Inside the Four Avenues – exhibition opens Wednesday 21 November, 5.30pm at Tūranga

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.

Top images by Elise Williams. Bottom left image by Summer Robson. Bottom right image by Thomas Herman.

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.

Sam Depree-Ludemann, Team Leader Spreydon Library

A Fashionable Day at the Races – Leave your hat on

Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup Day is at Addington Raceway this Tuesday 13 November. Cup Day is known for FASHUN too:

Fashionistas get their chance to shine during the glamorous Westfield Riccarton Style Stakes Fashion and The Hits Body Art competitions.

Here is some last minute Cup Day fashion inspo, with a focus on hats, fascinators, titfers, and millinery:

CoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCoverCover

Bill Cunningham – famed as a New York street fashion photographer as featured in doco Bill Cunningham New York – first found fame as a designer of ultra-arty and outlandish hats under the alias William J. His memoir Fashion Climbing: A New York Life has lots of juicy hat stuff.

And of course, if you are looking for a contemporary hat goddess, you can’t go past the much-missed Isabella Blow.

CoverCover

LOVE this hat and veil combo worn by Adut Akech on the cover of British Vogue’s December issue (coming soon to RBDigital Magazines for your reading/viewing pleasure)

You don’t even have to visit a library to get ideas. We have eMagazines as well as magazines in print. RBDigital and PressReader feature a range of fashion eMagazines, online magazines and newspapers including Vogue Australia, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and more.

CoverCoverCoverCoverCover

And how some historical inspiration – this stylish trio rocked Addington in the 1930s.

Three friends at Addington races, late 1930s. Source: Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Pip Joyce. Discovery Wall CCL-PH13-259

More fashion

Poet Kaveh Akbar is no sheep in wolf’s clothing – WORD Christchurch

Kaveh Akbar is more of a shepherd than a wolf. The internationally acclaimed Iranian-American poet not only produces amazing thought-provoking poetry, but nurtures other poets to achieve their full potential too. So it was a perfect date for us to be hosting him at Tūranga, the flagship of the future. We are all about helping our citizens to access all they need to reach for the top.

Hosted by local poet Erik Kennedy, this event was held in the brand spanking new Tautoru / TSB Space, and brought to us by WORD Christchurch in association with LitCrawl Wellington. View photos of Kaveh Akbar and Erik Kennedy event.

Mr Akbar is a really nice guy. Humble and quietly spoken (though this changes when he reads) Kaveh kept thanking us for coming. When reading, Kaveh is animated, moving with the lilting rhythm of his words, his voice rising with the swell of emotion and experience.

An Iranian-American, he sees his poetry as:

“the membrane between myself and the divine…a new idiom for ancient binaries.”

Binaries such as solitude and community, decay and rebirth, literature and culture.

Kaveh has been posting interviews with poets making waves on DiveDapper; a website he created as a platform for exposure, promotion and connection. It has become a community, bringing poets and enthusiasts together worldwide. The list of poets on this website is impressive! Akbar sees this as a way to “push (his gratitude) outwards.” He further demonstrated this by reading two poems by New Zealand poet Helen Heath.

CoverKaveh’s book of poetry Calling a Wolf a Wolf was released to much acclaim this year. In it, Kaveh addresses difficult themes from addiction to desire; his poetry refreshing in a way that feels uplifting rather than downbeat.

Akbar’s work shares a sense of lessons learned and experience shared, as opposed to a self-indulgent train wreck. In all, there is a theme of hunger: for the physical sensation of being alive. Akbar’s poems grabbed me at first taste. Alliteration, onomatopoeia and themes of life, death and longing fill his poems. Addiction is portrayed as a kind of death; “a void to fill in wellness”. The poetry came from a need to fill the gap left after he became sober: “my entire life up to that point was predicated on the pursuit of this or that narcotic experience.” All this brings to mind a Persian poet who celebrated the wine and song of life, yet without the cautionary tale: Omar Khayyam.

In the light of current politics, Kaveh asserts that the ‘utility’ of poetry ‘forces us to slow down our metabolism of language’. A useful antidote to doublespeak, perhaps. He makes it sound like a science. And in fact it is.

