Photography students from the School of Fine Arts are photographing the people and the physical environment of Bishopdale from March through to August this year with the goal of building an archive of contemporary documentary images.
The photographers are: Thomas Herman; Robert Earl; Liam Lyons; Elise Williams; Janneth Gil; Lucas Perelini.
If you or your group would like to be photographed for this project, please contact the library on 941 7923 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you were out taking an evening stroll along the streets of north central Christchurch in March 1894 then there is a good chance that you may have seen a ghost.
For that is what a young man named Cunningham initially thought that he had encountered on the night of March 9.
At 11pm Constable Isherwood was performing his evening rounds north of Cathedral Square. Being a Friday, the policeman was no doubt anticipating a night of drunken brawls and other misdemeanours. Yet when he was approached by a panic stricken Cunningham he could not have imagined that the young man would tell him such a bizarre tale.
Shortly before, Cunningham had learned from some children that something frightening was lurking in the grounds of St Matthew’s Church. As he approached the church, a figure clothed in white had suddenly leapt over the fence. At first the figure had proceeded to leap up the street towards a group of people. Then, to Cunningham’s dismay, it turned and bore down on him. His courage failing him, Cunningham did not stay to confront the figure but instead ran in the direction of Cathedral Square.
After telling Isherwood, he was directed by the policeman to give a statement at the nearest station. At first the police may have been sceptical of his claims. Only a week earlier there had been reports of women and children in Opawa being frightened by what they had believed was a ghost but which the local police insisted was simply a case of a girl in a white apron being misidentified. Yet as the police were soon to learn, Cunningham was not the only person to have encountered the strange figure that evening.
Earlier, at 9pm, two women had been returning home from a visit to Papanui. Making their way towards the provincial buildings on Durham Street, they had been startled by the appearance of a figure in white. When the figure started to follow them they ran screaming towards Gloucester Street Bridge. There the figure overtook them and blocked their path before escaping into the grounds of the provincial buildings.
An hour later, a number of distressed children residing in Victoria Street had told their mothers that they had seen a ghost. Although these reports were initially dismissed, their mothers were surprised to later learn that there had been some truth to their children’s stories.
The police step in as attacks increase
The matter soon caught the attention of Inspector Thomas Broham. Recognising that someone was purposefully making an effort to disturb the peace, he ordered his men to apprehend the individual.
The next recorded sighting occurred on March 12. At 8pm two girls, Lizzie Smith and Bella Leith, were sent to deliver a message. As they passed a side street on Papanui Road the figure, now known as “the ghost”, jumped out at them.
On the following evening, at 11pm, Alfred James DeMaus, a machinist who lived on Montreal Street, was walking with several women near the vicinity of today’s Knox Church. DeMaus was already aware of the supposed ghost and after one of the ladies caught sight of a white cloth beneath a nearby tree, he went over to investigate. There he found two young men hiding. DeMaus reprimanded them for their behaviour and in response one of them struck him on the head, knocking him to the ground. His attackers quickly ran off when the women came to his aid.
The confrontation with DeMaus did not deter the perpetrator, as the next evening the ghost struck again.
This time the victim was Albert Bellamin, a compositor who lived on Armagh Street. That night, as he walked home, his route took him past a paddock on the corner of Armagh and Madras streets. Nearing the paddock, he saw a figure dressed in white tights and wearing a mask illuminated by phosphorous (a chemical which glows when exposed to oxygen) which, was behaving erratically. Unsettled by the sight, Bellamin crossed the street. The figure, however, leapt out at him and proceed to dance around him in an attempt to prevent him from going on his way. Bellamin tried to force the figure aside but as he did so it grabbed him by the arm and kicked him into a gorse fence. By the time Bellamin had pulled himself out of the hedge the strange figure had vanished.
Hysteria grips the city
The threatening behaviour of the ghost worried Inspector Broham. People were afraid to go out for evening walks. Reports of the attacks were printed in The Press, and with each repetition the stories became ever more fanciful. The ghost was credited with the ability to make unnatural leaps and was said to have been seen in various locations at once. Some of these sightings, which ranged from Opawa to Addington, could no doubt be attributed to nervous people assuming that any figure they saw at night who happened to be wearing an item of white clothing was the ghost.
