This wooden house was built in the 1850s for the Hon. J. C. Watts Russell, a prominent early settler. It changed hands several times and in 1910 was owned by the Countess Reina Ruys Fortega de Fresnedo. The Free Lance newspaper of 5 October 1907 tells us that she is a lady of ‘Spanish birth and estates’ and that she is a ‘countess by her own inheritance’. In 1907 she was making her first trip to the colonies, having done much travelling in the Old World.
The Countess is something of a mysterious figure and I haven’t (so far) been able to find out much about her, such as where she came from and what happened to her after the fire. However, the New Zealand Truth, a good old fashioned scandal rag, reveals that she was sued by her gardener in early 1910 for non payment of wages. (What ever did we do before Papers Past?)
Reports on the Press and the Lyttelton Times, both on 23 August provide quite a lot of detail abut the fire. The Countess was away in Australia, leaving the caretaker, Mr H. J. Croker as the only occupant. He escaped, but rather stupidly went back in the retrieve his gold watch (do not do this!) Thankfully the house was insured (for £2000) but the contents – which included some splendid furniture, silverware, and a new piano and pianola – weren’t.
Fortunately the cats and dogs managed to save themselves, but sadly a number of guinea pigs and canaries were not so fortunate. There were also two caged parrots (or possibly cockatoos). The fire seems to have destroyed or melted the cage and one of the parrots didn’t make it, but the other one did, albeit in a singed condition.
The Press reports that the ‘origin of the conflagration is a mystery’ but the Lyttelton Times suggests that there could have been sinister motives afoot:
Mr Crocker states that his opinion that the fire was willfully started is strengthened by the fact that some months ago the Countess received an anonymous letter stating that she would see Ilam burnt down.
Might this possibly be a case of a disgruntled gardener? I’m presuming that there must have been some kind of inquest, but I’m yet to track that down…
Do you know anything more about this fire or the mysterious Countess Fresnedo?
Nearly eight years on, the yearning for a vibrant city centre still persists, but there is hope. Hope captured in the moments of collective celebration; the intimacy between two young students; the connection between friends and neighbours as they work, live and play – all within the boundaries of an inner city reinventing itself. In fact, more than hope, there is sense of quiet wonder and anticipation captured by Thomas Herman, Elise Williams and Summer Robson in the fourth and latest instalment of The Christchurch Documentary Project: Inside the Four Avenues, 2018.
The Christchurch Documentary Project is a collaboration between Christchurch City Libraries and the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts. Internship positions are offered to photography students in their 3rd or 4th year of study with the brief to create a documentary photographic record of a Christchurch community. The work is then included in the Christchurch City Libraries Digital Heritage Collection.
To date, over 1000 images have been made of communities across our city; beginning with the Halswell Project in 2015, Edge of the East in 2016, Bishopdale in 2017 and now the central city. Collectively these projects document the lives of Christchurch residents and the changing face of our communities as the city rebuilds and evolves after the Christchurch Earthquakes.
Come and celebrate with us as the exhibition for Inside the Four Avenues, 2018 launches at Tūranga on Wednesday 21 November 5:30pm.
The exhibition is on until 30 January 2019. It is outside the TSB Space, Hapori | Community, Level 1.
At the 11th hour of the 11th day of November in 1918, the First World War – ‘The War to End All Wars’ – ended; this day is known as Armistice Day. The 11th of November 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of this day. 18,200 New Zealanders died and 41,300 were wounded. Let’s take this opportunity to remember the millions of people worldwide who lost their lives in the First World War, and remember how horrible this event was — in the hope that such large-scale war never happens again.
World War One was the first modern war that made use of modern advancements in technology and machinery. This led to wholesale destruction across greater Europe, Northern Africa, and areas of the Middle East that would sow the seeds for not only World War Two, but the years of conflict in various parts of the world to come. Working class people from all around the world were conscripted to fight in World War One, in what was almost certainly an invitation to go die on foreign soil for an empire. In remembering the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War, let’s remember the human cost of war, not just for the soldiers involved, but for entire communities, cities, and the generations that came after.
So at 11 a.m., on the 11th day, 11th month, let’s not glorify this tragedy, but remember the lives and generations lost to it.
Get involved with these events across Christchurch and Canterbury
At the Field of Remembrance in Cranmer Square, a field of white crosses marks the centenary of the Great War. 4389 crosses and one Star of David depict the heavy losses suffered by Canterbury families.
Britannica Online and interactive version of Encyclopædia Britannica. All branches of knowledge are covered in this resource aimed at older students and adults. You will require a library membership to access:
Remembrance Day: An Article on Remembrance Day, the British Public Holiday that has its origins in the original Armistice Day celebration in 1919.
