Norman Kirk – 6 January 1923 – 31 August 1974

Prime Minister Norman Kirk, M.P. for Sydenham, formerly M.P. for Lyttelton and Mayor of Kaiapoi , died on 31 August 1974.

Portrait of Norman Kirk. K E Niven and Co :Commercial negatives. Ref: 1/2-230154-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22842895

Growing up in a staunchly Labour-ite household, he loomed large in my childhood – yes, he was a big man – and his death was a shock. He was the Mighty Totara, whose death should not have happened so early (he was only 51).

But childhood memories are notoriously unreliable – I remember a song where the words “Big Norm” seemed to occur with great frequency and affection ! – so what kind of man was he really, and what did he achieve ?

From the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and NZHistory:

  • Norman’s first job was roof painting, and he worked a variety of jobs, qualifying as an engine driver.
  • Despite leaving school by the age of 13 (he attended Linwood Avenue School), Norman was an avid reader, and established the New Zealand Authors’ Fund.
  • He built his own family home in Kaiapoi, from concrete blocks he made himself.
  •  He was described as having ‘a resolute chin, a twinkling eye, a charming smile, and an impish wit’, and became a renowned debater.
  • In October 1953 Norman was elected mayor of the Kaiapoi Borough Council. At the age of 30, he was the youngest mayor in the country and continued to work at the Firestone Tyre Company.
  • On 9 December 1965, 42-year-old Norman Kirk became leader of the parliamentary Labour Party, and leader of the opposition.
  • Kirk led Labour to victory with a majority of 23 seats on 25 November 1972.
  • In April 1973 his  government refused to grant visas to a South African rugby team because the touring Springboks would be racially selected.
  • He applied pressure to the French to stop testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific, then sent a a frigate to the test area ‘to provide a focus for international opinion against the tests’.
  • His government reformed Māori land law – the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 set up the Waitangi Tribunal. See television footage of Waitangi Day ceremonies on 6 February 1973.
  • His health suffered under a heavy workload and he died at Our Lady’s Home of Compassion hospital in Island Bay, Wellington.  He had a state funeral, which was attended by thousands of New Zealanders.

Gallery - Norman Kirk The First 250 DaysCover of The Mighty Totara      Cover of Diary of the Kirk years
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This week in Christchurch history (31 August to 6 September)

31 August 1959
Princess Margaret Hospital opens.

Cashmere (later Princess Margaret) Hospital, shown under construction [1956]
Cashmere (later Princess Margaret) Hospital, shown under construction [1956], CCL PhotoCD 17, IMG0099
31 August 1974
Death of Prime Minister Norman Kirk, M.P. for Sydenham. He had earlier been M.P. for Lyttelton, and Mayor of Kaiapoi. Search our catalogue for Norman Kirk. View the DigitalNZ set The life and death of Norman Kirk.

Scene alongside the coffin of the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk, in Parliament House, Wellington, September 1974
Alongside the coffin of the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk at Parliament House, Wellington. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: 1/4-021782-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22870322

1 September 1888
Earthquake causes damage throughout City. Cathedral spire badly damaged. View image in our collection.

4 September 2010
Cover of QuakeThe Darfield earthquake woke Canterbury at 4:35am. The magnitude 7.1. quake was centred 40km west of Christchurch.

5 September 1985
French agent Dominique Prieur convicted over the bombing of the Greenpeace ship “Rainbow Warrior”, transferred from Mt Eden Jail to Christchurch Womens Prison.

6 September 1878
Railway to Dunedin officially opens. The occasion was marked by a banquet (Star, Issue 3250, 6 September 1878, Page 3, via Papers Past).

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

New Zealand Fashion in Pictures: Our Image Collection

For New Zealand Fashion Week we’re sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

Over the years, Christchurch City Libraries has built up a collection of local images. Many of these are donated from private collections and capture the places and people of Christchurch, and Canterbury’s history. Some of these we’ve grouped into themed image collections, including one on Costume and Fashion.

Our image collection is mostly made up of early 20th century images but is less comprehensive in terms of more recent history. If you’ve got photos that you think we’d be interested in then please contact us.

In the meantime, here are some oldies but goodies in the fashion stakes –

Suits you

Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
Members of the Christchurch Drainage Board and visitors present at the opening of the septic tank, Bromley sewage farm [4 Sept. 1905] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0084
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
A group of Maori women dress reformers [1906] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0096
 Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] File reference P7030226
Mr E. H. Hughes, Mr R. E. Alexander (Director of the College), and Mr Walter Macfarlane [1909] Selwyn-P7030226

 The diploma winners of 1913. File reference P3051336
The diploma winners of 1913. Selwyn-P3051336

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Michael Robotham – The psychology of crime

Michael Robotham is full of stories. He had a crowd enraptured at South Learning Centre last night with his tales of crime, psychology, writing, and the Ozarks.

He is now a best-selling, award-winning writer, but started out as a journalist. Later he was a successful ghost writer, working on 15 autobiographies (including Ginger Spice, Rolf Harris, and Lulu – he turned down Bryan Ferry though!)

