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.
Unknown group hang-gliding on Port Hills. We were passing by and saw them. It was a relatively new sight in Christchurch in 1976.
Photograph by Irene Absalom.
File Reference: HWC08-SO100
Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2008 Photo Hunt.
About Kete Christchurch
Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.
Just over two years ago I started training for roller derby – at about the same time that I started working as a library assistant. I’m still working on the roller derby and in the library.
Roller Derby is an athletic and strategic full-contact sport, played on quad skates with two teams competing against each other or a flat track. Mention it to most people and they think of some sort of chaotic cat-fight and conjure up scenes from the movie Whip it (and just to clarify a whip is a term for assisting a team-mate – usually a jammer on the track to get past opposing blockers).
New Zealand has more roller derby players per capita than any other country. The library even has books on the subject from the award winning children’s graphic novel, Roller Girl by derby player Victoria Jamieson (the novel that “Whip it” was based on), Derby Girl by Shauna Cross, to practical non-fiction guides like The Roller Derby Athlete, to books to help you to develop mental toughness as an athlete such as Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. As roller derby is a journey of highs and lows these are really invaluable resources.
Roller Girl is a fantastic read for girls who struggle to fit in and discover who they are. It also explores the ups and downs of friendships as interests and priorities change. A visit to Jamieson’s website also leads to a downloadable e-book about the making of “Roller Girl” with helpful info about real-life derby girls. FYI, girls and boys aged 8-14 can also join junior derby in Christchurch.
For an inspirational read about fearless athletes who have had to jump farther, run faster and fight harder to prove themselves in the athletic arena, then look no further than Women in Sports. This is such a motivating read that will hopefully empower lots more athletes.
Win tickets to DED All Stars vs Northland
We’ve been lucky enough to have a double pass for a lucky winner to go and experience a top class derby bout in Christchurch on Saturday 30th September as DED All Stars take on Northland in their only home game of the season. To win, we want to know, what would your derby name be? (Most derby players chose a derby name that they are known by. Sometimes these are puns or reference derby in some way).
What do you get when you cross foxes with football and the ghost of King Richard III?
Well, I’ll tell you. You get Michael Morpurgo’s The Fox and the Ghost King, that’s what. It’s a pretty odd sounding combo, I know, but the result is a really sweet against-the-odds, underdog (or should that be underfox?) story.
It’s a little bit of fairy-tale blended with a little bit of history, and a whole lot of pluck.
I don’t know any foxes personally, but think they have a bit of a bad rap. They are usually portrayed as villains – the Sandy Whiskered Gentleman in Jemima Puddleduck, for example. But they are so darn cute, I’m sure they don’t really deserve it, do they? The fox family in this story are definitely on the cute side, anyway.
What I didn’t know about foxes is that they are football fans. And no matter where they live, their favourite team is Leicester City, otherwise known as The Foxes (naturally). Now, what I didn’t know about foxes is far surpassed by what I didn’t know about football. I know now that Leicester City have long been the underdogs of the Premier League, till in 2015-16 when a little bit of magic turned things around for them. This bit of the story really is true. The other bit of truth in the story is the discovery of Richard III’s body – under a carpark if you recall.
The magical bit is the way that Michael Morpurgo weaves these threads together, telling the tale through the eyes of a cute and cheeky little fox cub. Odd combo it may be, but it definitely makes a fabulous read for a small person.
At first glance there seems nothing remarkable about the swampy scrubland which lies in the shadow of Mount Harper on the northern banks of the Rangitata River. Separated from the valley road by the braided course of the river, it is easily bypassed by tourists, as they journey further inland to visit Mount Sunday, the filming location for Edoras in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is only when you closely examine the area using Google Maps satellite imaging that you notice an unusual circular patch of land. Long since overgrown, it shows signs of having been altered by human activity at some stage in its past.
A physical journey to the site, itself a difficult undertaking unless you are in possession of a boat or a 4WD, would offer more clues. There you would find the ruined remains of concrete culverts, causeways, bund walls, machinery, and buildings. These are the only reminders of a facility which, at one point, attracted up to 3,000 people in a single day; the Mount Harper ice rink.
