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.
South Library will play host to a stunning exhibition of photos of artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera from Friday 26 October to Sunday 11 November.
Diego and Frida: A Smile in the Middle of the Way takes an intimate look at the life and relationship between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as seen through the lens of some of the most notable photographers of that time, including Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Ansel Adams, Guillermo Kahlo, Leo Matiz, Nickolas Muray, Edward Weston, and Guillermo Zamora. The documentary prints in the exhibition come from the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, encompassing nearly twenty-five years of their marriage.
Diego Rivera became a legend in his native country for his vibrant murals while Frida Kahlo chose to become a painter after a car crash derailed her dream of becoming a doctor. A Smile in the Middle of the Way was presented for the first time at Casa Estudio Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City in 2002 and later around the world. This exhibition has been brought to New Zealand by the Mexican Embassy and will be hosted by Christchurch City Libraries.
There will be a Dia de Muertos / Day of the Dead altar and informational display at South Library from Friday 26 October to Friday 2 November, and you can celebrate Dia de Muertos with a Mexican themed bilingual Spanish/English storytimes session:
A large audience heard how Bishop spent several years researching for the book, which he says he really enjoyed, but was overwhelmed by the information he found.
One thing that struck him was the number of books that contradicted each other.
His challenge was how to find his own unique angle on the Endeavour story. As he looked through the names of the crew on the boat and their occupations, he began to wonder about the lesser-known members on board and was particularly struck by their curiously one-handed cook, John Thompson.
The story of the crew’s journey is told through food “as a point of context,” explains Bishop, with the cook as narrator. And, as his publisher Julia Marshall from Gecko Press notes “you can tell so many different stories through food—everything is here: culture, class, adventure, humour and much more.”
The Endeavour was originally the collier Earl of Pembroke and was designed for a crew of just 16 but when it sailed as the Endeavour it had 94 crew on board, packed in like sardines. And the meals were prepared on the mess deck where 74 men slept!
The cooking process on the Endeavour seemed to involve throwing everything together in a pot or bag and boiling it. Bishop says the meat became so rank that it was towed in a net behind the boat to soften it up and every second day was a vegetarian day consisting of Pease Porridge. To avoid scurvy, the cook served up stinky German cabbage. But all was not awful for the men, as it was noted how much booze was aboard the ship.
The book contains a little story about each of the countries the Endeavour visited and explains some of the names of the recipes featured such as Poor Knights Pudding, Stingray Soup, Kangaroo Stew, Dog and Breadfruit Stew and Albatross Stew “which you wouldn’t get away with today.” There were goats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cats and chickens on board. And when the ship crossed the equator everyone aboard, including the cats, were apparently tied to a chair and dipped into the water 3 times in an equator crossing ritual.
Bishop told his audience that there are two stories about the Endeavour that you won’t find anywhere else except in his book. One was told by Pete Beech, whose family was there in Picton when the Endeavour came with Cook, and tells the story of how a Māori woman was tricked into giving her taonga away for a bag of sugar. And the second story comes from an obscure poem that mentions a slave named Dalton on board who was a servant of botanist Joseph Banks. Like the Endeavour, not a centimetre of space in Bishop’s book was wasted, he says, and even the endpapers are full of illustrated facts.
At the book launch, Gecko Press were also celebrating 10 years of working with Bishop, starting with his collaboration for Joy Cowley in illustrating their successful Snake & Lizard. Marshall said what a treat it is working with Bishop: “Gavin is a true artist and very knowledgeable.” Gavin’s other book published in the past year is the illustratively stunning Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story.
Join international award-winning writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop and invited guests as we explore the Our Painted Stories exhibition and have a conversation about how seeing ourselves and our city in children’s literature helps grow a sense of identity. Wednesday 24th October 5:30-6:30pm Tūranga
Free, no bookings required Created in partnership with the Painted Stories Trust.
While visiting Tūranga, Gavin was delighted to discover a picture of his family on our Discovery Wall that even he didn’t have a copy of.
It is auspicious that just as Gavin Bishop was the first author to have a book launched at the old central library, he is also the first author to launch a book in the new library, Tūranga, 36 years later.
Tūranga opened on Friday 12 October 2018. We did a bit of a historical re-enactment with the Tūranga staff.
Back in 1982, staff were moving into their fab new digs on Gloucester Street. In 2013, librarians were clearing out stuff from their old workplaces in the Central Library. In 2018, Tūranga staff were excited about opening to the public.
The first in a series of posts that looks at the history of the central Christchurch sites on which your new library, Tūranga, has been built.
Imagine you are peeking through Tūranga’s ground floor window on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo, possibly drooling over all the yummies in Foundation Café… insert TIMEY WIMEY STUFF…
You are now back in 1855 on the very same spot and are again drooling, this time over all the yummies in Gee & Co.’s bakery and confectionery.