World War 1: The Britannica online article on World War 1
Canterbury Museum has launched an online version Canterbury and World War One: Lives Lost, Lives Changed.Canterbury Museum Acting Director Jennifer Storer says this will give visitors ongoing digital access to content and stories after the physical exhibition closes on Armistice Day, 11 November.
WW100 Infographic on World War 1
This is an interesting and easy to understand infographic that aims to prevent key information about WW1 in regards to its effect on New Zealand.
I recently read an article about Marie Antoinette’s jewels been auctioned, which got me thinking about how far back our newspaper archives go and I thought try Proquest Historical Newspapers which has The Guardian (1821-2003), The Observer (1791-2003); Irish Times (1859-2010); Weekly Irish Times (1876-1958). So I simply put in “Marie Antoinette” in the search terms to see what I would get, I then re-ordered my search so I got the oldest items first and voilà, there in my search results was the Trial of Marie Antoinette and the Execution of the Queen of France, all from 225 years ago.
Trial of the Queen
The Observer published this article about the trial and execution of Marie Antoinette about 10 days after her execution.
This article includes commentary of the day some transcription from the trial including –
On Tuesday morning at nine o’clock, she was conducted in a private coach by Henroit, Commandant of the National Force of Paris, to the Revolutionary Tribunal. The people lined the streets, through which she passed, and repeatedly exclaimed “Vive la Republique!” …
The Greffier read the Act of Accusation as follows:
Marie Antoinette, widow of Louis Capet, has, since her abode in France, been the scourge and the blood sucker of the French.
Nothing like sorrow or pity for the Queen’s fate was shown by the people, who lined the streets, through which she had to pass. On her arrival at the place de la Revolution, she was helped out of the carriage, and ascended the scaffold with seeming composure. She was accompanied by a Priest, who discharged the office of Confessor, and gave her absolution,before she was ﬁxed to the fatal machine. She was in a half-mourning dress, evidently not adjusted with much attention. Her hands were tied behind her back, she looked around, apparently without much terror; her body being then bent forward by the machine,the axe was let down, and at once separated the head from the body. After the head was displayed by the Executioner, three young woman were observed dipping their handkerchiefs in the streaming blood of the deceased Queen. They were taken into Custody.
The Lyttelton Times originally set up in Lyttelton with the printing press that arrived on the Charlotte Jane, one of the ‘first four ships’. They published their first paper 26 days after the printing press arrived in 1851 and the run continued till 1935. For a taste of the Times, we have digitised the first issue, 11 January 1851, for you to read online. Marvel at the adds for bullocks and unbroken fillies for sale and wonder at the plea by John Robert Godley, on behalf of the Canterbury Association, who were in desperate need of pickaxes and shovels.
While the headquarters started out in Lyttelton, the newspaper had an agency in Christchurch that sat around about the middle of Tūranga now. Here it is in 1859, facing Gloucester Street.
The Lyttelton Times moved its headquarters to Christchurch in 1863, after their two-storey wooden building was finished in 1862. Here’s what it looked like, if you were peering through the trees on the Square in 1863:
Come out from the trees and this is what it looked like, still facing the square:
In the photo above, taken in 1885, you can see the flagstaff that was used to signal to the people of Christchurch when ships arrived in the port over the hills. If you knew the code, you could be in the Square and know that a brig was arriving from the North by the blue flag that would be waving at the head of the mast. Very handy if you knew which ship brought in the mail! It was an important spot in Christchurch for staying connected with the outside world.
On the right side of the photo is Warner’s hotel (where the Novotel is now) whose guests would complain about the noise of the printing press lasting long into the night (this wing of Warner’s was eventually demolished and replaced with a theatre (The Liberty, later The Savoy), the building intended to act as a buffer for sound and vibration. In later years the situation would be reversed. Following the demolition of the theatre, vacant space between the buildings became a beer garden for Warner’s hotel and bar, while the Times building by then had been converted to backpackers’ accommodation. Band performances and music in the beer garden were required to stop at a reasonable hour in order not to disturb the sleep of the guests in rooms next door. Later still, this wing of the building would be reinstated, and is now the only part of Warner’s that remains.
On the left in the above image is Cathedral Chambers. The taller building behind the Lyttelton Times was still part of the Lyttelton Times premises, which was added in 1884. While it looks fairly drab from behind, it’s pretty spectacular facing Gloucester Street. Here’s the handsome frontage (134-140 Gloucester St) in 1884:
Somewhat confusingly the building was home to 3 newspapers (the titles of which can be seen engraved into the front of the building): The Lyttelton Times, The Canterbury Times (a weekly started in 1865), and The Star (an evening paper started in 1868). All 3 papers were produced by the Lyttelton Times Company, and for different audiences and purposes.
