Christchurch Photo Hunt 2017 – The winners

Christchurch Photo Hunt poster 2017Plains, 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.

Overall winner

Rehua Marae, 1980. Cynthia Roberts. 

Rehua Marae, 1980
Hui at Rehua Marae. Carolyn with pram, 1980. Rehua Marae by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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.

People

Winner

Group by Lyttelton Harbour, 1948. Doug Bovett.

Group by Lyttelton Harbour
Group by Lyttelton Harbour by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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.

This collection continued the story of a photograph on Kete Christchurch that we published as a post card for this year’s Photo Hunt. Doug’s collection has told more of that story.

People – Highly commended

Making a Yogi Bear Snowman in the evening, 1976. June Hunt.

Making a Yogi Bear Snowman in the evening
Making a Yogi Bear Snowman in the evening by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ

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.

Masons preparing stone for the Memorial Church Tai Tapu
Masons preparing stone for the Memorial Church Tai Tapu by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ license

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

Leader of the band, 1913
Leader of the band by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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 on a motorbike, ca. 1923
Charlotte on a motorbike. by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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.

Places

The images in this category included landscapes, images of Banks Peninsula, interiors and buildings.

Winner

Rugby match at Lancaster Park. 1960. Des Pinn

Rugby Match at Lancaster Park
Rugby Match at Lancaster Park. by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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.

Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Co. Ltd
Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Co.Ltd by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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

Shag Rock, Sumner Beach, 2009
Shag Rock, Sumner Beach, 2009 by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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.

Men's Toiletries Department at Hays.
Men’s Toiletries Department at Hays. by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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.

Totara tree
Totara tree by CCL Photo Hunt is licensed under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ License

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.

Women Rule!

Actually they do now with our new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. So if you want to find out more about role of women in history, then we have two excellent new eResources just for you.

The Women’s Studies Collection

From Bridget Williams Books, we have a collection of New Zealand women’s history and publishing. It has a selection of great titles including

A History of New Zealand Women by Barbara Brookes
A comprehensive history of New Zealand seen through a female lens. Brookes argues that while European men erected the political scaffolding to create a small nation, women created the infrastructure necessary for colonial society to succeed.

The Women’s Suffrage Petition,Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, 1893
In 1893 New Zealand became the first country in the world with universal suffrage: all New Zealand women now had the right to vote. This achievement owed much to an extraordinary document: the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition.This book tells the story of the Women’s Suffrage Petition through the lives of over 150 women who signed; alongside is the narrative of the campaign for women’s suffrage.

Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935–1960  by Charlotte Macdonald
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, a wave of state-sponsored national fitness programmes swept Britain and its former colonies. Following revelations of the Nazi enthusiasm for government-backed sports and the organisation of mass leisure, the programmes quickly foundered. They probably laid, however, the foundations for the twentieth century’s obsession with fitness, a key facet of modern life.


The Women’s Studies Archive

A collection of primary source material that captures the foundation of  women’s movements, struggles and triumphs. This archive has 15 collections ranging from newspaper and periodical collections to conference papers and photographs. Here are some examples of collections:

European Women’s Periodicals
This collection of European women’s periodicals contains publications from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Dutch Indonesia, from 1830-1940. At the time of their original publication the periodicals in this collection informed readers and allowed them to express their views on a wide range of topics, including literature and the arts, women’s suffrage, birth control, education, and homemaking.

Herstory
The Herstory Collection comprises full texts of journals, newspapers, and newsletters tracing the evolution of women’s rights movements in the United States and abroad from 1956 to 1974. The collection includes documents from the National Organization of Women (NOW), Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Women Strike for Peace (WSP), and many other groups.

Women’s Labour League: Conference Reports and Journals, 1906-1977
This collection consists of the conference proceedings, annual reports, and publications from the Women’s Labour League and the Labour Party Women’s Organization. The Women’s Labour League (WLL) was a UK-based feminist-driven organization aimed at increasing women’s involvement in Parliament and other significant political forums.

