Dancing at the library: School holiday fun at Aranui Library

Aranui Library holiday activitiesAranui Library’s holiday activities started off with a couple of spontaneous bursts of creativity making Christmas cards using old book covers, and scrap paper.

Next on the agenda was Josh‟s big plan to hold stencil art workshops to coincide with the Rise Art Exhibition happening throughout the city. We held these every week which helped build enthusiasm and momentum for our trip to the museum at the end of the holidays.

Ebony created a quiz, the answers to which could be found all around the library. 1) It would be something to do while waiting in the computer queue and 2) it would require the participants to walk around and explore the library. Ebony challenged the kids to an Xbox Dance Central game and if she won, they’d do the quiz.

This segues quite neatly into the next phase of our holiday activity programme which was our Dance Central competition on the Xbox Kinect. The idea behind this was that we would give a prize to the person with the highest score at the end of the holidays. This particular activity required very little input from staff apart from when they felt we needed a challenge as well. Nicole and Ebony donated their dancing prowess to the cause.

Throughout all this we kept 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles going; two Wasgijs and two normal ones.

All our activities attracted roughly equal numbers of both boys and girls and gave us plenty of opportunities to spend quality time and bond with our youth customers.

Yay Aranui it was fun for all of us!!
Aranui Library holiday activitiesAranui Library holiday activitiesAranui Library holiday activitiesAranui Library holiday activities

Story blankets at the marae: Picturing Canterbury

Story blankets at Rehua Marae Matariki story blanket display at Rehua Marae, Christchurch.

Explore our sampler of Waitangi Day photographs from our collection.

Selfies, Maps and a Prince Philip cult: Cool new stuff from our Selectors

Cover of Tigers foreverTigers forever: Saving the world’s most endangered big cat by Steve Winter
This book showcases a decade of beautiful photographs and stories of tigers in the wild.  Alongside the spectacular photography by Steve Winter, and award winning National Geographic photographer are the stories of the committed people from all around the world who dedicate their lives to saving the tiger from extinction

Cover of My first AnimaliaMy first Animalia by Graeme Base
Animalia was first published in 1986, immediately capturing the imagination of children and adults around the world.  My First Animalia celebrates the magic of Animalia in a playful introductory format for the very young, but will appeal to all ages!

Cover of GoGo : a Kidd’s guide to graphic design by Chip Kidd
The author is an award winning graphic designer who has created a kid friendly (and adult friendly too) book on how to get your design ideas across to the world, showing how to make design dynamic and interesting. The back of the book contains 10 suggested projects to get started and these can then be posted to gothebook.com

Cover of MapsMaps by Aleksandra Mizielinska
This collection of 52 highly illustrated maps details not only geographical features and political borders, but also places of interest, iconic personalities, native animals and plants, local peoples, cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with each region. Check examples of the maps – they really are quirky and very interesting.  The New Zealand map has lots of well known icons, but nothing for Christchurch.  What is our global icon now?

Cover of SelfiesSelfies: Self -portrait photography with attitude by Jan-Haje Kamps
Apparently the Selfie is more than just pointing the camera at yourself and making a duckface. “Selfie” was added to the online version of the Oxford dictionary in August and is being considered for future inclusion in the more traditional Oxford English Dictionary so it must be here to stay!  This book might be the answer to those endless rather banal images that clutter Facebook, or perhaps Kim Kardashian (the expert in self promotion) can also set you on the right path?

Cover of Man belong Mrs QueenMan belong Mrs Queen : adventures with the Philip worshippers / Baylis, Matthew.
This has to one of the months more unusual books as it is about a Prince Philip- loving cult (Yes you did read this right – the Prince Philip of the dreadful gaffes) that exists on the South Sea Island of Tanna.

On the rumbling slopes of this remarkable volcanic island, banjaxed by daily doses of the local narcotic, suffering from a diet of yams and regularly accused of being a divine emissary of the Duke, Baylis uncovered a religion unlike any other on the planet. Self-deprecating, hilarious and enlightening, “Man Belong Mrs Queen” is travel writing at its horizon-expanding best.

