’t want to do vampires. Or werewolves.

So a good night all round, really, with dozens lined up afterwards for what looked like it might be a long wait for book signing. And as always, a great big thank you to the The Press Christchurch Writers Festival team for another sterling event!

Get more Kathy Reichs in your life

The truth about yachting

Cover of Three men in a boatThe truth about yachting is that it is wet. All the time. And cold. And you do it all at an angle of 45 degrees. Then, just as your balance has adjusted to that, they tack and you have to do it all again from the other side. Oh, and it’s windy and when it’s not windy (aka The America’s Cup 2013), the skipper, probably your best mate or lover will be grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. He may put on the diesel engine. And then there’s the seasickness.

So I am mystified by the zealousness with which the nation has taken to The America’s Cup. And I should know, because back in the 70s, I was raised on a diet of glamorous Peter Stuyvesant sailing adverts – all beautiful women in bikinis and gorgeous tanned men, went on a date with a yachting man to a Thor Heyerdahl (KonTiki) film. And married him.

The first yacht was a thing of great beauty belonging to the Dragon class. Sleek, wooden craft with no facilities whatsoever, they are famous for having been the favoured yacht of Royalty. But Royalty has minions and Dragons need to be recaulked and varnished every year. My husband only had me.

Then he said: let’s build a yacht and take part in the Cape to  Rio race. The word “No” never crossed my mind. And that is how I came to be pregnant, wearing a bright orange lifejacket like a giant Oros man and  sailing the seas of the Cape of Storms without the comfort of sherry (the acknowledged best thing to drink on yachts because it tastes the same coming up as it does going down.)

The baby, my daughter, was born and I continued sailing with children. Such Fun – Not. Then, one day on a rough trip, breastfeeding her down below, I burped her. She vomited down my back and I threw up in the bucket between my knees. Everyone agreed it was time to quit. I have never been back on a yacht since.

That said,  the library has loads of sailing books and resources for all the innocents out there. But I am sticking to narrow boats and ocean liners from now on. But for all of you who are getting up the crack of dawn to support Emirate Team New Zealand and who are considering buying a dinghy for Christmas, I say stick to a rubber ducky and if you don’t believe me, surely this quote will convince you!

Sailing – The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill, while going nowhere slowly at great expense (equivalent to standing in a cold shower, fully clothed, throwing up, and tearing up $100 bills, while a bunch of other people watch you).

Time to put on my red socks. Go Team New Zealand!

School holidays ahoy

Kids at Upper Riccarton LibrarySchool (and kindy) holidays start after Friday 27 September, and kids are back on Monday 14 October.

Check out our school holiday programmes  and read Audrey’s blog post for a bit more about the fun learning activities like Claymation, Digital story telling and Chillout Tunes.

Find out more about other Christchurch activities and holiday programmes for the September/October holidays, including:

Kia ora to the Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre

Last week I visited a special place at the Airforce Museum – it is called the Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre. The name is quite a mouthful, but to put it simply this is a place for local museums and other organisations to store and repair their collections.

Moya Sherriff is an intern at the CCCRC. She has been doing some excellent blog posts summarising the work and progress of the Centre:

In November 2011, the Air Force Museum started construction on a new building development, to create an extension for the exhibition, restoration and conservation spaces of the large object collections.

The role of the CCCRC is to provide a free space for those cultural organisations within Canterbury who have either lost their premises due to the earthquakes or are in need of temporary collection storage while their buildings are going through the EQC repair process. Each group has been given a designated storage area within the Recovery Centre and a shared workspace where organisations can re-group, assess the consequences and needs of collections and begin the processes of documentation, cataloguing and boxing, while having access to conservation treatments.

The work being done is important. The collections are being catalogued, reorganised, and repaired. Networks are being forged, workers are gaining new skills and knowledge, and this project is a model of cooperation and collaboration.

Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre timeline