Step into a River of Words

You can become part of Christchurch’s own River of Words.

River of Words is a ten metre wide installation in the South Quad of the Arts Centre, part of the House of Travel Botanic D’Lights (6pm to 9pm from Wednesday 8 August to Sunday 12 August). It is an interactive animation featuring a flow of words in six languages, and representing the changing nature of the people of Christchurch. Your shadow becomes a space for animations related to the words. We dived into the river last night, and had a ball – moving around, shining torches, and becoming part of the art.

River of Words has been developed by artist John Maillard from Ara (Programme leader, Photography), installed by Spectrum Lighting, and supported by Enliven Places Programme at the Christchurch City Council.

That’s us in the River of Words – my child to the left, me to the right.

Making the River of Words

John had the idea for the river of words, and put out a call on social media for people to share their words representing Christchurch:

Making the most of the expertise at Ara, John worked with Te Puna Wānaka Māori and Pasifika – Ara who suggested appropriate Māori words.

Once he had the words and kupu, John explored game design and technology to see how it might work. The project started out as a mystery technically, but due to working with colleagues and experts like Spectrum Lighting, his knowledge grew exponentially. Using the programme Isadora (known for its use in theatre lighting and effects), vector animation, and security cameras, he came to a technical solution that brings his vision to life:

Christchurch has been through many painful experiences in the last few years, both personal to the people, who are the city’s lifeblood and to the buildings and roads that make up the city.
Even though the infrastructure of the city was damaged, the people of Christchurch have moved and flowed through its changes adapting and embracing its reinvention, though the process has been slow and stressful.

The inhabitants of this city are part of a human river, are always moving and flowing in this, our city. Each person is a part of the changes to the landscape of the city, and we are all linked by the words that we share about the city. These words bond us together. I have asked for people in the city, my friends and neighbours to lend me words that represent Christchurch, the people the cultures and the languages of the city. The words in the river represent the ever-flowing people in our city. The words within each person represent their humanity and resilience as we navigate through our lives in this city.

John’s workspace.

John says “I think people truly love Christchurch”. He’s right, and going into the River of Words feels like a warm embrace of Ōtautahi.

Creating this work is his way of giving something back to the community. It’s the antithesis of art as a commodity – this is art that can’t be bought. It is art for everyone to experience and enjoy.

River of Words – The Future

River of Words will carry on as a legacy piece from the House of Travel Botanic D’Lights. This 18 metre wide version will be installed for six months at 110 Cashel Street, and projected on to the vacant wall of 112 Cashel Street. This project is part of the Enliven Places programme, completed in partnership with the events team and Ara with the aim of enhancing the night time experience in Christchurch through innovative lighting.

One of the interesting aspects of River of Words is its adaptability. In September, it will be themed around Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week.

More about artist John Maillard

John Maillard has exhibited in galleries around New Zealand and the United Kingdom for over three decades. John has specialised in documenting people and landscapes. For the past sixteen years John has been studying New Zealand landscapes and in particular the culture of rural New Zealand, assembling a body of work which will reflect his love for this country.

He has published or collaborated in four books on native plants, New Zealand landscapes and cultural history. John is working on a new book documenting the location of native habitat for migrating birds from the Alps to the ocean with Canterbury University Press.

John has worked as a photographer in many countries around the world, notably, Gambia and west Africa, the United States and Europe.

John’s previous works at Botanic Night of D’Lights

A brief history of Botanic D’Lights

Light up the Leafy Night was an event run in July 2013 as part of the 150th birthday of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.The gardens were lit up for 8 nights with installations and performances.

In July 2015, The Press Night of D’light in the Botanic Gardens took place (also part of KidsFest). It expanded in August 2016, and became Botanic D’Lights.

In July 2015, it began as The Press Night of D’light in the Botanic Gardens – part of KidsFest. It expanded in August 2016, and became Botanic D’Lights.

In 2018, the House of Travel Botanic D’Lights is bigger and better – and it’s on in both the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the Arts Centre of Christchurch.

Come and visit – Wednesday 8 August to Sunday 12 August, between 6 to 9pm each night, with recommended last entry at 8.30pm. Prepare to be stunned! Here’s a sampling of what you will see:

Johnson’s Fishponds, the Aquarium at 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa: Picturing Canterbury

Johnson’s Fishponds, the Aquarium at 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa [ca. 1900]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 3, IMG0038.
Johnson’s Fishponds, the Aquarium at 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa [ca. 1900].

In 1875 Andrew Mensal Johnson (d. 1916) established a fish hatchery and aquarium at Opawa, on the south bank of the Heathcote River, calling it Troutdale Farm. It became popular as a picnic grounds until it closed in the early 1930s. For further information about Johnson and his work see:

Do you have any photographs of Opawa? 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.

Johnson’s Fishponds, The Aquarium At 105 Clarendon Terrace, Opawa

Sustainability In The Library via Minecraft

This holiday programme wasn’t a relaxed, laid back affair – this one really had children thinking. The challenge was to create an Eco-House using Minecraft.

