Seven years ago Christchurch was hit by an earthquake that killed 185 people. It’s a sad anniversary, and sometimes it is hard to know how – or where – to commemorate it. For the last seven years, my way has been to walk and think and take some photos. This morning I visited the former CTV site on the corner of Cashel and Madras Street. Ōtākaro Limited has landscaped the site, and it opened to the public today.
Diagonally across the road, is the 185 empty chairs installation by Peter Majendie. This is an artwork that rends your heart. I’ve only be able to stand near it, and somehow felt the chairs were sacred. But today, Peter and some helpers were cleaning the rain and water off the chairs so I joined in and helped. It felt profound.
Places that maps can’t confine or identify, Utopias, pieces of land in the middle of a highway, political places and cyberplaces. Written by the author of Off the Map, this book is hard to define but easy to read. Each chapter is short, creative writing about places that defy definition in the normal scheme of things. Makes you look at the notion of Place in an entirely different way.
Perhaps you are a child of the 50s and 60s, or you just love the design from this era? Better Homes and Gardens presents the new decorating bible for those favouring that wonderful mid-century design sensibility. Crammed full of original designs, plans, colours, design and advertising. Great for ideas but also wonderful just to ponder times past.
I love cute dog photos, (I blame Facebook for this), and luckily Really Good Dog photography has plenty of them, but what has been surprising (and in a good way) is the depth of the photos and the accompanying essays. These are no ordinary pictures, they tell a story both about the dog and the photographers. Many are startlingly beautiful, some fit the cute variety and others are just wonderful photographs with a dog almost there by chance. All tell a story and this is a great book for those who love dogs but also for those who are interested in photography.
The last book I got out of the library was huge a whopping 800 pages. It was a little daunting and I wondered it would be easier to read if it was a series of smaller books. Bridget Williams has a great series of little books called the BWB Texts Collection. There are some seriously good reads in this collection and all of them are short. There are some great short memoirs, and other interesting topics like combining motherhood and politics, and the Australia vs New Zealand debate.
There are even big little books with local flavour. With the seventh anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake coming up, there are some great books on Christchurch and analysis of the earthquake – or find out why Christchurch was once nicknamed Cyclopolis.
As well as the BWB Texts Collection. Bridget Williams Books has these other great New Zealand eBook collections:
Before 1885 there possibly would have been only a few people in New Zealand who had ever heard of the Panjdeh region in what is now Turkmenistan. To the British, it was considered a region of Afghanistan. The Russians, however, believed that the region was a tributary of Merv, a city that was part of the Khanate of Khiva, which had been a protectorate of the Russian Empire since 1873. For the British in India, the steady creep of the Russian Empire towards the north western borders of the Raj was a constant concern. Therefore, when Russian forces under General Alexander Komarov captured the Panjdeh region on 30 March 1885, it was expected that war between the two empires would immediately follow. Across the British Empire, all naval vessels were ordered to standby ready for deployment and the movement of all Russian military ships was closely monitored.
Lyttelton was ready to play its part in the defence of the empire with Torpedo Boat No. 168, Defender.
Torpedo Boat No. 168 Defender
The fear that New Zealand lay within the reach of Russian warships was made all too visible when, in 1881, the Russian war ship, Afrika visited Auckland. To defend its ports, New Zealand began to construct a series of costal fortifications. To accompany these fortifications, four torpedo boats were ordered.
Defender was one of four 2nd class Thornycroft Spar Torpedo Boats that were built in 1883 in Chiswick, London, by shipbuilding firm, John I. Thornycroft & Co. Powered by steam, and reaching 63 feet in length, each boat was armed with a McEvoy spar torpedo. Unlike the use of propelled torpedoes, which could be launched from a distance, spar torpedoes had to be driven into the side of the target. To provide cover as the boat moved to attack, a Nordenfeldt machine gun was situated on top of the conning tower.
After being tested, the boats were shipped to New Zealand, with the first two arriving aboard the Lyttelton in Port Chalmers on 9 May 1884. Assigned to Lyttelton, Defender arrived at the port in December 1884. The remaining boats were deployed to their new destinations. Taiaroa went to Port Chalmers, Waitemata to Devonport, and Poneke to Wellington. Following its arrival in Lyttelton, Defender was moored off Gladstone Pier where it remained under the authority of Captain Hugh McLellan, Harbour Master and Captain of the Naval Brigade. Ten men were chosen by McLellan to serve on the torpedo boat, assisted by five members of the Armed Constabulary. However, only five at a time would be on permanent duty.
