No doubt like many of you, I grew up learning French at school. For seven years I practiced saying helpful phrases like Ouvre la fenêtre; and Il y a un autobus. I must have enjoyed it, because I then chose to study French at university. As a consequence, decades later, I can fake the BEST French accent, order coffee authentically, and pronounce the word croissant like a pro.
My early exposure to French language and culture has also, however, left me with an enduring love for all things Gallic. So Akaroa’s biennial French Fest – happening this year from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th October – is a celebration I would very dearly love to attend. Malheureusement, I will be away that weekend, so I will be relying on all of you to do your best to pop over the hill and join in the celebrations.
And there’s a lot to celebrate – this year marks the 175th anniversary of the first organised European settlement. You can choose to mark the occasion by attending Friday night’s Fête des Lumières Street Party, or watch the following morning’s re-enactment of the landing of the settlers from the French ship Comte de Paris. Saturday also offers Le Jour du Marché, with a street market at the showgrounds, and on Sunday you can join in (or just watch!) a game of Ki-o-Rahi – a traditional Māori ball game played by two teams on a circular pitch that was taught to the French settlers.
As an added bonus, French Fest has this year partnered with Beca Heritage Week, and has the honour of offering the very first event in that festival’s programme. So much to see and do! Je suis jaloux that you will be able to attend – perhaps as a small favour I could ask you to bring me back a croissant, or possibly even pain au chocolat.
My name is Rob, and I usually work at New Brighton Library, but immediately after the earthquake my family and I moved temporarily to Akaroa. Akaroa Library was one of the first to open its doors after the February earthquake, and both the town and the library became a haven for many displaced readers.
A truly stunning and scenic hour’s drive from Christchurch, the Akaroa library has all the services of the city branches, but with a seaside peninsula charm all its own. I went to the library hoping to be able to do something useful for the community and was welcomed with open arms by the staff. I spent three enjoyable weeks listening and talking to all the locals and the many Christchurch refugees. It was great to be able to use the internet, return books and get useful, timely Christchurch City Council information, as well as have access to all the collections available at any of the library’s branches.
Kaye Matthews has worked at the library about 20 years, and is a fountain of local knowledge. Sadly for us, she is leaving soon, but we hope she will come back and visit often. If you are out on the peninsula, or would like a change of scenery, Akaroa is a wonderful spot and we think it’s well worth a visit too!