Kaveh Akbar
Kaveh Akbar in conversation with Erik Kennedy. WORD Christchurch event. Tautoru / TSB Space, Hapori | Community, Level 1, Tūranga, Tuesday 6 November 2018. Flickr 2018-November-6-IMG_1984

Although he now only speaks a few words of Farsi these days, Akbar sees feeling as a ‘universal language,’ one that we all understand. The purpose of poetry, he says, is as Homer put it – to ‘delight and instruct.’  So often, we leave out the delight, loving to lecture others on the way of things. Pre-sobriety, Akbar the poet painted himself as the hero of his works; a ‘gloriously misunderstood scumbag.’ A way of being, he says, that’s insufferable (I’ve dated guys like that).

‘So you’re the sobriquet of the School of Delight?’ quips Eric Kennedy. Sobriquet. Oh clever. Thus begins a new Golden Age in Poetry. The interview website DiveDapper came from Kaveh’s hunger for dialogue with other poets while going through recovery. It’s a way to share experience with others – ‘a vast expanse of empathetic resources.’

The internet has meant that ‘the age of coy diminishment of one’s passions is over’…it is now an age of ‘unabashed zeal.’ Eric:  Zeal Land!”

Kaveh read a number of wonderful poems from Calling a Wolf a Wolf. I love the titles – so real but imaginative. He really does have a way with words:

The last word goes to Mr Akbar:

“Poetry is the best thing that exists in the universe.”

More about Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh has been published by the New Yorker, The New York Times, Best American Poetry 2018 and The Guardian:

Poems

Podcast – Indian communities in New Zealand

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Guests Rakesh Naidoo (Strategic Advisor Race Relations at the Human Rights Commission), Archna Tandon, and Jane Buckingham (University of Canterbury historian) discuss Indian migration to and settlement in New Zealand across the centuries.

Part I: History of Indian migration to and settlement in Aotearoa, including changes to immigration policy and its effects; key drivers for Indian migration; Indian international students

Part II: Being ‘Indian’ in New Zealand vs being ‘Punjabi’ etc in India; navigating multiple identities in multiple contexts

Part III: Factors that can enable and hinder successful settlement

Transcript – Indian communities in NZ

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Raj days downunder Cover of India in New Zealand Local Identities, Global Relations Cover of Indian Settlers The Story of A New Zealand South Asian Community Cover of Sari: Indian women at work in New Zealand Cover of Indians and the Antipodes: Networks, Boundaries and Circulation Cover of Indian inkCover of Chasing rainbows

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

Poet and Poetry Cheerleader in Chief: Kaveh Akbar – WORD Christchurch – Tuesday 6 November 6.30pm at Tūranga

… It’s exhausting, remaining /
humble amidst the vicissitudes of fortune. It’s difficult / to be anything at all
with the whole world right here for the having.

(from the poem Being in This World Makes Me Feel Like a Time Traveller)

CoverCome along to Tūranga on Tuesday 6.30pm to hear Iranian-American poet Kaveh Akbar read some of his award-winning works and chat with Christchurch poet and editor Erik Kennedy. This event is proudly bought to you by WORD Christchurch, in association with LitCrawl Wellington. Tickets are $20 waged, and $15 unwaged (plus service fees). Buy tickets from Dash.

Kaveh has won awards, and his poems have appeared in heaps of prestigious publications like The New Yorker, The New York Times, Best American Poetry 2018, and The Guardian.

Check out Kaveh reading Max Ritvo’s “Touching the Floor” and his own poem “Portrait of an Alcoholic Frozen in Block of Ice”:

He founded DiveDapper, a poetry interview site. It is pretty much the poetry equivalent of Jerry Seinfeld’s show ‘Comedians in cars getting coffee’, but in DiveDapper you get two poets on top of their games in conversation. It features a stellar lineup of poets including:

  • Jos Charles, “We must let our unknowabilities exist.”
  • Sharon Olds, “I write as much crap as anyone.”
  • Claudia Rankine, “I’m not investigating race as much as I’m investigating intimacy.”
  • and slam poet Anis Mojgani (who many of you will remember from his previous visits to Christchurch, slaying us with his potent words).

It makes total sense that Jeevika Verma in NPR refers to him as “poetry’s biggest cheerleader”:

He believes that everyone should be reciting poems as they walk into a coffee shop, as they do the dishes, as they go on with their lives.
“The fact that poems exist is the load-bearing gratitude upon which I have built my life,” he explains. “And what do you do with gratitude when it piles up? You have to push it outwards.”
He says it’s sort of like eating a Snickers bar. “Not sharing your gratitude is like holding a Snickers bar in your mouth for a week. You’d just get cavities,” he laughs. “This is what I want to do with DiveDapper. As far as I’m concerned, poetry is the best thing that exists in the universe.”

