Mar 29, 2009

Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch's first suburb was originally known as West End. Long forgotten as such, in the 21st century its centre is now the city's cultural precinct. Dominating this locale is what has been charitably described as a warehouse in a tutu.  Little more than a museum of artistic relics from bygone eras, it is the official Christchurch Art Gallery, but it's not a place where art happens.

On the other hand, and opposite side of Hagley Park, is another Christchurch Art Gallery. Situated in the long derelict livestock saleyards at lower Riccarton, it's a location where art actually takes place. As such it might well deserve equal recognition as a cultural precinct.

A photographic essay by Brendon Keenan of the Canterbury Saleyards art collection, where cameras are allowed, opens in a new tab or window.

Mar 28, 2009

A Most Unlucky Ship

Of all the ships to have served Lyttelton Harbour the luckiest would have to be the extant steam tug Lyttelton of 1907, but at the other end of the scale was the unfortunate Manchester.

Launched for the Manchester Ship Canal Company by William Simons & Company at Renfrew, near Glasgow on Tuesday, the 15th of July, 1890, the Hopper Dredger was named Manchester. With a length of length: 55.3 metres (180.2 feet) and a beam of 12 metres (39.1 feet), Yard No 279 displaced 881 gross registered tons. Capable of dredging 700 tons per hour to a depth of 10.75 metres (35 feet) and fitted with electric lighting, she cost her owners £20,000.

The canal was completed in 1894 and four years later the twin screw vessel was offered for sale at £15,000. In June 1898 the Lyttelton Harbour Board offered £12,750  for the dredge and by September the sale had been completed.

Subsequent to undergoing repairs, the Manchester left Liverpool for Lyttelton on the 7th of February 1899.  Aboard was the brindle Bull Terrier of Andrew Anderson, son of the 1850 pioneer blacksmith and Mayor of Christchurch, who was visiting his parent's former homeland at the time. In what was probably the longest ever voyage to New Zealand, it would be another fourteen months before the Civil Engineer would see his dog again. In the meantime the Anderson's Lyttelton shipbuilding yard constructed a hopper barge to act in consort with the new dredge.

The Manchester made it as far as Ireland, where she put into Waterford for machinery repairs. Next stop was Gibraltar where she incurred further repair costs amounting to £700 during her month long stay. Crossing the Mediterranean, the dredge traversed the Suez Canal before sailing on to Singapore via Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Eagerly awaited in Lyttelton, where few of the larger ocean steamers were now making the township their final port of departure, owing to the risk when they were fully loaded, Captain John William Clark, the Lyttelton Harbour Master left by the Monowai for Brisbane in late January 1900 in order to meet and take charge of the Harbour Board's dredge.

Under Clark's command the Manchester sighted Cape Maria at 10.50 p.m. on the 9th of March 1900, and the North Cape next morning, when the gale abated. Owing to bad weather she called in at Whangamumu on the evening of the 10th, where it was discovered that the feed-pipe in her engine room was cracked. Repairs were effected at Auckland and on the 14th she sailed for Lyttelton, which she reached on the 22nd of that month.

Andrew Anderson was on the wharf to meet her arrival, but long before he could see anything he heard the joyous barks as his dog careered around the deck in a geat state of excitement. But the dredge had experienced a terrible voyage, most of which was spent undergoing repairs in ports along the way, and there was a great deal of discontent among the crew, as they had signed on for a fixed amount for the duration of what turned out to be a 408 day voyage.

On the 5th of April 1900, at a meeting of the Lyttelton Harbour Board, the chairman stated that the Board had suffered great loss in connection with bringing out the dredge from England. He reported that the persons who had been paid to protect the Board's interests had grossly abused their trust, and the expenses of the dredge, instead of being £24,000, had been £30,000. A special committee was set up to report on the expenses and delay incurred.

By the end of the following month the Manchester was deemed ready for service and a trial of the dredging machinery was undertaken while the vessel was moored between No. 7 wharf and the graving dock. In half an hour from fifty to sixty tons of highly tenacious, cement-like mud were raised from the harbour floor.

The Manchester's most significant contribution to the development of the port was the reclamation to the southern side of the graving dock, where the oil wharf and tank farm now stands, but during this time crew members succumbed to fatal accidents on two occaisions. In March 1912 she was replaced by the 1,117 ton suction hopper dredger Canterbury (1911-1968) and the Manchester was offered for sale at £20,000.

Sold to the Sydney Harbour Trust in 1912, Manchester departed from Lyttelton in the command Captain James Downie on the 3rd of April. Aboard were three of the original crew who had brought the vessel to New Zealand in 1900, one of whom had also served his apprenticeship with the builders of the dredge at Renfrew. The balance of the crew were local seamen. Sailing from Wellington for Sydney on the following day, after passing through Cook Strait the Manchester was never heard of again.

