Bathing beauties at Corsair Bay about 1920: Christchurch Photo Hunt 2017

Photo Hunt 2017: Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way

This year the theme for Photo Hunt is Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way. However, the photos you submit are not limited to this theme. We invite you to share any of your photos and help grow the city’s photographic archive. All entries must be received by 31 October.

Christchurch City Libraries has produced a set of four postcards promoting the competition which are available from your local library. Each week during October we’ll be featuring one of the postcard images on our blog.

Bathing beauties at Corsair Bay about 1920. Kete Christchurch. PH13-127. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Bathing beauties at Corsair Bay about 1920. Neck to knee bathing costumes and what looks like a shower cap for a bathing cap. Mother and daughter Alice and Venis with two cousins.

Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt.

About Kete Christchurch

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Photo Hunt October: Marshall Family Swimming, 1960s

Marshall Family Swimming.
Entry in the Christchurch City Libraries 2010 Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch HW10-S-Sp-076 CC-BY-NC-ND NZ 3.0

“Coe’s Ford. Swimming in the river-Sally on Dad’s (Bruce) back. Lynne on the Lilo. Family picnic day.”

Date: Circa 1960.

This image is available as a free postcard as part of our Christchurch Photo Hunt promotion.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Photo Hunt October: Horse-drawn Bathing Huts at New Brighton

Bathing huts, horse drawn, New Brighton.
Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch PH13-090 CC-BY-NCSA NZ 3.0

There is no date on this photo, but the bathing huts might have been a good place to shelter from the easterly wind as well as preserving ones modesty.

There are currently small huts on display at New Brighton but they’re not for bathing purposes – Tiny Huts at New Brighton.

View other images of New Brighton Beach on Kete Christchurch.

Christchurch City Libraries has been running an annual Photo Hunt in conjunction with the city’s Heritage Week since 2008.  The 2016 Photo Hunt is running again from 1 – 31 October. During the month of October we will be posting a series of images from earlier Photo Hunts.

Enter the 2016 hunt online or at your local library.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

A novel approach to team sports!

Cover of The Taliban Cricket ClubWorld Cup Cricket has us in its grip. Some of us are bowled over; some of us are going in to bat for the team and the rest of us thought we’d just read a novel where the dull thwack of bat against ball forms an integral part of the plot.

Bowled for a maiden. No such good novel exists. Well maybe one that isn’t too dire: The Taliban Cricket Club.

If we widen the search to include other team sports, like rugby, there’s Lloyd Jones’ novel about the 1905 All Blacks – The Book of Fame. And soccer/football has Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in its line-up. But it’s slim pickings. There isn’t even very much in the way of mediocre/rubbish team sport fiction writing, which is weird.

Cover of Running the riftBut sports where individuals take part have generated many more novels. Want a novel about running? Award winning Running the Rift is set in Rwanda and is an uplifting  book about  genocide and running and healing. And if that doesn’t appeal, you can choose from 88 other novels on running, and I include Haruko Murakami’s What I Talk About when I Talk About Running because even when Murakami writes non-fiction, it reads like poetry.

Swimmers have quite a good choice as well: Herman Koch and Summer House with Swimming Pool, Alan Hollinghurst and The Swimming Pool Library and The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society with its link to the author of Peter Pan. And cyclists have a large range of novels related to their sport. Gold by Chris Cleave is probably the pick of Goldthe bunch, but for a gentle read there is the popular A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar.

Multitudes of people play (and support) team sports, and just as many people are avid fiction readers. Why then are there so few novels with a team sport theme? Am I missing something here?

Truth to tell, the only cricketing reference that I remember from all my years of reading, is the dull thwack of bat on ball drifting up  from the gently sloping lawn in front of the homestead in Mary Wesley’s novel The Camomile Lawn.

And that will do very nicely for me.

