Reading many lives

With regards to the quote above, if one were of a sardonic frame of mind one might point out that at the rate at which Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin kills off his characters a thousand lives might be an understatement. Nevertheless the basic premise stands. Reading allows anyone the chance to “inhabit” a great many people and characters.

This is never more true than when you’re reading a book of short stories. Though you may become attached to a character, the next protagonist is probably only a few page turns away. Sometimes this is a relief. Sometimes it leaves you wanting more.

Recently I’ve found myself reading books that work with the theme of many lives but in very different ways.

Cover of deleted scenes for lovers by Tracey SlaughterDeleted scenes for lovers by Tracey Slaughter. I think her surname is appropriate because she killed parts of my soul with this book (in a good way). Her short stories are set in New Zealand, but a rather grimy, rundown one. The stories, with exception of the last one which is a novella, are short and sometimes brutal vignettes from the lives of damaged and lost people. You’ll want to set aside time between each one. This is not a book to rush through. The writing is incisive and brilliant and made me feel a lot of things, some of them against my will.

Cover of Meet cuteMeet cute is rather anodyne by comparison. It’s a collection of young adult short stories, all by different writers and all featuring the “how they met” story of two characters. As with any collection like this some authors and characters resonate more than others, and while the bulk of the stories have a contemporary romance kind of vibe there are a couple of sci-fi/fantasy genre tales too. Most, though not all, of the stories are about straight couples – one of the unexpected joys of the book is that you don’t know when you’re introduced to the main character whether their story will be a boy-meets-girl or a girl-meets-girl one – I found it was fun to try and guess in the first page or so.

He rau mahara: To remember the journey of our Ngāi Tahu soldiers: From the pā to the battlefields of the Great War is completely different again – a nonfiction title produced by Ngāi Tahu’s whakapapa unit about the iwi’s First World War soldiers. It’s a beautifully put together book, filled with photographs of soldiers with names you might recognise – Nortons, Pōhios and Skerretts. Nearly two thirds of the book is dedicated to a profile of every Ngāi Tahu soldier who took part in the Great War, with the first part of the book featuring a sample of stories of soldiers, war, and their families. A gorgeous and poignant memorial to South Island soldiers and their whānau, and the lives they lived.

What really happened on the Channel Islands during WWII?

I never wanted to read  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I’m not a fan of books based on letters – I find it hard to gain an interest in the characters.  I did however see the movie. I quite liked it, (especially the clothes, but that probably isn’t really the basis for a good movie)  However, what it did do was pique my interest in a part of World War II that I knew nothing about.

CoverCover

The library has recently purchased a title that was originally published in 1995,  The Model Occupation: The Channel Islands under German rule 1940-1945 by Madeleine Bunting. This is a fascinating story of what actually happened and the author looks at a variety of previously unanswered questions. Why wasn’t there a resistance movement against the German occupation, how did Britain manage and cope with the occupation, and what of the Islanders themselves – were the stories true of collaboration, or was it just a means of survival. Was this all a dirty secret that Britain didn’t want the rest of the world to know about, and what has been the impact on these Islands and their inhabitants?

Although I wasn’t a fan of either the book or the movie, they did create a curiosity and interest in the occupation and the toll it took on the Islands’ inhabitants.  I recommend this book if, like me you knew nothing about this time in history.

 

Women of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAFs) on parade at Harewood Air Force Station, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

Women of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAFs) on parade at Harewood Air Force Station, Christchurch [1941]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0095.
On 31 May 1941, forty-one women started in their positions as members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) at Harewood Air Force Station. At the commencement of their duties, it was expected that they would soon be joined by further recruits, bringing the total number of WAAF members serving at Harewood to one hundred and fifty, with another two hundred expected for the station at Wigram.

Do you have any photographs of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in Christchurch or of the Harewood Air Force Station? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

A section of Armagh Street, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

A section of Armagh Street, Christchurch [1899 or 1900]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 7, IMG0024.
Horses were volunteered by the public for use by the New Zealand Rough Riders in the South African War (1899-1902). Here sixty of them are seen being officially inspected outside the Rink Stables of W. Hayward & Co. at 199 Armagh Street. Fourteen of them passed all tests and were taken to camp that night. Fodder was supplied by George Treleaven & Co., produce merchants, of 193 Armagh Street and shipped to South Africa for the horses.