Thomas Gee was a biscuit maker from Lambeth who arrived in 1851. He quickly established a business in Lyttelton selling “bride cakes, jellies, blanc-manges, patties…and ginger beer”and later a shop on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo. In 1855 the Christchurch store was transferred to his son-in-law William Stringer who continued to sell baked goods but also diversified into booze. He applied for a license to sell wine and beer in 1857 and by 1860 his business was known as Stringer’s Hotel.
In 1860 Stringer’s Hotel license was passed to George Henry Tribe who renamed the premises the Central Hotel.
By 1872 mine genial host was Edward Hiorns. Edward originally hailed from Warwickshire and arrived in Christchurch during the 1860s, marrying Amelia Heighton in August 1868. He was heavily involved in the community both as a member of the Christchurch City Council, and later the Linwood Borough Council, and as a Freemason. He must have found the hotel trade financially advantageous as he was able to buy Linwood House, a very fine residence built in 1857 for Joseph Brittan.
In August 1897 architect Joseph C Maddison was retained by Edward Hiorns to draw up a plan for a new section to the Central Hotel. In brick and stucco the new hotel had 30 rooms, and two shops on the ground floor one of which had frontage on both Colombo and Gloucester. The main entrance was on Gloucester Street with a private and public bar on the ground floor, dining room overlooking Colombo Street on the first floor and bedrooms and bathrooms, with hot and cold water and showers, on the second.
The hotel was renamed The Masonic and the license was transferred to William James, then E. Carroll.
The Masonic Hotel was the scene of a “Strange Death” in 1912. Loyal Stawell Cherry (yes, that was his name) fell 6 feet from his bedroom window to a recess while feverish with influenza. His cries alerted staff who returned him to bed and sent for medical assistance but the Hobart-native died 30 minutes later.
One of the most memorable businesses to lease shop space in the rebuilt Masonic Hotel was Montague’s Corner. Owned by the exotically named Israel Montague, Montague’s Corner sold fancy goods and toys. Fancy goods, I’m reliably informed are “items (as novelties, accessories, or notions) that are primarily ornamental or designed to appeal to taste or fancy rather than essential” but I’m sure the major draw was the underground toy cave.
Bankrupted back in the 1880s when he owned his own fancy goods business in Strange’s Building, Israel then spent 22 years at the D.I.C. (Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Ltd) before opening up again on his own in August 1906.
Israel fell foul of the law several times for breaching the Shop and Offices Act by staying open outside the prescribed hours but hey, fancy goods don’t sell themselves!
Israel died in 1936 and is buried in the Jewish cemetery at Linwood. His wife Ada, daughter of Simeon Isaacs, former President of the Jewish Congregation of Dunedin, had predeceased him by many years.
Montague’s Toy Cave and fancy goods was replaced by J R McKenzie’s. Modelled on America’s five and dime stores, John Robert Hugh McKenzie eventually owned over 70 stores throughout New Zealand and employed over 1800 staff. John McKenzie was also well known in horsey circles owning Roydon Lodge Stud on Yaldhurst Road. Throughout his lifetime McKenzie gave generously to charities and was actively involved in Rotary. he later set up the J R McKenzie Youth Education Fund and the J R McKenzie Trust, both of which still operate today.
The Masonic Hotel went through several modifications and licensees. Alfred William Wells and his wife Eva owned and ran the Masonic for many years. Alfred died in 1961 leaving Eva a generous annuity and the rest of his estate including the freehold of the Masonic in trust for up to 21 years. The Church of England bought the hotel, and on Saturday 12th of September 1981 the Masonic Hotel closed its doors for the last time and was shortly after demolished.
Construction started on a new seven storey building in early 1982. Completed in November 1982 it included a basement car park, offices and ground floor retail.
A variety of businesses populated this space over the years most recently an internet café and Mum’s 24 café and restaurant with its awesome replica/fake food displays.
And so, we end up back where we started, peering in at a café window.
It’s good to know that Tūranga’s café and Lego play area (not exactly a “toy cave” but close enough) are just an extension of a long history of businesses and institutions that have brought life and activity to this particular corner of the central city.
Hard on the heels on World War One, the 1918 influenza pandemic was the worst health disaster of the 20th century. Worldwide, over 50 million people died and here in Aotearoa 9,000 New Zealanders lost their lives to the flu in only two months. What was it like? How did people deal with this disaster 100 years ago?
For 100th anniversary of the arrival of the pandemic in New Zealand, Christchurch City Libraries and the Lyttelton Museum have teamed up to tell this story in an exhibition detailing the local response in Lyttelton and Christchurch. They have brought together a fascinating range of images, artifacts and stories from that time and recreated a 1918 medicine depot complete with an inhalation device for preventative treatment!
This is a travelling display and will be featuring at libraries around Christchurch. The exhibition is on at:
Papanui Library until Friday 9 November,
Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre from Monday 19 November to Friday 7 December,
South Library from Monday 10 December to Friday 28 December,