Flash me that fiction – Friday 22 June

National Flash Fiction Day is on Friday 22 June.

Here are the details for the Christchurch event Flash in the Pan:

Come along and celebrate the smallest fictions on the shortest day. National Flash Fiction Day! Flash in the Pan is a FREE event to celebrate all things flash and brings together Canterbury’s best flash fiction writers for an unexpected literary evening and award presentations.

  • When: 6pm to 8pm Friday 22 June 2018
  • Where: Space Academy, 371 St Asaph Street
  • What: Flash fiction readings, competition announcements, beer on tap and spot prizes from Scorpio Books and the University Bookshop
  • Subscribe to the Flash in the Pan Facebook event.

What is flash fiction? Well, as defined by the Collins English online dictionary, flash fiction is “a genre of fiction in which stories are characterized by extreme brevity.”

So in short; a short, short story.

I refused to read short stories growing up. I felt cheated. They didn’t count. Could only be explained through sheer laziness on the author’s part. I now understand the unique challenge they pose: how each word must be weighed with the gravest importance, each sentence propelling the narrative forward. No easy feat does it present. When words are scarce, each one must prove its value, must hint at something beyond what appears on the surface.

For the past seven years, New Zealand has celebrated flash fiction through an annual competition, culminating in New Zealand Flash Fiction Day (NZFFD). There are three categories you can enter: adult, youth and Te Reo Māori. If you were hoping to throw your writing skills in the ring this year you’re out of luck as competition entries ran February through April…but despair not, for that leaves nine months to motivate yourself for next year’s competition. In 2017 there were 404 adult competition entries – sounds migraine inducing for those on the judging panel – though entries for the NZFFD competition are limited to a rather manageable 300 words. Tempted? You can read winning entries from previous years online, or even attend the Christchurch Flash Fiction event next week.

My research into flash fiction has, if anything, further muddied the waters as nobody can seem to agree upon the preferred word count (or indeed the very name) of flash fiction. Varying wildly dependent on who is asked, word counts range from the modest six word variety made famous by Ernest Hemingway to the decidedly more generous 1500 limit. Last year, 25-word flash fiction was publicised by The New Yorker, appearing in the “Summer of Flash Fiction” series. The term of Flash Fiction has adopted many different guises also: there is, for instance, the intriguing sounding “twitterature,” and of course the commonly referred to “short story.”

But at the end of the day, short and sweet is what Flash Fiction day (incidentally, held on the shortest day of the year) is all about.

Here I have gathered together some of Christchurch City Libraries’ short story/flash fiction collection – or whatever you want to call it – for your perusal.

View Full List

Check out more stories of the short variety on our catalogue.

If you are looking to develop your own skills as a writer- or if, like me, you have zero visual art skills and simply find writing to be a nice alternative, therapeutic and creative endeavour – Linwood Library host a Creative Writing group weekly on a Wednesday. You’ll also find guides and inspiration on our catalogue, and check out our page on writing for tips, competitions and courses.

There are many more classes and programmes in your community, some of them free, some with a cost. For further information, see CINCH: Community Information Christchurch for programming in your wider community.

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby: Not sir by chance

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby was given a knighthood for his service to Māori on this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

He is known by many names: Papa Hec to some, Hector to others. And now Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby. You may not have heard of him but it is a name you should know.  His name is known all over the Pacific for his huge contributions to the revitalisation of celestial navigation, as a master carver, Te Rarawa elder, a font of cultural knowledge, for the revitalisation of waka building and waka hourua (double-hulled boat), as kaitiaki of Waitangi waka Ngātokimatawhaorua, and as he man responsible for the first return journey of Māori to Rarotonga by traditional methods after more than 600 years.

In February, I was extremely lucky to attend ACE Aotearoa’s Hui-Fono (an annual conference for Pasifika and Māori educators working in the Adult Community Education space) in Te Tai Tokerau – the Far North where we got to hear Sir Hec speak at his beautiful home in Aurere. Turning onto the Doubtless Bay Road after Te Awanui if you are heading north, you drive a few kilometres to the turn off to Aurere. There is no sign. Just a bridge that leads to a dirt road. Our two coach buses crossed that bridge, and although we couldn’t see the bridge under our bus we were assured that it was safe as Papa Hec was a bridge builder before he retired to carve waka and learn celestial navigation.

About two kilometres up the dirt road, we came to a clearing. A grassy hill, bordered by a warehouse, a carved whare, a waka hourua resting under a tarpaulin, and a house that had been extended several times looking out onto the expanse of the Doubtless Bay Sound.

On top of the emerald green, grassy hill was a ring of pou. And inside the ring was a group waiting to welcome us on. Papa Hec sat in the middle on a seat next to his golf cart. The scenery was breath taking. When Papa Hec began to speak his reo was so fluid, initially our group of over 100 sat far away from him. But as his sharing continued we crept forward mesmerised by his kōrero, and even when the Northland skies decided to sprinkle us with rain we still sat there listening intently.

Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting next to his golf cart
Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby sitting in his special chair next to his golf cart

The circle that we sat inside was actually a compass. Each of the 32 pou, set 11 degrees apart represented a direction, and when he began to swivel in his chair we realised that through his own design Sir Hector had manufactured a seat centred in the middle of his compass, complete with adjustable sights to study the night sky. It was here that Sir Hec began to study celestial navigation guided by Master Navigator Mau Piailug who came to stay with Sir Hec at Aurere to teach wayfinding and navigating using the sun, stars, clouds, other indicators of nature, and the importance of finding true north.

32 pou on a hill at Te Aurere
32 pou on a hill at Aurere

I came away from Aurere, the lucky winner of a copy of Sir Hec’s biography written by Jeff Evans. I devoured that book, hungry for more and inspired by the ability of our ancestors to traverse the largest ocean in the world with ease. The things that are shared in that book made me realise that our hour with Sir Hec shed very little light on his amazing achievements and contribution to navigation worldwide.

Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography
Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Nga-Iwi Busby and Jan-Hai with a copy of his biography

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to hear such a man speak in person at his beautiful home in Te Tai Tokerau, and we as a community that spans the Pacific Ocean are immensely grateful for your efforts and willingness to share your knowledge and inspiration to find our true North.

Thank you Sir Heke-Nuku-Mai-Ngai-Iwi Busby.

Find out more

Jan-Hai
Libraries Learning Specialist

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury: Picturing Canterbury

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0012.

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury  [ca. 1900].

The fire brigade was formed in 1874. The sheds at left were built in 1877 to house the engines. The bell tower was built in 1896 to replace an old one.

Do you have any photographs of fire stations in Christchurch and Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

The Rangiora Fire Station, North Canterbury