Another location for sightings of the ghost was Hagley Park. There its victims were often nursemaids and unattended ladies. A pair of lovers, who had met in the park, were also subjected to a terrifying experience. While they had been sitting on a bench the ghost had crept up behind them and thrust its face, with its fiery eyes, between theirs.
The pretence of apprehending the ghost was even used by some citizens to commit crime. On March 17, after going home with Annie Davis, Andrew Galletly found that his money was missing. Upon leaving her house, he encountered a man who told him that he was a detective hunting for the ghost. The supposed detective warned him not to lay a complaint against Annie and took Galletly drinking at a hotel on Cashel Street. It was later discovered that the “detective” was a local rogue, John Carey Dudfield, who worked with Annie Davis to commit crime.
By the beginning of April the hunt was for the ghost was still continuing, as Inspector Broham had issued orders for his officers to collect legitimate claims of sightings in order to differentiate them from the embellished tales.
After a month of suspense the reports of the ghost suddenly disappeared from the newspapers. People assumed that the police had made an arrest but were puzzled as to why it had not been announced. Then, in a column of the Observer on 28 April 1894, it was revealed the reason for the sudden silence. As well as being the son of a well-known local doctor, the culprit was also a mental patient who had escaped from his carers. The fiery eyes which had given him a supernatural appearance were attributed to the use of rings made out of phosphorous material.
We may never know the identity of the perpetrator. It is possible that he was committed to Sunnyside Asylum to prevent any further escapes. Although a few similar ghost scare cases appeared in other South Island towns in the months that followed, the disturbance was not repeated in Christchurch by any imitators. With months of dark winter evenings on the approach, this must have brought relief to both Inspector Broham and the people of Christchurch.
It’s all go portside at the moment, as we at Lyttelton Library watch the repairs proceeding apace from our temporary perch up the hill in the Recreation Centre’s Trinity Hall on Winchester Street. The in-progress library now has a dashing white coat of paint (goodbye pink!), lovely new double-glazed windows, and a smart new resident outside…
This gorgeous bronze sled dog, nicknamed Hector, was sculpted by Mark Whyte and stands guard by what will be our new customer entrance. He’s looking towards Quail Island, where his real-life predecessors were housed and trained. Hector is there to recognise and celebrate Lyttelton’s contribution to exploration in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and he symbolises the courage, commitment and comradeship of all those involved. (He’s also a hit with local kids and tourists – it seems the thing to do is have your selfie taken with Hector wearing your sunglasses!)
Meanwhile, inside the library, the new spaces are starting to take shape. Here are a few shots of the work in progress:
We’re enjoying our current sojourn in sunny Trinity Hall (particularly with Jenny the giraffe watching over everything) and looking forward to next year, when we’ll be back in the heart of things (and the Saturday market) again!
Today, when you stand at the intersection of Kilmore Street and Park Terrace and look westward across the Avon River you are greeted with the expanse of North Hagley Park. Designated as an arena for special events, the grounds usually remain empty save for the occasional cyclist or runner who might pass by. The only disruption to this tranquil scene is the traffic of Park Terrace.
Yet if you were to have stood in the same location over a hundred years ago, you would have been met by a very different sight. Set before the length of Park Terrace you would have found a gleaming white building styled in the manner of the French Renaissance with towers topped by golden cupolas. From across the river there would have drifted a mixture of noise; music, children shouting, camels growling and even the sounds of an American Civil War battle.
Opening on 1 November 1906, the exhibition was an opportunity for the Liberal Government, led by Premier Richard Seddon, to proclaim to the world the technological and social achievements that had been developed in New Zealand. By the time the exhibition closed on 15 April 1907 up to two million people had visited, almost twice the population of the entire country.
Welcome to the Exhibition
In a city devoid of high rise buildings, the towers of the exhibition could be seen from across Christchurch, drawing people to its main gate at the end of Kilmore Street. After paying for a ticket and passing beneath a sign which proclaimed “Haere Mai”, visitors would cross a bridge spanning the Avon River. There they would find themselves standing amid carefully planned lawn gardens where they would decide whether to venture into the impressive building before them, or, perhaps if they were accompanied by children, to proceed to the various forms of entertainment that were to be found in the surrounding grounds.