You could also head down to the Lyttelton Times building to get things printed, just like you can do in Tūranga. We too can boast a large assortment of plain and fancy types, just like Ward and Reeves, the printers who worked from Lyttelton Times Office building.
Well the Lyttelton Times, they kept a-changing, and by 1903 had grown into the majestic beast below, with an addition designed by the Luttrell Brothers on the Cathedral Square side becoming the first building in New Zealand to adopt the Chicago skyscraper style. It was also known as ‘gingerbread style’ or even ‘streaky bacon style’. You can see why looking at the colour pictures of it – it does have a kind of foody look to it. With Oamaru stone facings on a Post Chalmers bluestone base, it was the tallest building on the Square at the time it was built. Here’s the new building decorating its corner of the square in 1904, a black and white photograph from our collection and a pen and ink watercolour by Raymond Morris:
The Lyttelton Times changed its name to the Christchurch Times in 1929, then stopped publishing in 1935 because the competition was too great. When it ended, it was the oldest newspaper in the country. The building was still used for newspapers though – New Zealand Newspapers Ltd, formerly the Lyttelton Times Company, kept publishing the evening Star-Sun, which had started as the Star in 1868. In 1958 the Star-Sun moved out of this building to a new location in Kilmore Street, and changed its name to the Christchurch Star.
Once all the newspapers had departed, the building was occupied by several different commercial tenants over the years, including The Record Joynt and the fondly remembered Atlantis Market, described by journalist Russell Brown as “a long-gone hippie emporium”. Before the 2011 earthquake, there was a Tandoori Palace restaurant on the ground floor and Base Backpackers above. On the Gloucester Street side, the ground floor was home to a number of restaurants including Samurai Bowl, O-cha Thai, and Le Pot Au Feu. By August that year the building would be demolished.
We take it for granted now, but it’s really not that long that Christchurch has had a city council that covered the whole city – only since 1989.
Before that was not only the Christchurch City Council (established in 1862) but also the Waimairi, Paparua, Halswell, and Heathcote County Councils, the Riccarton Borough Council, and the Christchurch Drainage and Transport Boards. Phew!
( The Banks Peninsula District Council joined Christchurch City Council later on, in 2005)
And that doesn’t even take into account other councils that had existed prior to that – one of which was the Sydenham Borough Council whose first meeting was held this day in 1877. At the time the population of the borough was between 5-6,000, which grew to around 12,000 by the turn of the century. According to The Cyclopedia of New Zealand by 1902 Sydenham had 26 miles of streets, 95 gas lamps for street lighting with 2009 ratepayers. Businesses included butchers, bootmakers, bakers and builders!
This WORD session was hosted by David Higgins, Upoko of Moeraki Rūnanga, with kōrero by the book’s editors Helen Brown (Ngāi Tahu) and Takerei Norton (Ngāi Tahu), and by book contributors Robyn Walsh (Ngāi Tahu) and Mike Stevens (Ngāi Tahu).
The book emerged from the work of the Ngāi Tahu Archives team on Kā Huru Manu, the amazing Ngāi Tahu digital atlas. While collecting and recording places names around Te Waipounamu, the research team realised they were also discovering the names and stories of people who were the very heart of Ngāi Tahu whakapapa. This book is intended to be the first of a series born out of the work of the atlas, and a second volume is already in process.
The individual biographies in Tāngata Ngāi Tahu cover 200 years of Ngāi Tahu whānau history, producing a ‘tribal family album’ of stories and images. Editor Helen Brown talked about how among the stories of the ordinary, often household names in te iwi, have been revealed the extraordinary lives of so many Ngāi Tahu people.
The book has been arranged by person/name, which Helen said gives a more nuanced history than a book based on themes or a more traditional history book arrangement, perhaps in alphabetical or chronological order. The order of the book does invoke a back-and-forth journey across time, with people from the 1800s to more recent times spread at random throughout the book. The effect embraces serendipity, with a mix of stunning, historical black-and-white photographs between more modern colour images drawing the reader into the rich history within.
Each biography had a limit of 1000 words, and editing to this limit Helen described as often excruciating. “Whole books are needed,” she said. Perhaps for individual whānau this book will plant the seed to pick up the stories and expand on them for their own tīpuna?