Lyttelton Road Tunnel – 50th anniversary

Bridle_Path_Road_Lyttelton_Tunnel_Admin_Canopy_smallToday is the anniversary of the opening of the Lyttelton Road Tunnel. The tunnel was opened in 1964 and a lot of us probably take its existence for granted. Or – perhaps not,  since the earthquakes. I’ve always felt a bit anxious going through the tunnel (any tunnel) but bear it as the gateway to some really special places.

A tunnel is such a simple idea which can lead to heroic and complicated engineering solutions. Not to mention the bravery of those who construct the tunnel. A reminder of this close to home was the Lake Coleridge tunnelling accident which claimed the life of 3 men in 1925. These photographs record the rescue efforts.

Photo of Administration buildingThe tunnel complemented the long established Lyttelton Rail Tunnel. Christchurch had a rail tunnel from early colonial times but all sorts of issues prevented a road tunnel from joining it. It is the longest road tunnel in New Zealand and was originally a toll road. This was abolished in 1979.

The Lyttelton Road Tunnel Administration Building at the Heathcote (Christchurch) end of the tunnel was designed by Christchurch architect Peter Beaven. The distinctive building was  demolished in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes.

The building was demolished in early 2013. In May 2013 designs for a replacement building were released.

Are you a regular user of the tunnel? Do you remember its opening?

Motueka and the Tasman area give heart to Christchurch

Central Library Peterborough is hosting a Paper Mache Hearts Exhibition. The hearts were made by the people of Motueka and the Tasman Region for the people of Christchurch on the anniversary of the 22 February 2011 earthquake. The project was the brain child of Julie Clausen, a Christchurch sculptor and artist who moved to Motueka after the earthquake.  Since moving, Julie hadn’t been back to her art – so this project was to help her get back on track and to offer a gift to the people of Christchurch.

Motueka Public Library hosted workshops to make the heart over two consecutive Wednesdays, and included adults and children.

Paper Mache Hearts

Refresh your spirit, feed your soul

After the summer’s trials of cool weather and lack of rain, my tomatoes are still not ripe and I have had to rescue the wilting hydrangeas on more than one occasion. So where else after this indifferent summer in the garden should I go but to the delights of the Ellerslie Flower Show to refresh my spirit.

Cover of the Ornamental Edible GardenNow is the time to remind ourselves that gardening is not all work and no play, but rather a chance to create a place for our own enjoyment. As the summer draws closer to its end we can sit back and take time to enjoy the spoils of our labour.

All that work weeding, staking and deadheading is to create a place of beauty where we can take time to rest and recuperate at the end of a busy week. The Ellerslie garden designers have created plenty of those places that make the spirit soar and imagination take flight.

Every small patch of ground can become an urban utopia for your sensual delight and a little knowledge can go a long way, so I have taken to browsing the library shelves for inspiration for my own little plot. Could my vegetable and herb garden be a visual delight like the potager at the Curator’s House in the Botanic Gardens?

Or my deck showcase hypertufa pots decorated with rescued broken china? Ideas for creative planters, pots and bird baths abound in the landscaping and DIY sections of the library, and give you the practical nous to fulfill your dreams of what might be. Never mind that my herb garden has already had two attempts at redevelopment and the ingredients for hypertufa have been languishing in the garage for several years!

I have found more inspiration in our Zinio online gardening magazines.

Cover of Gardening AustraliaCover of Homes & GardensCover of The Kitchen Garden

Do you have any garden projects planned this autumn? What projects are languishing in your garden shed? Have you tried Zinio magazines yet?

Find out more about the Ellerslie Flower Show and garden resources here and view our flickr photos of previous Ellerslie shows.

Fiction A to Z: picks from our February newsletter

Some picks from our February Fiction A to Z newsletter, including the first novel by Ishmael Beah, who rose to fame following the publication of A Long Way Gone, his memoirs of his life as a boy soldier in Sierra Leone.

Cover of Radiance of TomorrowCover of Traveling SprinklerCover of At Night We Walk in CirclesCover of The World We FoundCover of The Bird SkinnerCover of For Today I Am a BoyCover of A Well-Tempered HeartCover of The Days of Anna MadrigalCover of The Supreme Macaroni Company

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Morticians in love

Cover of The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior FuneralsMorticians also fall in love.