If the grand Italianate façade proved too alluring, then visitors could ascend the front steps to discover what lay within. There, in the foyer, they could ride an electric elevator to the balcony of the southern tower where they were presented with a view of the city. Proceeding through to the Grand Hall, with its domed ceiling set at a height of 90 feet, visitors would enter the main exhibition hall. Here they would find the multitude of exhibits to which the building was dedicated.
The world in Hagley Park
In the machinery hall they could find examples of industrial progress ranging from motor vehicles to ice making machines. The Railway Department exhibit even housed a locomotive engine which had recently been built at the workshops in Addington. In the Department of Tourists and Health Resorts Court, visitors could explore a recreated Rotorua complete with a working geyser, a hot pool and children who would dive for pennies.
The courts dedicated to other imperial colonies allowed visitors to look upon minerals from Canada or purchase table grapes from Australia. In the Art Gallery they could view an extensive collection of British art or find the inspiration to participate in the Arts and Crafts movement. For those whose interest lay in native flora there was the fernery, a circular room with a green tinted glass ceiling where visitors could stroll amidst eighty different species of New Zealand ferns accompanied by waterfalls and pools of trout.
At the concert hall visitors could listen to performances by an orchestra under the direction of conductor Alfred Francis Hill, while moving pictures, a new form of entertainment, could be viewed in the neighbouring Castle Theatre.
Wonderland on Victoria Lake
Despite the exhibition’s emphasis on trade, industry and social development, the draw card for many visitors was not the exhibits but the amusements that were to be found in the grounds outside the main building. Scattered around the southern and eastern shores of Lake Victoria was a range of side shows and rides collectively called Wonderland.
The rides included the water chute, a toboggan course, a train designed to look like a dragon, the helter-skelter, a merry-go-round and a gondola which travelled on a pulley rope system. Entering The Pike, visitors were treated to a variety of amusements from penny in the slot machines, the House of Trouble maze, the Rocky Road to Dublin, the Laughing Gallery, to Professor Renno and his Palace of Illusions.
If the visitors were prepared to brave the smell which emanated from a fenced off section of Lake Victoria then there was the opportunity to see seals and penguins which had been imported from Macquarie Island.
Intriguing buildings and structures
One of the largest freestanding buildings constructed for the exhibition, and perhaps the most intriguing, was the Cyclorama. Circular in shape, it featured a 360 degree panoramic painting of the Battle of Gettysburg. Patrons would stand on a display, designed to look like a Civil War battlefield, set in the middle of the room, where they would listen to lectures on the history of the battle, accompanied by visual and sound effects.
Another structure of note was the replica pā, Te Āraiteuru, at the north-western end of Lake Victoria. Surrounded by a palisade, the pā consisted of a wharenui named Ōhinemutu, twenty whare puni, a set of pātaka and a tohunga’s whare. The idea was to convey to visitors a romantic recreation of a ‘lost’ Māori past. Performers were encouraged to wear ‘authentic’ Māori clothing and to cook their food over open fires. In addition to Māori, there were also performers from Fiji (who put on a display of fire walking), Cook Island Māori, and Niueans.
For all their grandeur the buildings were never intended for permanent use. Their deconstruction commenced following the closure of the exhibition in April 1907. Throughout the year the site of the former exhibition still continued to attract visitors as much of the building material retrieved was either sold as firewood or auctioned for reuse. In another instance, crowds gathered to watch as the towers from which they had once looked out over their city were brought crashing to the ground.
One of the few buildings left intact was a prefabricated two storey workers’ cottage, designed by Samuel Hurst Seager and Cecil Wood to showcase the improvements in living and working conditions for workers that had been made by the Department of Labour. Since it was ready for inhabitation, the cottage was relocated and today it now stands at 52 Longfellow Street.
Elements of Te Āraiteuru also managed to survive. The meeting house is now on display at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, while the carvings, after spending years in storage at Canterbury Museum, were eventually returned to their region of origin, Taranaki. The waharoa or carved gateway now resides at Te Papa Tongarewa.
Although nothing now remains of the former exhibition, the next time you find yourself standing on the shores of Victoria Lake, pause for a moment to imagine the sights you may have encountered had you stood in the same location on a summer’s afternoon in 1906.
“Taken at the Halswell Quarry Dog Park in October 2012 where the dogs were fetching the ball from the water.”
Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008. The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.
It’s hard to believe but C1 Espresso first opened 20 years ago. In that time they’ve treated patrons to more than just coffee and fancy teas – C1 is known as the kind of place where unexpected things happen. An old sewing machine dispenses drinking water, a sliding bookcase acts as an automatic door, curly-fries are delivered by pneumatic tube and so on, and so on.
I spoke to C1’s Sam Crofskey about Let’s take a walk, in part to try and understand why a café would put together a kids’ pop-up book about the Christchurch earthquakes. It’s an unusual fit.
The motivation comes from a very real place, one that a lot of Christchurch people can relate to, of wanting to move on. And like a lot of things in the genre of earthquake recovery, it didn’t happen overnight.
“We’ve taken four years to do this from a desire to get it right – partly because we’re putting our names to it, partly because of the subject matter,” says Crofskey.
Crofskey and C1 were early returners to the Central City, post-quake. They reopened in 2012 and have been much praised as “heroes of the rebuild” but Crofskey admits that this hasn’t always sit comfortably with him as it seemed to imply that everything was okay with them, as he explains, “our home was in the central city – we couldn’t move on”.
An idea was, if you’ll forgive the coffee-related pun, percolating.
Initially Crofskey enlisted artist friend Hannah Beehre to update the C1 menus with artwork of earthquake damaged city buildings. What she made, drawings of before and after, hacked up and rearranged as collage, were great but there was a problem.
“They were too sad and full-on to have them in the café”, says Crofskey.
So Beehre “softened” the images with the addition of brightly coloured diggers and other demolition vehicles. They added words too. A story grew of “someone who is just trying to explain it (the earthquake) to their kids”.
Crofskey has a young family himself and he even refers to the book as “… an ode to my long-suffering wife and two children”.
Getting the tone of the book right was, he admits, a challenge but he’s happy that “it’s fundamentally a kids’ book”, but one that has things to say that only the adults reading will understand. Poignancy. Loss. Cynicism.
For example, the ending is upbeat, looking towards a shining future… but grown-ups may read it in a different, more cynical way.
“The view of the future is really great – it’s the only picture that’s in full colour – a kind of Wizard of Oz sort of thing. But that’s kind of me taking the piss out of the blue-print and stuff like that.”
Even the choices of which buildings to include in the book aren’t without subtext.
“The Cathedral’s not in it – that’s not a mistake”, says Crofskey making reference to the broken ChristChurch Cathedral as a symbol of a lack of earthquake recovery – an inappropriate choice for a book in which the overriding message is one of moving on and looking forward to the future.
“But kids don’t pick up on that stuff,” says Crofskey drawing parallels with family-friendly films, “it’s like a Pixar movie, is what it is”.
And get ready to feel things when you open Let’s take a walk, as Crofskey claims “we haven’t had an adult who hasn’t been really upset by it”.
Curious to know more? The Let’s take a walk book launch is on tomorrow, Wednesday, 24 August 6pm and is a free WORD Christchurch event. All welcome.
If you like trees then Hagley Park probably rates as one of your favourite “Go-To” places, just as it is mine. With 164 hectares to wonder around in, and 5000 trees in Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens there is always something new to see and enjoy, regardless of the weather, and it’s never crowded despite the 1 million plus annual visitors. On a sunny afternoon it can be very restful just to sit and watch the people go past ….
One of the best sights in Canterbury is when the blossom trees on Harper Avenue burst into flower – roll on Spring! The daffodils! Then there’s the Heritage Rose Garden (which I finally found near the hospital) as well as the main rose garden which is a joy to nose and eye alike. And don’t forget the conservatories – they’ve been repaired and re-opened for a while now, so if you haven’t ventured into Cuningham House (or the other four Houses) post-quake, then it really is time to take a wonder through.
With KidsFest and the school holidays upon us, the Botanic Gardens are running a Planet Gnome promotion – the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre will give you a passport and all you need to know to join in.
Botanic D’Lights on 3-7 August for the second year running – I didn’t go last year, and kicked myself for it, because it sounded amazing, and so much fun. The event listingdescribes it as:
this five-night winter spectacle engages NZ’s leading lighting artists, designers and creative thinkers. When darkness falls, you’ll explore an illuminated pathway which turns the Gardens’ vast collection of plants and grand conservatories into a glittering winter wonderland. All to the beat of exciting soundscapes and special performances.
