Another country? Mainlanders discussing ourselves – Auckland Writers Festival 2016

I am bordering on late when I arrive at a packed out Upper NZI Room at the Aotea Centre for a session that, as a South Islander, I feel duty-bound to attend.

I’m pointed in the direction of of a clutch of empty seats near the back by one of the friendly festival ushers/helpers.

This session dares to ask – is the South Island, home to 23% of New Zealanders, another country? Is there something distinctive and different about hailing from the Mainland?

Joe Bennett, Fiona Farrell and Brian Turner
Joe Bennett, Fiona Farrell and Brian Turner (Image supplied)

Ready to answer these, and similarly not-that-serious questions are Christchurch writer Fiona Farrell, Otagoan, poet, and former sportsman Brian Turner, and transplanted Banks Peninsula raconteur, dog enthusiast and columnist Joe Bennett.

Radio New Zealand presenter (and non-Mainlander) Jesse Mulligan is in charge of wrangling this trio and extracting what wisdom he could on the topic of Te Waipounamu.

As a dyed in the wool Cantabrian myself the notion that the South Island might be considered sufficiently “different” and “special” from the rest of New Zealand to warrant it’s own hour of discussion was in itself a little off-putting. We’re the normal ones by which the rest of the country may be judged, thanks – I said to myself in a way that somewhat alarmingly reinforced the stereotype, and caused me to peer out from behind my metaphorical eyepatch. But I am not alone. When Mulligan asks who in the crowd was a Mainlander, a sea of arms waved in unison. No red and black stripey scarves were seen, nor are any couches set alight, but early days…

Yes, it seems that this corner of the Aotea Centre was packed to the gunwales with South Islanders. Here we had all converged…to hear us discuss ourselves. But perhaps if you’re a Mainlander who lives in Auckland, the chances to gather like this are rare? Kia kaha, my southern brothers and sisters, kia kaha.

Each representative of The Other Big Island is asked to read something that speaks to their identity as a South Islander.

Cover of The villa at the edge of the empireFarrell chooses a poignant passage from her book The Villa at the Edge of the Empire about solastalgia, the feeling of distress caused by the loss of a familiar landscape or environment. My one Cantabrian eye moistens noticeably.

Turner chooses to read several things by different authors including Margaret Atwood and Ronald Wright. I can’t remember the exact details but the theme seems to be that of the rural landscape being irretrieveably altered and damaged in the name of “progress”. What definitely sticks with me was how he describes himself as “a cussett sort of a coot”, because who, outside of a Larry McMurtry novel, talks that way? Splendid.

Bennett is rather less lyrical in his description of Turner who claims to sometimes call “my pet rock”. Certainly the difference between the two men is stark – Bennett all rambunctious energy, Turner barely moving and thoughtful. Mulligan, to his credit, manages almost to reign Bennett in at times, which is generally the best you can hope for, in my experience.

Bennett’s reading is of a very brief passage from a Owen Marshall short story “Cabernet Sauvignon with my brother”, which he chooses for a very specific description of dryness that he feels really perfectly captures that place.

I love the accumulated heat of the Canterbury autumn. When you rest on the ground you can feel the sustained warmth coming up into your body, and there are pools of dust like talcum powder along the roads. It’s not the mock tropicality of the Far North, but the real New Zealand summer. It dries the flat of your tongue if you dare to breathe through your mouth. After spending the vacation working on the coast, I was happy to be back in Canterbury.

Mulligan then asks a questioned designed to provoke, “why don’t you move to Auckland?”

Cover of Into the wider world: A back country miscellanyThe answers were vary in the degree to which they take the question seriously. Turner, with some earnestness observes that he needs wide open spaces and “the sounds of silence that aren’t silence”.

Farrell quips that she “probably couldn’t afford it” (A ha! An Auckland property market joke – they’re easy… but they’re still funny), and Bennett says it has never crossed his mind and points out how wrongheaded, presumptuous and arrogant the question is in the first place.