Do you have any photographs of Canterbury’s involvement in the South African War? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Auē! Me tangi noa ahau ki muri nei

My grandfather’s brother never came back from World War One. He’s buried in Armentières, France. My grandmother’s brother lost his leg, so the family farm in Southland had to be sold – he couldn’t take up his inheritance. My great aunt’s fiancé returned a shell-shocked alcoholic – PTSD, they’d call it these days. They parted and she never married.

In the retellings of the larger stories of war it is often these vignettes of personal loss, the consequences felt by loved ones, that speak quietly but with a universal relatability.

I found myself thinking of those members of my family, and the war that changed their lives, when listening to the beautiful lament E Pari Rā.

Written by Paraire Tomoana (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Te Whatu-i-āpiti leader) for his relative, kuia Maku-i-te-Rangi Ellison, E Pari Rā gives a lasting voice to her pain and grief over the loss of her son Whakatomo Ellison, who died in the battle of the Somme. Its beautiful metaphor for grief as the surging tide is both deeply personal, and universal.

E pari rā

E pari rā e ngā tai ki te ākau. / The tides surge onto the seashore
E hotu rā ko taku manawa. / with each throb of my heart.
Auē! Me tangi noa / Alas! Weeping without restraint
Ahau i muri nei / for I am left behind, 
Te iwi e he ngākau tangi noa. / everyone is utterly heart-broken.

Tēnā rā! Tahuri mai! / So please come back, return
E te tau! te aroha. / my beloved, my love
Tēnei rā ahau te tangi nei. / I weep here
Mōhou kua wehea nei. / for you now far away
Haere rā! mahara mai. / Farewell! And remember, 
E te tau! kia mau ki au. / Beloved! Be true to me
Haere rā! ka tūturu ahau. / Farewell! I will be true to you
Haere Rā! / Farewell!

Haere rā e tama / Farewell young man
Haere rā. / Farewell.
Haria rā te aroha i ahau / Take my love with you
Auē! Me tangi noa / Alas! Tears fall
Ahau ki muri nei / as I am left behind here
Te iwi e he ngākau tangi noa. / the hearts of your people weep openly

Find out more

Start your research with Credo Reference

The thought of starting research can be daunting, so a great starting place is a hidden gem of an eResource  – Credo Reference.

Credo Reference is a collection of over 800 reference eBooks with full text articles, images, and videos covering a huge variety of information –  for all ages.

To show you how it works, I have started by searching Anzac Day.

Top result is from the eBook Holiday Symbols and Customs.
This title covers the origins of the day, and symbols and customs such as Dawn Service, Anzac Day parades, and the Australian gambling game Two-up.

From the results page, Credo offers you a Mind Map tool so you can search other related topics on Credo. Below is the example Mind Map of Anzac Day. You can then find information on certain battles, Gallipoli, and other remembrance days. List of sources will be on the right side of the page if you want to read more about any of the mind map headings.

Credo is a great place to start your research, it is easy to use and using tools like Mind Map it can take your quest for information in a different directions.

Across the wartime waves: Message in a bottle

Though hills and waters divide us,

And you I cannot see.

Remember that the writer thinks

The nicest things of thee.

The ship Tahiti in Wellington Harbour, ca 1914-1918 Reference Number: 1/2-014597-G

So read the message placed in a bottle by four Christchurch lads off on, what many had thought, would be a great adventure.

Dated 21 October 1914 the bottle with the message had been tossed overboard from the troopship H.M.N.Z.T. No. 4. Tahiti possibly while it was docked at Hobart, Tasmania, or maybe during the ship’s voyage west to Albany, Western Australia from where it departed in November 1914 bound for Egypt.

The bottle washed ashore in Portland, Victoria, where it was found on 2 January 1915 by a Mr J. Rae on a beach between Cape Grant and Cape Nelson.

By this time the four soldiers of the 1st (Canterbury) Regiment A Company, who had signed the message, George Lindsay, H Townsend, Sydney Rowe and R. Fitchett were on the other side of the world and about to enter a war which two of them would not survive.