This must have been happening since the beginning of time, but only now (to the best of my knowledge) has there been a such a rush of material on the love life of those who deal with the dead.

The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals is a 2012 first novel by Welsh writer Wendy Jones. Set in small town Wales in the 1920s, Wilfred makes the kind of mistake that only the blurters of this world will identify with. He hears the sentence “Will you marry me Grace” come out of his mouth and crash onto the picnic rug when that was not what he was thinking at all. Almost immediately events get completely out of control. There is an unwanted pregnancy, a new love, the mother-in-law from hell and, of course,  the dead. Wilfred is at best naive, at worst a little dimwitted (especially about women), but he is unfailingly courteous to the dead. He is a decent man.

Cover of A Trick I Learned From Dead MenFast forward some eighty years and meet Lee Hart, a young mortician in London. His story is told in A Trick I Learned From Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge. The content of these two books is quite similar, but the styles of writing are very different. For that reason alone they are worth reading. Lee is surrounded by death both at work, and in unfolding episodes, at home as well. Yet he remains resolutely upbeat, positive about life and ready to love and be loved. He is a kind young man whose dead customers end up on the receiving end of some of the best conversations of their lives when they finally end up in his care.

In case this is all becoming too sweet and fluffy for your liking, fear not, for Evelyn Waugh produced an acid drop of a little book in The Loved One (first published in 1948). Set in Hollywood, there are two funeral parlours, one for humans (Whispering Glades) and one for pets (Happier Hunting Grounds). Senior Mortician Mr Joyboy,  a mysterious cosmetician, a murder, several corpses and a seemingly hapless Cover of The Loved Onepoet combine to make this Black Humour at its best.

But if you want soulful and beautiful, head straight to the library DVD section and watch the Japanese film Departures in which a young musician, having lost his position in the orchestra, applies for a job in what he thought was a travel agency. Instead he ends up as a Nokanshi (encoffineer) in a small Japanese town. In this film the taboos that cling to those who deal with the dead almost ruin his marriage.

And taboos there are. Western culture has separated us from dealing with death. I have never met a mortician, never met anyone who wanted to be in that line of work. Certainly it doesn’t crop up in career guidance at school. As a result, I felt quite squeamish reading bits of these books. So it was important for me to be reminded that there is a human side to dealing with death and that it is undeniably true:

Morticians also fall in love.

City Council Chambers: 1902

View in our collection


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

Clearing the clutter…maybe!

Casual LivingI’ve always dreamed of my house looking as beautiful as the houses in those magazines. Although I love the way we’ve done up our old bungalow, the place just never looks “magazine worthy”! I think this is probably because A: I’m too lazy, and B: well – I’m just too lazy!

I like the idea of A place for everything and everything in it’s place but I never seem to be able to get it all under control. There’s just always so much stuff to deal with: half finished projects, tools, the kids toys, laundry in various stages of the washdryfoldputaway process, and all the general detritus of daily life. And I guess it doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a hoarder.  Not like those pathological hoarders, but…well, ’nuff said.

Christmas, much as I love it, brings with it an avalanche of stuff. All the new toys for the kids, packaging, wrapping paper, Christmas cards, pine needles… It’s February already, but I’ve only just recovered! My Young Lad’s birthday was in November, so when we added the Christmas stuff to the birthday stuff, his room was so chocker we could barely move in there. So the other day, I gave his room a darn good sort out — I even re-arranged the furniture. It looks amazing and seems three times bigger. This has spurred me on to de-clutter and organise the house in general (and my sewing room in particular).

Organized Simplicity

Since I’ve been attempting to get the place sorted for about the last 12 years, with no success, I decided I needed some outside intervention.

Luckily the library has plenty of books to turn to for guidance and inspiration, and I’m really looking forward to reading them. I’m rather curious to find out what the toothbrush principle is, and I wonder if it really will change my life? Is it REALLY possible to conquer clutter in 3 simple steps or to organise my entire house in just seven days??

If none of it works, I can always console myself that a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life.

Now, if I could just find somewhere to put this stack of library books till I find the time to I read them….