Te Kupu o te Wiki – The Word of the Week

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori we are publishing kupu (words).

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

E kī, e kī.
Is that right.

Kupu (word)


Kua maumahara au!
I remember.


Te Kupu o te Wiki – The Word of the Week

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori we are publishing kupu (words).


Ka mate te kāinga tahi, ka ora te kāinga rua.
When one house dies, a second lives.

Historically used when two houses or families are merged due to the unfortunate circumstances of one particular family. However this could be used when something good emerges from misfortune

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Aua hoki!
No idea!

Kupu (word)


Māku ngā rīhi e horoi.
I will wash the dishes.


Te Kupu o te Wiki – The Word of the Week

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori we are publishing kupu (words).

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Kāore e kore!
Without a doubt.

Kupu (word)


I hea koe i te wā o te Aranga?
Where were you for Easter?



Innovative collaboration and a Living wall

A great project between members of the Library Programme Design and Delivery team in collaboration with Department of Conservation and Fab Lab in Christchurch meant we could utilise our 3D printer to produce and contribute panels to the “Living Wall” project.

Elizabeth Guthrey from DOC.
Elizabeth Guthrey from DOC.

Various community groups and organisations such as local schools and businesses that have access to 3D printers have been asked to contribute panels to this wall. It will eventually be planted up with native plants and situated on the corner of Cashel and High Street in Christchurch’s central city.

Elizabeth Guthrey (the project leader pictured above) explains that urban green walls and roofs provide habitats for plants and animals, supporting nature in our city. They create shelter, shade and cool cityscapes for a more liveable urban environment for people. The proven positive effects on people’s wellbeing mean green spaces are a must-have in urban regeneration. This particular wall is tipped to be around 20 metres long and remain in place for around two years or more. The picture below provides an indication of how the wall may look when complete.

From the PDD team’s perspective, it is great to get involved in initiatives that contribute to our city’s regeneration and it has certainly been a fantastic trial for our little Makerbot 3D printer – which so far hasn’t missed a beat.


South Learning Centre

Toku ara o te reo Māori / My te reo journey / Moja te reo pot

It was enchanting, impressive and compelling from the very first moment. As all the best things in life, it happened so unexpectedly and it was something completely different! Although my life has been kindly providing me with opportunities of diving into various languages ever since I can remember, learning te reo Māori has been without a doubt one of the most amazing journeys I have ever taken.

Te Kupu o te Reo Maori

It started in rather unspectacular circumstances though. I was sitting in a pub in Hanmer Springs one day last winter, leisurely browsing through the Saturday issue of The Press. An article about te reo classes caught my eye. I was after some Māori language classes since I landed in Aotearoa, but I hadn’t found anything that would be:

  • holistic (embracing the language as well as the culture and tikanga)
  • fun
  • affordable.

The classes were taught by an English teacher at Burnside High school, the excellent Regan Stokes, with the support of his two friends Joshua T. Toki and Damien Taylor. As the article stated, classes were based on koha donations and were offering a relaxed and informal encounter with te reo – so they were perfect for people with other commitments or for those who just wanted to check out what te reo is all about.

I started attending classes weekly and learning has never been so much fun. I have loved schooling since I was a child. Learning and sharing knowledge has always been exciting to me, but I had never imagined it could be so entertaining, encompassing various skills and styles – not just visual and auditory but kinaesthetic and imaginative as well.

What surprised me first was that so many words and vowels resonated with the sounds and words of my own Slovenian language. I felt strangely at home, producing these first utterances. Pronunciation in my own language is much closer to te reo pronunciation than English, so I found it quite easy to grasp its logic (I am still far from mastering pronunciation itself – that takes time!) Every language sounds different to every pair of ears. To me, te reo sounds playful and uplifting.

I can imagine anyone who was brought up to speak in languages with highly developed vocabulary, as well as complicated and often very confusing grammar, would agree that te reo’s nature is truly economical. Readers may know, that Māori language will often use what already exists in order to make up a word. Deciphering the words in te reo can as a consequence be a special pleasure, it’s like a taonga hunt and is highly rewarding for beginners as it quickly makes sense.

