Literacy Christchurch (formerly known as ARAS – Adult Reading Assistance Scheme) celebrates its 40th birthday today. ARAS began on 13 December 1977 as a pilot scheme initiated by the Canterbury WEA (Workers Educational Association), with 8 volunteer tutors and 8 students.
Robyn Chandler, manager of Literacy Christchurch, talked to Jan Orme, Senior Library Assistant, Outreach and Learning Team for the sixth issue of our magazine uncover – huraina.
Professionally, what does the library mean to you?
So many things – university, education, nurturing, empowerment, research, choice, access to knowledge – the library is a place of instruction and delight, and such a key feature of a free society. It’s a world of information and cultural richness rather than a set of walls. Libraries have provided both education and entertainment for me.
And personally – what’s your favourite part of the library?
Do I have to pick only one? I love the displays of artwork and artefacts, the children’s section and its sense of potential. I tend to focus on one area of a collection for a while – mountaineering, gardening, local history, music, art… recently the graphic novel collection (loved Northern Lights). But if I had to focus on just the one area because I had a time limit it would be the new books – there’s always something to find.
Would you please share some highlights of your own literacy journey?
I remember sitting outside the University library on a bleak winter’s day reading the 19th century novel Wuthering Heights, the words collapsing the distances of history, space, and culture. I was there, on that “bleak hill-top,” lost in the “atmospheric tumult.”
On a professional level, it would have to be becoming a volunteer literacy tutor and having the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life and sharing their literacy journey for a time.
What would you say to your learners who are new to using the library?
I would want them to know that they are in charge of their library experience and that there are people available to support them with their library choices and needs. I would advise them to not be intimidated and to be aware of the resources available to them and that library staff are more than happy to help. The library is there for everybody; the library belongs to us all.
We’d love to see more of your learners in our libraries, what would be your best advice to help us achieve that?
The most important thing new library users need to see is a friendly face and to feel welcomed, to see proof that the library is there for them and their community. Some of our learners have English as an additional language and it would be nice to see more welcome signs in other languages. I’m really pleased to see that families are going to be able to take part in the Summer Reading challenges this year, this kind of activity encourages novice library users to participate in what’s going on in the library. Doing things with whānau can feel more natural than doing things alone.
What would be the one book you would take to a desert island?
I’m going to cheat – my desert island will have WiFi and I will be accessing the library’s great and growing collection of eResources. Me, my device, and more media than I’ll ever be able to get through … a whole world at my fingertips.
Volunteering is a rewarding way to make connections in your community.
It’s a great way to make friends, professional relationships, to do something interesting and challenging with your spare time.
Often volunteering leads to employment.
After finishing uni at Massey University, I worked as a volunteer. At Te Manawa, (The Manawatu Museum) I worked as a Visitor Host. Speaking to groups of children and guiding their experience in the Fantastic (live!) Fish display was challenging and fun.
Te Manawa also offered schools a ‘culture of the past’ experience where children could churn the butter, use a printing press, and do the washing the way it was done in the 1900s.
While looking for work in education, I chanced upon ARLA (The Adult Reading Association). This group provided very good training for its tutors, and work with a variety of clients – I worked with three ESOL students from Northern China, and a really nice Māori kuia who had had a stroke and needed to re-establish her reading pathways.
In Christchurch, Literacy Christchurch (formerly ARAS Adult Reading Assistance Scheme) perform this function in the community.
I’ve heard of WWoofing, and now I’ve found their website. Wwoofers are welcome all over New Zealand. I know of a group in Rangiwahia in the North Island that uses them. REACT (The Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Trust) farm organically and grow wicker – being responsible for the Chinese Lantern Festival in Palmerston North. They also run groups in Wellington, making ethnic sculptures with delighted new artists.
Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way was the theme for 2017.
This year we had some excellent individual photographs and collections submitted telling wonderful stories of people, family and Christchurch. Thank you so much for sharing your memories and contributing to our photographic history.