Bathing beauties at Corsair Bay about 1920: Christchurch Photo Hunt 2017

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.

Bathing beauties at Corsair Bay about 1920. Kete Christchurch. PH13-127. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Bathing beauties at Corsair Bay about 1920. Neck to knee bathing costumes and what looks like a shower cap for a bathing cap. Mother and daughter Alice and Venis with two cousins.

Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries 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.

Tusiata Avia – From poetry to prose

I recently went to a From Poetry to Prose book talk featuring Cover of Wild dogs under my skirtTusiata Avia at the WEA here in Christchurch, as part of their October Writing Workshops.

She talked about how she has gone about making the transition from poet to novelist. Ashamed to admit I wasn’t familiar with her work, I was inspired by her forceful writing combined with a very relaxed attitude to life.

She read from her upcoming first novel and from a poem in Wild Dogs Under My Skirt which have the same characters and the same domestic abusive dynamic. Wonderfully engaging, she performs the characters voices so well that I found myself lost in the story.

Tusiata Avia is Christchurch born, of Samoan descent. An acclaimed performance poet and children’s author, her work has also been published in various literary journals. Her first collection of poetry, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, was published in 2004 then taken to the world as a one-woman poetry show between 2002 and 2008.

Pacific female authors are so lacking in long fiction which makes the wait for her novel that much more anticipated!

Find out more

Bic Runga Drive’s back to Christchurch

Soulful singer-songwriter Bic Runga, born and raised in Christchurch, is coming back to her hometown for a 20th anniversary concert celebrating her first album Drive, on Friday 20 October at Issac Theatre Royal.

20th+Anniversary+of+Drive+tour

She will be playing her much-lauded and loved songs that have stood the test of time such as Sway, Suddenly Strange and Bursting Through, alongside songs since then, included in The Very Best of Bic Runga (released 2017).

Drive

There must be quite a few of us who, in their 20s, would have filtered their relationships and emotional experiences through the lyrics of Bic Runga’s songs when the album was first released, and sang along to Drive, while driving around. Her music has cross-generational appeal and now I don’t know who is the bigger fan, myself or my daughter, but we’ll both be there up front in the majestic theatre to sway to her beautiful and equally majestic voice.


We caught up with Bic for a few quick questions ahead of her concert in Christchurch. She shares her reading interests and formative library memories.

Bic image 5
Bic Runga on tour in Australia, March 2017. Photo credit: Amanda Lee Starkey

Bic, you grew up in Christchurch, in Hornby, and went to Cashmere High School… what special places do you think of fondly here?

My favourite places are the Arts Centre where I did a lot of hanging out as a teenager. Lyttelton and Governors Bay are also really special places to me.

What role did libraries play in your life growing up?

I used to catch the bus to the library in town most Saturdays, and I discovered all the music I love there. I used to get out cassette tapes and that’s where I discovered The Smiths, The Sex Pistols, The Cure, The Cocteau Twins. It was unlike the music my parents played at home, so it was really my own place.

Central Library
Literature Arts & Music: audiovisual issue desk, Ground Floor. 1995. Flickr Arch52-BWN-0036

What type of reading do you enjoy? Any recommendations? What are you looking forward to reading?

I like non-fiction. I like science books and I love books about space! And I like music biographies. I liked Patti Smith‘s Just Kids, and I love Marianne Faithfull‘s autobiography Faithfull. The Phil Collins‘ autobiography Not Dead Yet I’ve heard is really funny, I’ll get to it soon!

JustKidsNot Dead Yet

Are there any special books or stories you remember fondly from your childhood? And what books are your own children enjoying at the moment?

I remember reading the Ramona Quimby series (about 3 sisters) when I could first read a chapter book. And any of the non-fiction Usborne Books for children. Anything by Roald Dahl worked on me as it does my children now.

