Bad Hair Days

Cover of the man with messy hairYou know it’s a bad day when you stumble myopically to the bathroom, ‘cos you can’t find your glasses without the aid of glasses; open the bathroom cabinet and spray your luxuriant locks with anti-perspirant and only realise your mistake when you locate aforementioned specs and can see that you are about to apply the hairspray where it will just prove ineffectual!

Cover of 10-minute hairstylesIf you’re an optimist I suppose you would simply remark: “Well, if it gets really hot today I’ve taken appropriate action to avoid head sweat.”  If, on the other hand, you are me then you step wearily into the shower to try and rectify the damage.

Washed and blow-dried to the best of your limited capabilities, your ‘crowning glory’ is no longer glorious…  It’s at this point you decide that a radical restyle is in order; but how to achieve it?…

Cover of haircutting for dummiesThe answer lies with your library card and password / PIN.  Simply search in the catalogue for hairstyles and – voilà –  books and magazines galore devoted to the subject that are the answer to a distressed maiden’s prayer.  The 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s Look, Big Hair, Curly Hair, Long Hair, Short Hair, Fantasy, Dreadlocks, Braids, Buns, Twists, Marcelle Waves, Beading and Bows are there for the taking.  And for those who are stunningly reckless there is always the ‘cut’.

So, to all those ladies (and gents!) out there stressing about their tresses, remember, the research can be done via your local Library.

Some ‘mindful’ thinking on future trends

MiNDFOOD is a popular magazine that never lasts long on the shelves. Marketing promotes it as containing:

intelligent, inspirational ideas and information. A completely integrated concept, MiNDFOOD the magazine brings you in depth features on society, wellness, environment, culture, travel and food. It’s all about Smart Thinking.

Cover of The Everyday Fermentation HandbookSo when MiNDFOOD publishes its Trends for the Future, we should surely sit up and listen. Bear in mind however that these trends are very much focused towards the MiNDFOOD reader – urbane, “mindful”, middle-class and with a spare bob or two.

Preserving:  Whether it’s eating like a caveman or revisiting Grandmother’s preserving tips, we are still searching for ideas from the past. Of late fermenting has become an added twist to this trend.

Later Learning: This is an area that the Library excels in. Research suggests that career changes, redundancies and retirement mean we have a lifetime of learning ahead of us. The CINCH directory is the ideal place to start looking for that next option.

Cover of Side by SideChild’s Play:  You can’t but help but have noticed the proliferation of colouring books on sale this Christmas. Although this is not an area the Library can contribute to, a previous blog post has a suggestion for Zentangles that could well satisfy the need to doodle and colour. There are also many books in the craft section that can help you to glitter and glue to your heart’s content.

Fashion to the people: Apparently runway shows are opening up to the masses with social media making them no longer the realm of the elite.  Here are some tips to help you keep one step ahead of the next big thing.

Cover of Furniture HacksInside and out: Individuality is becoming the essence of living environments… apparently.  I suspect the vast majority of us already know this, not having the time, money or inclination to redecorate in the latest trends each year, however here are two books that encourage your unique style.

Travel Smarter: It’s all about Wellness Tourism, Eco Tourism and Adventure Travel.

Cover of Happy CityUrban Renewal: Now this is a trend that we in Christchurch can understand!

Lifestyle Matters: It’s all about co-housing, communities and community living and “rural retreats”

Mindfulness goes mainstream:  You can be mindful in the kitchen, the bedroom and have mindful children and cats. We are now mindful when we eat, exercise and work. In fact Mindfulness seems to have permeated almost every aspect of the Library collection.

Resolving My Resolutions

I am firmly resolved not to make any New Year’s Resolutions this year.

Cover of The Calorie MythActually, I make the same statement at around this time of year every year without fail and invariably New Year’s Eve finds me trying to think of something that isn’t too ambitious so that I will not let myself down.

If these resolutions involve depriving myself of food or ramping up the ‘I don’t do any’ exercise regime, they are quickly kicked into the ‘totally undo-able’ bin. I have tried to commit to healthier eating and gentle, diligent exercise, but by about Day 5 I’m bored, bored, bored and bored with the whole idea. I need instant results with none of the hard labour!

