A small piece of Christchurch’s Antarctic heritage

Christchurch has many links with Antarctica, both modern and historic. This November sees the 105th anniversary of the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition sailing from Lyttelton. Led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott and officially known as the British Antarctic Expedition, the expedition ended in disaster when the polar party perished on their way back from the South Pole, having discovered that Roald Amundsen‘s Norwegian party had made it there before them.

Scott and his men had spent some time in Lyttelton and Christchurch before setting sail on the last leg of their sea voyage from the UK. Scott first came to the region in 1901 when he also used Lyttelton as last port of call on his way to Antarctica. This was the British National Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Discovery expedition.

A typescript letter signed by Robert Scott, thanking the City for the gift, from Mr. H. Greenbank, of a mounted horseshoe.
Letter, 15 Nov. 1910, from Robert Falcon Scott, CCL-Archive18-003

Our digital collection includes a couple of nice mementos of these two expeditions, which highlight the Christchurch connection. On both occasions the people of Christchurch gave a gift to the expedition – firstly some sheep and secondly a mounted horseshoe. Scott wrote thank you letters to the town clerk and these are now part of the library’s archives collection and have been digitised.

  • For everything you could ever want to know about Antarctica, take a look at the extensive links on our Antarctica web page.
  • Find out about the Antarctic Heritage Trust‘s quest to restore the historic Ross Island huts of Scott, Shackleton and others

Whanau fun – celebrate Aranui at AFFIRM on 5 December

AFFIRM is a family festival organised by ACTIS. The local community sets out to celebrate and share its talents with the rest of Christchurch. AFFIRM14 takes place on Saturday 5 December 2015 at Wainoni Park from 9.30am to 4pm.

AFFIRM10 Flickr CCL-2011-12-03-AFFIRM December2011 DSC02813

There will be food stalls on site and more entertainment for the whole whanau:

Ki o Rahi, Giant Bouncy Slide, Water Rollers, 4’n’1 bungy, Info stalls, great giveaways, full days stage entertainment which includes: local schools, Jah Mana, The Byllie Jean Project plus many more. Featuring: T J Taotua and Donell Lewis.

Our Aranui Library is right by Wainoni Park, and is open on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. There will be a free giveaway book stand at AFFIRM, and there will be information available outside the library. We will also have 3D printing on show.

Aranui Library holiday activities
Aranui Library. January 2014. Flickr: 2014-ar.hols2

Go to the Aranui AFFIRM Facebook page to find out more and see photos from previous events.

This week in Christchurch history (23 to 29 November)

23 November 1988
Human remains dating back to pre-European Māori settlement found while excavating for YMCA building on the corner of Hereford Street and Rolleston Avenue. Area declared tapu for 24 hours until remains removed.

24 November 1881
St Albans Borough formed.

25 November 1940
“Holmwood”, en route from the Chathams to Lyttelton, sunk by German raiders. Passengers and crew were taken aboard the German ships, and eventually made their way home 2 months later.

25 November 1980
Totem Pole placed in new location at Christchurch Airport.

26 November 1857
Opening of the first building (long since demolished) on the present Christ’s College site. The school’s original planned site was in Cathedral Square, but the land had been exchanged for the present Hagley Park site to allow room for expansion.

26 November 1910
The ill-fated second Scott expedition leaves Lyttelton on the “Terra Nova”, bound for Antarctica.

26 November 1959
Memorial Avenue (a memorial to airmen killed in W.W.II) officially opens.

Memorial Avenue, Christchurch [ca. 1959]
Memorial Avenue, Christchurch [ca. 1959], CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0032
28 November 1893
Women vote for the first time in parliamentary elections.

28 November 1908
Work begins on the Summit Road, the first part of Harry Ell’s obsessional dream.

28 November 1964
Opening of Cashin Quay, Lyttelton Harbour. The engineering techniques used in reclaiming this area were unique in the world.

Cashin Quay under construction [ca. 1963]
Cashin Quay under construction [ca. 1963], CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0057
29 November 1901
Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s first Antarctic expedition arrives at Lyttelton in “Discovery”.

29 November 1978
Concert at Q.E.II Park by rock singer David Bowie.

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


Last Friday I was invited to the Aranui High School Music Block as the “library representative” to BRAVE- Daisy Poetry Promenade and her very special guests. Being the uncultured and not very creative heathen that I am, I wasn’t in the slightest prepared for this mind-blowing space collaboration of Samoan heritage, arts, music, and the poetry of Daisy herself. Just to put things into perspective, I know Daisy in a rugby-sense, that power that she exudes so effortlessly on the rugby field is ever present in her art, music, and this poetry promenade.