A fish in the swim of the world

Book cover of a fish in the swim of the worldFirst, I have to salute Ben Brown, who wrote a book with the title I shamelessly stole for the title of this blog post. I don’t have his talent for words, but I do love that title, and I did want to write about the aspect of Triathlon that probably puts off a lot of people, and causes fear and trembling even among those who can do it to some degree. No, not the lycra, but the swimming.

I confess that while I’m an average swimmer, it’s not my favourite thing. There’s a significant amount of self-persuasion that has to go on to get me out of bed early enough to have an hour in the pool before work. As I see it, improving your swimming can be divided into endurance and technique. The event I’m aiming for has a 1.9 km swim, so good technique has a significant part to play in the condition in which you arrive at the first transition. Being entirely self-coached, I rely firstly on YouTube tutorials for the visual, and on library print and electronic resources for the swimming drills.

A further complication with swimming, in the South Island climate we enjoy, is the need to wear a wetsuit. Getting into a wetsuit isn’t too bad, especially as you usually have a bit of time available if you’re putting it on before the event starts.Getting out of a wetsuit, however, is a whole different skill set – in fact, I would say it should be a whole separate discipline, recognised as one of the four events in a triathlon (which would then become a quadrathon, but never mind).

Book cover of Open Water SwimmingSupposing that swimming itself isn’t too challenging, for the longer events there is then the prospect of open-water swimming to contend with. In this part of the world that usually means sea swimming. Quite apart from the fact that you can’t just stand up if you get tired, for me anyway there’s always the uncomfortable feeling that I’m not alone in the water. Not being able to see the bottom means that there could be all sorts of toothy creatures around, just looking for a snack. Wearing a black wetsuit means you look quite like a seal from underneath, and what’s a shark’s favourite meal? I may have to attack my black wetsuit with some white paint. I think I may take a zebra as inspiration – after all, when was the last time you heard of a zebra getting eaten by a shark? I guess being apprehensive is something you just have to get used to, but if anyone has any advice on this, I’d love to hear it.

Providing you have the courage for open water swims, check out these long distance swimming books. Have fun out there!

For more about Colin’s triathlon endeavours and some reading suggestions, check out our other triathlon blog posts.


Cover of The slapYou may have read The Slap or seen the series on TV. Both were great, both were hard to read and watch, but the story stays with you. It’s an ugly world that Tsiolkas portrays – full of contrary characters that do not behave in a way that engenders much empathy. As The Slap progressed however the characters became slightly less polarising, reasons for behaviours began to be understood – and by completion I pronounced this a great read, one of my favourites in fact.

After the success of the The Slap, Tsiolkas’s next book, Barracuda  would always be a hard act to follow. I had read some ambivalent reviews so started reading with a sense of trepidation, a feeling that was not altogether unfounded as it turned out.  If you thought The Slap was tough, it is a walk in the park compared to Barracuda.

Cover of BarracudaDanny Kelly is offered a scholarship to an elite Melbourne school.  He is part Greek and comes from the wrong sides of the tracks, his classmates are privileged, blond blue-eyed clear skinned boys, beside them Danny feels ugly and poor. What he has in his favour however is a precocious swimming ability, he lives for swimming, he only feels alive when he is torpedoing through the water leaving his fellow swimmers floundering in his wake. This is his power and his status. He is going to the top and thoughts of the Sydney Olympics are never far from anyone’s mind.

It doesn’t give anything away to say that it all goes wrong, badly wrong. Wrong to the point that you wish you could just end the shame and humiliation that Danny feels – the only way to do this is to give up on the book – I nearly did, then I started skipping the really torrid bits, it all got a bit much. For some reason I continued on, perhaps because there were moments like this for me with The Slap yet I still enjoyed it.

Did I ‘enjoy’ Barracuda? The short answer is no, the longer answer takes more explaining.  Let’s just say that if you don’t want to read explicit depictions of gay sex, or about the gut-wrenching effects of shame on a young man, his self-loathing and obsessive hatred of his fellow classmates/family/ society etc then this is not the book for you.