The event will be followed by a book signing, with Scorpio Books will be selling copies of Kaveh’s book. There will be food and drink available for sale too.

Photo by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Image supplied.

And in more Christchurch poetry news …

The New Zealand Poetry Slam Final Saturday 3 November

The New Zealand Poetry Slam national final is on this Saturday 3 November. It is the first time finals have been in the South Island.

The nation’s best poets will compete in a literary showdown on Saturday, November 3rd in Christchurch. Poets representing Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Hawkes Bay, Dunedin, Nelson and Southern Lakes will perform in a three-round poetry slam as selected members from the audience will judge to determine the winner. Can Christchurch defend their title or will a new city take the crown?
Featuring 2017 National Slam Champion, Christchurch’s own Daisy Lavea-Timo (DaisySpeaks), this is not a night to miss.

What: NZ National Poetry Slam Finals
When: Saturday November 3rd 2018
Time: Doors 7pm, Show 7:30pm
Where: Haeata Community Campus, 240 Breezes Rd.
Cost: $20 general, $15 students

The winner of the Nutcracker diorama – A family challenge competition

We are happy to announce the winner of the family pass to the Royal New Zealand Ballet production of  the Nutcracker at the Isaac Theatre Royal! A huge congratulations to Alexander and Greta. The details on your entry were so well thought out and precisely executed. The moveable curtains on a mini-track and the LED lights along the stage line were an added extra. The detailed illustration on the paintings on the wall, the fireplace, the cut-out windows, tree etc are gorgeous. Thank you again – Enjoy the ballet!

Alexander and Greta’s winning entry (8 and 5 years old)

WINNERS: Alexander and Greta, 8 and 5 yearsWINNERS: Alexander and Greta, 8 and 5 years

This was an extraordinarily difficult task to judge! All entries were outstanding, and we thank you all for sending through such special creations.

Highly Commended Entries

One prize was simply not enough, so we have rummaged around to find some extra prizes to gift a few of our Highly Commended entries. Each of these entries will receive a goodie bag.

Audrey, 6 years old

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Audrey, 6 years

Sophie, 12 years old

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sophie, 12 years

Spencer family

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Spencer Family

Hanna, 11 years old, and family

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Hanna and Family, 11 years

Rose, 9 years old, and her Mum

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Rose 9 years and MumHIGHLY COMMENDED: Rose 9 years and Mum

Have a look here at all our entries.

Another piece of exciting news! See an exhibition of Nutcracker Dioramas

We are excited to be able to display the entries from our Nutcracker Diorama competition at Te Hāpua: Halswell Library from Friday 9 November to Tuesday 27 November. Come along and see these amazing creations including the winner and highly commended entries.

If you entered the competition and would like your artwork back immediately, and would prefer it not be in this exhibition, please contact Clare at LibraryEvents@ccc.govt.nz to organise pick up. We know how much wonderful work and effort went into making your creations – and we want to make sure they are kept safe.

 

Diwali in Christchurch 2018

Diwali Indian Festival of Lights in Cathedral Square – Saturday 3 November and Sunday 4 November, 2pm to 9pm

Stage performances start at 5pm

Celebrate the Indian festival of Diwali with fabulous food and fun, in the heart of Christchurch. There will be Indian arts and crafts stalls and colourful classical and modern stage performances. The most popular of all Hindu festivals, Diwali is dedicated to the goddess Kali in Bengal and to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in the rest of India. As with several other festivals, Diwali is associated with one of the stories about the destruction of evil by God in one of his many manifestations. In Jainism, where the festival is also known as Mahavira Nirvana, Diwali celebrates the attainment of Nirvana by Lord Mahavira. Diwali also marks the start of the Hindu New Year; goddess Lakshmi is therefore thanked on this day and everyone prays for a good year ahead. In many parts of India, it is the homecoming of King Rama of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile in the forest. The people of his kingdom welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (deepa), thus its name, Deepawali, simply shortened to Diwali.

Sponsored by the CCC, the Indian Social and Cultural Club is pleased to bring to you a taste of Indian culture and tradition in Cathedral Square.