Daisy - Photo Credit: Joseph O'Sullivan Photography
Daisy. Photo Credit: Joseph O’Sullivan Photography

There were six stages in the promenade, our group of 60-odd was split into two groups and as we passed each other from stage to stage you could sense both the anticipation of the next space and excitement fizzing over from the last visited space.

In the first space: Vasa (vasa is the Samoan word for sea or open ocean) – Daisy’s family took centre stage with husband Seta Timo picking a traditional Samoan hymn on the double bass, followed by daughter Hadassah – all of seven years old – relating her experience as a second-generation NZ born Samoan in the poem “I am a teine Samoa.” Daisy and Hadassah spoke of the fibres of their lives being interwoven like a fine mat, this for me, was the perfect analogy of the richness and beauty of the whole performance.

The different stages wove the strands of Daisy and her life thus far, showcasing the musical Pasifika talents of Christchurch including DJ Infared – fresh off an international DJ tour, Christchurch’s premier session band – The Judah Band, Nathan Phillips, Zion Tauamiti, and some massive gospel talent with Lady Julz representing South Auckland. Each stage was threaded together by Daisy’s poetry, and there was also an emergence of new poetic talent incorporated in Annabel Ariki and Maddie Mills of Cashmere High School.

The integration of the Samoan culture was something to behold, captured by Joseph O’Sullivan and John Ross. O’Sullivan and Ross emboldened some of Christchurch’s pe’a, malofie (pe’a or malofie is the Samoan tatau – tattoo –  for men) and malu (Samoan tatau for women wearers – including Daisy) to tell the tales of their tatau through videography and photography. The moving full-length contents of these interviews and some of the images will eventually be gifted to high schools in Christchurch to include in their Samoan Language curriculum.

In parallel to Daisy’s oratory capabilities, the last stage was a re-enactment of a si’i alofa, which is a gift giving ritual that takes place at a wedding or funeral. The si’i alofa is usually a place where the chiefly Samoan language is spoken, they speak poetically and in metaphors and make reference to history, myths and legends, and the natural world. Like the si’i alofa, in the words of Daisy herself, at the centre of it all is love.

This collaborative space project was enabled largely through the love of many people; people that share a love for the arts, Samoan culture and ultimately the drive, vision and love of one woman, Daisy Lavea-Timo who is well beyond Brave. This show is one that will no doubt be shared on all creative platforms and stages not just here in Christchurch but further afield.

Read more

Cover of The Elocutionist Cover of Ua tālā le ta'ui

You are free and strong. Go forward and lead on.

You are in front! Behind you are all the women in the world and all the children! Keep moving forward. Do not stop to blame those who are behind. Remember that they are weighted with what remains of all the shackles of all the women of the past; they cannot step forth free. But you are free and strong. Go forward and lead on.

Elizabeth Reid McCombs, née Henderson (1873-1935) [between 1919 and 1925] Mrs McCombs became New Zealand's first woman MP, for the Lyttelton electorate in 1933.
Elizabeth Reid McCombs, née Henderson (1873-1935) [between 1919 and 1925] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0028
Mrs McCombs became New Zealand’s first woman MP, for the Lyttelton electorate in 1933.
Stirring words written in July 1914 by Elizabeth McCombs: her article “Women in politics” still has relevance today.

So who was New Zealand’s first woman Member of Parliament?

  • Elizabeth (Bessie) Reid Henderson was born at Kaiapoi on 19 November 1873. She was the eighth of nine children, and despite the death of her father when she was 13, she stayed at school until aged 16.
  • In 1899 she became a committee member of the Progressive Liberal Association, a group that had as one of its aims the removal of barriers to women’s participation in civil and political life.
  •  A prohibitionist, she was the first president of the Young People’s No License League (1902-1905) and was a prominent figure in the New Zealand Women’s Christian Temperance Union
  • In 1903 Elizabeth married draper James McCombs. They had two children, Terence and Alison. They also raised two orphans.
  • When the second NZ Labour Party was formed in 1916, Elizabeth was elected onto the executive and her husband was elected President. He had been elected the M.P for Lyttelton in 1913, and held the seat until his death in 1933
  • She served on the Christchurch City Council from 1921-1934, where she was very active on committees – being appointed to the electricity committee in 1925 and chaired the Electricity Committee in 1929, and 1931-1935. She fought to win ratepayers the lowest domestic electricity rates in the country.
  • From 1925-1934 Elizabeth was also a member of the North Canterbury Hospital Board, and served on the Board’s Benevolent Committee. She worked to improved the quality of meals for nurses and patients, nurses’ working conditions, and the situation of the unemployed – remembering that the Great Depression started in 1929.
  • In 1926 Elizabeth’s name was included in the first group of women to be made Justices of the Peace in New Zealand.
  • 1927  first woman representative on the Christchurch Tramway Board, and in 1933 was elected to the committee managing the mayor’s Relief of Distress Fund
  • Following the death of her husband in 1993, Elizabeth won the Lyttelton by-election with a huge majority – over 50% of the 10,347 votes cast were for her, recognition of her work over the previous ten years.
  • In 1935 she was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal

During her two year tenure as M.P. , Elizabeth proved herself a skilled and effective orator, advocating for women’s rights – attacking a government unemployment policy that gave little assistance to unemployed women, not even including them in statistics, yet working women paid unemployment tax. She advocated for women police officers, and equal pay for women, as well as for unemployed youth and the need for New Zealand industries to be established so as to reduce unemployment

The huge workload took its toll, and Elizabeth’s health suffered as a result. She died in Christchurch on 7 June 1935.  Her son Terence succeeded to her parliamentary seat. The McCombs Memorial Garden in Woolston Park commemorates the lives of Elizabeth and James McCombs.

  Cover of My Dear Girl: A Biography of Elizabeth McCombs Cover of Marching on  Cover of Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan  Cover of The Book of New Zealand Women = Ko Kui Ma Te Kaupapa

Further reading

Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre opening Saturday 28 November!!!

Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre is opening on Saturday 28 November 2015 at 341 Halswell Road. There is a rather splendid and varied programme of events to celebrate its opening week.

North view of new Halswell Library and Community Facility

Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre includes a library, meeting rooms, a customer service desk, a 5,000 square metre outdoor area with a swimming pool.

Saturday 28 November: Official Opening of Te Hapua: Halswell Centre

Join Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck, Mana Whenua and Community Board members in officially opening the facility between 10 and 11 am.  You are then invited to be amongst the first to walk through Te Hapua: Halswell Centre. Find out more.

Sunday 29 November: Family Day

Book now for crafts

A day of activities designed for families to discover, connect and play together between 10.30 am and 2pm. Book now for crafting sessions – make a mermaid, rowing boat, or jellyfish. Join Streets and MORE FM for a fun Summer Pool Party between 12 pm and 2 pm. Find out more.

Monday 30 November: Older Persons Day

A day of activities designed to be enjoyed by our senior community between 10.30 am to 1.30 pm. Find out more.

Tuesday 1 December: Facility Tours

Opportunities to walk through the entire facility of Te Hapua: Halswell Centre. Architectural tour, grounds tour, and guided tours. Find out more.

Wednesday 2 December: Facility Tours

Opportunities to walk through the entire facility of Te Hapua: Halswell Centre.  Architectural tour, grounds tour, and guided tours. Find out more.

Thursday 3 December: Heritage Day

A day filled with events and activities celebrating local history. Find out more.

Join us for the Halswell Project Exhibition Opening, a documentary photography project on the wider Halswell area produced by University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts students.  The opening will take place between 6 and 7pm.

Friday 4 December: Halswell Youth Evening

A fun-filled programme designed for the awesome young people in Halswell! Activities start at 4pm and include Zumba classes, art displays, Minecraft, 3D printing demonstrations, music and a fun pool party. Find out more.

Saturday 5 December: Multicultural Day

A family-friendly day filled with activities and events celebrating the diversity
of our community. Find out more.

Go to our page about Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre to learn more about it. We’ve also got a bunch of photos of it being built. I’m quite a fan of the fab seats – perfect places to park yourself with a book.

Chair Chair

Start with a smile :)

Start with a Smile LogoNoticed the Start with a Smile campaign on billboards around town or in the media and wondered what it was all about?

We all know that the face of our city is changing. Newcomers have moved here from the Philippines, China, Ireland, Fiji, Great Britain, India or even Wellington… Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce is leading this campaign to make newcomers feel welcome and encourage them to stay.

What’s the easiest way to welcome someone and make them feel at home? Start with a smile!

Central Library Peterborough will be the first library to host the Smile Couch on Monday 23 November and Tuesday 24 November. This is a great opportunity to to sit on the couch, grab a conversation starter card (located in the couch), and get talking.

Start with a smile poster

So why not come join us at Central Library Peterborough and share your smile? (You can also enjoy our collections, including our World Languages collections, and fantastic Star Wars display).

Want to know more?

Dinosaur footprints: A story of discovery – and it’s Dinosaur Day on Saturday 21 November

Dinosaur Footprints: A Story of Discovery is a national touring exhibition brought to you by GNS Science and New Zealand Oil & Gas and supported in Ōtautahi by Christchurch City Libraries. It is on now at Fendalton Library.

Dinosaur footprints

In 2009, geologist Greg Browne found dinosaur footprints in the Nelson region, which are thought to be 70-million years old! They are thought to have been left by plant eating Sauropods – the largest animals to ever roam the earth and the first ever evidence of dinosaurs in the South Island!

