A bit of a stink

image_proxySometimes in libraries we think about poo. Not necessarily because we want to but because our public toilets sometimes get blocked, sometimes books get Suspicious Stains on them, and sometimes we wonder how many royal toddler toilet training picture books there are…

And if you really think about it poo is quite important, and you certainly can’t escape it. So, I’ve been poking around a few of our resources to see what I can find about poo and sewage and other stinky things like that.

Searching on our catalogue the keyword ‘poo’ and the Official Subject Heading (we librarians do enjoy a good subject heading) ‘feces‘ finds a lot of children’s books – not unsuprisingly, but it also brings up entries from Access Video – an eResource featuring lots of fascinating documentaries – about sanitation in the developing world.

Sanitation has an interesting history in Christchurch. We’re all familiar with more recent issues in this area, which has been carefully documented by CEISMIC, however there’s a long history to explore.

image_proxy (1)

The Christchurch Drainage Board has a well documented history – so vital for a city built on a swamp – and according to John Wilson‘s Christchurch – Swamp to City Ōtautahi has ‘been the best drained and and most efficiently sewered city in the country’ (p11). The importance of pumping stations in the city has been recognised as part of the Architectural Heritage of Christchurch Series – reminding us that the functional doesn’t have to be ugly. Underground Overground Archaeology (I don’t think they employ any Wombles) has written a great overview of sanitation in Christchurch.

If you’ve ever wondered what the poo of our native wildlife looks like, then DigitalNZ is the website you need! Searching for ‘poo’ brings up a lot of helpful visuals to assist you in identifying that mystery turd, plus a positive plethora of poo-related media articles, research papers and videos.

I also had a look on Papers Past for poo related content. However the 19th century and first half of the 20th century were more conservative eras so ‘poo’ and ‘excrement’ don’t bring up a huge amounts of hits – although there is definitely content for those with an interest in public health. I’ve also found out about pakapoo – a Chinese lottery game brought to New Zealand by gold miners – and The Mikado.

Do you have any #codebrown stories you’d like to share? [Ed: we welcome the use of euphemisms for the benefit of those with delicate sensibilities]

Find  more

Happy Pride! Christchurch Pride Week – 15 to 24 March

It’s nearly Pride Week! Lasting a little bit longer than an actual week, starting Thursday 15 March, Pride Week is a celebration of sexuality- and gender-diverse folks in Ōtautahi, and it’ll feature allsorts, from parties to seminars, art shows to dog walking. The rainbow flag will fly at the Christchurch City Council Civic Offices from 15 to 25 March.

However, pride celebrations have pretty sombre beginnings. The first pride marches in the USA were protests against the mistreatment and discrimination of LGBT+ people by the police, public services, and the law. As rainbow communities have largely seen great leaps forward in these areas over the past 40-50 years, these pride events focus more and more on celebrating diverse identities – but it’s important to take a moment to remember that there is still a struggle; that people are still being discriminated against because of their sexuality or their gender identity, both close to home, and globally.

Find out more about Christchurch Pride:

Pride Picks

Here’s my top 3 pride events you should check out happening in Ōtautahi in the coming weeks:

QCanterbury Quiz Night

I have a slight bias towards this event because I’m the MC! But who doesn’t like a quiz??
Friday 23 March 7pm to 10pm, The Foundry, 90 Ilam Road

Art Show

Christchurch Pride has started with an Art Show for a few years now, and it’s always a good night, with lots of mingling and snacks! Plus there’s an opportunity to buy some new artwork and support local LGBT+ artists at the same time. Thursday 15 March 5pm to 8pm, Windsor Gallery, 386 St Asaph Street

Bingo Fundraiser

I’ve been along to this event in previous years, and it is ridiculous fun. With all proceeds going towards a local youth support group, and the chance to win some fabulous prizes, it’s well worth it…who knew bingo could be so much fun?! Tuesday 20 March 7pm to 10pm.  Sixty6 On Peterborough, Christchurch Casino

More Pride

If this is a topic you’d like to learn more about, the library has some great reading/viewing material! Here’s some of the things I’ve enjoyed recently:

CoverQueer: A Graphic History  Meg John Baker and Julie Scheele – A non-fiction graphic novel style book delving into the history and key milestones of LGBT+ rights, as well as an introduction to queer theory. Engaging and witty and fun to read!

