Documenting the new west: The Halswell Project 2015

In a city that embodies change, few communities have experienced such a boom in development and growth as Halswell.

In order to create a documentary record of this fast changing community as it stands in 2015, Christchurch City Libraries and the University of Canterbury teamed up to produce The Halswell Project – a contemporary photographic documentary project on the wider Halswell area.

Three talented photography students from the School of Fine Arts, Ellenor Waters, Nicholas Glen and Mitchell Bright, hit the streets with their cameras and over the course of six months amassed hundreds of images and created an intimate portrait of a diverse community.

We’re celebrating the launch of the photographic archive this Thursday 3 December, 6pm at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre with the opening of the Halswell Project exhibition. 30 prints will be on display along with a digital slideshow of a selection of the images.

New Zealand photographer, writer and Senior Lecturer Glenn Busch will also be speaking about documenting a city through the Place in Time project at the University of Canterbury.

Woman waits at bus stop on Dunbars Road by Ellenor Waters CCL-HP2015-EW-DSCF1918
Woman waits at bus stop on Dunbars Road by Ellenor Waters CCL-HP2015-EW-DSCF1918
Chris standing next to his bike by Nicholas Glen CCL-HP2015-NG-IMG-2929
Chris standing next to his bike by Nicholas Glen CCL-HP2015-NG-IMG-2929
Housing development, Caulfield Avenue by Mitchell Bright CCL-HP2015-MB-DSC-0080
Housing development, Caulfield Avenue by Mitchell Bright CCL-HP2015-MB-DSC-0080

Sam Ludemann

This week in Christchurch history (30 November to 6 December)

1 December 1863
Opening of the Ferrymead to Moorhouse Avenue railway, New Zealand’s first public steam railway. (The gauge was 5ft 3ins.)

1 December 1949
Sidney G. (later Sir Sidney) Holland (Fendalton) becomes Prime Minister.

1 December 1950
Kerrs Reach cutting on the Avon River completed.

1 December 1975
Rolleston satellite town project scrapped.

2 December 1866
Moa bones discovered at Glenmark. The international sale and exchange of these helped Haast, the Canterbury Museum’s first Director, to finance the new museum.

2 December 1960
Rehua meeting house opens, the first new meeting house in the South Island for over 100 years.

Rehua Marae, St Albans, Christchurch. Saturday 28 June 2014
Rehua Marae, St Albans, Christchurch. Saturday 28 June 2014, Flickr, 2014-06-28-IMG_0501

3 December 1867
Canterbury Museum (New Zealand’s first) opened to public in an upstairs room in the Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings. The collection had been assembled by Julius (later Sir Julius) Von Haast.

Canterbury Museum and Rolleston statue [ca. 1900]
Canterbury Museum and Rolleston statue [ca. 1900], CCL PhotoCD 14 IMG0042
3 December 1924
Children’s Library opens in Hereford Street.

5 December 1881
Earthquake damages Cathedral spire.

6 December 1983
16 year old Christchurch student David Tan completes B.Sc Honours degree at Canterbury University to become New Zealand’s youngest ever university graduate.

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

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.

High Fives at South Learning Centre

A few wee things to celebrate at South Learning Centre.
Ep9 Trigger

HNN (Hillmorton Network News) finished off their year in style. I am so proud of their film and media progress, learning and confidence. The students presented to their Year 7/8 peer group. This was very nerve wracking for them with over 100 pairs of eyes scrutinizing them. This was followed by them presenting to school staff – who fired many questions at them ranging from their cross-over learning into other areas, what new skills they learned, and where could their skills take them?

Look out for HNN 2016!

HNN Episode 7

HNN Episode 8

HNN Episode 9

HNN Episode 10

HNN Episode 11

The second celebration is for Beckenham Centennial Film School. This was a hugely successful experience working alongside Beckenham School learning all about their 100 year history. We discovered some great stories of the past, devastating details of the fire and some exciting plans for the future of Beckenham.

Beckenham of Old

Beckenham Now

Beckenham Fire

Future Beckenham

In our Learning Centre, students experience eLearning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or


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

18 November 1947 – The Ballantyne’s Department Store fire

18 November 2015 marks the 68th anniversary of New Zealand’s most deadly fire – The Ballantynes’ Department Store fire –  it’s a date permanently etched in the collective New Zealand psyche.

Ballantynes Fire 1947
Firemen battling the blaze. CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0037

On the afternoon of Tuesday 18 November, 1947, Ballantynes Department Store was full of shoppers – Show Week had taken place the previous week and the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was due in two days. It was a fine day and the city was buzzing.

Then, at 3:31pm, disaster struck. One of the store’s salesmen was told by a woman employee that smoke was coming up from the basement. He told her to call the fire brigade and inform the owners, but it wasn’t until a quarter-hour later that the Fire Brigade received the call-out.

Most of the store’s 250 customers and retail staff on the ground floor were evacuated from the building, but since it was thought that it was just a cellar fire, staff on the first floor – who had just returned to work after their tea break – were not informed. However, within minutes the building was ablaze, the centre of the store exploded in flames.

200 fire fighters, police and volunteers using 20 appliances fought the fire that day. A large crowd looked on in horror as Dunstable House, which was made up of seven buildings linked together and built of match lining, pinex and bone dry timber, burned to the ground. 41 staff members, trapped by flames and smoke, lost their lives. A memorial was built at the Ruru Lawn Cemetery in honour of them.

See also

Funeral for the victims of the Ballantyne's fire
Funeral for the victims of the Ballantyne’s Department Store fire, Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Christchurch. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-7171-88. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Trucks with wreaths in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, during the funeral service for victims of the Ballantyne's Department Store fire,. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-7171-90. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Trucks with wreaths in Cathedral Square, Christchurch, during the funeral service for victims of the Ballantyne’s Department Store fire,. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-7171-90. Alexander Turnbull Library,  Wellington, New Zealand.