BeezusandRamonaRamona's worldmatilda2RoaldDahl

My kids are mad about Minecraft, there’s an unofficial Minecraft book they quite liked called the Elementia Chronicles by Sean Fay Wolfe. So if you can’t peel your child away from Minecraft, you could try the book!

Can you recommend any music or artists out of Christchurch who have taken your interest?

At the show at the Isaac Theatre Royal I’ve asked Asti Loren to sing a duet with me, she has such a beautiful voice. I love how self motivated she is, she posts a lot of stuff online and really does everything herself which is such a different world from my generation when you needed record labels and directors and stuff.

If a young person was interested in being a musician today, what advice would you give them?

I’d say just practice a lot, practice slowly and make it your meditation. Everyone wants fame, but it seems no one wants to practice enough!

We asked Bic to share a surprising fact about herself (and it may just be her next creative project) …

I’ve just learned how to draft clothing patterns slowly over the last few years and I’m ready to do a fashion project, maybe using wool. I’m really excited to do something creative that’s not music, but I think the two will work together well.

Finally Bic, you are donating money from every ticket purchased to your Christchurch show to the Māia Health Foundation, who are raising money for projects for Canterbury’s health system. Can you tell us more about that?

I’m proud to be an ambassador for the Māia Health Foundation alongside (fellow Cantabrians) Jake Bailey and Brendon McCullum. It’s still quite a new charity so I’m constantly trying to raise their profile in everything I do. Our main projects right now are a helipad as part of the hospital so the rescue helicopters don’t have to land in Hagley Park 8 minutes away, and more beds for parents in the children’s ward so families can stay together.

 


Bic has won a multitude of awards and worked on many musical projects and collaborations in the twenty years since Drive was released, too numerous to mention here. Most recently, Bic has written a song for a New Zealand children’s annual of stories, poetry, comics, art and other miscellany Annual 2 which has just been published is aimed at 8 to 12 year olds. Her song, Next Thing You Know You’ll Be Happy, is based on the idea that happiness comes from simple pleasures.

Annual 2
Annual 2

 

Take a look inside Annual 2

BicRungasongsheetAnnual2
Bic Runga’s song about simple pleasures, composed especially for Annual 2 (2017)

MORE

Buy Tickets: Friday 20 October, Isaac Theatre Royal
Listen: Bic Runga’s CDs in our catalogue
Browse: Bic Runga’s website
Read: In-depth background on Bic on Audioculture
Watch: Before she was famous, she formed the duo Love Soup with Kelly Horgan as a seventh former at Cashmere High School in Christchurch and they entered the Smokefree Rockquest Canterbury Finals in 1993, earning her first recording contract afterwards (see their performance of Superman Song from the 5 minute point in this video).

 

Stacy Gregg’s latest pony book is close to home: an interview with the author of The Thunderbolt Pony

Stacy Gregg’s latest pony book The Thunderbolt Pony is a children’s novel very close to home, both for Cantabrians and for the author. Set in the aftermath of an earthquake in the real life town of Parnassus, near Kaikoura, the story is about 12 year-old Evie and her determination to save her beloved Arabian pony Gus, her loyal border collie Jock and her aptly named cat Moxy.

Scorpio A4 Poster 2017.jpg

Stacy Gregg portrays strong, independent, fearless girls in her books and here Evie bravely overcomes not only the forces of nature but her anxiety disorder, which she has been suffering since her dad became terminally ill. Evie’s OCD manifests itself in the belief that she if she doesn’t stick to set routines, it will cause bad things to happen, making her the ‘bringer of earthquakes.’ Evie must embark on both a physical and mental journey, in a race against time to get to a rescue boat.

Stacy Gregg has experienced the effects of anxiety disorder firsthand, with her own daughter developing OCD a couple of years ago, and she brings the specificity of what it can be like into the story. In fact, Stacy manages to intertwine quite a lot into this pacy yet reflective story. There’s also Greek mythology in here too with reference to Poseidon, who makes the perfect tie-in as not only the god of the sea but of earthquakes and horses as well.