CoverPride – a film with all your favourite British actors about an unlikely partnership between gay and lesbian activists and striking miners in Wales.

Milk – a beautiful and heartbreaking film about Harvey Milk, an openly gay politician and activist in San Francisco in the 70s.
CoverThe library has a book about Harvey – and an opera.

CoverTomboy Survival Guide – Ivan Coyote – Brilliant, funny, serious, adventurous stories about growing up in rural Canada and navigating gender and sexuality.

Read our blog posts about Ivan, and Look up Ivan on YouTube too! They’re an incredible live storyteller.

Of course, there’s a never ending list of books and films to read and watch that explore what it means to be sexuality- and gender-diverse from a range of different cultural perspectives – Why not introduce yourself to something new this Pride Week?

Regardless of your orientation or identity, pride is a time to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion – a good reminder to have a look at your workplaces and community spaces and check they are inclusive and welcoming environments; or educate yourself on some new language or ideas within the rainbow community; find out what is going on for rainbow communities in other parts of the world; and, most importantly, check in with LGBT+ people in your life and remind them that they are loved.

Happy Pride!


Victoria Square reopens – Friday 9 March 2018

Today Victoria Square has reopened. It has been closed for a year, having a revamp and repairs.

What’s new:

  • New pieces of art have been added including Ngā Whāriki Manaaki – Woven mats of welcome, and a Literary Trail (series of text sculptures).
  • The Bowker Fountain will be working again and will put on a water and light display.

Here’s what Victoria Square looked like this morning:

Find out more about Victoria Square

22 February 2011 / 22 February 2018 – Remembering

Seven years ago Christchurch was hit by an earthquake that killed 185 people. It’s a sad anniversary, and sometimes it is hard to know how – or where – to commemorate it. For the last seven years, my way has been to walk and think and take some photos.  This morning I visited the former CTV site on the corner of Cashel and Madras Street. Ōtākaro Limited has landscaped the site, and it opened to the public today.

Sign at the Former CTV site
Sign at the Former CTV site. Thursday 22 February 2018. Flickr Former CTV site #IMG_6489

Diagonally across the road, is the 185 empty chairs installation by Peter Majendie.  This is an artwork that rends your heart. I’ve only be able to stand near it, and somehow felt the chairs were sacred. But today, Peter and some helpers were cleaning the rain and water off the chairs so I joined in and helped. It felt profound.

File reference: 185 chairs #IMG_6501
185 empty chairs, Flickr 185 chairs #IMG_6501

See photos from the former CTV site and the 185 chairs.

We have a list of commemorative events on today, and places that you might like to visit: Thursday 22 February 2018 – Earthquake Commemorations.

Wherever you are, whatever you feel, however you choose to reflect – you are not alone. Arohanui, Ōtautahi.

Find out more:

Good advice from All Right?:


Thursday 22 February 2018 – Earthquake Commemorations

The seventh anniversary of the 22 February 2011 quake is on this Thursday 22 February. There are places where the community can come together to reflect, and remember.


Service at the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

The seventh anniversary of the 22 February Canterbury Earthquake will be marked with a public Civic Service at the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial site. The service will begin at 12:30pm at the Memorial site on the corner of Montreal Street and Cambridge Terrace. The service is expected to take around 45 minutes, followed by the opportunity to lay floral tributes at the Memorial Wall across the river. It will be livestreamed on the Christchurch City Council website for those who can’t be there.

View the Public Civic Canterbury Earthquake Memorial Service livestream, from 12.30pm, Thursday 22 February:

Find out more:

Oi Manawa Canterbury National Earthquake Memorial
Oi Manawa Canterbury National Earthquake Memorial. Flickr 2017-02-22-IMG_8702

River of Flowers Earthquake Commemorations on 22 February

Flowers on the Avon, River Road, Flickr CCL-2012-02-22-IMG_1173
Flowers on the Avon, River Road, Flickr CCL-2012-02-22-IMG_1173

Community groups come together to commemorate, remember, console, update and look to the future. All welcome at any of the five sites this year:

  • Otautahi The Bricks hosted by Avon Loop Res Assoc.
  • Medway ‘Bridge’ supported by Avebury House and Avon-Ōtākaro Network
  • Wainoni/Avonside at Wainoni Avonside Community Services
  • Avondale/Burwood by Burwood Christian Centre
  • Moncks Bay at the Christchurch Yacht Club

The sites will be hosted between 12.30 and 1.30pm, Bring a flower to drop in the river.