The Defender of Baker’s Bay
In 1885 it was decided to house Defender at Baker’s Bay (now called Magazine Bay) where a magazine building had previously been constructed in 1874 by the then Provincial Government to house black powder and explosives. A torpedo boat shed, large enough to house three boats, and a slip, was constructed. However, the location and design of the slip were criticised, as the boat could not be launched during a high tide or during swells. This was lampooned in an article in the Lyttelton Times with the suggestion that a placard be painted on Godley Head with the following: “To Russians and all others whom it may concern. Hostile parties wishing to shell the Port of Lyttelton are requested to time their visit for fine weather, otherwise they cannot be fittingly received by the local authorities.”
Because Defender was only tested once every three months, and without a full time engineer to oversee its maintenance, its engines soon rusted. In March 1886 Rear-Admiral Robert A.E. Scott visited Lyttelton to observe a display of the boat’s performance. Unfortunately, due to the condition of its engines, the boat was only able to reach a speed of 12 knots. Later that year the boat was equipped with Whitehead mobile torpedoes.
Decommission, ruin and restoration
The predicted war with the Russian Empire never came. Since the ruler of Afghanistan, Emir Abdur Rahman Khan, remained unconcerned by the Russian occupation of Panjdeh, the British in India had no excuse to send military forces to the Russian-Afghan border on his behalf. When the threat of a Russian invasion passed, Defender remained idle. Although in 1888 it was suggested, in a report to the Government by General Shaw, that the boat be transferred to Wellington, she remained on inactive duty in Lyttelton.
In 1899 Defender was decommissioned and sold to Mark Thomas, a steam launch operator. He salvaged the boat’s vital parts before disposing of the hull on Purau Beach. It is believed that the conning tower eventually ended up in a paddock where it was used as trough. In 1909 the Mount Herbert County Council hired Alex Rhind and Co. to haul the remains of the boat further up the beach, a process which resulted in the hull breaking in half. The remains were still visible when artist Jess Hollobon painted a scene of Purau Beach in 1930. They were finally covered over in 1958.
In 1998 David Bundy was tasked by Project Port Lyttelton to locate and excavate the remains of Defender. Referring to an aerial photograph taken in 1958 of Purau beach, he was assisted by a team of soldiers using metal detectors. Eventually the remains were found, with some sections buried at a depth of 30 metres. After being excavated, the remains were taken to Lyttelton where they were restored. In 2003 the Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum Charitable Trust opened the Thornycroft Torpedo Boat Museum in the former magazine house and placed the restored remains, complete with a spar torpedo, on display. Today, the remains of Torpedo Boat No. 168, Defender are a reminder that colonial New Zealand, although located in the lower Pacific, was not immune from the effects of Russian and British expansion into the khanates of Central Asia.
Valentine’s Day comes around each February 14 and, depending on your penchant for romance, you’ll either be looking for that special someone or you’ve already found them and, in order to hang on to them, you’ll be showering them with flowers, chocolates and presenting them with a suitably gushing card.
But the origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat less lovey-dovey and a good deal more violent. Saint Valentine, for whom the day is named, was imprisoned by the ancient Romans for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians who at that time were being persecuted by the Roman Emperor. Legend has it that, during his imprisonment, Valentine, who was made a saint after his Christian martyrdom, performed a miracle by restoring the sight of a blind woman whose father had sentenced Valentine to prison.
So things were not too romantic for Valentine, but before he was executed he wrote the formerly blind woman a letter and signed it “Your Valentine”. So this was the prototype, presumably, for the Valentine card that Hallmark gets rich on every year.
So, by all means, read, listen or view something appropriate from our collection.
What could be more romantic than Titanic, the story of “two people from different worlds meet and fall in love on the brief, tragic maiden voyage of the grand ocean liner Titanic.”
But, if you are after a more visceral take on Valentine’s Day, you could recapture the spirit of the notorious Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 Prohibition-era Chicago when Al Capone’s gang murdered seven members of rival George “Bugs” Moran.