Cover of The 100To help me feel better I thought I would see whether anyone else had the same failure rate as me. Unfortunately, typing in ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ in the library catalogue came up with Judith O’Reilly’s A Year of Doing Good. The author ’embarked on a mission to Cover of A Year of Doing Gooddo one good deed every day. Some called it a social experiment. At times she called it madness.’ My opinion is firmly anchored in the latter camp. Still, it did give me an idea… I am not making a Resolution, but I will try to read this book at some point during the year.

What ‘tried and tested’ Resolutions have proved successful for you?

This week in Christchurch history (28 December to 3 January)

28 December 1912
First New Zealand croquet championships held in City.

30 December 1988
Water restrictions in force for first time in City’s history as water tables dropped to record low levels.

31 December 1984
“Kiwi House” opened at Orana Park (first chick born in captivity in South Island, November 1989).

Cover of Nimrod by Beau Riffenburgh1 January 1862
New Zealand’s first rowing regatta held on Lyttelton Harbour.

1 January 1908
Shackleton expedition sails for Antarctica in “Nimrod”. A crowd estimated as high as 50,000 watched the departure – probably the largest in Lyttelton’s history.

2 January 1896
Australasian Amateur Athletic and Cycling Championships held at Lancaster Park.

Ten mile championship of New Zealand [Jan. 1896]
Ten mile championship of New Zealand [Jan. 1896], at Lancaster Park, CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0057
3 January 1883
Graving dock in Lyttelton Harbour officially opens.

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

The Troubles – Boxing Day, 1879

Wherever you go, you take your troubles with you.

This was never more apparent than on Boxing Day, 1879, when sectarian violence broke out on the streets of Christchurch and Timaru, between Irish Catholics and protestant Orangemen.

Although the more severe violence took place in Christchurch, it was actually the Timaru fracas that made it possible.

Prior to Christmas, news had spread throughout the district that the members of Loyal Orange Lodge no. 13 planned to march as part of an annual Boxing Day parade of Friendly Societies. This enraged the Irish Catholics of the area, (of which there were many, one suburb of Timaru being called “Kerrytown” after the home county of its inhabitants) and it became apparent that the parade would not be without incident.

The local constabulary, wishing to control the situation, sent to Christchurch for reinforcements ahead of the parade, leaving the local force in the city depleted. There was also an Orangemen parade planned in Christchurch for the same day but no particularly strong sentiment against it had been expressed and trouble was not expected there. This turned out to be a flawed prediction as violence would indeed break out in front of the Borough Hotel.

On the morning of Boxing Day, in Timaru 40 or so Orangemen gathered before the parade to put on their regalia and “colours”. A large group of Irish Catholics (including my own great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Kelly, then a youthful 22 year-old) left the Hiberian Hotel that morning intent on preventing the Orangemen from marching. The number grew when the train from Waimate arrived with further protestors. Even with reinforcements the police were hugely outnumbered. Even so there appears to have been jostling and shouting and a refusal to disperse but no one was seriously injured. The Orangemen were prevented from marching, the Catholics did their own impromptu “victory parade” through town and then got the train home in the evening.

No arrests were made on the day but my great-great-grandfather and a number of other men considered “ringleaders” were arrested several days later and held under armed guard. The case was heard before the Magistrate on New Years Eve and trial was set for March the following year.

Several men were let off (my great-great-grandfather included, possibly thanks to the testimony of the local Inspector of police who, according to a newspaper account said “I saw Kelly there. He was in front of the mob. I did not see him do anything”).

Six men were eventually found guilty on charges of rioting and violent assault and were subject to good behaviour bonds. None were jailed and the Hotel proprietor, Thomas O’Driscoll, who appears to have had a hand in organising the protest, was fined £100.

Thomas Bracken, aka the lyricist of God Defend New Zealand (under the pen name Paddy Murphy) even wrote a poem about the stoush called The Saige o Timaru, seemingly poking fun at the possibly grandiose ambitions of those involved, comparing it to battles of the ancient world like Troy or “Throy”.