Find out more:

Information from the River of Flowers page on Facebook.

The former CTV site – a “peaceful and reflective memorial to those who lost their lives”

Ōtākaro Limited reports that the landscaped former site of the Canterbury Television (CTV) building will be open to the public from 22 February.

Read The Press article: CTV site work on track for completion before February 22 Christchurch earthquake anniversary

The site is now owned by Crown development company Ōtākaro, which has been working since October to turn the space into a peaceful and reflective memorial to those who lost their lives.

185 Chairs – Earthquake Remembrance Art Installation

Some people find this a place of contemplation and remembrance. The 185 chairs installation was created by artist Peter Majendie and is currently located on the corner of Madras and Cashel Streets.

185 white chairs - Madras Street
185 chairs. Flickr 2017-02-22-IMG_8626

Earthquakes and Butterflies – Theatre of Transformation (22 to 25 February at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral)

Earthquakes and Butterflies is an exciting professional theatre piece directed by Helen  Moran, shaped from the life stories of a cluster of people whose lives crisscross like the fault  lines under the city. Based on the novel by Kathleen Gallagher, Earthquakes & Butterflies is full of hope, humour and tenderness – strangers help unasked, generosity is freely given and shelter is for sharing.

Find out more about performances and tickets.

Our community remember the 22 February 2011 earthquake in a number of ways – by visiting a particular place, or by having a moment of silence and remembrance. We share that reflection together, wherever we are.

Big little books – The BWB Texts Collection

The last book I got out of the library was huge a whopping 800 pages. It was a little daunting and I wondered it would be easier to read if it was a series of smaller books. Bridget Williams has a great series of little books called the BWB Texts Collection. There are some seriously good reads in this collection and all of them are short. There are some great short memoirs, and other interesting topics like combining motherhood and politics, and the Australia vs New Zealand debate.

BWB Texts are available in book and eBook format.

There are even big little books with local flavour. With the seventh anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake coming up, there are some great books on Christchurch and analysis of the earthquake – or find out why Christchurch was once nicknamed Cyclopolis.

As well as the BWB Texts Collection. Bridget Williams Books has these other great New Zealand eBook collections:

Get in the driver’s seat with Youthtown – Sign up for Learners Licence workshops starting 12 February

Christchurch City Libraries is hosting Youthtown’s six week after-school Learners Licence Workshops from 12 February. It costs $130 for six sessions. The workshop for teens aged 16 to 18 involve four group theory sessions going through the road code and practice tests, with snacks provided. On session 5, your tutors will take you to book in your test, and on session 6 they will take you to sit the test. The workshop also has a Facebook closed group you can join and be tested daily on questions from the road code.

Learner Licence Workshop schedule


Monday 12 February to Monday 26 March at Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Commmunity Centre, 3.30pm to 5pm

Upper Riccarton

Thursday 15 February to Thursday 29 March at Upper Riccarton Community and School Library, 3.30pm to 5pm

New Brighton

Friday 16 February to Friday 30 March at New Brighton Library, 3.30pm to 5pm

There is also a programme downstairs in Eastgate Mall:


Tuesday 13 February to Tuesday 26 March in the mall opposite Bed, Bath, Beyond.


The course is delivered by professional Youthtown tutors who are highly experienced in delivering the programme and making sure all young people get the best chance possible to qualify for their learner licence.

More about learning to drive

More about Youthtown

Youthtown is a nationally operated, not for profit organisation. In their own words:

Since first opening our doors as Boystown in 1932, we have evolved into one of New Zealand’s leading youth organisations within key communities. We are highly regarded for the developmental programmes we offer young people and we’re committed to providing a safe environment where young New Zealanders can dream it, then do it the Youthtown way. We empower young New Zealanders, aged 5-18, to be the best they can be! Their journey with Youthtown alongside their schooling, supplements the learning and development they receive there, in a physical, creative and social way.

The future is just around the corner…

Yesterday I happened to be in Cathedral Square, walking past An Origin Story‘s lovely hoardings around the convention centre site. As you can see in the image, from one angle the panel which states that ‘the future is just around the corner’ points right to Tūranga – the future of Ōtautahi is appearing right in front of our eyes. We cannot wait to share our new facility with you!