This year’s judges were Sarah Snelling the Digital Curation Librarian and Masha Oliver, Information Librarian at Central Manchester Library joined by Jacqui Stewart from the Kete Christchurch Team. They met on 27 November to decide on the winners in the categories of Places – Your landmarks in time, Your People – How we lived, and an overall winner.
All category winners and highly commended entries win a book prize.
This year’s entries
Photographs date from 1913 to October 2017 and it has been a great to receive so many photographs from the 1960s, 70s and 1980s. Of note is the collection of photographs from Cynthia Roberts. These photos document women involved in the Christchurch Women’s Resource Centre in the 1970s.
The judges noted that this year the photos reflected Christchurch’s social history, depicting everything from anti-nuclear awareness and anti-mining protesting to Cantabrians at work and play. We also see buildings and landscapes that have been lost due to development and earthquakes.
Several entries are recent photographs beautifully highlighting the magnificent landscape we live in.
This image was awarded the overall winner for multiple reasons. One of the judges commented that so much was being told by the photograph it has an almost illustrative quality to it. A strong composition is balanced by the people in the foreground. This photograph was taken in 1980 and shows Māori, Pākehā, a family group and people of different age groups. The woman with the pram and suitcase fits in with the “finding our way” theme. The image shows people in places and a sense of community spirit.
This photograph is part of a wider collection that Cynthia submitted focusing on people in the 1970s and 1980s. Our digital heritage collection has really been enhanced by Cynthia’s photographs.
Group by Lyttelton Harbour, 1948. Doug Bovett.
Doug’s image is part of a wider collection of twelve photographs taken by his mother in the late 1940s. The collection shows pictures of a group of friends that caught the daily train from Rangiora to Papanui High School and went tramping and socialised together, showing what young people did in their leisure time.
The judges fell in love with the images of young women enjoying themselves and living life in post WWII Christchurch.
It was noted that this photograph has a feeling of a modern selfie and that really not much changes in 69 years. Teenagers still hang out and take photos of themselves. It was also commented that the clothing was not the active wear and shoes we wear now but everyday clothes, maybe even school uniform.
Making a Yogi Bear Snowman in the evening, 1976. June Hunt.
June Hunt’s photograph of the snowman was highly commended as this photo and her other submissions show her story and everyday family life in 1970s Christchurch. The excitement of the first snow, the clothes people wore and what people did in their leisure time.
Masons preparing stone for the Memorial Church Tai Tapu, 1930s. Bryan Bates.
This photograph was judged as highly commended as it tells such a lot about what was happening in post-WWI New Zealand. We can see what men wore to work – craftsmen doing a trade that may have been in its decline. The depiction of stonemasons working on stone to build a church when so many of our stone churches has gone after the earthquakes is also significant.
Leader of the band, 1913. Name withheld
This photograph is one of the oldest we received this year. It shows Fredrick Wilson the leader of the Stanmore Brass band in 1913. The Wilson family ran the tearooms at the Sign of the Bellbird and Fredrick also helped Harry Ell build the walking tracks.
The image shows what people did in their leisure time and a bygone era when nearly every suburb had a brass band.
Charlotte on a motorbike. 1923. L Sullivan.
Charlotte is 18 years old and dressed in her boyfriend’s clothes riding his motorbike that she liked riding fast. The photograph was awarded a highly commended. It shows an adventurous young woman who had a long life in Christchurch. She travelled throughout Canterbury on the back of her boyfriend’s bike, “finding their way”.
This photograph continues the theme of many of this year’s submissions, strong women enjoying life in Christchurch.
The images in this category included landscapes, images of Banks Peninsula, interiors and buildings.
Rugby match at Lancaster Park. 1960. Des Pinn
This image was chosen for several reasons. It shows a crowd at a rugby game at Lancaster Park – they may be leaving after a game. Socially it reminds us of what many people did regularly on a Saturday afternoon, what people wore and what people did in their leisure time.
A judge also commented that it feels like the crowd escapes the photo.
Places – Highly commended
Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Co. Ltd, 1979. Alan Tunnicliffe.
This photograph was taken in 1979. We have very few photos of the city at this time and the photograph shows a lost city scape, specifically the east side of Manchester Street between Allen and Eaton Streets.