Eco House

We discussed the impact their house would have on the environment. This made the students think of the types of materials needed and how they could reduce the impact by utilizing their surroundings. Great discussions occurred, with the benefits of different materials and styles of buildings.

Many explored solar and wind power to create energy efficient houses. Others investigated the movement of water to create power.

One student harnessed the use of light sensors to store energy to allow his crops to still grow at night. Another created a wind turbine to light his house.

But the most interesting creation was an Eco Friendly Chicken House using a chickhouse nuclear reactor! See his amazing creation:

Riverside Neo-Georgian: The Theosophical Society Hall

Late in the afternoon of 25 July 1926, a crowd gathered at 267 Cambridge Terrace to witness the dedication of a newly erected building. Built in the Neo-Georgian style of architecture, it evoked the image of a palatial dwelling rather than that of a religious institution. At exactly 4:43pm, a time chosen for being the supposed moment when the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, gave his first sermon at a deer park in Sanarth, India, a dedication stone was unveiled which read:

“This building is dedicated to the Glory of God and to the Service of Humanity.”

Yet the building was neither a Buddhist temple nor a church, but a purpose built hall for a new movement that had arisen in the late nineteenth century, the Theosophical Society.

The Theosophical Hall, Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch [1926]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 8, IMG0085.

The Theosophical Society

The Theosophical Society was formed in New York in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), a Russian immigrant, who claimed to have visited Tibet and made contact with a group of secret mystics known as the ‘Masters’. In all likelihood Blavatsky had never visited Tibet (however, her grandfather was the Russian government’s appointed guardian of the Kalmyk people, descendants of Oirat Mongols who had migrated to the Volga steppe of Russia in the seventeenth century and who followed Tibetan Buddhism). Blavatsky managed to convince Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), one of the founding members of the New York Confederacy of Spiritualists, as to the existence of the Masters and that she was the recipient of their doctrines. Together they worked to establish a movement of which the objectives were:

To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour.

To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science.

To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.

Unable to establish itself on Spiritualist credentials alone, the Theosophical Society soon rebranded itself by appropriating the doctrines of Hinduism and Buddhism. To further this connection with the ancient faiths of India, the society relocated its international headquarters to Adyar, India, in 1882.

Theosophy in Christchurch

Theosophy soon became known in New Zealand through publications and visiting lecturers. Eventually the first lodge was founded in Wellington in 1888, with an Auckland lodge following in 1892.

On 13 May 1894 a meeting was held at the house of William Denne Meers, a clothing manufacturer, with the purpose of forming a Christchurch branch of the Theosophical Society. As a result, the Christchurch lodge was officially established on 28 June 1894. Without any formal premises, the society initially met in rooms at the Opera House at 214 Tuam Street. In the years that followed, the lodge was visited by prominent overseas members, including social reformer Annie Besant (1847-1933) in October 1894 and Henry Steel Olcott in September 1897.

A month after the visit by Olcott, the lodge moved to what was then 130 Lichfield Street, opposite Bennett’s corner. In mid-1900, it relocated to Hobbs’ Buildings on the north side of Cathedral Square (the present site of Tūranga). By 1906, its meetings were held at 150 Worcester Street (opposite the Federal Club). Eventually, in 1910, the lodge took up residence in Manchester Chambers at 263 Manchester Street where it remained until the Cambridge Terrace hall was established.

Sure to Rise

Thomas J. Edmonds (1858-1932) was a successful Christchurch businessman who was most famous for his baking powder and the factory which produced it (now the site of the Edmonds Factory Garden). With his wealth, he contributed to the architecture of the city, with notable examples being the Band Rotunda on Cambridge Terrace and the Radiant Hall on Kilmore Street. Although he was not a member of the Theosophical Society, his daughter Beatrice often attended the society’s meetings. When the society began fundraising for a purpose built hall in 1925, Edmonds offered his financial assistance.

Cecil Wood

The building was designed by prominent architect, Cecil W. Wood (1878-1947) who, from 1922, took an interest in Georgian architecture (one of his notable works being the residence of the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, Bishopscourt, on Park Terrace). The tender for its construction was awarded to the building firm D. Scott and Son.

While other Theosophical Society halls in New Zealand, such as Wellington (1918) and Auckland (1922) were designed in the Classical architectural style, Wood chose Neo-Georgian for the Christchurch lodge. Constructed from brick, and rectangular in form, the building’s sparse street front was enlivened by the use of multi-paned windows and quoins. Classical elements were still included in the form an entrance framed by a triangular pediment set atop two pillars.

Within, various rooms including a library, kitchen and chapel (for use by the Liberal Catholic Church of Saint Francis) were accessed from a central hallway. At the rear of the building was the central lecture hall, which could seat up to 120 individuals (although it was originally intended to seat more). The second floor of the building eventually became the home of the Christchurch Lodge of Universal Co-masonry and the Esoteric Society.

