Christchurch revealed

This week is the last week to catch Underground Overground Archaeology’s exhibition of finds at the South Library. The display is a great way to come face to face with recently rediscovered everyday objects from Christchurch’s past. If you can’t make it along to the library you can also check out Underground Overground’s blog of the work they have been doing digging into numerous demolition sites all over the city.

Together with the fascinating website High Street Stories this blog started me thinking about how much of the intimate history of Christchurch has been revealed since the earthquakes – those fragments that otherwise would have remained lost or stories recorded that might not have been under different circumstances.

As you might imagine, High Street stories is all about the history of this fascinating street, with stories told in video, audio, text and images. You can find out about Ngāi Tahu’s relationship with Ōtākaro (Avon River), the history of the Odeon Theatre and the regeneration of Lichfield Lanes amongst many others. I am not from Christchurch but it is from projects like this that you can get a real sense of how an area has developed and get an impression of what the atmosphere might have been like in the past.

Delving back into Underground Overground’s blog you can find out how archaeological discoveries have been researched and read the stories associated with them that have now come to light. So many of the artefacts that have been discovered seem mundane (lots of bottles!), but when investigated they highlight Christchurch history in a very real and immediate way. For example find out about beer bottles, burlesque houses and the everyday life of early residents.

The physical landscape of Christchurch has totally changed since the earthquakes, but thanks to projects like these – and others – its history and heritage will not be forgotten.

Have any of you used these websites, or any like them, already?

Recovering Christchurch with Bruce Ansley – New Zealand Book Month

In one of the first Christchurch City Libraries events for New Zealand Book  Month, Bruce Ansley will be at South Libary at 2 pm on Sunday the 4th of March.

"Gods and little fishes" book coverI always think of Ansley as a Christchurch writer,  probably because of his outstanding book about growing up in New Brighton, and because I read him for years in The Star as he managed that most difficult of journalistic gigs, the regular column. He was also part of the Christchurch talent producing those fondly remembered TV shows, A Week of It and McPhail and Gadsby.

"Christchurch Heritage" book coverAnsley’s latest book is Christchurch Heritage, a beautiful commemorative work on buildings that were lost and damaged in the earthquakes, but Christchurch isn’t his only subject. He also wrote for The Listener for years, and has written other works of non-fiction on undercover police work, and on his year cruising the canals of France.

In a long and distinguised writing career Ansley has ranged widely over subjects and styles, but stories are the basis for all of his work; I’m looking forward to hearing him tell a few on Sunday. Why not join me?