You don’t have to be a horsey person for this story of adventure and animal friendship to appeal. Gregg’s style of historical fiction applied here will particularly resonate with many middle-school children in New Zealand and those around Canterbury, the Hurunui and Kaikoura will feel especially immersed in the familiar settings. Overriding everything, however, is Stacy’s signature quality storytelling.

Interview with Stacy Gregg

We interviewed Stacy on the release of her latest book – she talks about her research and writing process and about her experiences with anxiety disorder in her family.

StacyGreggCarolynHaslett.jpeg
Children’s author Stacy Gregg. Photo credit: Carolyn Haslett (photo supplied). 

Stacy, what types of research did you do for The Thunderbolt Pony?

As well as reading lots around my subjects, I’ve always travelled for my research. My books have taken me to Arabia and Spain, Italy and Russia and now for The Thunderbolt Pony, Kaikoura and the East Coast of the South Island. It was important to me to travel the route that my heroine will take, the 64-kilometre stretch between Parnassus and Kaikoura. I was hoping the earth might move while I was there, but it didn’t. I had to rely on second-hand accounts of what the earthquakes were like because I’ve only ever been in a minor tiny tremor once here in Auckland.

What did you find in your research of the earthquakes that surprised you?

That they are noisy! You don’t think about the sound an earthquake makes, you think about the feeling of the land moving underneath you. But everybody I spoke to talked first about the noise. The boom that comes beforehand and the sound like a train surging beneath you. Like the rumble of the thunder that comes before the lightning – it gave me the title for the book.

Surviving 7.8My Story Canterbury Earthquake
Read first-hand accounts of the November 2016 Kaikoura earthquakes in Surviving 7.8 and Aftermath. And for a child’s fictionalised point of view, My New Zealand Story Canterbury Earthquake.

Stacy, did you have a real person in mind when you were writing the character of Evie, who has OCD?

Evie’s journey is based very much on my own daughter’s struggles with OCD. When I first had the idea for writing the book I asked Issie what she thought about having a character who suffers from OCD and she was really, really supportive of me writing about it. She felt like it was important to raise awareness of the condition so that kids who are suffering from anxiety disorders realise how common it is and that they aren’t alone. There’s been such an overall increase in anxiety disorders in pre-adolescents, but this is especially true in places like Canterbury and Kaikoura where the kids have been through an earthquake and the ongoing aftershocks. Statistics in a recent study in Christchurch have shown that four out of five kids in the region have some level of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It’s a very real issue.

What did you find in your research about anxiety disorders like OCD that surprised you?

My daughter gets really cross people say stuff like “Oh I totally need to keep the kitchen clean – cos I’m so OCD!” Because that’s not OCD at all – that’s just liking things to be neat! I remember there was a time when the word “schizophrenic” was misused in the same way. Then the mental health community stepped up and reclaimed it and said “hey it’s not okay to talk about schizophrenia as if it means you have a split personality -it’s actually a real condition that people suffer from.” I think the same thing will happen now with OCD.

There are a lot of mistaken preconceptions about OCD being a ‘clean freak’ condition where you have to wash your hands or keep things perfectly tidy. Yes, it can manifest in that way, but it’s just as likely for you to have OCD and have a super-messy bedroom! For many OCD sufferers it’s about wanting to protect people – or animals – you love and make them safe by adhering to rituals and counting. It’s a bit like superstition on steroids. If you have OCD you are compelled to carry out your rituals and you get really anxious and upset if you can’t do them right as you really do believe you are risking harming everyone that you love. You’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. In The Thunderbolt Pony, Evie is fighting her OCD and trying to get a grip on her actual reality, but she’s got a lot to contend with.

How challenging was it to write about a condition in your family? Was this a helpful process for you, to write about it?