The economical aspect of te reo encourages constant repetitions, which give the language a joyful yet poetical note. Repetition, whether it is whole words or the rhythm, is one of the core elements of poetry and nursery rhymes. Its importance was and still is strongly manifested in the religious chants and rituals of most tribes. It does not work only as an aesthetic device, it affects readers and listeners subconsciously, on an intuitive level.


It almost seems contradictory, but the economy of te reo is where the most enchanting part of it, its depth, emanates from. To me it seems as the whole language exists on a totally different level. It is basically impossible to understand and grasp this language without understanding and elucidating tikanga and essence (not just meaning) behind certain words. Direct translation of one word to another just doesn’t do justice to the meaning. It is not only the stories, that most kupu carry with them, it is the entire cosmology of Māori culture, the view and understanding of the world that radiates out of them. I am mesmerised again and again by these luminous kōrero that are hiding behind so many words. It seems to me every word is a treasure on its own and the layers of one single word are sometimes countless. Everything becomes even more complex when sentences are knitted together – the language itself then almost feels three dimensional. It is expanding in so many directions and on many levels. Digging after meanings and untangling the karakia sometimes feels as if you would be diving through the endless layers of Tangaroa or Ranginui.

These two features – economy and depth – are distinctive features of poetry as well. And te reo is an outstandingly poetical language. It is not just the structure of words and repetition of sounds that make it melodic and rhythmical, it is the structure of sentences, the grammar itself which brings te reo’s utterance, articulation closer to te ātaahua of poetry forms (ātaahua can be translated as “beauty” or “beautiful”, but it actually means “carefully shaped”). For me the essence of a perfect art form, let it be literary or visual or musical or any other, lies in the harmony, in perfection of its form. A work of art is perfect as it is, there is nothing one would add to it or remove from it, as that would only ruin it. So too is te reo. Its economy shapes it so sophisticatedly and that also nurtures its inspiring ambiguity and beauty. This language is potently charged with metaphor and one can trace its figurativeness even in everyday, informal talk.

Maori books

Shirley Library. Flickr 2013-04-10-IMG_5757

The view of the world that opens through te reo is entirely different to the one that my own language or English has furnished me with. All the languages that I have learned are of Indo-European origin and they all hold on to a very strong anthropocentric position. They derive from a point of view of a subject, of a human as the centre of the universe. How we, as human beings, see and comprehend the world around us and how we relate to this world is strongly rooted in the language. It is the language we are born in that has a great impact on our comprehension of the world and our relation to it, because we relate to everything inside of us and outside of us through this language.

Te Reo Māori is far from being anthropocentric – rather the opposite. Subject and verb are structurally very important elements of grammar in most Indo-European languages. All language classes I’ve attended started with learning how to say TO BE and later on TO HAVE. That doesn’t happen in te reo. Te reo doesn’t even know the verbs “to be” or “to have” (and how cool is that!?) In te reo, one wouldn’t say “I like the book”, but “The book is good to me.” THE BOOK IS GOOD TO ME.

I am struck again and again how differently this language expresses the relations between concepts and notions – so unlike those that are deeply rooted in me. Concepts that other languages regard as immanent and omnipresent, like concepts of substance, existence, possession and ownership, are quite foreign to te reo. Less subjective concepts (at least to my understanding) seem to prevail in it: relationship, belonging, coalescence and mutual responsibility. Human being is placed in a more humble, yet more connected position in te reo view of the world. To me, this view makes so much more sense.