Discussion moves on to the portrayal of the South Island in the media and Bennett claims that the northern-driven media are often patronising and fall back on the trope of the South Island as “a visitable theme park of prejudice”. Cripes.

Farrell, recalls with dismay how, after reviewing the covers of a weekly publication that may also be a sponsor of the festival so shall not be named, *cough* The Listener *cough*, for the year 2013, found that 25 were about food, and Christchurch didn’t feature once. You can almost but not quite, hear the “tsking” from the audience.

Farrell also paints an interesting picture when discussion of a South Island personality comes up when she says that the myth of two old codgers meandering down a country road discussing cheese really is a myth – they’ve likely sold their farms to foreign interests and are incredibly wealthy, meanwhile the majority of the rivers have been left unswimmable. And yet, we should fight to try and keep some part of this myth of wide open spaces, and bucolic beauty alive and real.

In the end, did we learn anything about what it is to be a South Islander from this session? Maybe the northerners in attendance did? It was certainly entertaining enough to hear the conversation, though I couldn’t help thinking, since all the panelists were of a different generation from me, that what being a Mainlander means to them, might be quite different to what it means to a part-Māori Gen Xer from Linwood. But maybe that’s a different discussion again?

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Matariki – Māori New Year 2016

Matariki – the Māori New Year – will take place on Pipiri 6 June 2016. During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth, Papatūānuku.

Our theme for Matariki 2016 is Akoranga: Teaching and learning – Te Kete Aronui: Third kete of knowledge.

Matariki

Matariki Festival at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre – Saturday 11 June

Don’t miss this free, family fun day! Storytelling, Science Alive Star Dome, arts, crafts, 3D printing, virtual reality, kapa haka and more! Find out more.

11am to 2pm
Mohoao and Hao function rooms
Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre
341 Halswell Road

Subscribe to the Facebook event.

Matariki Community Art Project in the Library

Come along to any library and learn about Te Kete Aronui. Take part in fun, Matariki-themed art and craft activities. Add your work to the community art space or take it home with you.

Matariki Wā Kōrero – Matariki Storytimes

Join us and share stories, rhymes and songs themed around Matariki.
Suitable for tamariki aged 2 to 5 years. Sessions are 30 minutes with an art activity to follow.

See our list of Matariki Wā Kōrero – Matariki Storytimes.

Matariki storytime at Te Kete Wānanga o Ōraka
Matariki storytime at Te Kete Wānanga o Ōraka. Shirley Library. Monday 16 June 2014.
Flickr 2014-06-16-DSC04495

Whānau Fun Day at Rehua Marae – Saturday 25 June

Lots of creative fun – workshops, stalls, and waiata for the whānau to enjoy.

10am to 4pm
Rehua Marae
79 Springfield Road
St Albans

Matariki crafts
Rehua Marae, St Albans, Christchurch. Saturday 28 June 2014.
Flickr 2014-06-28-IMG_0505

Browse all our Matariki events.

Other local Matariki events

Matariki in the Zone – Sunday 19 June at Anzac Drive Reserve

A Matariki event hosted by the Avon-Ōtākaro Network:

Come along to the red zone on the east side in Anzac Drive Reserve to celebrate Matariki.

  • Learn about weaving and make poi out of natural materials
  • watch carvers
  • learn about the environment and whitebait
  • make a little waka out of raupo reeds (mokihi) to take home
  • view the kids art exhibition and colour in or draw something to add to the art mural
  • grab some hangi and soup for free.

Subscribe to the Facebook event for more information.

Matariki resources at your library

Matariki colouring in

Download these colouring in pages.