Diwali concert and workshop at Tūranga – Sunday 11 November 11am to 12.30pm

Celebrate Diwali with acclaimed local group Revathi Performing Arts. Enjoy a demonstration of Bharathanatyam, the most popular South Indian Classical Dance, then participate in a workshop. Bharathanatyam originated in the temples of South India thousands of years ago. Started as part of daily worship of the temple deity, this art form has evolved over the years to its current form. Free, no bookings required. TSB Space, Hapori | Community, Level 1, Tūranga

What is Diwali?

Diwali or dīpāvali, the festival of lights, is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs with the rising of the new moon at the end of the month, Ashvin. However, in a country as diverse as India, where people from many different faiths live side by side, the festival is not limited to one particular faith for it represents the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of wisdom over ignorance. Throughout cities and villages the darkness will be symbolically turned back. Clay lamps (diya) will be lit in homes and shops, fireworks will be released into the sky and the streets will be filled with music. Read more in Simon’s blog post about Diwali.

 
Diwali display at Linwood Library 2016.

More about Diwali

  • Find resources about Diwali in our collection.
  • Watch a short film about the Rāmāyaṇa

Tāngata Ngāi Tahu – WORD Christchurch 2018

Tāngata Ngāi TahuTāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu. Volume One is a new book celebrating the rich and diverse lives of fifty people of Ngāi Tahu. It was published by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Bridget Williams Books in late 2017, and released to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement.

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.

Read a book review of Tāngata Ngāi Tahu.

Your Halloween Soundtrack

It’s that time of year again for us to celebrate all things dark, sinister, and macabre, and what a lot of options you have from us here at Christchurch City Libraries!

We have Horror, Sci-Fi, & Fantasy booklists covering all your favourite subgenres, plenty of horror films available on DVD, Pru has done an excellent sum-up of Halloween stuff including Spooky Halloween Days at Shirley and Linwood, AND we have a way for you to soundtrack your festivities… after all, what’s more frightening than the sounds of impending dread…!?

Monster rock horror for your Halloween

List created by DevilStateDan

Trick and Treat yourself this Halloween with these suitably horror-ific musical experiences…

Nothing suits Halloween better than the psychedelic horror rock sounds of King Crimson, the perfect way to soundtrack your Halloween!
Live at the Orpheum

A great cross section of the work of Siouxsie & the Banshees. Rock this album while your carve your Jack O’Lantern!
Spellbound

The original monsters of rock – you wanted the best, you got the best. Get your full make-up on and rock this Halloween!
Monster

Thirty tracks from the Stranglers from between 1983-1991. A collection of punk fuelled horror B-sides to rock you this Halloween.
Here & There

Music from the horror show born out of NZ – what better way to kick start your Halloween!?The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The hugely celebrated second (and last!) album from the Cannibals. Some call it a masterpiece. Whatever you think you can bop with the pop til you drop this Halloween!
The Raw & the Cooked

Rob Zombie has been delivering his horror rock for decades and this album is one of the highlights of his career. Get trashy and zombie this Halloween.
Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor

Music to survive zombies by… the perfect soundtrack for your Halloween.
The Walking Dead

The grandfathers of gothic rock in a collection featuring their best tracks. It doesn’t get more dark, gothic, or horror-ific than the masters.
The Ultimate Collection

And finally, on this CD you will find THE classic piece of horror music; Toccata & Fugue in D minor. If you don’t recognize the name, you’ll surely recognize the first three notes!
Famous Organ Works

View Full List

Happy listening and a happy Halloween!

An interview with Rhys Darby: The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty (Book 1)

Funnyman Rhys Darby has teamed up with Scholastic in a fun new fiction series for kids. He talked to Christchurch City Libraries about his debut children’s book and reading interests, his passion for cryptozoology and his connections to Christchurch.

Rhys Darby. Photo credit: Dean B. Cornish
Rhys Darby. Photo credit: Dean B. Cornish

You may know Rhys Darby as a comedian and as an actor from Flight of the Conchords or Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and much more — and now he’s become a children’s author as well. Rhys generously gave his time to chat on the phone about his foray into children’s books with the October publication of The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty (Book 1), which he’s also illustrated.

The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty

Darby joins other comedians like David Walliams and Australian Peter Helliar who have written children’s books. By Darby’s own admission, he has childlike sensibilities and this lends itself well to his writing.