Look here, be jabers, me dacint naybors,
Ther soords an’ sabers will niver do,
It’s no use talkin’ we’ll stop their walkin’,
Ther colour hawkin’ through Timaru.

Timaru Riots archives 1879
Police Christchurch Station Diary (Hereford Street Station) Jan 1879-Feb 1883 [Archives reference: CH439/70], Christchurch Hospital Admission and Discharge Register – 1879-1880 [Archives reference: CH293/158], Return of Prisoners Tried – 1876-1897 [Archives reference: CH53/6], Archives New Zealand on Flickr.
Meanwhile the Christchurch affair was a different kettle of fish entirely. The Borough Hotel on Manchester St (later the site of the New Excelsior hotel – facade still standing), which was home to a sizeable number of Irish Catholic labourers was both along the route of the proposed Orangemen parade, and had a view of the route three dozen policemen would have taken from Hereford St to the railway station to catch the train out of town to Timaru that morning.

The procession was already underway when a group of navvies, who had gathered down an alley adjacent to the hotel and were armed with pick-handles and other weapons, attacked the Orangemen as they passed the Borough. With few policemen available to attend the riot it was a struggle to get under control and five Orangemen were injured and sent to hospital as a result of the fracas.

Hereford St Police Station, 1906
Additions to the Central Police Station, Hereford Street, Christchurch : the alterations in progress. [1906] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0076
As news of the attack spread hostility towards the hotel grew and an angry crowd gathered, which at its peak was between 3000 and 4000 people. The mayor was forced to swear in 250 special constables to help keep the peace but a crowd remained over the course of the next day and it wasn’t until the following night that the constables were able to be dismissed.

Four rioters were arrested on Boxing Day, with a further 14 arrested in the days following. On 2 January their cases were heard at the district court and five were dismissed. Of the remaining men, 11 were convicted. All, save four considered most responsible who got 18 months, were given 12 months hard labour.

In each case the politics and animosity of opposing factions had survived the long journey to the other side of the world to find root in New Zealand soil.

For more about the 1879 Boxing Day riots –

In our catalogue


Meri Kirihimete!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at Christchurch City Libraries to you and your whanau and friends.

T. Armstrong & Co's Christmas float outside their High Street store [ca. 1930] View more information File Reference CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0052
T. Armstrong & Co’s Christmas float outside their High Street store [ca. 1930] CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0052

Ngā mihi o te wā.

The outdoor art gallery

When I first moved to Christchurch, there were very few wall murals and the outdoor sculptures were just statues of monarchs or founding fathers. For my art fix, I headed off to the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, tucked in behind the museum in the Botanic Gardens. It was a lovely building, full of many wondrous works of art. It was too small and could only have a fraction of its collection on display. I was delighted to visit the new Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu in 2003. My favourite pieces were on display and there were galleries full of paintings I had never seen before.

When the earthquakes struck and the gallery was closed, I thought it would be years before I saw art in Christchurch. I was wrong. It seamed that every smooth wall and every spare space made way for art.

Container Love Close-Up


The road to Sumner became an art gallery when all the shipping containers got decorated. When I arrived in Sumner, almost every container, fence and wall had been pimped out.

Wongi Art on St Asaph Street, Flickr 2014-12-15-IMG_3940
Wongi Art on St Asaph Street, Flickr 2014-12-15-IMG_3940

New Brighton and Lyttelton were the next colourful destinations. What could have been depressing road trips became an adventure. I wanted to see what the locals had in store.

The ruined buildings in the central city became the canvas for many artists, and they made walking through town much more enjoyable that it could have been. The Justice Precinct has copies of works of art on the wall. Copies of paintings are on a wall on Moorhouse Avenue.

Everywhere I looked, there was a mural on a wall. Unfortunately, a mural on Barbadoes Street has almost disappeared because of the construction of a new building. I expect I’ll be waiting a long time to see it in all its glory again.

Re:START Mall is pretty colourful. I think I can count that as a work of art.

