History and current affairs – picks from our March newsletter

Some picks from our March History and current affairs newsletter:

cover for Those wild Wyndhams cover of Hydrofracking cover for The empire of necessity cover for The voyagers cover of The news cover for Edible cover for The last of the tribe cover for Redefining girly cover for Sex and punishment

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For more great reading suggestions, check out our booklists and recommended websites on the Literature page of our website.

St Patrick’s Day without the green beer

Cover for The day of the Jack RussellIt sometimes seems like St Patrick’s Day in New Zealand is yet another excuse to overindulge in beer – and green beer at that. Not a good idea as far as I’m concerned. Do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? Do you know if you have Irish ancestry?

Before you join the ranks of the green beer drinkers you can find out if you have Irish in your family tree by visiting our great online resources like Find my past Ireland and the British Newspaper Archive.

For a small country, Ireland has had a great influence across the world as the Irish diaspora has spread through many countries. Music and language are the great passions of Ireland and from this has come a great stream of writers, lawyers, politicians and musicians both traditional and popular.

Though I claim no Irish roots, I’ve always loved the traditional music that has been popularized by such great groups as the Chieftains. So perhaps instead of green beer I’ll celebrate St Patrick’s Day by listening to the Chieftains, reading a poem by Yeats and having a laugh with the black humour of Colin Bateman.

Popular culture – picks from our March newsletter

Some picks from our March Popular Culture newsletter:

cover for From Earth's endCover of Salt, sugar, fat Cover of Man belong Mrs Queen cover for Romps, tots and boffins cover for Kangaroo Dundee cover for Absolutely barking cover of Ghost hunters cover for The Godfather family album  cover for 1963, the year of the revolution

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

For more great reading suggestions, check out our booklists and recommended websites on our Literature page.

Heritage Christchurch – Victoria Square

Join local historian and author Dr Geoff Rice for a talk on Victoria Square.

Geoff will tell you about the rich history of this area and share interesting stories about the people, buildings and activities that have shaped this area over the years.

When: Thursday 6 March 9 – 10 am

Where: Central Library Peterborough

cover of Christchurch Changingcover of Christchurch crimescover for All fall down

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.

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?

City Council Chambers: 1902

View in our collection


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

Christchurch – this week in history (February 24 to March 2)

February 24, 1881
First century in first class cricket scored by G. Watson for Canterbury.

February 25, 1908
Theatre Royal opens. This is the building which exists today, the third to bear the name.

February 25, 1978
New Brighton Mall opens.

February 26, 1931
Bowker Fountain in Victoria Square in operation.

February 26, 1938
Summit Road opens.

February 26, 1947
First ticketed airline flight from New Zealand – Lancastrian “City of London” flies from Harewood to Sydney.

February 26, 1977
New Durham Street bridge over the Avon opens.

February 27, 1964
Lyttelton road tunnel opens, New Zealand’s longest.

February 28, 1853
Provincial boundary defined by proclamation. Westland (then called West Canterbury) included as part of Canterbury.

March 1, 1851
“Isabella Hercus” arrives with settlers.

March 1, 1865
Godley Head lighthouse in operation.

March 1, 1880
School for the Deaf (now Van Asch College) opens in Sumner. Director Gerrit van Asch introduced oral teaching methods to New Zealand.

March 1, 1930
Majestic Theatre opens – the city’s first steel frame building.

March 2, 1970
Amid mounting controversy, City Council begins construction of road deviation through Hagley Park. The work was stopped by March 7 for legal reasons, and the project was eventually scrapped.

March 2, 1974
Re-built Centennial Pool opens.

A general view of Victoria Square, Christchurch

A general view of Victoria Square, Christchurch [1934]

Christchurch chronology

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

More January and February events in our Christchurch chronology.

Remember, and share

1959900_221230958066863_701586199_nIt is three years today since the devastating 22 February 2011 earthquake. The Civic Memorial Service takes place on the Archery Lawn, Botanic Gardens at noon today. “Three years on we remember the community’s kindness and resilience in the time since the earthquake and we are proud to call Christchurch our home.”

However you do your remembering today it is good to share. Perhaps you will be with the friends, family and neighbours who have helped you or whom you have helped since the quakes.

One way many people cope is by recounting experiences. Here are some ways you can do that:

You can explore our resources:

A river runs through it (Part 2)

Avonside memorial message photo

A year and a bit ago I blogged “Having spent most of my Christchurch life living east of the Square and close to the Avon River, I’m pretty passionate about the delights of those riverside suburbs like Richmond, Avonside, Dallington and out to New Brighton. The river has always been a source of beauty, fun, exercise and general place defining for my family.” I was writing about a Spring Festival of activities along the river.

This time I’m writing about the February 22 remembrances. There is an official civic service in the Botanic Gardens which many may want to attend. For many others the simple gestures of taking flowers from the garden and decorating road cones or launching them into your nearest river may be how you remember our city’s losses and think about the future.

I’ll be going the Avon River which runs at the end of my street. I went there in 2012, in 2013 I went with workmates to the Avon near the Bridge of Remembrance. Both times it felt really nice. Rivers are soothing and interesting places. I’d encourage people to take a moment during the day to think about what has happened to our city and what the future might hold. And I’d say “take it to the river”.