So looking forward to it! Note to self: bring hat, coat, gloves, torch and cash for hot drinks and food as well as the gold coin donation for the Children’s Garden renewal project. See you there!
Are you a Twitcher? Can you tell the difference between a sparrow and a starling? If so, the annual garden bird survey is for you. New Zealand has a number of rare native bird species that are declining in number, but the population of our more common native and introduced birds is not certain.
We have several native species visiting our gardens, including fantail, tui, bellbird, silvereye, grey warbler, and kereru (native pigeon). We also have many introduced species in the garden too. Measuring the population trends our birds is an enormous task, and your help is needed.
The next survey will be held between 25 June and 3 July 2016. During this time, spend one hour noting the feathered friends that visit your garden. You will need to visit the Landcare Research website to download a survey form. If you are like me, and are not to sure what those birds are, either download a poster from Landcare, or borrow one of our bird identification guides.
I usually let flowers run to seed, so I get silvereyes visiting my garden while the fantails tease my geriatric cat. I like the idea of a bird-friendly garden. Do you have birds visit your garden? If you do, you can join in the survey.
On the 10th June 2016 it will be 148 years since eight councillors unanimously elected the first Mayor of Christchurch. There have been 46 Christchurch mayors, but William ‘Cabbage’ Wilson was our first.
‘Oh dear’, I hear you say; what an unfortunate nickname to be saddled with. I couldn’t agree more. Now before your imagination takes flight… the nickname was earned because of a hat made of cabbage tree leaves that he wore. It also served to differentiate him from two other prominent Christchurch William Wilsons – ‘Nabob’ and ‘Parson’.
But I digress. William Wilson had far more to be remembered for than just an unusual nickname, hats made of leaves and what was apparently a fabulous combover. He was a very prominent nurseryman and landowner in the central city as well as being quite active in the community and local politics; which led to him being elected as Christchurch’s first Mayor.
However the higher you rise the further you have to fall. And this is what happened in spectacular style to William Wilson. It all began with his fraud conviction from the sneaky use of land that he was trustee for. Hot on the heels of this scandal, his wife came forward to seek protection from his abuse as she feared for her life. Apparently he didn’t feel that he was in enough hot water so he tried to break into her house for which he was arrested. His fall from grace was complete.
However, in an odd twist he did manage to get re-elected to council 10 years after his stint as Mayor and this caused an uproar among 5 of the sitting councillors who resigned in protest. Well, that won’t make you popular among your peers, will it? Big news at the time and thankfully he managed to perform his duties without further scandal; but his time in the world of politics was drawing to a close.
He did manage to claw back some respectability though for his ability to grow prize worthy vegetables of substantial size. Try to imagine a cauliflower that was over 3 feet in circumference and weighed 11 pounds! That’s nearly 5 kg of cauliflower – pass me the cheese sauce!
So with such a legacy to be remembered for, its little wonder that we don’t exactly celebrate the man and his achievements. Maybe it’s also a great shame that his bad behaviour has so overshadowed the good work that he achieved in his lifetime. Fortunately, we do still have daily reminders of what he did contribute to our city – even if we are unaware of it. Next time you are driving down Wilson’s Road past AMI Stadium spare a thought for our first Mayor as the street you are driving on was named for him. When you next admire the lovely old trees that grace the centre islands of Fitzgerald or Bealey Avenues or maybe the trees on the banks of the Avon River, don’t forget that William Wilson was Subcommittee Chairman for the landscaping of these areas. Finally, something beautiful and lasting to be remembered for.
Matariki – the Māori New Year – will take place on Pipiri 6 June 2016. During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth, Papatūānuku.
Our theme for Matariki 2016 is Akoranga: Teaching and learning – Te Kete Aronui: Third kete of knowledge.
Matariki Community Art Project in the Library
Come along to any library and learn about Te Kete Aronui. Take part in fun, Matariki-themed art and craft activities. Add your work to the community art space or take it home with you.
Matariki Wā Kōrero – Matariki Storytimes
Join us and share stories, rhymes and songs themed around Matariki.
Suitable for tamariki aged 2 to 5 years. Sessions are 30 minutes with an art activity to follow.