Heritage Week 2015: Sentimental journeys

Heritage Week logoBECA Heritage Week starts this week though it should more correctly be called “Heritage Fortnight” since this year it runs from 9-26 October – with an impressive range of events on offer (more than you could fit in a mere 7 days, even).

This year the theme is “Arrivals and departures – the journeys that have shaped us” and events over the course of the “week” include Akaroa’s French Fest, tours, seminars and talks, and heaps and heaps of other stuff. Check out the brochure of Heritage Week events [9MB PDF] for the full roster of heritage-goodies.

The big event on Saturday 18 October is a Central City Family Fun Day. All sorts of fun activities will take place at various “hubs” dotted about the inner city including face-painting, Highland Games, bouncy castle, ki-o-rahi (the traditional Māori ball game), music and performances.

Double decker busAs well as the entertainments there will be opportunities for people to investigate their own heritage with genealogists and whakapapa offering advice. And best of all, a free double-decker bus will be available to travel between hubs.

Have a look at the Family Fun Day map.

Library events

The library has a range of activities to celebrate our local heritage:

Spirited cemetery tours with Richard Greenaway 10-25 October (various locations)

Join Richard Greenaway, local historian and genealogist, on one of his colourful tours of local cemeteries. Richard will share information on the graves of people – important, interesting or about whom there is a positive,sad or quirky story. Useful for local historians, genealogists and those whose children need an original subject for a school project. Handout material will be supplied for a gold coin. Remember to be warmly clothed, wear sensible shoes and carry a torch for nighttime tours. Tours are one to three hours.

Explore you family connections Sunday 18 October – Victoria Square

Visit us at the Mobile Library Van to discover more about your family history. Staff will show you how to access resources where you can find key information such as births, deaths and marriages as well as migration and military information, or build on what you already know.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – Storytime on the Double Decker Sunday 18 October

Join Zac and Tania for stories, rhymes and songs all about transport as we ride on the double decker bus. Stories are best suited to children aged 3 to 7 years, caregiver required. Departs from Victoria Square, Armagh Street bus stop at 11 am and 12 noon. Bookings essential! Please phone 941 6649 or email libraryevents@ccc.govt.nz

Christchurch Photo Hunt

Photo Hunt 2015Our annual photo hunt takes place in October. As well as helping to boost important historical records, entrants are in line for some great prizes – an eReader or a tablet.

So dig out your photos of any and all modes of transport, people heading off on, or arriving home from trips big and small, images that document our travels, homecomings, and journeys of all kinds.

Entries can be made online, or by dropping into your local library.

Previous years’ photo hunt entries can be found on Kete Christchurch.

Oxford to Oxford: The emigration of Henry Smith

Another treasure of Christchurch City Libraries archives (namely Arch 1029) has been digitised and is now online for the enjoyment and edification of all.

The latest is the shipboard diary of Henry Smith, who journeyed from Plymouth to Wellington aboard the R.M.S. Rimutaka in 1885. Written in pencil, the diary documents shipboard life and includes many interesting observations about what it was like to live aboard a ship for weeks. Not the least of which was food and meals which Smith describes thusly –

Opened a tin of condensed milk today, also pickled cabbage, which was very acceptable indeed. Our meals are something like feeding wild animals. Every man helps himself, or else he falls short, that is the case at the present anyhow.

Mmm. Sounds delicious.

Henry, a blacksmith in his mid-twenties, is quite interested in music and seems often to enjoy a singalong with his fellow passengers, though others prefer to read.

H. Smith [1875]
H. Smith, H. & G. Harwood Photographers [1875] CCL-Arch1029-2-007

Borrowed a concertina from one of my mates & had a few tunes this morning. Lent Miss Morrison “The Old Curiosity Shop” this afternoon, lent another young man on Friday last “Percival Keene”.

Where travellers these days might purchase easy to read “airport fiction” along the lines of James Patterson or Lynda La Plante to occupy the time on a journey, longer sea voyages meant Dickens was probably an appropriately-sized read, though it’s interesting to see that coming-of-age adventure novels like Percival Keene obviously had their place too.

According to the letter of reference that Smith brought with him from England he had been active in his church in his home town of Oxford as part of the choir, so clearly he had a musical bent. Indeed, even his last entry in his diary is concerned with music.

Went to church in the morning, congregation scanty, singing went very well.

Henry Smith went on to settle at View Hill, just west of Oxford setting up a blacksmithing business before becoming a sheep farmer with a freehold estate of 4280 acres. In 1890 he married a local woman named Mary Mounsey and they had several children. Smith was very active in the community,  taking interest in the local library, school committee and eventually as a member of the Oxford County Council.