It was tough at times to open the wound and examine it – but it’s better than letting it fester I think. Issie and I are both the same like that, we confront stuff head on and she was very honest with me and trusted me to tell the story. OCD is a rough gig. It can totally dominate someone’s life in a very debilitating way. Issie did a lot of really hard work with her clinical psychologist and that work gave her the tools to overcome it. I’m really proud of how open and brave she was, and I’m really grateful to our psychologist Hilary, for the support he gave her. The character of Willard Fox is very much based on him and he gets a big thank you in the dedication.

image_proxyWhat has been the response so far from readers of The Thunderbolt Pony?

I just toured in Australia around schools in Sydney and what amazed me was that the kids there all knew what OCD was and they were very open to talking about anxiety disorders and seemed to really naturally engage with it. I’m just about to begin the South Island tour now – kicking off in Kaikoura – and I admit I am anxious about talking to the kids who have actually experienced the real earthquake. It’s going to be special, going back to the place where the book is set, but it’s also daunting. I hope they like it.

One thing really engaging about your books is the historical fiction aspect, how you use real places, events and real experiences in many of your stories. Why do you choose to write this way?

I think it’s the ex-journalist in me – I love to do solid research and I like to have a true story as a base foundation for my fiction. The Princess and the Foal was the start of that for me – it is the real story of the childhood of Princess Haya of Jordan. Her mother died in a helicopter crash when the Princess was 3 and she became really emotionally withdrawn and shut down after her death. When the princess was 6 her father, King Hussein, gave her an orphan foal to raise and said. “This foal has no mother, just like you. It’s on your shoulders now to be in charge and care for this young life.” This was the turning point for Princess Haya and her whole life story, her incredible success as an Olympic show jumper and as a powerful world influencer, came from that moment. It was so special to me to tell her story and to be given access to the royal palaces and the stables. My love of telling a true story sprang from working on that book.

PrincessandtheFoalTheIslandofLostHorsesTheGirlWhoRodetheWindTheDiamondHorse

You often write your historically-based stories from two points of view but in The Thunderbolt Pony we have just Evie’s viewpoints, one during the rescue adventure and one reflecting on her journey later (both physical and mental journey). Is this your way of using your ‘dual narratives’ device in this story?

That is a really good question in terms of discussing structure and the devices an author uses. I have frequently used dual narratives in previous books – dovetailing two girls with perspectives that are historical and modern-day up against each other. For this story though, there is just one voice, it is Evie’s story and hers alone. However, I didn’t want to write it in a linear fashion – I felt like we needed to see her two journeys – the physical and the mental – intertwined. It gives the book a different pace and that’s why we make time leap back and forth. The skill for a writer I think, is to construct a tricky timeline and make it feel like it makes sense and is effortless so that the reader doesn’t notice!

You’ve said you like to “get rid of the parents in a story” – can you tell us more about that and why?

It’s not just me who likes to get the parents out of the way. Look at Harry Potter. Or Lemony Snicket. Parents are a problem because they like boring stuff like routines and being safe. They are all about healthy meals and bedtimes and they are also on hand to help you when things get rough. If there are no parents you can have big crazy adventures where you must be brave and do everything yourself and there’s no one to stick their oar in and say “hang on a minute this is madness let’s stop and have a proper dinner!” That is why you get rid of the parents – they are too sensible and they ruin your fun and crush the spirit out of the adventure.

You write about strong female characters who are fearless, independent, self-sufficient. Can you tell us more about that?

I’ve always written strong girls as my heroines. Horses make girls powerful. You can’t be a powderpuff. You need to be mentally and physically tough to handle them. And at the same time you need to stay vulnerable and soft, because it’s in those unguarded moments that you create a true bond with a horse. My daughter rides competitively and when we roll up at competitions I’m always impressed at these women turning up driving massive trucks and handling enormous powerful warmbloods. We just don’t think anything of it – we don’t expect men to come and help with any of it. It’s a very feminist sport.

How long did the writing process take for this book?