Private G.L. Lindsay. Canterbury Times, 23 June 1915.

George Lindsay was born in Avonside. He’d been involved in farming at Rangiora but prior to going overseas he had a touring car which he ran as a taxi. He enlisted in August 1914 and by October was on his way to Egypt. George was killed in action on 8 May 1915 in the Dardanelles.

He had been a member of the Linwood Congregational Church and after his death the Reverend H.A Job recalled George as being “of a quiet and inoffensive nature, and not what is commonly the fighting type”.

Private A.V. Fitchett. Canterbury Times, 7 July 1915.

Victor Fitchett was an English immigrant who lived in Sumner, working for Gibbs Bros. It wasn’t clear when he had arrived in Christchurch but news articles indicate it was around 8 years before the war.

He was a keen sportsman involved with the Sumner Football Club, and also the Fire Brigade. Victor also served and died in the Dardanelles – his body was never found but a board of enquiry deemed he had been killed on, or about, 7th August 1915.

Private H.S. Rowe. Canterbury Times, 23 June 1915

Henry Sydney Rowe lived in Redcliffs. On the electoral roll he was recorded as a plumber but on his enlistment forms he’d been recorded as a motor driver at Sumner Garage. He had married Janey Daly in September 1914.  Henry also served in the Dardanelles, where he was wounded and then returned to NZ aboard the Maheno in December 1915, after which he was medically discharged.

After the war he and Janey continued to live in the Sumner /Redcliffs area. Henry died in 1966.

Joseph Henry Townshend. Online Cenotaph, Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Joseph Henry “Harry” Townshend (Townsend) had been born in Mataura but moved to Christchurch with his family when he was 15, living in Spreydon. He’d worked as a draper at Strange and Co. before enlisting. He was injured at Gallipoli in August 1915, evacuated home, and sent to convalesce at the Trentham Hospital.

After the war he remained in Wellington, marrying Emily and working as a splint-maker – a skill he learnt as part of the vocational training course he undertook while convalescing – at Trentham and then Wellington Hospitals. Harry died in 1964.

George and Victor are among the many men and women who have been remembered on war memorials in Christchurch, and whose biographies have been shared on Kete Christchurch.

To commemorate WW100 Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre are exhibiting a display of stories of the men who enlisted from the Sumner area, and at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre you can see the stories of Halswell men who enlisted.

Follow our tweets from @100chch to discover life and events 100 years ago in Christchurch and Canterbury.

Competition: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

Charming. Quirky. Nostalgic.

All words that have been used to describe Mary Ann Shaffer’s bestselling novel, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. The historical WWII novel that Shaffer (a former librarian) wrote when her plans for a biography of Robert Falcon Scott’s widow, Kathleen Scott fell through, “Guernsey” was extremely popular when it was published ten years ago. An epistolary novel (one that is told through letters or other documents), it tells the tale of Guernsey island-life during German occupation and is filled with engaging characters. It’s very much a book for booklovers, capturing, as it does, the transformative magic of reading.

And now it’s a movie. Opening in New Zealand on 25 April, “Guernsey” the movie will be a must-see for fans of the book but also for those wishing Downton Abbey was still a going concern, with no less than four former Abbey-ers in the cast, including lead, Lily James.

Lily James as writer Juliet Ashton in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society movie. Image supplied.

If you’d like to read (or re-read) the book as well as see the movie we’ve got the competition for you! For your chance to win one of five double passes to the film and a paperback copy of The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society answer our question about epistolary novels and enter your details in the entry form. Entries close 29 April and are open to Christchurch City Libraries members and winners will be announced on Monday 30 April.

Many thanks to StudioCanal for supplying the prize for this competition.

Anzac Day in Christchurch – Wednesday 25 April 2018

Anzac Day will be commemorated on Wednesday 25 April. All our libraries will be closed on this public holiday. Read our page on Anzac Day and Gallipoli to find out more about this commemoration.

Anzac Day Memorial Service, Little River 25 April 1917. Kete Christchurch, Shuttleworth Collection. CCL-Kete-986

Anzac Day services

The following information is from Christchurch City Council:

Dawn Parade and Anzac Service

The dawn parade and Anzac service will be held in Cranmer Square. The parade marches from the RSA building on Armagh Street.