The biographies have been written by a team of writers, whose writing experience in this context Helen described as ranging from gathering the purely anecdotal to more academic pursuits. We were lucky to have some of the writers present in the team of speakers at the WORD event, and each speaker featured an individual from the book, giving the audience a summary of their whakapapa and life.
Robyn Walsh talked about her mother Dorothy Te Mahana Walsh of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu decent, a leader heavily involved in the ‘hui hopping’ during the Waitangi Tribunal Hearings and a keen performer who travelled to San Francisco supporting the Te Māori exhibition. Robyn concluded “we need and must remember these histories and people.”
Others spoken about on the day were Amiria Puhirere – a stunning figure standing in her full-length korowai in the photo on page 86, she was a prominent leader and renowned weaver who lived at Ōnukū on the Akaroa Harbour; Trevor Hapi Howse – a major part of the research team that led the long work for Ngāi Tahu Te Kerēme/the Ngāi Tahu Waitangi Claim and a key figure in the Kā Huru Manu project; and William Te Paro Spencer – a seafaring kaumātua and muttonbirder, described as “proudly and strongly Ngāi Tahu” and “very much a Bluff local but wordly with it”.
As mentioned above, one of the strong features of the book are the photographs, many of which are from iwi archives and other private collections, and often have not been published or displayed outside the embrace of whānau before. It is clear that it is something special these photos are being shared not only with iwi whānui but with the whole country, and such a personal act of whakawhanaungatanga is to be valued and cherished.
Although the prime audience for the book is Ngāi Tahu tāngata there has been huge interest in it since media company The Spinoff published an article about Mere Harper, who helped setup the Plunket organisation. The audience has since become national and international, with a strong focus on the book’s contribution to the historical narrative of Aotearoa.
October is Photo Hunt month at Christchurch City Libraries. We invite you to share any of your photos and help grow the city’s photographic archive. All entries must be received by 31 October.
Christchurch City Libraries has produced a set of four postcards promoting the competition which are available from your local library. Each week during October we’ll be featuring one of the postcard images on our blog.
1984. Nuclear issues were on every body’s minds during this time. A very strong group of Akaroa and Banks Peninsula people turned out for this parade on Mothers Day 1984. The district’s local body was the Akaroa County Council and a majority of the council members supported the motion that the Akaroa County, (including Akaroa township), would be nuclear free.
An opinion poll commissioned by the 1986 Defence Committee of Enquiry confirmed that 92 per cent of the population opposed nuclear weapons in New Zealand and 69 per cent opposed warship visits.
The banner carriers leading the way are Paul Flight and David Thurston.
Date: 13 May 1984.
Entry in the 2009 & 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Jan Shuttleworth.
About Kete Christchurch
Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.
The 22nd of October is Labour Day. Not only is this a public holiday – which is great – but it also serves as a great opportunity to remember workers’ history in addition to the rights that have been fought for, and won, throughout labour history in New Zealand.
To start at the start, Labour Day commemorates the successful fight for an eight hour working day. The right to the first eight hour work day was won by a carpenter in Wellington by the name of Samuel Parnell in 1840. This right was later enshrined into law with the Labour Day Act in 1899. This made Aotearoa-New Zealand one of the first countries in the world to introduce the eight hour work day. This was a great achievement and one that should not be taken for granted.
What Labour Day, and the history surrounding Labour Day, should serve to remind us is that the eight hour work day (40 hour work week) was not always the norm and that it was the result of a struggle. However this is not where this story ends: in 2008 the Department of Labour in New Zealand released figures that showed roughly 415,000 New Zealand workers were working in excess of 40 hours per week. This highlights the fact that there is, contrary to popular myth and perception, no longer any legislative rights to an eight hour working day in New Zealand.
For the reasons stated above, it is important to remember the history of days like Labour Day. Remembering the history is important in remembering the past and how far we have come as a country, but more importantly, to remember that there were struggles for these rights and to ensure that we don’t have to have to struggle for them again.
Other important events in worker’s history include:
The Formation of the Maritime Council in 1889 that formed in Dunedin with representatives from the wharf labourers’ and West Coast miners’ Unions.
The Maoriland Worker was launched in Christchurch in 1910 by the Shearers Union. It was a Monthly Journal that became influential during the Anti-war movement in the lead up to and during the first First World War.
The Waihi Miners’ Strike of 1912 was one of the most fierce industrial disputes in New Zealand’s history. 1,000 miners went on strike, bringing Waihi Gold Mine to a Standstill. Striking Miner Fred Evans was killed by a crowd of strikebreakers and the Police during the strike.
The Birth of the Labour Party in 1916 that was founded by representatives of the Social Democratic Party, the United Federation of Labour, and the Labour Representation Committees.