Even at the beginning of the twentieth century, ice skating was already a well established pursuit for those who lived on the remote back country stations in the foothills of the Canterbury mountains. For early settlers in the nineteenth century, the winter months could be bleak and gloomy. One of the means of passing the time for those residing in the high country was ice skating. Newcomers to the region were told of lakes set further inland, which froze so hard during winter that a team of bullocks could be lead across the surface. Lake Ida, near Lake Coleridge, was one such popular destination for the sport.
In the 1860s, the owner of the Lake Coleridge run, Charles Harper, used to organise week long skating parties in which people from surrounding stations would be invited to participate. Each day the group would meet at his station and ride out to the Lake Ida, where they would enjoy a day of skating. In her account, Station Life in New Zealand, Mary Anne Barker, describes the setting of one such outing:
“On either hand rose up, shear from the water’s edge, a great, barren, shingly mountain; before us loomed a dark pine forest, whose black shadows crept up until they merged in the deep crevasses and fissures of the Snowy Range.”
Weekends in the mountains
Prior to the construction of the Mount Harper rink in 1931 and 1932, ice skating in Canterbury had largely been confined either to these high country residents (some of whom made their own private rinks), or members of winter sports clubs (in 1930 the Canterbury Winter Sports Club began construction of an ice skating rink and toboggan run on Mount Cheeseman at the foot of the Craigieburn Range).
Although it was a pastime which couldn’t be so easily undertaken by the average citizen of Christchurch, it was still popular enough for a local industry to arise. By 1934 Ice skates were being manufactured locally at the firm of P. and D. Duncan who used boots made in Christchurch by Duckworth, Turner and Company Limited. It was in this same year that a synthetic ice skating rink opened in Christchurch on Kilmore Street opposite the Caledonian Hall (it is possible that it was not feasible to operate, as by 1936 it appears to have become a roller skating rink).
That outdoor skating was a popular activity for the people of Christchurch can be seen by a 1937 article in The Press which estimated that up to 600 people left the city every winter weekend to find suitable locations for skating.
The Mount Harper ice rink
The Mount Harper rink was constructed by Wyndham Barker (1886-1958). The son of a Rangitata farmer, he developed a passion for ice skating while living abroad in Europe. Upon returning to Canterbury, it seems he had a desire to raise the profile of the sport in New Zealand. His rink would differ from other rinks in that it was the first purpose built public ice skating rink in Canterbury, and possibly the southern hemisphere.
The rink was set on land leased from Mount Possession Station, in a cold location which remained without sun between the months of May to August. After the first rink failed to prove satisfactory, another was constructed. The number of rinks expanded until there were at least eight (though not all were successful at forming ice). Buses would bring visitors all the way from Christchurch, and after crossing the Rangitata River on a punt, they would initially take in their surroundings from the warmth of the ‘skate shed’ (in reality more of a clubhouse and cafeteria) before venturing out onto the ice. There they could enjoy not only skating but tobogganing, curling, and ice yachting. Floodlights were also installed for those who were willing to brave the chill and skate at night.
Perhaps the most significant sport performed at the rink was ice hockey. In 1937 Barker established the Erewhon Cup, an ice hockey tournament which continues to this day.
The Mount Harper rink continued to provide the people of Canterbury with an array of winter sport activities until it was finally closed to the public in the 1950s. Left to fall into ruin, it is now located within the Hakatere Conservation Park and administered by the Department of Conservation.
Skating in the city
Despite the closure of the Mount Harper rink, the ice would soon come to Christchurch. When Victoria Lake in Hagley Park froze in 1945, it was followed by calls for a permanent artificial ice skating rink to be established in the city. In 1952 Centaurus ice rink opened at what is now 12 Centaurus Road, Cashmere. The rink operated until 1982 when it closed and was demolished. The location of the former rink became the site of Torvill and Dean Lane, which was named after British skaters, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, who won a gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics for ice dancing.
In 1985 the Alpine Ice rink opened on Brougham Street. Today, the venue is the home of the ice hockey team, the Canterbury Red Devils (formed in 2005).
Do you have any images of ice skating in Canterbury or of the former ice skating rinks which you would like to contribute to Kete Christchurch?