Dinosaur Day Saturday 21 November 10am to 4pm at Fendalton Library

Join us in this day of Family Fun! With 3D dinosaur printing, augmented reality books, 3D colouring, dinosaur storytelling and more. There will also be some craft activities for children with ‘The Make Company’. To reserve a place for these please book online.

Snap a selfie at the exhibition and upload to social media with #dinosinchch and be in to win cool dinosaur LEGO!

Dinosaur eResources

World Book Kids
An interactive encyclopedia with dinosaur articles, video and images. It includes articles all about dinosaurs including the Pterosaur which had a wing span of 12 metres! That explains why the word “dinosaur” is derived from two Greek words, meaning “terrible lizard”.

National Geographic Kids
The digital archive of the National Geographic Kids Magazine includes articles, images, videos and colourful online books all about dinosaurs. Did you know that dinosaur bones were mistaken for dragon bones when they first discovered 2,000 years ago?

Cover of We're going on a dinosaur digOverDrive for Kids
If you’d like to know more about dinosaurs, try these free online resources for kids. You may need a library card and PIN number for some of these – ask a librarian if you need help. Lots of eBooks and eAudio books about dinosaurs such as – Dinosaurs Love Underpants, Bruce the Brachiosaurus and We’re Going on a Dinosaur Dig.

Britannica Library Teens
The online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica provides articles, videos, pictures and journal articles about dinosaurs and palaeontology. There is even an article about fossilized dinosaur poop called coprolites which tell us about a dinosaurs’ diet!

Science in Context
Includes the latest news in the field of palaeontology, articles from magazines, academic journals and video and audio content. Learn about the debate about what caused their extinction – asteroid or volcano?

Cover of Lost Worlds of Aotearoa Cover of Dino-birds Cover of Yes! we had dinosaurs Cover of Dinosaur New Zealand Cover of Dinosaurs Cover of Dinosaurs love underpants Cover of Bruce the Brachiosaurus

This week in Christchurch history (16 to 22 November)

16 November 1901
Earthquake (most severe at Cheviot) damages Cathedral spire again. After this third incident, the top of the spire was re-built in timber and metal instead of stone.

17 November 1895
Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) visits. He described Christchurch as a town where half the people rode bicycles and the other half were kept busy dodging them.

18 November 1947
Disastrous fire in Ballantynes Department store. 41 lives lost in New Zealand’s worst fire tragedy. The fire led to drastic revisions of fire safety codes throughout the country.

Aerial view of the gutted shell of the three-storied department building [20 Nov. 1947]
Aerial view of the gutted shell of the three-storied department building [20 Nov. 1947], CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0016
21 November 1865
Provincial Council buildings in Durham Street completed. The complex of buildings was architect B.W. Mountfort’s masterpiece. He had survived a professional disaster soon after arrival in New Zealand when his first building, a church in Lyttelton, had proved structurally unsound and had to be demolished.

Provincial Government Buildings, corner of Durham and Armagh Streets, Christchurch , [ca. 1885]
Provincial Government Buildings, corner of Durham and Armagh Streets, Christchurch , [ca. 1885], CCL PhotoCD 12, IMG0084
22 November 1986
Visit by Pope John Paul II (the first head of the Catholic Church to visit New Zealand).

22 November 1987
Trans Alpine express train, designed specifically for the tourist trade, begins its daily run from Christchurch to Greymouth.

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

The courage to write

Cover of A Way of LoveCourage Day is held on 15 November each year. It is the New Zealand name for The International Day of the Imprisoned Writer. The day acknowledges and supports writers who defend the right to freedom of expression.The day also stands as a memorial to writers who have been killed because of their profession. It was started in 1981 by PEN, the international writers’ organisation.

The New Zealand Society of Authors named the event after Sarah Courage and her grandson James Courage. Sarah wrote Lights and Shadows of Colonial Life: Twenty-six Years in Canterbury, New Zealand. This book was not well received by her neighbours. They didn’t like how she portrayed them. The neighbours burnt the book.

James Courage was born in Amberley and educated at Christ’s College in Christchurch. His novel A Way of Love was banned because he dared to express homosexuality in his writing prior to the setting up of the Indecent Publications Tribunal in 1964. He has a plaque on the Christchurch Writers’ Trail outside his old school.

It takes a lot of courage to write a book that challenges our society’s views on what should or should not be in print. It takes even more courage to defend that right even when faced with persecution, imprisonment or death. As Heather Hapeta, previous chair of the Canterbury branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, once said, ‘This New Zealand name of Courage is also appropriate because of the bravery required by those authors who face opposition in its many forms’.

On the 15th of November, let us celebrate the author’s right to write and the reader’s right to read.