I write a book a year. I spend about three months researching, three months writing and then another three months with my editor, pushing the manuscript back and forth through various stages beating it into shape. Then the next three months are publicity and touring and preparing to do it all over again. I love every stage of the process, I’m very lucky to do the job that I do.

What’s next? What are you working on at the moment?

My next book is called The Fire Stallion and it’s set in Iceland. As usual, I have the whole thing plotted out already – but I’m not giving away any spoilers yet!

What have you recently enjoying reading and what’s on you ‘to-be-read’ pile?

I have just finished Neil Gaiman’s book on Norse Mythology (OK that’s a big clue for the subject matter of my next book). But I won’t be able to read anything for a while now. I am an all-or-nothing reader and I can’t read other authors when I am in writing mode as I’m a terrible mimic. I have to isolate myself for the next few months and then I will binge read when the new book is finally done. On the bedside table until then are Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, The Dry by Jane Harper, and My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent.

NorseMythologyMagpie MurdersThe DryMy Absolute Darling

Thanks for your time Stacy!

StacyGreggSigning
Stacy Gregg at a book signing. Photo credit: Kelly Bold (photo supplied).

Thank you to HarperCollins.

The Thunderbolt Pony
by Stacy Gregg
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 9780008257019

Life is just better on roller skates

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).

What is less well known is that Christchurch has two roller derby leagues: Dead End Derby Christchurch Rollergirls – whose All Stars team are currently ranked number one in New Zealand and Otautahi Roller Derby League.

Cover of Derby girlNew 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.

Cover of Roller Girl

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).

Email competition@ccc.govt.nz with your derby name and contact details by 5pm, Wednesday 27th September.

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“They would much prefer staying at home and attending to their household duties”: 19 September 1893

124 years ago – on 19 September 1893 – women in New Zealand got the vote.

On the day after, The Press editorial  shows that some of the population felt this was an imposition upon women who would much rather be “staying at home and attending to their household duties”. Yeah right. Kia ora to our founding mothers who fought for the vote, and to all wahine who have carried on fighting ever since.

The colony, however, has now got female franchise, and we must endeavour to make the best of it. Obviously it is now the duty of every woman in New Zealand to get her name placed on the electoral roll. To refuse to do so will be to give the shrieking sisterhood an influence in the elections out of all proportion to their legitimate claims. Here again, we admit, coercion makes its appearance. We believe that a very large number of women do not desire to vote. They shrink from having to go to the polling booths on election days. They would much prefer staying at home and attending to their household duties. But the right of voting has been forced upon them against their wishes. They must now realise that if they refrain from exercising their newly acquired privileges, others will not. The noisy agitators, the advocates of fads, and the “advanced” women generally, will not be so retiring. If then, the womanly women of New Zealand desire to counteract these influences they can only do so in one way. They must take part in the elections. They, too, must study public questions, and seek to make their influence felt. We admit frankly that it is unfair to the great majority of women to force this duty upon them. But it cannot now be helped. They are practically being coerced, in self-defence and in the best interests of the colony, to take this fresh responsibility on their shoulders.

The Press. WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 20, 1893. WOMAN'S FRANCHISE., Press, Volume L, Issue 8592, 20 September 1893
The Press. WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 20, 1893. WOMAN’S FRANCHISE., Press, Volume L, Issue 8592, 20 September 1893
Kate Sheppard Memorial
Kate Sheppard Memorial. Flickr CCL-KateSheppard-2013-03-25-IMG_1866

Suffrage resources

More on votes for women

Madwomen and attics – WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View

It was a dark, but not a stormy, night at the Arts Centre last Wednesday, when four mysterious black-clad ladies entered the room. With flickering candles held aloft, they took their places on the stage for an evening of great hair, literary tropes and another chapter in the ongoing battle between Team Rochester and Team Heathcliff (*).

There was no attempt at cool professionalism, as our panellists to a man woman unashamedly confessed their enduring love for that most passionate of genres, the Gothic novel. And the audience was right there with them – many of us had been present earlier in the evening for an outstanding performance of Jane Eyre by Rebecca Vaughan of Dyad Productions.