However somewhere amongst all this angst there is a good story, there is redemption and closure, there is fuller understanding of the psyche of a nation obsessed with sport, and with a young man who is hurt and confused.  There is also understanding of the class and race disputes that perhaps Australians would prefer remained hidden. It would be going to far to say this was a great read, but something of Danny has remained with me, I really hope he does well.

Sumner, mast and yard-arm: Picturing Canterbury

Photo of families on the beach
Families on the beach below the mast & yard-arm, Sumner beach, Christchurch
[ca. 1905]
Explore our sampler of summer photographs from our collection.

Taking a dip: Picturing Canterbury

Photo of taking a dip
Taking a dip at the pool in Scarborough, late 1960s Kete Christchurch

Explore our sampler of summer photographs from our collection.

Making a splash

Cover of Stroke of luckEach time I go swimming at Dudley Park in Rangiora I pass a t-shirt signed by multiple gold medal winning Paralympic swimmer Sophie Pascoe. Not surprisingly I find this very inspiring. Therefore as soon as I heard she had an autobiography coming out I put myself on the hold list. The book arrived for me last week and it proved to be a fascinating read.

I read quite a few sports autobiographies and sometimes find they don’t go into as much detail in some areas as you might like. This is not the case with Sophie – her book is refreshingly open, honest and full of personality.

Although only 20 years old Sophie –  from Halswell – has crammed a lot into her life. In the first chapter, her father Garry talks candidly and movingly about the horrific lawnmower accident which led to her lower left leg being amputated. Becoming an elite athlete while still at school presented unique challenges and opportunities – including opening a building at her school named in her honour while still a student there. In particular, I found it really interesting to read about the dedication and sacrifices needed to compete at the top level, as well as the will to win and the frustration of coming second. Her hope for the future are also discussed.

Who would like this book? Anyone! Whether you are interested in sport, Cantabrians, biography, those overcoming adversity, interesting personalities or simply curious this is a worthwhile read.

If you are interested in any aspect of swimming have a look at our swimming resources page.

Who inspires you? Have you read any memorable biographies or autobiographies this year?

Prudish New Brighton

A gem from the NZ Truth in 1928 – New Brighton was apparently inundated with “pagans from the city”. The photograph below from 1918  shows a group of these “pagans” displaying neck to knee swimwear.


A wowser council

N.B According to the Oxford English Dictionary a wowser is “A Puritanical enthusiast or fanatic; esp. a fanatical or determined opponent of intoxicating drink.”

New Brighton, a beautiful marine suburb … is a painfully pious settlement which produces two religious publications and regards it as sinful to marry the sister of a defunct missus. In the summer months pagans from the city swarm to the seaside to breathe the health-giving ozone and parade the beach in scanty attire. New Brighton is shocked periodically and, last year, made itself the laughing stock of the Dominion by prosecuting the wearers of ordinary swimming costumes. It lost … but is still in the frame of mind which prevents it from seeing that prudishness which sees harm in a swimming costume is mere evidence of prurience. New Brighton was particularly scandalised by the conduct of some shameless ladies with good figures who entered the water in fetching, tight-fitting costumes which are worn on continental beaches and in Australia ….  Notwithstanding the magistrate’s decision, new by-laws have been drawn up to prevent the public enjoying themselves at the seaside

[Both sexes were to wear neck-to-knee costumes and women’s costumes were to be shapeless.]

No bathing costume in any part of the world reaches to the knee …. Girls are to make themselves look as unbeautiful as possible in baggy garments that are a hindrance and vexatious in the water.

NZ truth, 19 January 1928

The library has some great photographs of New Brighton capturing its life as one of New Zealand’s premier seaside suburbs, full of life and character. New Brighton residents have been good at recording their local history and the place has inspired novels and biographies.

This information came from Richard Greenaway – an expert on the local history of Christchurch. Some of you might have been on one of his fascinating cemetery tours. He has an eye for a good story and the skill and patience to check and cross check all kinds of references. He has compiled a wonderful array of New Brighton stories.