Mana - colouring in Mātauranga colouring in Ngā Mahi hou colouring in Whānau - colouring in Matariki

Matariki

Posters and flyers

Matariki flyer Matariki poster Matariki Porotiti poster

Frank Worsley – a local hero

It is just over a century since Frank Worsley, Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean reached a whaling station on remote South Georgia following a daring 16 day voyage to alert the world to the loss of Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition‘s ship Endurance. Because of this journey the rest of the crew – stranded on Elephant Island – were all saved.

Worsley was born in Akaroa in 1872 and the New Zealand Antarctic Society has republished an epic poem about him ‘Worsley Enchanted‘ written by New Zealand-born poet Douglas Stewart and illustrated by Myra Walton. The poem takes readers through his experiences on the Endurance Expedition – which has become legendary – and reflects on his relationship with the rest of the crew.

Frank Worsley. Smythe, P :Photographs of Frank Worsley. Ref: 1/2-182002-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22778293
Frank Worsley. Smythe, P :Photographs of Frank Worsley. Ref: 1/2-182002-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22778293

Find out more

Ben Brown – Matariki poetry workshop for teens at Shirley Library

Join poet Ben Brown for a young adult poetry writing workshop on Sunday 12 June from 1pm to 3pm at Shirley Library.

If you are aged between 12 and 15, come and join us for a Matariki themed workshop with Lyttelton poet, Ben Brown. You’ll be reflecting on memories and crafting those memories into poetry.

You can book at Shirley Library or ring 9417923 to reserve a spot.

All you need to bring is something to write on (it can be pen and paper, or a tablet/laptop – whatever suits best).

Ben Brown

More about Ben Brown

Ben writes children’s books, non-fiction and short stories for children and adults. Born in Motueka, he has been a tobacco farm labourer, tractor driver and market gardener. Since 1992, he has been a publisher and writer, collaborating with his wife, illustrator Helen Taylor. Many of Brown’s books have a strong New Zealand nature background.

Info from Ben Brown’s profile on the New Zealand Book Council website.

Science Snippets – Hidden Gems

Each week during term time (except the first and last week) the team from Science Alive bring their Science Snippets sessions into our libraries. Excellent Science Alive educators lead children through interactive activities to stimulate their interest in science, and there is something to take home every week! There is a different theme for each session and this coming week from Monday 23 May it’s Hidden Gems.


You are sure to learn all about gems, rocks and minerals and do some fun experiments. Here are some great nonfiction books that we have in the library if you want to learn more about gems, rocks and minerals:

Here are some stories about gems, rocks and minerals to read too:

We also have some fantastic eResources with heaps of information about gems, rocks and minerals. Check these out:

  • National Geographic Kids – searches for ‘rocks,’ ‘minerals,’ and ‘gems’ gives you some great information from the National Geographic Kids magazine as well as access to several eBooks about rocks and minerals.
  • Britannica Library Kids – searches for ‘rocks,’ ‘minerals,’ and ‘gems’ gives you information about each of these topics, with different levels of information for different ages.
  • World Book Kids – a search for ‘rocks,’ ‘minerals,’ and ‘gems’ gives you some basic information about each of the topics, along with some suggestions for other topics you might like to look at for more information.

For more information about Science Alive’s Science Snippets check out Science Alive on our website.

The Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz and Blues Festival 2016

Jazz and blues FestivalThe Cavell Leitch New Zealand Jazz & Blues Festival is coming to Christchurch from the 25 to 29 May 2016. Discover more about the Festival, and the jazz and blues resources in our collection.

2016 performers

Ramsey LewisMulti Grammy Award winning jazz pianist and composer, Ramsey Lewis will perform with The Ramsey Lewis Quartet at the Isaac Theatre Royal on Thursday 26 May.

25th Anniversary Gala Concert celebrates 25 years of the Jazz School in Christchurch and the concert will feature ‘everything’ Christchurch Jazz at the Isaac Theatre Royal, Wednesday 25 May.

Jazz Dine will take place at the George Hotel and Dormer Jazz and Blues Club at The Gym at The Arts Centre. The club will host a selection of festival shows.

