Snow suit: Picturing Canterbury


1957: Banks of Avon River, facing the Christchurch Hospital. Early Spring day. Lynne in her snow suit.

Sharing stories at Rehua Marae

Monday 25 June was the first day of our Story blanket Exhibition at Rehua Marae, part of our programme of events this year at Christchurch City Libraries to celebrate Matariki. It was well attended with nearly 100 people from tamariki to kaumātua coming down to visit on the first day. Reactions so far have been wonderful – exclamations of wonder, up-close and personal examinations by little eyes and fingers with oohhs and ahhs, to tears of appreciation. If you haven’t seen it yet you should come down and check it out for yourself.

“What is a storyblanket?” I hear you thinking … well, our storyblankets are visual retellings of six well-known New Zealand stories depicted on a blanket. The way the storyblanket exhibition works is that you can come down to the Marae, look at the blankets which are made up on mattresses in the wharenui and read the stories that have inspired them while you’re here.
Story blanket display at Rehua Story blanket display at Rehua

Story blanket display at Rehua Story blanket display at Rehua

Story blanket display at Rehua Story blanket display at Rehua

The storyblankets themselves have been several months in the making. The whakaaro behind the project was this: traditionally, Matariki was a time for wānanga (learning). With this in mind we decided to explore the idea of wānanga from a library perspective – in a sense libraries are giant storehouses of stories. We thought we could do this by looking at the idea of sharing kōrero or story across generations at Matariki, with a focus on pakiwaitara and pūrākau. The idea of the storyblankets exhibition was to express the essence of a story in a visual format.

We approached six authors with our idea, who graciously granted us permission to use their works as a source of inspiration for these taonga. The books we chose were:

Library teams from across the city then swung into action, retelling the story they had chosen on their blanket. Some teams used this as an opportunity to work alongside customers and local groups in their communities to collaborate on the artworks. Once completed they were then gathered up and brought out to Rehua. You can see some photos on our Flickr site.

Conceptually, in Te Ao Māori (if you can think outside the square a little), the wharenui is similar in some ways to a library. The whare represents the body of an ancestor, a shelter and gathering place for their descendants and is a living repository of kōrero. The whakairo (carvings), tukutuku (woven lattice workpanels) kōwhaiwhai and their placement inside the whare record and tell the stories, history and whakapapa (genealogy) of the local hapū/people who belong to a particular marae- connecting the past and the present. For us, having the opportunity to share this exhibition with the community in partnership with Rehua Marae is wonderful –  in a sense we are taking the library to the library – and it’s awesome being out there in the community. Ka rawe!

The Storyblankets will be at Rehua for the rest of this week between 10am -4pm. If you can’t make it weekdays there is a whānau fun day this Saturday, again from 10am-4pm with a lot of free fun activities planned, including weaving workshops, waiata session, storytime, readings by local authors Ben Brown and Gavin Bishop (of their books that feature in the exhibition), Random Acts of Music are coming down, and there will also be stalls and kapahaka performances.

How are you celebrating Matariki this year? We’d love to hear what others are doing. If you’re in Christchurch, think about coming down to Rehua and celebrate Matariki 2012 by sharing some stories with us? We’d love to see you!

Gilberthorpe cottage in snow 1945: Picturing Canterbury

Gilberthorpe cottage in snow 1945

Gilberthorpe cottage in snow 1945

Star weaving for Matariki: Picturing Canterbury

Matariki Star Weaving at Hornby

Matariki Star Weaving at Hornby.

Loving winter

What I love about winter – snow if I don’t have to work and it doesn’t last too long. Trips to the theatre, orchestral concerts, opera and ballet.

Snuggling up with a book or DVD, without any guilt about not being outside. Slow cooking a yummy soup, or casserole and sharing it with friends. Making apple pies. Planning what to plant in the garden in spring.

What makes winter special for you?

Snow on Oxford Terrace, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury


Snow on Oxford Terrace, Christchurch  [1862]

Hospital corner, winter morning 1960s: Picturing Canterbury

Hospital corner, winter morning 1960s

“This scene was photographed by my father and features a PA Vauxhall Velox with bicycle protruding from the boot.”

Bleak Winter’s Bone somehow inspiring

Footbridge over the AvonI’m finding it hard to love winter, but  am hoping to keep interested by thinking of all the books I’ve read with winter in the title. First up is Winter’s bone, a bleak yet somehow inspiring book that was made into a great indie film last year or the year before.

It’s the story of Ree Dolly, who lives with her methamphetamine cook father, her catatonic mother, and her younger brother and sister. Dad has disappeared after posting the family house, such as it is, as bond in order to get bail. If he doesn’t show up for his trial the family will lose their home.

Ree sets out to look for him but the code of silence is as strong in the Ozarks as it is in Sicily (if all the books I’ve read about the Mafia are to be believed, and why wouldn’t they be?).

“That’s the way to get et by hogs, or wishin’ you was” sums up the attitude towards questions about where Ree’s dad may be or what he may have been up to.

Sounds like just the ticket to cheer up a desolate winter doesn’t it? Well it is guaranteed to make you think life among the potholes and the portaloos is preferable to life among the mountain folks and Ree is a truly memorable character. Do you have any favourite wintry reads?

On yer bike! Christchurch loves cycles

Cover image for I love my bikeWith all this talk of folks wanting more cycleways and cycle lanes emerging as a theme on shareanidea, I figure it must mean that Christchurch folks love to get on bikes and ride.

My trusty steed is certainly reliable (a puncture or three notwithstanding given the current state of the roads), but perhaps not as elegant or funky as the bikes in I love my bike – although I think there’d be plenty of cool and stylish bikes throughout Canterbury to rival those featured in the book.

Here’s a selection of gorgeous new books on bikes :

So whatever your biking style, as a regular weekend biker, a commuter cyclist or an avid hill climber, be inspired by these books and don’t forget to post your thoughts of a cycle-friendlier city on shareanidea.