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

Whakatauki – Wise words

CoverWhakatauki, or sayings, are products of the poetical way Maori use language – combined with an element of common sense advice.

The Journal of the Polynesian Society is available online thanks to a collaboration between Auckland University and the Polynesian Society. There is a wealth of information contained within these digitised pages including an article titled A Few of the Maori Wise Sayings from Lake Taupo. It lists sayings and their origins from this area.

Legends of the Maori by Maui Pomare features some more general whakatauki.

Books on whakatauki are also in available our collection including Peter Cleave’s The Maori State where the first section contains whakatauki and their meanings.

Te Ao Hou has several good articles with information about the origins and meanings of many whakatauki. It is a bilingual publication, also in Te Reo.

Powerful Performance @ New Brighton Library

Kapahaka group performances are a wonderful way to achieve so many things. Watching Central New Brighton School’s  kapahaka performance yesterday at New Brighton Library, I was  reminded of how important it is for children to perform in a supportive environment.

The kaiako – teachers – brought out the best of the group of over 5o children and the tauira – students – had a great time performing to the maximum of their abilities. There were newbies and oldies but the way everyone performed together was encouraging to see and a pleasure to hear. They always bring out those goosebumps!

Live music is just the thing …

The LoonsFinding some great live music in a funky venue in Christchurch is a bit tricky these days, so I was pretty happy when I arrived to a packed Loons bar in Lyttelton last Wednesday night.

Two groups, the Pony Club and Sumo Jazz, ripped into some pretty impressive stuff and the audience was deeply appreciative. They are part of the New Music Collective  –  an initiative to simply get live music out there. The launch night session was a great start;  I’m hoping to catch Greg Malcolm and the Silencio quartet next time.

The “mood lighting” in the Loons bar provided a suitably groovy atmosphere – I think it was the upside-down lamp stands dangling from the ceiling that did it for me. Every second Wednesday local musicians of all genres will be performing, giving us a chance to think local when it comes to live music.

The music section on the library website has a section devoted to the Christchurch music scene. Check out the timeline, the poster collection and there’s even a bit about past venues. More live music can be heard in libraries over the rest of the month.

Speaking of music venues, it might be nice to share some memories about some loved but not lost (hopefully not in our minds anyway) old favourite music spots. I am already missing Poplar Lane sessions …

Every month is music month though, where do you go these days?

Ka hua ki tai, Ka ora ki uta – A bountiful sea will sustain us

coverPaua, with their spectacular shells, feature strongly in many areas of life in Aotearoa New Zealand; from artworks and souvenirs right through to the kitchen where we find the inside of the paua is just as good too!

The secret to good paua eating is all in the preparation. Once you have collected your correctly-sized quota from your special spot, scoop them from their shells and beat them with a stone or hammer (or anything else hard that you can get your hands on) until they are slightly misshapen. It is a messy job so on the sea-shore is one highly recommended place to do it so you can rinse off straight away. However, you may wish to save them for later, in which case keep them wet at a steady temperature of 5 to 7°C.

Once you are back in cooking territory (kitchen, BBQ, fire-pit…) marinate the paua for at least an hour in some oil, garlic and a bit of soy sauce. Heat the cooking surface to a high temperature, cook the paua very fast (about a minute) until it is just cooked through, add lemon and chopped coriander and serve immediately. This is the most tender and mouth-wateringly delicious way to eat paua.

You may have your own special paua tips to share – comment below if you do.

  • If you want to know more about Maori food, check out these recipes.
  • There are also several books on Maori cooking at the library.
  • Lastly, check out the beautifully illustrated children’s storybook Tangaroa’s gift – Te koha a Tangaroa – the story of how the paua got its beautiful shell.

A night of magic at New Brighton Library

At the launch
One way to get around the lack of venues in Christchurch is to invite musicians to a library, clear out all the furniture and books and fill it with sound and crowds.

The New Brighton Library was transformed last Sunday and over 300 people enjoyed a magical night at the library listening to local talent, kicking off New Zealand Music Month in Christchurch.

People from all over the city came to hear Lawrence Arabia, Marlon from Unfaithful Ways and the Silencio Ensemble.
As they entered, the mesmerizing and organic sounds of the Silencio Ensemble filled the library. This performance is a forerunner to their upcoming Joan of Arc project where they will perform a soundtrack to the silent movie from the 1920s at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Next up were Marlon and Tim who did a line-up of Johnny Cash-inspired solos and collaborations.

This was followed by Lawrence Arabia who held the crowd captive for nearly an hour with his original Kiwi blend of music, an amazing falsetto voice and fantastic whistle.

The cool thing about having live music at the library is that you can bring your kids and of course there are books and more to be enjoyed at the same time. Adding to the ambience was the view of the colourful light display under the pier (which happens every evening)  and the mellow swell of the white-topped waves dancing under the moonlight.

Find out more about New Zealand Music Month:

The Declaration of Independence

New Zealand flag 1834
Flag chosen in March 1834 by 25 chiefs

February 6, Waitangi Day 2011  is the day that representatives of the British Crown and Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands, Northland. The Treaty formed the foundation of a new nation and saw New Zealand become part of the British Empire.