Waitangi Day is coming up so why not find out more about the Treaty of Waitangi? The Treaty of Waitangi Collection is an amazing resource. It has all the essential content for learning about the history of the Treaty and its relevance today. The collection is indexed by place and iwi so you can explore the history of the Treaty by your iwi or by your area. Bridget Williams Books and Christchurch City Libraries have provided this fact sheet on Treaty of Waitangi in the Canterbury region. This includes facts like:
Tī ovens (umu-tī) that date from the thirteenth century have been found in South Canterbury. These ovens were used to cook the roots and lower stems of young cabbage trees.
Read more about pre- European archaeology in chapter three of Tangata Whenua in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection.
By 1800, an estimated 20,000 people lived in the tribal area of Ngāi Tahu. This population spread from Kaikōura on the east coast and Tai Poutini on the west all the way down to Rakiura (Stewart Island) and other southern islands.
Read more about Ngāi Tahu in chapter one of New Myths and Old Politics in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection.
eBook titles in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection include:
This eBook has reproductions of the nine sheets of the Treaty of Waitangi, comprising of the original document first signed at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 and eight copies. It also provides information about the sheets, and a map, and information about where the Treaty was signed. This title also includes some short biographies of many of the signatories, which show the range of people who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand – is a constitutional document of historical and cultural significance. It was signed first by a group of powerful Northern chiefs at British Resident James Busby’s house at Waitangi. Also included in this title are some short biographies of some of the signatories.
Claudia Orange has produced several works on the Treaty of Waitangi including this award-winning title published in 1987. Other Treaty titles by Claudia Orange available in the BWB Treaty of Waitangi Collection include The Story of a Treaty; An illustrated History of the Treaty of Waitangi; What Happened at Waitangi?
This is just one of Judith Binney’s books that is available on the Treaty of Waitangi, she is regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading scholars on the subject. This book is a selection of essays that explore sidepaths and previously unexamined histories. They notably delve into the lives of powerful early Māori figures, including the prophets Rua Kenana and Te Kooti, their wives and their descendants, and the leaders of the Urewera.
Holidays in the USSR were decidedly purposeful. Their function was to provide rest and recreation, so citizens could return to work with renewed diligence and productivity
So, no lounging by the pool or sipping a pinacolada for these folk then? The sanitoriums turned out to be a cross between a medical institution and a form of summer camp, complete with exercise regimes, edifying and educational talks, and strictly healthy but bland diets.
Many of these institutions have closed, some have become more like the western ideal of a spa complete with mud wraps and the like, while others have maintained their strict adherence to alternative forms of physical therapy. For a fee, you can soak in crude oil, be wrapped in paraffin, wax, endure electrotherapy – or for the really adventurous, spend your summer vacation in a salt mine breathing in the pure minerals and sharing a curtained off dormitory area metres underground.
As well as the information about the therapies available, there is also fascinating insight into the architecture of the time with photographs alongside the interesting stories of the healing properties meted out in these unique institutions.
I nearly always judge a book by its cover, it is an enticement…a taste of things to come, but I sometimes find myself wondering if I have read a particular book as so many of the more recent book covers look very alike.
The covers in the era 1920-1970 were works of art in their own right. Representing a variety of art styles from Art Deco, Modernism, postwar neo-romanticism and the intriguingly named Kitchen Sink School (Wikipedia tells me a form of social realism depicting the situations of the British working class), this book includes over 50 artists mainly from the US and the UK. It is beautifully put together by the publishers Thames and Hudson and is a lovely book to dip into, both to read about the artists and to admire the beauty and detail of the covers.
Many might assume that an old friend has returned to New Brighton.
But it is, in fact, a replica.
Along with the lighthouse, the concrete whale has been an iconic feature of the pool at the New Brighton playground for over forty years. Known as the ‘whale pool’, such is the attachment that local residents have towards it, that when a survey was held in 2016, asking them what they expected from a redevelopment of the playground and pool, 90 per cent of the respondees stated that they wished for the whale to remain.
Children of Christchurch were first introduced to the whale in 1971, when, after years of planning, the playground opened on 16 December.