Gap Filler created works of art too. They really are almost sculptures. The spaces created were unexpected and made me smile.

Sound Garden on Peterborough Street


I have missed the Art Gallery and I am looking forward to wandering through its rooms again. However, when it was closed, I realised one important thing: Christchurch is an art gallery.

What is it about Scandinavian drama?

Film stripsI have just completed the second series of the Danish television drama  The Legacy. The Legacy tells the story of four adult siblings dealing with the repercussions of their mother’s death. Their mother was no ordinary woman. She was an internationally renowned artist who let her children to lead chaotic lives and this has continued to impact them in adulthood. It is only their mother’s death that brings them all back together. If you add a love child, adultery, fraud, drug abuse and suicide to an already fraught situation what you have is addictive viewing.

Then there is another personal favourite Borgen. A political drama series about Birgitte Nyborg the fictional first female Prime Minister of Denmark. A political drama that is riveting? Believe it. After watching all three series, you will never look at politicians or political announcements the same again. This series takes you behind the scenes – to the spin doctors, the compromises that have to be made and the destruction such exposure can have on your family and ideals. This is not dry, predictable drama. When you see Nyborg struggle to get into a skirt due to recent weight gain, you fall a little in love with her vulnerability and then you cheer her on as she tries to convince other political parties to form a coalition government. She is magnificent.

I can also recommend The Bridge. This crime drama begins with a body that has been cut in half and placed precisely on the border between Denmark and Sweden. This results in the cooperation between two unique detectives, Saga Norén, from Sweden, and Martin Rohde, from Denmark. Again there are no predictable plots here, and much of the drama comes from the interactions of the lead characters. You have Martin with his troubled private life, and Saga who has difficulty in social situations due to an unspecified almost Asperger-like condition. Together they make for fantastic viewing.

So what is it about Scandinavian drama? Well, to me it is about the quality of the acting and the unpredictability of the storylines. Combine that with relatable characters and strong female leads and I am won over – despite subtitles.

If you are looking for an evening more interesting and entertaining than another cooking or DIY TV show, then you need to get your hands on these DVDs. A friend of mine told me she hates subtitles as she didn’t come home after a hard day at work to “read the TV”, but I have even managed to convert her! Are you next?

Writing and writers

Cover of Pacific: The Ocean of the FutureWeeks after NaNoWriMo ended, and still no blog post! Alas, I didn’t reach 50,000 words — finished up around 35k — but I achieved my main goal, which was to write every day. I’ve continued to write on and off since the 30th, but Christmas panic is definitely descending so who knows how long that will last.

My current distraction has been flicking through the New Zealand Festival lineup, which will be held in Wellington next year. All of the events look great, but I’m especially excited about the Writers Week. I want to see almost all of them! I’ve narrowed it down to some favourites:

  • Kate Beaton. I’ve been enjoying her online comics since she was on, and I own all her published material (which now includes a picture book, the adorable Princess and the Pony). She is so clever and funny and writes about my favourite subjects (history! feminism! fat ponies!).
  • Jasper FfordeCover of Hark! A Vagrant. I haven’t got around to reading his more recently published works, but I thought the Thursday Next books were super fun. If you like quirky books about books, with dodos and national croquet, then start with The Eyre Affair.
  • Mariko Tamaki. I first came across her in collaboration with her cousin Jillian Tamaki, whose comic Supermutant Magic Academy came out this year. Together they’ve published graphic novels Skim and This One Summer, both beautifully illustrated reflections of adolescent experiences.
  • Simon WinchesterWriter of recreational non-fiction, most recently Pacific, all about our neighbouring ocean. I can’t wait to read it.

Needless to say there are loads of other authors I’d like to see, including Anis Mojgani (spoken word poet) who Alireads blogged about last year, but those are my top five.

Is anyone else planning on going to the New Zealand Festival? What events are on your must-see list?

New Zealand Festival

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Tūpato (careful)

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

Kīwaha (idiom)


Kupu (word)


Kia tūpato, e te tau.
Be careful, my darling.

Whāngahia te Reo