Theosophical Hall, 267 Cambridge Terrace, 31 March 2011. Kete Christchurch. Theosophical_Hall__267_Cambridge_Terrace___31_March_2011____P3310167. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

The end

The Theosophical Society in Christchurch and the Liberal Catholic Church of Saint Francis continued to use the hall until it was damaged in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake. Despite being a heritage listed building, it was subsequently demolished in 2012. Following the demolition of the hall, the Christchurch branch of the Theosophical Society now meets at the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association building.

Demolition of the Theosophical Hall, 23 June 2012. Kete Christchurch. Demolition_of_the_Theosophical_Hall__23_June_2012__SAM_7293. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

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Daresbury Rookery, 67 Fendalton Road, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

Daresbury Rookery, 67 Fendalton Road, Christchurch [ca. 1902]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0030.
Daresbury Rookery, 67 Fendalton Road, Christchurch [ca. 1902].

This photograph shows Daresbury, a 50-room house on 25 acres, designed by S. Hurst Seager and built between 1897 and 1901 for George Humphreys (1848 or 9-1934), co-founder of the wine and spirits merchants Fletcher Humphries. Until 1945 the property was called Daresbury Rookery because of a colony of rooks that made its home in about 100 bluegums planted on the property in 1862 by Jane Deans. A snowstorm in 1945 damaged the trees and the rooks left.

Do you have any photographs of Daresbury Rookery? 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.

Los Angeles, North West Corner: Picturing Canterbury

Los Angeles, North West Corner. Kete Christchurch. Los_Angeles___North_West_Corner. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Los Angeles is a bungalow at 110 Fendalton Road built in 1909.

Photograph taken 21 March 2003.

Do you have any photographs of Los Angeles bungalow or Fendalton Road? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Los Angeles is one of the earliest examples of a California bungalow to be built in New Zealand. It was constructed sometime between 1909 and 1913 for its owner, Captain James McDonald, a trader. Opinion differs as to the origins of the material used in its construction. One tradition states that the kitset form of the house was brought out from California by McDonald. The other, that only the weatherboards and cedar shingles were imported from the United States. However, the chimneys, roadside fences, and verandah pillars were built from Canterbury riverstones.

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

St. Mary’s Bridle Path Road, Heathcote – Snow – Church next door to “Hillwood”: Picturing Canterbury

St. Mary’s Bridle Path Road, Heathcote – Snow – Church next door to “Hillwood”. File Reference Gimblett-0013.

St. Mary’s Bridle Path Road, Heathcote – Snow – Church next door to “Hillwood”.

Date: 1900s.

Built in 1860, St Mary’s Anglican church in Heathcote was originally situated on Bridle Path Road. Additions were made to the church building in 1914. In 1925 the building was relocated to its current location on the corner of Martindales and Truscotts roads.

Do you have any photographs of St Mary’s Church, Heathcote? 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.

St. Marys, Bridle Path Road, Heathcote

The family of Arthur John Inwood (1850-1932) and his wife Angelina (1860?-1919) pictured outside their dwelling: Picturing Canterbury

The family of Arthur John Inwood (1850-1932) and his wife Angelina (1860?-1919) pictured outside their dwelling [ca. 1900]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0003.
Arthur Inwood farmed in the Burwood area and gave his name to Inwoods Road.

Do you have any photographs of early Burwood? 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.

Musical Architecture of Band Rotundas

Brass bands developed as a popular form of musical entertainment in the late 19th century. By the early 20th century, many businesses and suburbs had their own bands, which would play for the public at weekends and during celebrations, as well as compete in competitions.

Sydenham Park : with reading room, band rotunda and water tower. [ca. 1900]. CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0069
Sydenham Park : with reading room, band rotunda and water tower. [ca. 1900]. CCL PhotoCD 5, IMG0069
Band rotundas were built in many public spaces across the city to create permanent outdoor locations for the bands to play in and to help to project their music into the surrounding area. The rotundas also provided a space for public speeches and commemorations.

The opening of the Bandsmens Memorial rotunda, Botanic Gardens, Christchurch [19 September 1926] CCL PhotoCD 8, IMG0068
The opening of the Bandsmens Memorial rotunda, Botanic Gardens, Christchurch [19 September 1926] CCL PhotoCD 8, IMG0068
The band rotunda on Sumner beach [1911] CCL Photo Collection 22, Img01269
Edmonds Band Rotunda, viewed from Oxford Terrace [ca. 1930] CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0072
General view of pier and enclosures : showing terminus of two trams and pier front. [ca. 1920] CCL PhotoCD 18, IMG0020
The oldest band rotunda in Christchurch was built in Latimer Square. This was relocated to Victoria Square in 1894, and later moved to Waltham Park after the Edmonds Band Rotunda was opened on the Avon in 1929. The Edmonds Band Rotunda, built in the High Renaissance style, was gifted to the city by Thomas Edmonds as part of a River Bank Improvement Scheme.

Another band rotunda built in the 1920s was the Bandsmen Memorial Rotunda in the Botanic Gardens, but this was built for very different reasons. This was the first memorial in New Zealand to be erected to the memory of bandsmen who died in the First World War. This rotunda was designed in the Classical style and was completed in 1926.

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