The origins of the playground lie in the formation of the New Brighton Pier and Foreshore Society which was established in 1964 to save the historic New Brighton pier (built in 1894) from demolition. Although the pier was eventually demolished in 1965, the society continued to serve the community. In 1967 the organisation decided to build a children’s playground and pool.
The northern carpark by the beach was chosen as the location, and in 1968 proposed designs were made. In the following year they were submitted to the Christchurch City Council but these were rejected as inadequate. To remedy this, the society hired a professional architect to bring their plans up to a required standard. Eventually these plans were scaled down, and when presented again to the council in 1971, they were approved. The pool and playground were completed in time for the summer holidays.
Like many of the other paddling pools in Christchurch, the whale pool was damaged during the February 2011 earthquake. Repairs were made and the pool officially reopened on 17 November 2012.
As early as 1998, there had been discussions surrounding the concept of a saltwater hot pool complex at New Brighton. After the restoration of the whale pool, the idea was raised once again. In December 2016 the council approved the funding for the Beachside Playground and coastal protection works to be carried out by Development Christchurch Limited. Construction on the new playground began in August 2017 after a sod turning ceremony was held.
Although it was initially planned to keep the old whale (but with a new water jet installed), an engineer’s assessment found that it would not survive the relocation. Given that it was important for the whale to remain a part of the playground, a fibreglass mould was made and a replica whale produced. The ‘clone’ of the original was set into place on 5 December.
The new playground (complete with replica whale) is scheduled to open on Wednesday 20 December 2017 at 10.30am.
Find out more
View photographs of the 2012 whale pool reopening in Kete Christchurch.
The collaboration between the writer A.A Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard was unheard of at the time, and led to an iconic series of books where story and illustration became synonymous with our enjoyment of Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, owl, Kanga and Roo. This is a lovely book of whimsy and memory, including examples of how the illustrations developed, descriptions of the life and family of Shepard and his relationship with A.A. Milne.
Bothies were originally built as rudimentary accommodation for bachelor farm workers, and the vast majority of them were abandoned but have now been renovated by the Scottish Bothies Association. They are randomly found across Scotland, are free, and often nowhere near attractions or national parks, however the nature of their existence and local make them an attraction in themselves. These are not luxury 5 star huts, they are basic…”the two low benches can be edged towards the hearth, but there is a strange absence of chairs”. “Not available during stag stalking”. “No stove or fireplace” or “bring your own fuel”. The views, landscape and the sheer out-of-the-way nature of these places however make up for the lack of home comforts. Detailed descriptions of how to find them are included along with beautiful photographs of the hut and surrounding areas.
Coal, a yellow Labrador retriever is owned by Interior Designer Jeffrey Alan Marks.
“Coal travels with me a great deal, so her things are held in a navy leather tote bag that matches not only the car but also the navy leash I designed for her”
The dogs in this books live a charmed life, surrounded by opulent furniture, luxurious soft coverings and well clad owners. They generally tone in well with surroundings and exude a certain smugness as they lounge beside their owners. If you have a love of dogs and good interior design then this book will certainly not disappoint.
The author puts herself somewhere between the age of 80 and 100, so death is not an abstract idea, but she stresses that this is not a sad book. Certainly clearing away all that clutter accumulated over a long life, alongside making decisions about the precious to alleviate family arguments, and perhaps dealing with things that you would rather people didn’t pore over after your demise is not a bad idea. These are all practical suggestions, but this odd little book is as much about ideas on how to declutter as a memory of a life well lived.
In complete contrast to decluttering is an ode to the past, a collection of beautiful objects with memories attached, this little book is a celebration of the everyday. It is a mixture of history and art with beautifully painted renditions of old china and ceramics that the author remembers from her childhood, alongside family stories and interesting detail about some of the history behind these beloved pieces.
This is a book that celebrates the food of nineteenth century England and includes many of the dishes described in the books of Charles Dickens, including recipes and detail about the history of the time. Pete Evans of Paleo fame would no doubt enjoy Bone Marrow pudding, (apparently Queen Victoria had bone marrow every day so he is in good company), however French plums appealed more to me, alongside a good Leicestershire pork pie featured in Great Expectations. Many of the recipes are surprisingly appealing and are made even more interesting with a good dash of history and an even measure of literature.