And yet, I’ve been thinking, the future is so terribly fragile, quickly becoming the present – for a flash – and then the past. The present of Tūranga still feels a long way off, but how long before it becomes a familiar, comforting and challenging place that we know and love and feel as if it has always been there?

9781847921888Everything becomes superseded. This point has been brought home to me recently, when reading Ben Shephard‘s Headhunters: the search for a science of the mind. It looks at the lives and careers of four men (quelle surprise) who worked across the fields of medicine, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology and neurology in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At that time, many of these scientific disciplines were new and emerging with exciting ideas being developed, tested and sometimes lauded. Looking back, we can see that some of those ideas were offensively racist.

They championed field work in anthropology and lead the way in defining and treating shell shocked and mentally wounded service personnel in the First World War. And yet and generation or two – or even less – of their deaths many of their theories and work was disproved or supplanted. What was once cutting edge is now old hat.

But that’s what happens, doesn’t it? We are all part of a continuing development and dialogue, and improved theories and ideas grow out of older ones. That’s one of the many exciting things about Tūranga – how many ideas and thoughts etc etc will be developed and created there using exciting collections, programmes and other resources, before it too is superseded?

The corner of Cashel and High Streets, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

The corner of Cashel and High Streets, Christchurch. CCL Photo Collection 22, Img00803.

The corner of Cashel and High Streets, Christchurch [ca. 1880].

Cobb & Co. established their line of coaches in Christchurch in 1863. By 1864 their coach office was on the corner of Cashel and High Streets, facing east on the Triangle. The coach driver is thought to be Joseph McFarlane (1849?-1885). In High Street to the right of their depot are Royse, Stead & Co. (William Royse and George G. Stead), grain merchants and the Simpson depot (Bernard Simpson, tobacconist and fancy goods). The music warehouse of Spensley & Co can be seen on the left, in Cashel Street.

Do you have any photographs of the corner of Cashel Street and High Street? 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 new whale for a new generation

It looks just like the original.

Many might assume that an old friend has returned to New Brighton.

But it is, in fact, a replica.

At the Whale Pool, 1970. Kete Christchurch. PH14-307. Entry in the 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Creative Commons License

Along with the lighthouse, the concrete whale has been an iconic feature of the pool at the New Brighton playground for over forty years. Known as the ‘whale pool’, such is the attachment that local residents have towards it, that when a survey was held in 2016, asking them what they expected from a redevelopment of the playground and pool, 90 per cent of the respondees stated that they wished for the whale to remain.

Children of Christchurch were first introduced to the whale in 1971, when, after years of planning, the playground opened on 16 December.

The origins of the playground lie in the formation of the New Brighton Pier and Foreshore Society which was established in 1964 to save the historic New Brighton pier (built in 1894) from demolition. Although the pier was eventually demolished in 1965, the society continued to serve the community. In 1967 the organisation decided to build a children’s playground and pool.

The northern carpark by the beach was chosen as the location, and in 1968 proposed designs were made. In the following year they were submitted to the Christchurch City Council but these were rejected as inadequate. To remedy this, the society hired a professional architect to bring their plans up to a required standard. Eventually these plans were scaled down, and when presented again to the council in 1971, they were approved. The pool and playground were completed in time for the summer holidays.

Like many of the other paddling pools in Christchurch, the whale pool was damaged during the February 2011 earthquake. Repairs were made and the pool officially reopened on 17 November 2012.

Whale Pool Re-opening Day – 17 November 2012. Kete Christchurch. Whale_Pool_Re-opening_Day_-_17_November_2012__DSCF3403. Creative Commons License

As early as 1998, there had been discussions surrounding the concept of a saltwater hot pool complex at New Brighton. After the restoration of the whale pool, the idea was raised once again. In December 2016 the council approved the funding for the Beachside Playground and coastal protection works to be carried out by Development Christchurch Limited. Construction on the new playground began in August 2017 after a sod turning ceremony was held.

Although it was initially planned to keep the old whale (but with a new water jet installed), an engineer’s assessment found that it would not survive the relocation. Given that it was important for the whale to remain a part of the playground, a fibreglass mould was made and a replica whale produced. The ‘clone’ of the original was set into place on 5 December.

The new playground (complete with replica whale) is scheduled to open on Wednesday 20 December 2017 at 10.30am.

Find out more