WORD Up – WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

Oh boy what an awesome festival the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival is! Exciting in the extreme. I was drenched by the time I got to my first event; Poetry readings at Scorpio Books. A packed house, and great poetry. The winner, Danielle O’Halloran, gave a fantastic live performance.

Danielle O'Halloran at Scorpio Books
Danielle O’Halloran at Scorpio Books

Next up a change of shoes for a very rainy Oratory on the Ōtākaro / Avon, with Joseph Hullen (Ngāi Tahu,Ngāi Tūāhuriri)

The walk follows significant sites from Puari Pa, which stretched from the Hospital to Kilmore Street, reveals another cultural layer buried under Christchurch, literally. Remains of yupuna (ancestors) have been found in Cathedral Square, under the old Library (Gloucester Street), and under St Luke’s Church (Kilmore Street).

Oratory on the Ōtākaro, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu
Oratory on the Otakaro, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu

Ngāi Tahu are driving a project to restore, beautify and rebuild the river, which was choked with sediment post quakes. Native life, such as Inanga (Whitebait) and Tuna (Eel) are coming back to the Ōtākaro to thrive. The installation of 13 Whariki Manaaki; tiled patterns based on traditional weaving designs, “weaves a Ngāi Tahu narrative into the rebuild.” (Joseph Hullen)

Whariki Manaaki, Otakaro / Avon River, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu
Whariki Manaaki, Ōtākaro / Avon River, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu

Leaving the Red ZoneAfter a very welcome afternoon tea, it was time to go to the launch of Leaving the Red Zone, a collection of poems inspired by the Canterbury earthquakes. Joanna Preston’s poem, ‘Ministry of Sorrow’ was especially moving and powerful. Included is the poem, ‘Rebuild’ by one of the Library’s own poets, Greg O’Connell.

Feeling like festival flotsam, I made my way through the crowds of excited festival goers to The Power of Poetry. Featuring Bill Manhire, Selina Tusitala Marsh, C.K Stead, Fiona Kidman, and Ali Cobby Eckermann. Ali’s view from the Aboriginal culture was a poignant perspective, and I loved Selina’s repetition : t t t t t…d d d d …

L-R Fiona Kidman, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Selina Tusitala Marsh, C.K Stead, Paul Millar and Bill Manhire.
L-R Fiona Kidman, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Selina Tusitala Marsh, C.K Stead, Paul Millar and Bill Manhire.

WORD Christchurch

 

The Boulevard?

MapMaybe we have a name for our new green space by the Avon.

According to the Christchurch City Libraries street name index

During the 1920s Richard Bedward Owen (1873-1948), a tailor, envisaged the establishment of a boulevard … on both sides of the Avon River from the Carlton Mill bridge to the Estuary … Owen wanted wide lawns between road and river with tall trees planted near the banks.

Clearly a man ahead of his time.

The Avon River runs through it

Photo
Sketching on the banks of the Avon, Oxford Terrace, near the Edmonds Rotunda, 1932

Christchurch loves the Avon, but our feelings about the river are now tinged with sadness. We just need to look  at how some of the land and properties on its boundaries have fared since the earthquakes.

This geologically young river has a rich history.  It was known as Ōtākaro – “the place of a game” – to local Māori, and was highly regarded as a mahinga kai by Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu.

Tautahi is the chief from whom Christchurch Ōtautahi derives its name. In his time,  few Māori would have lived in the Ōtākaro area itself. Those that did were known to Māori living outside the region as Ō Roto Repo (swamp dwellers).”

It was later named the Avon after the Avon River in Ayrshire, the home of pioneer settlers and farmers the Deans brothers.

You can find more about the Avon:

Strange happenings on the Avon

PhotoTake a look at the larger version of this action packed Regatta Day in 1921.

It’s a stunner. One rowing crew seems to have broken the light barrier, and are so fast they’ve turned into a blur.
There are some stern dudes with serious moustaches in the foreground.
And, most oddly, there is a man riding the Avon on a contraption that looks like an exercycle on waterskis.

Another gem from our collection of images.

Regatta Day – image of the week

Regatta Day on the Avon, circa 1921.

Regatta Day on the Avon

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Also contact us if you have any further information on any of the images. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.