Michael started writing his first novel The suspect when he had some time off between ghostwriting memoirs by Lulu and Rolf Harris. There was a bidding war – he had arrived with a bang. When it was published, he sent a copy to his Mum. After a while, she still hadn’t read it and told him “I had three library books to get through”.  She won a Friends of the Library Award for that commitment to libraries. Her review of his first book? “It took me a while to get into and then I did”.

Michael and author Paul Cleave
Michael Robotham and Paul Cleave. Flickr 2015-08-26-IMG_8920

Michael talked about his road to becoming a writer, and his literary parent Ray Bradbury, as told here in Ray Bradbury is my ‘Father’.

He also shared stories about his dealings with Oz’s most wanted crim Raymond John Denning, It is a ripper of a tale and was sparked his fascination with the psychology of crime.

Michael told us about time with psychologist Paul Britton (who was the basis for the fictional character Cracker played by Robbie Coltrane). This was the man who went to Fred and Rosemary West’s house and when they found bodies in the garden said “they’re in the garden because the house is full”. Very creepy stuff.

His books all have a factual basis. The spark for his latest book Close your eyes was the murder of Janet Brown in Somerset. Life and Death was inspired by a man who escaped from prison the day before he was due to be released – and was never seen again.

I try so hard to write fiction that reads like fact.

Audience
Michael Robotham talk at South Learning Centre. Wednesday 26 August 2015. Flickr 2015-08-26-IMG_8919

Michael told us about his trip to the Ozark Mountains, scouting for a location for Life or Death. The locals were less than friendly. A burly Ozarkian Sheriff sparked good lines like someone being “dumber than shit on a biscuit”.

Not only did we get most excellent anecdotes, Michael also shared some writing tips. Find your own way. Do just enough research so the premise works, don’t let your research dominate.

Michael has just gained a new gang of Christchurch fans.

Michael Robotham and Dennis
Michael Robotham and my Dad.  Flickr 2015-08-26-IMG_8922

Search our catalogue for Michael Robotham.

Cover of Close your eyes Cover of Watching you Cover of Say you're sorry Cover of Life or death Cover of The suspect

4 September 2010 – 5th anniversary ceremony

Kia ora Christchurchians and Cantabrians, we thought you might be interested in this information from Mayor Lianne Dalziel on a dawn ceremony on 4 September 2015 – it will be five years since we all got shaken out of bed at 4.35am when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck.

The media release: Dawn ceremony for fifth earthquake anniversary

Mayor Lianne Dalziel is inviting Cantabrians to join her for a special sunrise ceremony in remembrance of the September 2010 Christchurch earthquake.

Residents are invited to gather on the beach outside the New Brighton Library from 6.10am on Friday 4 September 2015, the fifth anniversary of the first Christchurch earthquake.

A short ceremony will be held ending with a shared watching of the sunrise at approximately 6.50am.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says, “This is the time, on the dawn of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, to gather together as a community to reflect on our city’s journey. It is a chance to remember what we have been through since September 2010 and, as the sun rises, to look ahead to what the future may hold.”

Parking is available in the carpark north of New Brighton Library. Temporary lighting on the beach will lead you to the gathering point just past the pier.

Find out more about 4 September 2010 earthquake.

New Zealand Fashion in pictures: Our Flickr

For New Zealand Fashion Week we’re sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

The Christchurch City Libraries Flickr account is a treasure trove of local images. We have photos of library events and displays, things we see around the city (buildings coming down, and going up), but we also have photos that have been donated for digitising from members of staff and the public, often as part of our annual Photo Hunt competition.

And, my word, there are some great outfits captured in those photos. Here is just a selection  –

Fantastic frocks

Papanui High School Prefects and House Captains
Papanui High School Prefects and House Captains, 1948, Flickr File reference: HW08-IMG-FE066
Mother and Daughter
Mother and Daughter, 1951, Flickr File reference: HW08-IMG-HA081
Wendy & Ina Bradley
Wendy & Ina Bradley, Circa 1967, Flickr File reference: HW08-CE134
Debutante Ball, Akaroa
Debutante Ball, Akaroa, 1969, Flickr File reference: HW08-img-fe113
Three cousins
Three cousins, 1971, Flickr File reference:HW08-img-ce104

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Pride and Perversion

You are a sexual deviant.

Talk about opening a book with a zinger! I’m looking forward to hearing Jesse Bering in person –  6pm on Sunday 30 August 2015, a WORD Christchurch event in the Shifting points of view section of the Christchurch Arts Festival. His topic? On Perversion. Get your tickets now yo. This is not a session for kids or the squeamish; it’s definitely adult in nature.