Shag Rock, Sumner Beach, 2009. Phil Le Cren
An image of iconic Sumner at sunset. Taken in 2009 the landscape was dramatically altered by the earthquakes.
Men’s Toiletries Department at Hays, 1960. Des Pinn.
This a unique image as it shows the interior of a shop in 1960, and it shows a display introducing Old Spice.
Totara tree, 1995. Merle Conaghan.
Merle’s photographs taken while out on Banks Peninsula with her walking group have added greatly to our collection. She highlights the varied landscape found on Banks Peninsula, from the coast to the rugged hills.
The Totara tree looks like a sign pointing in several ways tying in nicely with the “finding our way” theme.
We welcome submissions of photos, information and stories to Kete Christchurch at any time.
AFFIRM is a family festival ACTIS (Aranui Community Trust Incorporated Society) delivers to provide health choices, education, training opportunities and careers information in a fun-filled family day with laughter, entertainment and activities for Aranui and the surrounding communities of Christchurch to get together and enjoy.
2017 is its 16th year.
Do you care? It would be cool if you did. I do, mainly because I’ve been volunteering on the committee for this event since I was 19, but now, because of my chosen career path, I have another avenue for which to encourage community to get involved with the library and vice versa.
Christchurch City Libraries first had a presence at AFFIRM in 2009 and then the following year with the Mobile Library in attendance and a whole tent dedicated to the promotion of libraries in general but highlighting the upcoming build of Aranui Library.
From then, Aranui Library has tried to maintain that presence through special activities on the day of (run at the library), over the mic announcements, free book giveaways, a Storytime session and this year, a colouring competition.
If you didn’t know, now you know. Spread the word, get involved.
16AFFIRM Wainoni Park, Hampshire St. 9.30am – 4pm, Saturday 2 December 2017
Find out more
Pop into Aranui Library and ask a friendly staff member
Ngāi Tahu artists have transformed CoCA Gallery. On a recent visit I was captivated by the rock art images drawn on the walls. The drawings, by Ross Hemera, are inspired by ancient rock art. Fascinating pieces of sculpture and projections also rim the gallery walls and interior.
Ngāi Tahu artists from Aotearoa and around the world have come together to create the exhibition Paemanu: Ka Nohoaka Toi.
Curated by senior Paemanu artists, the exhibition takes the form of a nohoaka, a seasonal site for gathering food and other natural resources. There are 72 nohoaka (or nohoanga) within Te Waipounamu. Rights to the nohoanga are part of the Ngāi Tahu Claim settlement.
Neighbourhood week is here! 27th October to 31st March 2018. Yes, you read that correctly. This year neighbourhood week is extended for the entire summer.
Do you know who your neighbours are? I don’t know mine as well as I should like. Neighbourly relations are important yet I have, for the most part, lived according to the wise words of Robert Frost:
“Good fences make good neighbours.”
I often come home to find my cat peering out from the neighbour’s bedroom window. If he’s living the double life over there, perhaps it’s time I followed suit and got to know them better. The only thing we may share in common is a boundary fence, but chances are they will be lovely, decent and hardworking people.
Thankfully, there are plans and resources to help us all get into the neighbourly spirit this summer. As part of the ongoing effort to help people connect in with their neighbours and strengthen community foundations, a small fund has been allotted by the Christchurch City Council Community Boards to help out with the planning and running of local events. Through this, you can register a neighbourhood event of your own and receive a small grant to go towards a fun event for you local neighbours and community this summer. Look now, an excellent excuse to throw a party! How could you refuse?
You can also check out our website and events calendar – Christchurch City Libraries events are always a great way to meet new people, socialise with your locals and build connections. Things to look out for include:
Photo Hunt 2017: Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way
This year the theme for Photo Hunt is Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way. However, the photos you submit are not limited to this theme. 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.
Papanui Technical School Tramping Club Hike at the Sign of the Kiwi, 1948. Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2008 Photo Hunt.
Papanui Technical College was founded in 1936 and was officially renamed Papanui High School in 1949.
About Kete Christchurch
Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.