New Zealand Fashion in pictures: Kete Christchurch

It’s New Zealand Fashion Week and here on the Christchurch City Libraries blog we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

First up are photos from Kete Christchurch, our online repository for community stories (it’s a sort of “digital shoebox” that anyone can contribute to). It’s also a great place to find images of local people through the years and sometimes they’ve got their “Sunday Best” on. Many of the best images on Kete Christchurch are from our annual Photo Hunt competition which we’ll be running again later in the year.

Have a look at some of these great ensembles. There are…


Two Young Women
Two Young Women, 1910  (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Two Ladies with baskets
Two Ladies with baskets. (Kete Site Admin) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Mavis Howarth, August 1935
Mavis Howarth, August 1935 (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Railway office staff 1958
Railway office staff 1958 (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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The birdwatcher’s guide to love

Cover of A Guide to the Birds of East AfricaIt took a couple of months for my husband to reveal his hobbies to me when first we met. He slapped Amateur Radio on the table pretty early on (I think he knew I would never really understand what it was all about. He was right.) He then drip fed his love of Opera – still I hung in there. But I think even he knew that Birdwatching might be a shove too far, so we were well into the relationship before I finally went on a birding outing. But it is only recently that I’ve noticed bird watching fiction books flying off the shelves.

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson was our Book Group read of the month just recently. It sounds as if it will be a field guide and almost looks like one, but in fact it is a charming story about winning the love of a woman in a bird watching competition. It is like Alexander McCall Smith but set in Kenya. The main character – Mr Malek – is an Indian gentleman with a comb-over. It is his absolute integrity that takes us for a wander through a quite sanitized Kenya. It’s all rather darling.

Cover of H is for HawkH is for Hawk, on the other hand, although about birds – well, hawks in particular, is a true story about the author (Helen Macdonald) and her need to train a wild hawk to assuage the pain she felt on the death of her beloved father. It is not sweet and cute; it is hard and true and very revealing. It is on the extremities of bird watching; I can’t see Helen ever joining a Sunday walking birding group for a bit of twitching.

Other recent reads with birds as a theme include Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield where crows and the superstitions around them play an important role in the structure and ominousness of this novel set in Victorian times. The Birdwatcher by William McInnes is a poignant read about twitchers and secrets and changing your life. And Snapper by Brian Kimberling is a romp of a read with a beautiful cover: “Snapper is a book about birdwatching, a woman who won’t stay true, and a pick-up truck that won’t start”. Finally, before you get too cosy, you must read the brilliant, chilling novella by Daphne du Maurier The Birds – later made into a horror film by Alfred Hitchcock.

Cover of SnapperTurned out I would grow to love birding: the pre-dawn start with the sounds and smells of the bush at Ndumo Game Reserve slowly coming to life. I loved the coffee pit stop, the walking, the camaraderie. On my first major outing, everyone wanted to find one particular bird: a Pel’s Fishing Owl. What chance did I have? I knew nothing about birds and had yet to be gifted my own binoculars. Hours into the walk, I felt the call of nature and snuck furtively away from the group into bushy scrubland and managed – inadvertently, to flush out the Pel’s Fishing Owl – which flew in a graceful arc over the Pongola River for all to see.

I recommend birding men as potential partners. They are observant, patient, good listeners who love nature, plus they know when to shut up. And when you flush out the bird of the day (for all the wrong reasons), they remain proud of you – and buy you your own binoculars!

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Tangi (cry)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kiwaha (idiom)

Ki hori
Step aside

Kupu (word)


Kaua e tangi, e te tau.
Don’t cry, my darling

Whāngahia te Reo


This week in Christchurch history (24 to 30 August)

24 August 1857
Evans Pass road over the Port Hills opens.

25 August 1920
First flight over Cook Strait (Christchurch to Trentham) by Captain Euan Dickson in a Canterbury Aviation Company plane. Read more in Peter Aimer, ‘Aviation – Early flying feats‘, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 13-Jul-12.

Captain Euan Dickson, Mr C.H. Hewlett and Mr J.E. Moore
Captain Euan Dickson, Mr C.H. Hewlett and Mr J.E. Moore. This photograph is held at Archives New Zealand as part of the New Zealand National Airways Corporation series. Archives Reference: AEPK W2774 19953 Box 1 35 (R11174482). Flickr, Archives New Zealand Some rights reserved.

26 August 1939
Official opening of City Council’s pensioner housing project in Barnett Avenue, Sydenham; the first local body pensioner housing in New Zealand.

28 August 1890
“Great maritime strike” (the first of New Zealand’s 3 major waterfront strikes) spreads to Lyttelton.

More August events in the Christchurch chronology: a timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.