This digitised archive in addition to the shipboard diary includes photographs, letter of reference, and an invoice for a View Hill property in te reo Māori.

This week in Christchurch history (5 to 11 October)

5 October 1899
First Boer War contingent leaves Lyttelton.

5 October 1982
Paraplegic archer Neroli Fairhall (in competition with able-bodied athletes) wins gold medal at Brisbane Commonwealth Games.

8 October 1989
Redesigned portion of Victoria Square opened.

Photo of The Town Hall
Christchurch Town Hall view, Flickr CCL-CWF10-P1100071

9 October 1962
Christchurch Town Hall site chosen in Kilmore Street. Assisted by advice from visiting Professor Gordon Stephenson, the unanimously accepted proposal ended years of dispute over this choice. Other sites considered were the old public library site in Hereford Street and an area near Latimer Square. Another often debated site was Victoria Square.

10 October 1885
Life insurance fraud (The Case of the Severed Hand) at Taylor’s Mistake. The perpetrator, Arthur Howard, was sentenced to 2 years’ prison on April 11 the following year.

11 October 1988
“The Wizard” wages war against the “Tasteless tyrants of Telecom” by repainting the new blue telephone boxes traditional red.

11 October 1989
Waitangi Tribunal Hearing of land claim by Ngai Tahu closes at Tuahiwi Marae.

Photo of The Ngai Tahu land claims : a South Island hui : Maori gathering at Tuahiwi, North Canterbury. [1925]
The Ngai Tahu land claims : a South Island hui : Maori gathering at Tuahiwi, North Canterbury. [1925], CCL PhotoCD 7, IMG0001
More October events in the Christchurch chronology: a timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

Take a trip with the 2015 Christchurch Photo Hunt

Since 2008, Christchurch City Libraries has been pursuing your old photos. Why? Because they are a fantastic record of local history. The pics go onto our Kete Christchurch – the repository of all kinds of Ōtautahi images.

This year’s theme is ‘Arrivals and Departures — The journeys that have shaped us’. We want your images related to this subject. You could win a tablet or eReader. Find out more, and enter in a library or online.

Christchurch Photo Hunt

There are four cool postcards you’ll spot in libraries – feel free to grab a few. They feature some top travel pics – perfect inspiration!

Christchurch Photo Hunt postcards
Christchurch Photo Hunt postcards [2.24MB PDF]

Akaroa Regatta
Regatta. Akaroa. 1907. Kete Christchurch 1907_Regatta_Ship_R_3391B.jpg
Boyce Refrigerated Truck being manoeuvred off the steamer Hinemoa
Boyce Refrigerated Truck being manoeuvred off the steamer Hinemoa, Kete Christchurch CCL-Kete001-002.jpg
London to Christchurch Air Race 1953
London to Christchurch Air Race 1953, Kete Christchurch IMG_0001.jpg
Waka, Okain’s Bay, 1977
Waka, Okain’s Bay, 1977.  Flickr HWC08-SO-101

Have a look back at Photo Hunts gone by:

Make a Fun Palaces comic

Get your Fun Palaces on right now with the Fun Palaces Comic Maker!

You can drag and drop characters inspired by Emily Medley’s original Fun Palaces illustration into a comic-book story. Just move the images around, and add captions to tell your own Fun Palace adventure. Once it is looking slick,:

  • “Preview” – you can save the image to your computer
  • “Submit” and add to the already expanding collection of Fun Palace comics which will be shared at funpalaces.tumblr.com.

Here’s my maiden effort.


Kia ora and big ups to the very talented Talia Yat and Phil Gullberg of the State Library of Queensland who made the Fun Palaces comic maker, based on a concept by man-who-makes-things-happen (and library lover)  Matt Finch.

See you at Fun Palaces – it is on tomorrow and Sunday (3 and 4 October). The first Fun Palaces in the world this year will be the Christchurch ones!

Connecting Christchurch educators – 31 days of blogging with ChchEd

Are you a teacher, or interested in education? There is a group in Christchurch doing fab work – they’re called Christchurch Connected Educators or Chched. You might see the hashtag #chched on Twitter. Their aim is to create connections between educators across the Canterbury region. It is a strong forum for sharing ideas and making things happen.

This month they bring you 31 Days of Blogging:

A celebration of the awesome things happening in Canterbury schools.

Danny from our South Learning Centre will be posting on 3 October.  I’m interested to hear what he has to say – read his previous posts on hoverboards, Living Walls, 3D printing, and Minecraft.


So subscribe to the Chched blog – get ideas, inspiration, and encouragement.

Bonjour French Fest!