The Jazz in the City series includes special performances by Tami Neilson, Sal Valentine & The Babyshakes, and the Hipstamatics.

Find Jazz and Blues Festival performers’ works in our collection

Hetty KateRangi RuruTami Neilson

Images supplied by the Cavell Leitch NZ Jazz and Blues Festival

Jazz and blues in our collection

Jazz and blues eResources

Jazz Music Library includes works licensed from legendary record labels, including Audiophile, Concord Jazz, Jazzology, Milestone, Nessa Records, Original Jazz Classics, Pablo, and Prestige. Also included are Marian McPartland’s Peabody Award winning Piano Jazz Radio Broadcasts and never before released performances from the Monterey Jazz Festival and great jazz venues. Listen online to 1000s of great jazz tracks.

American Song provides online access to over 100,000 tracks from every genre and music period of American history.

Cover of 'Jazz' Cover Cover

Science Snippets – Sounds Sensational!

Each week during term time (except the first and last week) the team from Science Alive bring their Science Snippets sessions into our libraries. Excellent Science Alive educators lead children through interactive activities to stimulate their interest in science, and there is something to take home every week! There is a different theme for each session and this coming week from Monday 16 May it’s Sounds Sensational.

You are sure to learn all about sound and do some fun experiments. Here are some great nonfiction books that we have in the library if you want to learn more about sound:

Here are some stories about sound and hearing to read too:

We also have some fantastic eResources with heaps of information about sound and hearing. Check these out:

  • World Book: Inventions and DIscoveries – a search for ‘sound’ gives you information about inventions that have helped to capture sound (microphones) and make sound (keyboards).
  • Britannica Library Kids – a search for ‘sound’ gives you information about sound, with different levels of information for different ages.
  • World Book Kids – a search for ‘sound’ gives you some basic information about sound, along with some suggestions for other topics you might like to look at for more information.

For more information about Science Alive’s Science Snippets check out Science Alive on our website.

Samoan Language Week – Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa 2016

Tālofa. Samoan Language Week 2016 will take place from 29 May to 4 June. Here at Christchurch City Libraries we are celebrating with storytimes in Samoan and a computer session.

Talofa banner

Samoan language resources

Find more information about Samoan Language Week and Samoan language on:

Posters and flyers

Samoan Language Week Samoan Language Week

Samoan songs

Watch our wonderful colleagues Tai Sila and Jan-Hai Te Ratana perform some short Samoan songs:

Sit down

 

The Colour song

Colouring in

Download our Samoan Language Week colouring in page.

Malo talofa colouring in

 

“Important things are happening” – Jane Smiley

At the Christchurch Art Gallery last night, a keen group of contemporary fiction fans gathered to hear American author Jane Smiley talk about her life, her books and her love of “playing” with fiction. Jane appeared at this WORD Christchurch event with thanks to the Auckland Writers Festival.

Jane Smiley - WORD Christchurch
Jane Smiley. Flickr 2016-05-09-IMG_4137

Well-known Christchurch literary promoter Morrin Rout introduced Smiley as a “formidable chronicler of her times” who has written 27 books including adult novels, books for children and young adults, and non-fiction works on subjects as diverse as craft, computers and Charles Dickens. This woman is one smart cookie. She studied Old Norse, Old English and Old German among other languages at university and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Iceland, an experience which prompted her to write The Greenlanders (which Jonathan Franzen considers to be one of the best novels ever to come out of the USA).

Despite all this heady stuff, Jane Smiley comes across as a warm, witty, engaging woman who, like many of us, loves nothing more than trying to figure out what makes other people tick. She openly admits she grew up in a “very gossipy family” and enjoyed the talkative, mentally challenging environment.

Not surprisingly, she builds her recent trilogy,  The last 100 years, around family of similarly formidable characters. The Langdons have roots in agriculturally-based Iowa where the main topics of conversation are firstly the weather, secondly gossip and thirdly the news. Sound familiar? This certainly struck a chord with the Christchurch audience who perhaps also live in a town where “important things are happening and no one pays any attention”.