  • 6am to 6.15am: People gather
  • 6.15am: Parade begins from RSA 
  • 6.30am: Service begins centred around the Memorial Cenotaph in Cranmer Square
  • 7.15am: Service concludes with wreath laying, as  Mayor Lianne Dalziel lays a wreath on behalf of the citizens of Christchurch.

This event is organised by the Canterbury Branch of the Malayan Veterans Association in conjunction with the Christchurch Branch of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA) and Christchurch City Council. 

Christchurch Citizens’ Service

The Anzac service for Christchurch citizens will be held at the Transitional Cathedral, Latimer Square starting at 10am.
Organised by Christchurch City Council in conjunction with ChristChurch Cathedral and the RSA.

Anzac Day service at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Come and join in honouring the service and sacrifice of thousands of New Zealanders who have served with the Air Force at their annual Anzac Day commemorative service. The service will commence at 12pm midday on Wednesday 25 April 2018, in the Museum’s Atrium.

More Anzac Day services in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula

View the Christchurch Anzac Day service list [PDF]

Exhibitions, displays, and events

Halswell

Halswell Heroes Exhibition (on until 6 May)
Staff from Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre, Upper Riccarton, and Spreydon libraries share their research from the war stories of men who enlisted from the Halswell area.

Sumner

Sumner Boys Exhibition (26 April to 25 May)
A collaborative display of research on the war stories of men who enlisted from the Sumner area. Stories and photos are included of soldiers on the roll of honour located on the wall outside Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre.

Christchurch Field of Remembrance – Cranmer Square

Final salute for Field of Remembrance Newsline

The Christchurch Field of Remembrance was established in 2015 for Anzac Day, with 632 named crosses commemorating Cantabrians who died in World War I in 1915. Each year more crosses have been added to represent the fatalities from that year – 825 crosses were added in 2016 representing those who died in 1916, 1406 crosses were added in 2017 for those who died in 1917. The final 1528 crosses – representing those who died in 1918 – were added on Saturday 14 April 2018. There are 4391 crosses.

Canterbury and World War One: Lives Lost, Lives Changed – Canterbury Museum

Find out more by visiting the Canterbury and World War One: Lives Lost, Lives Changed exhibition at Canterbury Museum.

WW100Find out more

Foundation stone laid for a memorial on Anzac Day

After the ‘Great War’ ended, there were many competing ideas for a permanent war memorial in Christchurch. Options discussed were varied and included a museum, a monument, a new tram shelter in Cathedral Square or a hospital ward. Vigorous debate around the suitability of the options often played out in The Press in letters to the Editor.

One very popular suggestion that came to fruition was initially offered by Lilian May Wyn Irwin in a letter to the Editor of the Press on 24 July 1919. This was to retain the arches that were created for the Peace celebrations held the previous week and combine these with a memorial bridge at the site of the Cashel Street Bridge. This was an appropriate location as all Canterbury soldiers would have crossed this bridge as they were coming and going from the King Edward Barracks.

A War Memorial Committee was created and after much campaigning and fundraising, the foundation stone for the Bridge of Remembrance was laid on Anzac day in 1923.The days’ proceedings followed a formal order of ceremony with the Governor General Viscount Jellicoe laying the foundation stone and addressing the crowd.

The Bridge of Remembrance took just over one and a half years to complete, officially opening on Armistice Day, 11 November 1924, and is the only memorial arch on a bridge in New Zealand.

Lord Jellicoe addresses those in attendance, foundation stone ceremony, Bridge of Remembrance
[25 Apr. 1923] CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0014

Upcoming First World War exhibitions

Halswell Heroes Exhibition Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre

9 April to 6 May
Staff from Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre, Upper Riccarton, and Spreydon libraries share their research from the war stories
of men who enlisted from the Halswell area. Ready either to live or die valiantly, these are the stories not only of the men who died during the war, but those that came
home to live, their stories just as valiant as the men who never made it home.

Sumner Boys Exhibition Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

25 April to 25 May
A collaborative display of research on the war stories of men who enlisted from the Sumner area. Stories and photos are included of soldiers on the roll of honour located on the
wall outside Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre.

More about the Bridge of Remembrance