No doubt like many of you, I grew up learning French at school. For seven years I practiced saying helpful phrases like Ouvre la fenêtre; and Il y a un autobus. I must have enjoyed it, because I then chose to study French at university. As a consequence, decades later, I can fake the BEST French accent, order coffee authentically, and pronounce the word croissant like a pro.

French Fest

My early exposure to French language and culture has also, however, left me with an enduring love for all things Gallic. So Akaroa’s biennial French Fest – happening this year from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th October – is a celebration I would very dearly love to attend. Malheureusement, I will be away that weekend, so I will be relying on all of you to do your best to pop over the hill and join in the celebrations.

And there’s a lot to celebrate – this year marks the 175th anniversary of the first organised European settlement. You can choose to mark the occasion by attending Friday night’s Fête des Lumières Street Party, or watch the following morning’s re-enactment of the landing of the settlers from the French ship Comte de Paris. Saturday also offers Le Jour du Marché, with a street market at the showgrounds, and on Sunday you can join in (or just watch!) a game of Ki-o-Rahi – a traditional Māori ball game played by two teams on a circular pitch that was taught to the French settlers.

As an added bonus, French Fest has this year partnered with Beca Heritage Week, and has the honour of offering the very first event in that festival’s programme. So much to see and do! Je suis jaloux that you will be able to attend – perhaps as a small favour I could ask you to bring me back a croissant, or possibly even pain au chocolat.

French books
French books at Central Library Peterborough. Flickr 2015-09-23-IMG_9541

Akaroa info

More French stuff

L'Hebdo magazine Cover of French Vogue Cover of Nina

Get yer Fun Palaces on – Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October

Free, pop-up Fun Palaces will be hosting exciting arts, science and culture activities for people of all ages and abilities this weekend. New Zealand will be the first place in the world to get our Fun Palace on!

Fun Palaces

My sister in London will be Fun Palace-ing too – Story Telling For Big Kids and Little Kids at the Brockwell Lido Fun Palace. Meanwhile, in Christchurch I will be with the whanau sampling events at our Fun Palaces HQ Central Library Peterborough. But wait – there’s more!


Be There lists all the local Fun Palaces.  You can win too – snap a selfie at any of the Fun Palaces and upload to your social media accounts with the hashtag #funpalaceschch and you are in the draw to WIN a bicycle worth up to $2,000. See you there!

This week in Christchurch history (28 September to 4 October)

28 September 1864
Re-built Victoria Bridge opens. It is probably the country’s first iron and stone bridge.

29 September 1978
Friendship Corner opens by the Bridge of Remembrance. After a heated public debate over whether the area should be used for parking, the Council decided to plant the area with trees representing Christchurch’s sister cities.

30 September 1972
New Town Hall complex and James Hay Theatre (designed by Warren and Mahoney) opens. Ferrier Fountain commissioned.

1 October 1870
Opening of Canterbury Museum building, designed by B.W. Mountfort.

Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch [ca. 1885], CCL PhotoCD 12, IMG0090
Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch [ca. 1885], CCL PhotoCD 12, IMG0090
1 October 1948
City Council takes over Canterbury Public Library from University.

1 October 1953
Over 3000 hectares of Waimairi (showgrounds area), Heathcote (Bromley area) and Estuary included in City.

2 October 1916
Opawa joins city.

3 October 1988
Park Royal Hotel opens in Victoria Square.

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

“You tell lies to get close to the truth” – Joe Bennett

‘Twas a damp and misty Christchurch evening, supposedly Spring but feeling more like Winter, when a gathering of Christchurch people came to a WORD Christchurch event to hear celebrated columnist and author Joe Bennett talk about his new book – King Rich.

Despite nearly giving up partway through, Joe was persuaded by his publisher to continue the story that had begun  – where else ? – at the pub.He’d written a column about the man living in the Hotel Grand Chancellor Hotel, since demolished, and the nub of the story had stayed lurking in the back of his mind. Was it an urban myth? Who knows? Does that matter?

Hotel Grand Chancellor
Views of the Hotel Grand Chancellor and surrounds. January 2012. Flickr: CCL-2012-01-12-IMG_8860-HotelGrandChancellor

It was fascinating to hear the process of how the column had grown into a novel. No, he hadn’t met any red zone dwellers, hadn’t felt the need too. No, the dog Friday was not a kindred spirit and could not have been a cat, but yes, the name was based on Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

“As the writer you are the puppeteer, but you’ve got to be invisible: to write yourself out it, which is very different from writing a column.”

“I’m a literary bastard,” he said, ” I read stuff and I want to be moved by it.”

“It’s a book about love, that’s the nub of where we live.”

WORD Christchurch tweets from the event:

Cover of fish like a drink Cover of Double happiness Cover of Celebrity Cat recipes Cover of The World's your lobster Cover of Where underpants come from?