Cover Cover Cover

Jane Smiley is aware of the rare talent she has “to express a feeling in terms of an image or metaphor”. If you haven’t read her yet and you’re looking for an insightful author who will make you think, you’re in for a treat.

Jane Smiley and Rachel - WORD Christchurch
Jane and Rachel. Flickr 2016-05-09-IMG_4147

Read more:

Social media 1860s style – The logbooks of Joseph Munnings

You might have heard of people who keep a diary of their daily lives, recording their thoughts and special occasions. Some of us still do, and have little interest in using social media to share our most intimate thoughts and what we had for dinner with friends, workmates, friends of a friends, and that random stranger who you talked to once and ‘friended’.

I’m fairly certain that when Joseph Munnings wrote an account of his daily life he couldn’t foresee that it would be available for public scrutiny 150 years later – or that it would be of interest to anyone else. But it is. We are very fortunate to have the digitised copies of his ‘Log Books’ that date from May 1862 to November 1866 available for us to have a sneak peek into his world.

Diary, May 1862 to May 1864, Joseph Munnings. ANZC Archives. CCL-Arch971-01-002
Diary, May 1862 to May 1864, Joseph Munnings. ANZC Archives. CCL-Arch971-01-002

Joseph’s Log Books served to answer some questions that I didn’t know that I had. Like how did people of the time spend Christmas and New Years? Strangely he didn’t mention that he liked one particular gift over another and there were no plans to return unwanted pressies on Boxing Day! Maybe it was because he had to work – his shop was open six days a week and he was busy on Sunday teaching Sunday School before he went to evening services. He did however mention that he spent Christmas day with the Harringtons and some time at the Lunatic Asylum and there was preaching involved – his words not mine! Okay so that poses more questions than it answers.

I particularly enjoyed his account of the post-Christmas 1865 Bazaar that he both worked at and patronised in a paddock at Governors Bay. There was casual mention of his soon-to-be-betrothed being in attendance and a marquee was erected to house the food, refreshments and Christmas tree. Some 400 people were brought out to the event via Cobb and Co. coach or cart as well as numerous trips from Lyttelton by the steamer Betsy Douglas. They ate well – fowls, ducks, pigeon pie, ham, beef, mutton, lamb and spiced beef. Well, that kept all the carnivores happy but they also had salads, cucumbers, cakes, fruits of all kinds – and it was all washed down with ginger beer, lemonade, tea or coffee. “Sixpence if you please” for your cup of tea. Sounds divine – I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Amusements were provided, balloons sent up, quoits were played and “kissing in the ring – a favourite with the young”. No doubt!

My romantic side has read between the lines on this occasion and decided that as his ‘beloved’ was also in attendance. I think it’s possible he proposed marriage to her as he was asking for her father’s consent to marry her by the 4th of January 1866. Next question: A Saturday wedding in spring with a honeymoon to Kaikoura or Akaroa? Time to put aside such romantic notions … how about a midweek ceremony in late July instead – and they were by all accounts still entertaining guests past midnight. Well, at least there was the honeymoon to look forward to … except Joseph was back working in his shop by Friday. However, I think we can rest assured that there was romance between them because his wife featured quite regularly in his log and they had 11 children over the years.

Maybe this is where we get the impression that they lived a simpler life back then. Joseph was simply grateful to have made it to the year’s conclusion and then wondered if he would see the new year through to its end. A noble aspiration methinks.

You can read more about Joseph in the The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District] available on NZETC.

Joseph Munnings
Joseph Munnings The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], NZETC
So, if you’re like me and would prefer to read about historical life events rather than how someone else had a better weekend than you, then make sure you have a look at:

For those of us that like pictures because it makes it brings it alive on a different level – Geoffrey W. Rice has some amazing books to take a look at.