Te Reo Māori self checkout

Te Reo Māori self checkout. July 2014. Flickr 2014-07-10-IMG_0669

Learning te reo makes me often reflect on Slovenian, as well as English. Lately it has made me think a lot about the history and survival of my language. My country gained independence in 1991 and that’s when it appeared on the map of the world (it looks like a small chicken in the right bottom corner of Europe). For a long time throughout history, my culture and my tangata existed only through the language. Most of the time we were part of other bigger and more powerful countries, empires or other forms of constitutional unions (like Yugoslavia, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Illyrian Provinces etc). In comparison to other European nations we were not numerous, we had no power and we were not landowners. We can boast only a few aristocratic families in our whakapapa. In our history, we have been Christianized, survived all sorts of systems of government (including principalities, provinces, empires, kingdoms, federations), been occupied and/or governed by numerous foreign forces (including French, German, Italian and Austro-Hungarian just in the last 200 years), battled through the first and second world war (and worst of all our own civil war) and the Balkan conflict in 1990s. All this time, we kept our language (despite all other languages which were official, taught in schools and used in legal matters). It was the language where the consciousness of culture, its uniqueness and identity came from.

Whanau display at Shirley Library

Whanau display at Shirley Library. Flickr CCL-2014-03-16-Shirley-Whanau-Display-DSC_04369

The first book in the Slovenian language was written and printed in the 16th century, a few decades before Shakespeare’s first works were published. So we had a lot to catch up with, which we did. Mostly in the Romantic era and later on in the 20th century – with prolific poets and authors writing in the Slovenian language and for Slovenian readers. Newspapers had been published since the beginning of the 19th century and we established our first publishing house dedicated to children’s literature after World War Two. The strongest and most passionate advocates of independence at the end of 1980s came from a group of authors, poets and intellectuals, centred around the literary magazine Nova revija. Today, we are the second country in Europe by number of books published per year per capita (right after the United Kingdom). We have survived because of our language and literature.

All our stories and histories are unique and complex – there is no point in comparing them as they stem from entirely diverse circumstances. I like to see my history as a story of language, its power and importance. Now, it seems more inspiring and meaningful to me than ever before.
I feel deeply grateful, that I can walk this rewarding journey of te reo, because it has given me so much more than just basic phrases in another foreign language! In utu I would like to share the story of my language (Utu has a wide variety of meanings in te reo. Here, it is used in a sense of reciprocity of kind deeds, of a gift exchange, that creates and establishes permanent and personal relationships). Let it linger as a little reminder of the importance of te reo and the need to nurture it.

Te Reo Māori classes in Ōtautahi

Te Reo Māori resources

Here are some resources which I find very useful in learning te reo Māori:

Cover of He Whakamārama Cover of Te Aka Cover of Reed Book Cover of Ka Whawhai Tonu matou

Masha Oliver
Library Assistant, Te Kete Wānanga o Papa Kōhatu

An electronic marriage – Origins and Find My Past

Christchurch has a large array of electronic, print and people resources for those wishing to discover their family history whether it be a lost branch of a family tree, a birthplace or a story. The family history electronic resources are very popular for those just starting out on their search or for those looking for that one random link that can make everything fall into place.

Due to this any changes to those resources can see a flurry of questions so please be aware that Origins has disappeared! Origins specialised in unusual and often hard to find British and Irish records. Its many early records include rare marriage indexes, apprentices and poor law records. All this information is not lost, it has just been “consumed” by Find My Past. The merger will see all of the Origins information including the National Wills Index combined with the Find My Past material into a mega family history resource under the Find My Past banner.

So one search and more results – just another way your life is getting easier (online anyway).

Older man at PC

Have a play and find the black sheep in your family today.

Under 5 Fest

Under 5 Fest PosterThe much-anticipated Under 5 Fest is coming up. It is a special event for young children run by the excellent educators of Science Alive. Kids get to experience fun hands-on science activities and exhibits. There will be a petting zoo and storytimes. Kids can play with air and sound, amazing mirrors, and giant building blocks. Our own librarians will be there  – providing a storytelling session at 10:30 am on the weekdays.

Under 5 Fest runs from 6th to the 12th of March 2015, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm daily and will be held at the Table Tennis Canterbury Stadium, 294 Blenheim Road, Upper Riccarton, Christchurch. The cost is $6 per person, but the under 2s get in for free. For group bookings or more information phone 03 365 5199 or you can email bookings@sciencealive.co.nz

Science Alive also have a cool after school science programme in ten of our libraries across Christchurch.