Rachael King, Rebecca Vaughan, Karen Healey, and Moata Tamaira

With chair Rachael King guiding the discussion, we heard from an actor, a novelist and a librarian as they each confessed to teenage years spent wafting about in nighties and imagining themselves in the arms of a dark and brooding hero of uncertain temperament. Rebecca Vaughan had of course literally just come from her performance as Jane Eyre, while Karen Healey and Rachael King have both written novels with a strong Gothic flavour themselves (if you have not read Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead, or Rachael King’s Magpie Hall, I beseech you most strongly to do so at once). And our very own Moata Tamaira has never been afraid to profess herself as a fan of all things Gothic.

Rachael King, Rebecca Vaughan, Karen Healey, and Moata Tamaira

The evening’s discussion ranged from the literary – Gothic tropes in literature and film; to the awesomely ridiculous – a slideshow quiz where every answer was Wuthering Heights. We contemplated the various forms of Heathcliff in multiple movie castings (Tom Hardy a clear winner here, although this possibly was rigged by chair Rachael); and slipped sideways into a robust conversation about whether Wide Sargasso Sea had altered anyone’s perceptions of Mr Rochester (is it a true prequel? an early form of fan-fic homage? a completely separate stand-alone story?). I was waiting for someone to mention my own personal fave Jane Eyre “character” Thursday Next, from the Eyre Affair series, but perhaps that’s making things a little too tangled even for this panel and audience.

Rachael King, Rebecca Vaughan, Karen Healey

Finishing with a glorious set of illustrations from pulp fiction novels of the ’60s and ’70s, featuring women with great hair running from Gothic houses (credit to this magnificent blog), we were then sent out into the moonlit surrounds of the oh-so-Gothic Arts Centre, I think each with a new commitment to go back and re-read ALL our favourite Gothic novels. Possibly while dressed in wafty white nighties and floating about on the nearest moor.

Christchurch Arts Centre

(* Of COURSE it’s Team Rochester, all the way)

 

Talking about race – Reni Eddo-Lodge and Victor Rodger: WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View

In an engrossing event at Christchurch Art Gallery, Reni Eddo-Lodge was in conversation with playwright Victor Rodger. She talked us through her thought-provoking debut book Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race. This collection of essays seeks to unpick and challenge white dominant ideology.

Reni Eddo-Lodge and Victor Rodger
Reni Eddo-Lodge and Victor Rodger

The idea for the book grew out of a 2014 blog post in which Reni, a young British journalist of Nigerian heritage, wrote of her “frustration that discussions of race and racism were being led by those not affected by it,” and that when she tried to talk about these issues was told that there wasn’t actually a problem or accused her of being angry. The irony of marking this line in the sand was that suddenly lots of people wanted to listen to Reni’s point of view – including a full (mostly white) art gallery auditorium.

There are a number of themes in the book. One is history, and Reni is keen for black Britons to write themselves back into history. The British connection to slavery and to Africa is deep. I studied economic and social history 1750-1875 at A-level and slavery and colonialism was barely mentioned. I find this appalling because:

  • a) hello – where was the cotton for the cotton mills coming from?
  • and b) it has taken me until the last week or two to realise this.

It is this kind of oversight that Reni is trying to point out.

Reni Eddo-Lodge
Reni Eddo-Lodge

Whiteness isn’t the default. Whiteness isn’t neutral. There are other ways of doing things; there are other points of view. Which is actually quite liberating if you think about.

Reni was assured and matter of fact, and very easy to listen to. Another topic she highlights is feminism. What is the point of feminism that is only for white women and doesn’t have a space for black women and others? Issues don’t happen in isolation, and overlap and intersect all the time.

This truly was a session to make you think about and observe how you experience the world, to make you want to explore further by reading her book, and to shift your point of view.

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