I’ve just read his book Perv: The sexual deviant in all of us. As a librarian, I’m an index checker and this is one that’d make your eyes water: sneeze fetishists, autoplushophiles, formicophilia, Miley Cyrus …

This is a book that asks some great questions:

We’ve become so focused as a society on the question of whether a given sexual behavior is evolutionarily “natural” or unnatural” that we’ve lost sight of the more important question: Is it harmful? (p.21)

Jesse takes us right back to the origins of the term:

For the longest time, in fact, to be a pervert wasn’t to be a sex deviant; it was to be an atheist … So if we applied this original definition to the present iconoclastic world of science, one of the world’s most recognizable perverts would be the famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. (p.9 /10)

The book is a journey into the world of “erotic outliers” (doesn’t that sound much better than pervert). It contains a good dollop of the personal, as well as science, politics, history, literature, and psychology – and, of course, the nature of sexual arousal. There are also plenty of interesting examples of behaviours; you’ll never look at the yoghurt in your office fridge the same way.

Jesse quotes the Roman philosopher Terence (p. 8):

I consider nothing that is human alien to me.

More understanding. Less judginess.

Cover of Perv Cover of Why is the penis shaped like that? Cover ot The God instinct

 

Raging at road cones

When a letter from SCIRT arrived in our mailbox earlier in the year, detailing the works to be done to the underground pipes on our street and those on surrounding roads, it was greeted with pleasure. The prospect of being able to ‘flush without fear’ after days (or even merely hours) of rain looked to be close at hand with the remediation of the nearby earthquake damaged storm-water and sewer pipes.

The ever-present symbols of... progress?
The ever-present symbols of… progress?
Photo by F. Allison.

The road cones, signs, trucks and workmen arrived, did their job and departed. Or at least 3 out of the 4 of the traffic management crowd did. The little orange cones stuck around. Some of their whānau disappear for a bit, but still visit regularly for a party in the middle of our street or the neighbouring ones, for no apparent purpose.

Some days it seems my travel to and from work is book-ended by roadworks and the cones, and they appear on every second road in between. When I find myself faced with yet another un-notified unexpected detour, down a street going in completely the opposite direction to which I need to head (and of course I have allowed no time for in the morning rush of school and preschool drop offs), part of me thinks ‘suck it up, princess, the east side of town has been dealing with this for YEARS not just months!’ and yet I often still have the urge to scream and swear. I manage to resist, if the children are in the car. Usually.

Cover of JamI suppose I should be grateful I’m not in the traffic jam on the M25 in England, as depicted in the novel Jam. Or perhaps I should borrow some soothing, calming music from the library, and play it in the car during my travels…

By Cecilia Freire de Mance, Creative Clay Studio
Art by Cecilia Freire de Mance, Creative Clay Studio.
Photo by F. Allison.

Of course the primary purpose of the orange wonders has been subverted on numerous occasions in post-quake Christchurch: the annual floral tributes in individual cones on each anniversary of the February 2011 earthquake, which local artist Cecilia Freire de Mance has captured beautifully in clay ornaments; en masse as unusual artworks at Festa 2014. They even morphed into a giraffe during the Christchurch Stands Tall trail last summer.

Some residents in the city have even been sufficiently moved to write letters to the Press to express their feelings about the humble items.

What is your experience of road works? Have you found road cones to be little orange triangles sent by Satan to torment you at every turn, or are they bright happy indicators of important progress happening across our city?

CityUps - FESTA Festival of Transitional Architecture. Flickr, 2014-10-25-IMG_3044
CityUps – FESTA Festival of Transitional Architecture. Flickr, 2014-10-25-IMG_3044
Cone-raff, photo by Claire Levy
Cone-raff.
Photo by Claire Levy, published in SCIRT’s Road cone giraffe steps in for vandalised model St Albans – RoadConology 101.

… and the peasants rejoiced…*

Dancers in redAnyone who has anything to do with professional dancing knows that it requires extraordinary levels of physical fitness, control and dedication to make it as graceful and seemingly effortless as they do.

I’ve loved the ballet ever since my Mum took me to a Southern Ballet production of Stravinsky’s The Firebird as a six year old and pestered her into lessons. It still grabs me in a way that no other live performance does, surely a combination of the setting, music and movement, so I’m thrilled to be going along to the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream later this week.

I know the story well enough of course, it being based on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, but I am not at all familiar with the music by Felix Mendelssohn. According to liner notes for one recording found in the libraries’ Classical Music Library eResource (see below) the music was composed to be incidental music for a performance of the play in 1843.

Find out more about this production via their twitter feed.

More Ballet resources

Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear


* blog title is a bad ’90s TV show reference for which I apologise.

New Zealand Fashion in pictures: Kete Christchurch

It’s New Zealand Fashion Week and here on the Christchurch City Libraries blog we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite images of New Zealand fashion.

First up are photos from Kete Christchurch, our online repository for community stories (it’s a sort of “digital shoebox” that anyone can contribute to). It’s also a great place to find images of local people through the years and sometimes they’ve got their “Sunday Best” on. Many of the best images on Kete Christchurch are from our annual Photo Hunt competition which we’ll be running again later in the year.

Have a look at some of these great ensembles. There are…

Ladies

Two Young Women
Two Young Women, 1910  (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Two Ladies with baskets
Two Ladies with baskets. (Kete Site Admin) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Mavis Howarth, August 1935
Mavis Howarth, August 1935 (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Railway office staff 1958
Railway office staff 1958 (CCL Photo Hunt) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

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