Part of the lead-up to the signing of the Treaty was a document that was circulated and signed five years prior. That document was called the Declaration of Independence and was commissioned by James Busby (who was appointed by the British Government to his position in order to protect British trade interests) in reaction to activity from other countries on New Zealand shores, notably France and America. It was at this time that Maori chose the British to negotiate with – in response to French brutality – as a way of managing the newcomers and ensuring that they to behave according to tikanga.

The Declaration maintained that full sovereign power was with rangatira (chiefs). It was signed at Waitangi with northern rangatira and this was later extended to southern rangatira. The Declaration was made an official document in 1846 and outlines the legislative authority request of the rangatira which was also implicit in the Treaty.

For more information on the Declaration and the Treaty, a really helpful website to look at is Network Waitangi Otautahi. They are a non-profit organisation dedicated to education around the Treaty. You can also read the declaration in English and Maori on nzhistory.net.nz

Brush up on your NZ history skills and read what the library website has on Waitangi Day events.
Read our Waitangi Factsheet for a quick refresher of our National day.
See what is happening locally to celebrate Waitangi Day.
At your local library you will see more information and images  on display about Waitangi day.

A bit of local nostalgia

Gods and Little Fishes: A Boy and A Beach is set in the most lucrative spot in the country: New Brighton.

Yes, New Brighton! Before the 80s and the opening up of weekend trading to the rest of the country, this local community had a buzz about it that brought swarms of ‘townies’ to the seaside in Christchurch. With a theatre, pier, shops, surf … it was a giant playground. And this is where writer Bruce Ansley grew up. After chatting with some old mates at the New Brighton Working Mens Club he decided to not let the glory days of this era go by unnoticed and wrote a memoir of his growing up years. Alternately poignant and hilarious, this book comes highly recommended for those who love local history and a good laugh.

Every month should be Music Month

PhotoNow that the excitement of the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival has simmered down a bit it’s worth taking a bit of a retrospective on New Zealand Music Month (NZMM) and looking at CHARTFEST which was a one-day event held in Christchurch.

Amidst all the workshops, demos and performances programmed to introduce the youth of Christchurch to the New Zealand music scene, sat a panel of three guys with loads of experience (guitarist Graeme Downes from the Verlaines, sound artist Bruce Russell of The Dead C and Flying Nun pioneer Roger Shepherd) having a session discussing it all. They were thrown a few questions along the lines of ‘how’s it been’ and ‘where’s it all going’ for making music in NZ.

In a nutshell, it’s been massive and not especially easy, and it will continue to go that way for those who are serious about making music. That has always been the case ever since Beethoven (and before) to the likes of the Ramones and the Rolling Stones (it wasn’t always easy for them and who remembers when they last wrote a good album anyway..! Ludwig you are excused…and I guess the Ramones are too…how many are left!).

Some things get easier. Graeme reckons that after more than 20 years, he’s a bit faster at writing music now. Technology and its availability can make some things a bit easier too but there is nothing that can replace the unique thing inside you that drives you to make music.

This was echoed by Bruce who talked at length about determination and to ignore the music market and do what you believe in. I have just finished ploughing through his book Left-Handed Blows, and his passion for creativity and being ‘in the moment’ is very clear, although it was a fine line between pleasure and pain trying to get my head around some of those really dense phrases that he loves to use.

Back to the panel …

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Taonga Puoro

CoverRecently the Robert McDougall Art Gallery hosted a show by Brian Flintoff and Richard Nunns. These two men – introduced by none other than the esteemed Sir Tipene O’Regan – have spent the better part of their careers learning about traditional Māori musical instruments and the musical expression of pre-colonial Aotearoa.

We were treated to a retelling of the creation story complete with sound effects incorporated into beautiful and haunting songs sung by Ariana Tikao. Brian tells a good story. It starts with the separating of Sky Father Rangi – for whom tunes are named after – and Earth Mother Papatuanuku – who provides the heartbeat and rhythm. This is the work of their eldest son Tane, who then filled the new space with sounds, breath of the birds – haumanu, and things from which to make these sounds. This connection with the ‘cosmogony‘ (cor, what a word!) is why they are called singing treasures.

Richard and Brian have been hanging out for years and their hilarious banter gave some extra personal flavour to the storytelling.

The instruments themselves were amazing to hear and see. Carved and decorated whales teeth and bones, shells, hardwoods, soft stones, gourds, pounamu and even kelp are then blown, struck or swung to create sounds that mimic those made by nature. My favourite instrument is the ‘hue puruhau’. It is a gourd that when swung in a big circle, emulates the low boom of the male kakapo. Way cool!

And how about this for a true story… a flute with one hole, the pumotomoto, is played over the fontanelle of a new-born baby’s head to implant songs and information on tribal heritage directly into the child’s subconscious. Now that’s an idea.

The echo of the marbled art gallery chamber made the sounds and songs come alive. Another thing that really struck me was how eerie some of this was. If I was about to go for a walk in the woods at night, I’d be scared!

See the library website for more on Maori music: contemporary Maori music, waiata, kapa haka and more information on taoka puoro (traditional Maori music).

In this Radio NZ programme Richard Nunns plays the instruments and talks about them too.