“My comedy is very childlike.”

First, a little bit about the book…
The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty is a mystery comedy adventure in the format of a journal. Rhys describes his book as a cross between Indiana Jones and Spike Milligan.

“Loaded with unmistakably quirky and random Rhys humour, 12-year-old Buttons McGinty pens top secret scribbles in a collection of extraordinary notebooks, as he and his friends enter a universe unlike any they’ve seen before. Buttons has been shipped off to Ranktwerp Island Education Fortress for Gifted Lame Unruly Minors, a.k.a. R.I.E.F.G.L.U.M., a boarding school on a remote island, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Antarctica. His parents are missing under strange circumstances and there are bogus baddies and a burly bigfoot on the prowl.” (Scholastic press release)

Darby says the main character, a flame-haired 12-year-old, is a young spirited version of himself and that he used to dream about going on adventures as a kid but back then he could only go on such adventures in his head – lucky he had a big imagination. Darby’s three years spent in the army from the age of 17 also comes through in his children’s book with his use of Morse code and the military-like operations going on in the story. Darby describes the setting as like “an Alcatraz for kids.”

Who is the book for?

Darby kept his two young sons in mind (ages 8 and 12) when writing his book. He says he wrote it for anyone with a sense of humour. “It’s for reluctant readers or for fans of my work” and what’s more, he adds, “I wrote it to amuse myself – it had to be fun for me to do it.” It’s hard not to read the book without hearing his distinctive comedic voice in your head, making it feel as if he were reading it to you.

Aside from a bit of Morse code, the book is full of funny asides, drawings, lists, maps and speech bubbles. Darby says that breaking up writing like this makes reading easier and more appealing. The story is written with a sense of immediacy. Button’s journal writing addresses the reader and makes you feel as if you are there figuring out the mystery alongside him.

Rhys Darby’s interest in cryptozoology is evident in the book when a mysterious caged creature is snuck onto the island. He describes cryptozoology as “things unclassified by science that people don’t think exists – a pseudoscience.” “I’m a fan of the unknown,” he says and he co-hosts a long-running podcast on cryptozoology called The Cryptid Factor with the likes of wry Kiwi documentarian David Farrier.

Rhys, why cryptozoology? What sparked your interest and do you have any favourite creatures?

“You’re opening a can of worms asking about my interest in this but yes, ‘hairy humanoids’ like the Yeti, the Sasquatch and other upright walking things that seem to be human which aren’t human, like the Australian Yowie and also including human reptilian creatures and sea serpents like the Loch Ness monster.”

(Check out his recent podcast on the Yowie)

Abominable Science!BigfootyetiBigfoot

“I remember reading when I was a kid an Usborne book called Monsters, seeing that in the library – Pakuranga Library – and one of my favourites featured all the creatures that may exist and sparked my interest in the unknown. We haven’t solved all the things on the planet that need to be solved.”

What role did libraries play in your life?

“I was a big library goer, mum would let me choose 5 books – it was a ritual. It was a safe quiet place. I remember going to my school library at Elm Park Primary and getting obsessed with car magazines.”

When we spoke Rhys was planning to visit his old primary school to read to the kids there.

The Buttons character in your book is named after your mate Leon ‘Buttons’ Kirckbeck (from your projects the Cryptid Factor and Short Poppies)? Tell us more about the name ‘Buttons’ you chose?

“‘Buttons’ sort of alludes to someone who is very good at knowing how to push the buttons, being a bit of a tech whiz or having a knack for machinery – like in the movie Gravity when Sandra Bullock is trapped but just knows how to go in and tinker with things to save herself.”

Meet Buttons…

Meet Buttons McGinty, from Rhys Darby’s debut children’s book.

Rhys, your children’s book is mainly available through Australasian distribution and there are a number of ‘down under’ references and slang in the book. You’ve got a great line in your book about Buttons trusting someone “as much as you trust a cheap pair of jandals.” What made you choose to ‘keep it local’ in your book?

“Since I have international pull I am in a position to keep and draw attention to our unique Kiwi ‘voice’ – like Taika Waititi does. Wouldn’t it be great if like, in the same way we accept the English world of Harry Potter, that we just accept things and it became like that on the other side of the world?”

Rhys has even managed to retain his kiwiness in the recent Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as the voice of a villain called Hypno-Potamus).

