Kia ora Russell, I thought you and your son might be interested in the latest podcast from the London Review Bookshop which is an interview with Simon Garfield about his book In miniature: how small things illuminate the world.
I, too, love my bath.
A powerful, peaceful, wonder-ful tribute Hilary. Ngā mihi ki a koe.
Really upset to hear this. I have worked extensively with the Mobile Unit recordings which are part of the Sound Archives here in Christchurch. These are recordings made on acetate disks (fragile and highly flammable) which were recorded with equipment in vans which came back from recording troops overseas in WW2. Some bright spark had the brilliant idea to send the vans around the country, initially to record the great musical talent in the provinces. Except there wasn't any talent of course, but they found that recordings of old time reminiscences they also did were very popular.
Over the period of 1946-1948 the vans travelled around the Coromandel, Waikato, Taranaki and Otago regions. Until a National government stopped the funding for the project. These recordings, of people born from the 1860s onwards, formed the basis of a world renowned research project The Origins of New Zealand English (ONZE) - the first time the development of a variety of a language has been able to be charted.
The vans also recorded some Māori elders, and these recordings formed the basis of a project charting the changes in the pronunciation of the Māori language over 150 years (the MAONZE project).
Interestingly, the original Sound Archives collection, as you note, was housed in Timaru, above a petrol station (imagine the explosion if that had gone up - it would have been nuclear!). The collection was moved to Kent House in Durham Street, Christchurch at some point, but of course, that building had some earthquake risk. So the collection has had an eventful life. The original collection was gathered together by a technician who travelled around the radio stations during the 70s I think, gathering up as much of the old material as possible. There wasn't many recordings on tape as the tape was usually reused (the tape being regarded as more valuable than the sounds on it).
So a great history and a great treasure. It'd be such a shame for the archives to be moved - and would have to be done with extreme care due to the fragility of the material (some of those acetate disks have glass as the base material under the acetate). It would cost a fortune to move and pretty treacherous considering the current road route to Picton.
My experience of the Chch CBD is perhaps different from that of other people. We regularly cycle into town on weekends to check up what's going on. I'm a very spacially orientated person, I remember buildings, etc, and miss them when they're gone - but after the quake when so much was taken down, I realised I needed to alter my angsty response - there was too much to say goodbye to.
The post-quake phases in the CBD were:
pile of rubble,
rubble removed wasteland,
I found that I quite liked the wasteland phase - you could see the sides of remaining buildings that normally you wouldn't because other buildings butted right up to them. Old painted advertisements on the sides of buildings were now revealed. Suddenly, it seemed to me, the remaining buildings could breathe in the extra space. What I liked about this phase was the sense of potential. So, this is what it's like when you start a city pretty much from scratch.
Of course, building is now happening apace. Lots of good stuff, as you mention Russell. The Margaret Mahy playground was such an inspired Council investment. It's got families back into the city. Like you noted, there's always a lot of people there and teens hang out there after dark. The New Regent St shops nearby make a great spot to have a cup of coffee. Sure not everything is good - that convention centre area there is literally nothing has a real spooky feel.
So, this is a Pollyanna post - and not to brush over all the pain that has happened and continues. Nevertheless, I feel that I'm getting to live in a new city without having moved.
Just to add: we couldn't have survived without the gap filler art and events - the sudden serendipity and joy that brought/brings was what we needed. Never let anyone say that the arts aren't essential.
The Salvation Army - yes, they do some good work, particularly in the drug and alcohol area. but I always tell collectors two reasons why I won't donate to them: their opposition to the Bill and that I can't bring myself to donate to an organisation with the motto 'Blood and Fire'. ... Though I notice that they seem to have discretely dropped displaying the motto.
Tēnā koe Russell, kōrua ko Toi. Pai rawa tēnei kōrero. Loved hearing from Willie, Waihoroi, Leonie and Jennifer. Loved Willie's passion for te reo and advocacy. I was/am sceptical about the new Te Mātāwai structure but if Willie's kōrero is anything to go by I am very heartened. He obviously knows the realities and difficulties in increasing the numbers of reo speakers but his passionate determination also came across. Great also to hear Leonie and Jennifer's stories as adult learners of te reo - an inspiration to many, I hope. Always a pleasure to watch Wassie - he just loves a good argument/discussion. Mauriora ki a kōrua mō tēnei hōtaka me te titiro ki tēnei kaupapa nui anō hoki.
Ohh! Ka mau te wehi! Awesome thread. And with some suggestions (thanks folks) that'll make it a great summer of reading for me.
My (not already mentioned) favs are: Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe mysteries - orchids, food, NY brownstone, prickly but brilliant detective who outwits everyone. Also Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano series - the Sicilian landscape, subtle but powerful writing, humour and the vexations of life. For a NZ fix Paul Thomas' gritty Tito Ihaka series.
Great to read all the memories. Wish there were more photos. And lovely to hear from Sister Mary Gearchange (above) - would be wonderful to have one of the t-shirts. Late 70s - Māori club in the Upper Common Room with Tainui Stephens and assorted others, orientation battle with The Wizard and Alf's Imperial Army - with everyone ending up in the Avon. The caf, orientation bands in the Ballroom. Yes, great memories. But she was a tired old lady for a while before the quakes ...