Science Alive imageExcellent Science Alive educators lead children through interactive activities to stimulate their interest in science, and there is something to take home every week!

Programmes run during term time except the first week and no bookings are required.

For more sciencey goodness for kids, check out the following library resources:

Here are some pics and the poster, kindly supplied to us by Science Alive.



Happy centenary, Canterbury WEA!

One of Canterbury’s most popular voluntary organisations, the Canterbury WEA, turns 100 this year, and celebrations are most definitely in order!

Photo of WEA Centenary placardThe CWEA, or, if we want to be formal, the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association, was the first WEA to be set up in New Zealand. Like the English WEA, which was founded in 1903, the CWEA aimed to provide university level education to working men and women.

In the subsequent century, many changes have, not surprisingly, taken place; however the CWEA remains the ‘People’s University’. Offering as it does some 130 courses each year as well as hosting special interest clubs, such as mah-jong, bridge, and sketching, the WEA has been and continues to be a part of life for many Cantabrians.

The centenary celebrations are therefore guaranteed to be popular – make sure to contact the Association as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

Scheduled events:

  • Cover of The People's UniversityWednesday 4 March, 6pm: launch of The People’s University: A Centennial History of the CWEA by Ian Dougherty, published by Canterbury University Press. The book will be officially launched by Mayor Lianne Dalziel at the WEA. Numbers are limited so please let the Association know if you’d like to receive an invitation to this event.
  • Thursday 5 March, 7 – 9 pm: Community Night with presentations from groups that use the CWEA rooms. All are welcome.
  • Friday 6 March, 12 – 2pm: shared lunch and items from CWEA classes. All are welcome.
  • Saturday 7 March: 6.30 pm: dinner at Hagley Community College, BYO. Cost $35. After dinner Speaker: Garry Moore. Numbers limited to 100 so early booking is advised.

To let the CWEA know that you’d like to attend any of these events, you can

Reading to dogs

Christchurch City Libraries Reading to Dogs programme is designed to provide a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere which encourages children to practice their reading skills and develop a love of reading.

Reading to dogs

The programme uses rescue-dogs who are now the beloved pets of the Christchurch City Council Animal Control team. These furry friends have all been trained and tested for health, safety and temperament.

Library staff and a dog handler will be present at all times to help facilitate the sessions.

South Library 66 Colombo Street
Wednesdays 3.30pm – 4.30pm, starting February 11th

Papanui Library 35 Langdons Road
Thursdays 3.30pm – 4.30pm, starting February 12th
Each session is 15 minutes long. Bookings are essential, please call 941 7923

See our calendar of Reading to Dogs events.

Reading to dogs

More about Reading to Dogs

Our dogs:
• Can increase a child’s relaxation while reading
• Listen attentively
• Do not laugh, judge or criticise
• Allow children to proceed at their own pace
• Can be less intimidating than a child’s peers

Reading aloud is critical when children are learning. However, many children have difficulties reading and become self conscious when reading in front of their peers. Libraries and schools around the world have found that by sitting down and reading to a friendly dog, a child’s fear of being judged or laughed at ‘over mistakes’ disappears. Over time, the child’s reading ability and self-confidence improves and they begin to associate reading with a pleasant experience.

Holiday fun at the Learning Centres

Successful holiday programmes at South and Upper Riccarton had many happy children tasting new technologies and having lots of fun.

  • Clay animation – children created fun clay characters for their animated stories.
  • Family Games Fun – online, board and action games were great challenges for all.
  • Whizz Bang Pop – lots of fun iPad story apps with complimenting craft activities to make children and parents very happy.
  • 3D Tinker Workshop – students grappled with 3D software design to create helicopters then delved further into 3D wire sculpting, paper craft and Hama beads. There were lots of new experiences.

Find out more about Library Learning Centres.

P1030473 Family Game Time 3D Doodler Pen Claymation