“I trust him about as much as I trust a cheap pair of jandals” – quote from Buttons McGinty.

(Rhys obviously loves jandals – so much so he wrote a song about them!)

What did you learn from writing your first children’s book?

“To keep the humour coming in and not so much fantasy or action and also to keep it light so it’s not too dark, like the territory that Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll get into.”

Obviously Book 2 is underway since Book 1 ends on a cliff-hanger and loose ends – and you hope to write up to 4-5 in the series once you see how this goes. What about a film adaptation?

“My dream would be that maybe the book series would get made into a movie and when I’m writing it I imagine it and am visualising it all.”

You’re so multi-talented… What drives you and motivates you?

“I have a creative brain and get bored easily if I’m not doing something creative and I enjoy entertaining.”

Is there nothing you won’t take up or try out? Conversely, what’s something you want to try your hand at – if you could wave a magic wand and just do it, what might it be?

“Nothing too dangerous like jumping out of a plane since I’ve got kids now and I don’t know when my luck will run out. I’ve had the opportunity to climb Mt Kilimanjaro – for charity – and ‘nearly died’. I was so sick so although I’ve since been asked to Everest, I’ve turned it down. But if I could wave a wand, I’d like to go back in time and be an explorer – like being in Cairo exploring tombs in the 1920s, just doing archaeological digs. And also I’d like to visit the Victorian days in England – like the gloomy time period of Jack the Ripper and perhaps solve the riddle of what happened.”

You’re already really interesting and diverse, but can you tell us something about yourself that we might not know?

Rhys (age 44): “Well, I like to skateboard. I have eight skateboards and got Tony Hawk to sign my son’s skateboard when I was working with him.”


Reading Pleasures

The Explorers GuildWhat are you currently reading?

“I’m the sort of person with a stack of books on the bedside and read bits here and there but currently The Explorer’s Guild by Kevin Costner the actor (and Jon Baird) – it’s part novel/part graphic novel. It’s set around WWI and it’s a bit of a tome – it’s not an easy read but I like the idea of it. (A worthy but challenging read).

We know you like Spike Milligan and, as well as the non-fiction you’ve mentioned, what else did you read as a kid?

“I wasn’t a great reader when I was a kid but I did enjoy graphic novels like TinTin (because he was an adventurer) and Asterix – funny and involved time and I learnt about Romans ruling.”

Cigars of the Pharaoh - Hergé, pseud., 1907-1983Asterix and the Laurel Wreath - Goscinny, 1926-1977

You must be a fun dad! What are your children’s current favourite reads or things you like to read to them?

They are enjoying Dav Pilkey, Jeff Kinney and David Walliams.

Dog ManOld SchoolThe World's Worst Children

 


Canterbury Connections

This Way to Spaceship

Rhys Darby spent some formative years living and studying in Christchurch. He attended the University of Canterbury, trained at Burnham Military Camp and did his early performances as a comedy duo in Lyttelton.

In your earlier autobiographical book This Way to Spaceship, you tell a funny story about being in the 1996 Christchurch Christmas Parade dressed as Mr. Blubby, a mascot to help advertise some sickly jelly concoction, but kids threw the jelly drinks at you and tipped you over. What other memories do you have from your time here?

“Christchurch was a time of awakening for me. I had my first girlfriend there, I had my first comedy gig there and went to Burnham Military Camp. I like going back to the places I remember and finding new places, visiting the park and visiting Canterbury University and also Lyttelton where I started with my friend Grant (Lobban) and my performing began (Rhysently Granted).”


Talking to Rhys Darby is a delight and a volley of conversation that can go in any direction. One thing that struck me was his way of thinking. “Just imagine” he says often or “I could imagine…” As you can imagine, he’s effusive and full of spark and creativity and his enthusiasm is refreshing and contagious. Rhys Darby certainly has cross-generational appeal. I have been looking forward to this book being published for a while, as both a children’s librarian and a parent of children in the target age group. I was already a fan of his comedy since his Flight of the Conchords days, but now I have children who enjoy his work too, in projects like Jumanji and Thunderbirds Are Go! With a children’s book in the mix, he’s growing a new fan base.

Darby’s first book is a winner! Borrow it, buy it, gift it! We look forward to finding out what happens next in Darby’s daring adventures in Book 2! 

MORE