By the end of April the cruisers Challenger, Encounter and Pioneer were searching for the dredge, but beyond the discovery of three lifebuoys bearing the name Manchester, Lyttelton in the vicinity of the Manukau Heads and Hellensville between June and November, no trace of the vessel was found. Thus ended what is perhaps one of the most poignant of all Lyttelton's tales.

Photo Credit: Photograph of the Manchester moored on the Manchester Canal courtesy of the Manchester Ship Canal Society.

Mar 27, 2009

Looters Ransack Historic Site

The Rising Sun hotel was built on what had been the garden of Dr. Augustus Florance in 1865 by Frank Innes, who had arrived at Lyttelton aboard the Sebastopol two years earlier. 

Situated in the Christchurch suburb of St Albans and more infamously known as the Rising Hell, the much altered and extended hotel became the Caledonian in 1878. As such it continued to enjoy something of a louche reputation until closing in late 2007.

The extensive site was undergoing evaluation by archaeologists from the University of Otago when the dig was raided during the night of the 26th of March, 2009. Artefacts and layers of information critical to archaeological analysis were destroyed as the looters picked over the site, upon which it's reported that sixty town-houses are to be built.

Mar 26, 2009

Artist at Work


This is a detail from a photograph taken by a German visitor to our city on the 22nd of March 2009. In something of an increasing rarity, it depicts a working artist rendering a westerly streetscape of Worcester Street, across the Manchester Street intersection, towards Cathedral Square.

There was a time when art galleries were working places where an artist could re-interpret paintings, etc. It's possibly a sad reflection on our era that in the case of the Christchurch Art Gallery, not even the use of a camera is allowed to inihibit the sales of postcards in the ubiquitous gift shop.

However, an old splodger of our acquaintance managed to sneak a small camera into said cultural mall and thereby to record sufficient impression as to effect this rendition of the foyer.


Mar 25, 2009

Photographic Excellence


From Ray Wise of London, comes this coastal landscape of the marine suburb of Sumner from the vicinity of Clifton. With a south-easterly view from Shag Rock (Left), Whitewash Head can be seen at the centre.

Mar 24, 2009

Our Shame

In July 2008 we reported on Ti Kouka House, the circa 1865 home of Samuel de la Bere Barker (1848-1901) at 281 Cambridge Terrace near to the Madras Street bridge.

Son of Dr Alfred Charles Barker, the pioneer of Canterbury photography, Sam Barker was a widely renowned Botanist. A promenade along the river bank was officially named Barkers Avenue as a consequence of his development of a botanical garden in the extensive grounds of Ti Kouka house, which originally stretched from the river bank to Kilmore Street. A part of the garden was subsequently replaced by an extension to Cambridge Terrace, now a cul de sac.

Occupying a potentially valuable inner city redevelopment site, the historically significant house had been allowed to fall into dereliction in an all too familiar and shamefully predictable sequence that resulted in an arson attempt in August, 2008. On the night of the 21st of March 2009 the second attempt to burn the house succeeded.

That the Christchurch City Council and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust apparently turned a blind eye while this historic house, which was in relatively sound condition in July 2008, was allowed to fall into ruin and finally succumb to a second arson attempt, raises serious issues which might be more appropriately addressed at a national level.

Ti Kouka House, 29 June 2003
Courtesy of Early Canterbury Photographers

Further Reading
We are greatfully indebted to kinopus 88 for the above detail from a photograph of the conflaguration, which is part of a sequence of 16 photos recording the final destruction of Ti Kouka House.

Post-fire photos of Ti Kouka House.

July, 2008 original article: Saving Canterbury's Heritage

August, 2008 post fire article: Heritage Tragedy

A sequence of photographs by Ars 666 of the interior of Ti Kouka House in August, 2008

Mar 23, 2009

Christchurch Pantheon

Unveiled on the 18th of March 2009 in front of the neo-Gothic Arts Centre in Worcester Street is a crescent of Bronze caricatures erected by the privately funded Twelve Local Heroes charitable trust.

Said to be of worthies who are among those whose achievements in the second half of the twentieth century are remembered with pride and pleasure by the people of Christchurch, we note with interest that more than half of those enshrined gained this alleged distinction through the world of commerce.

Top row, Left to Right (with the monumental inscriptions)
Sir Angus Tait (1919-2007). Father of the electronics and radio-communications industry in Christchurch, lifelong supporter of research and development, generous benefactor of educational opportunities for others.

William (Bill) Alexander Sutton (1917-2000). Artist, painter and craftsman, student and teacher at Canterbury College and University, pre-eminent painter of Canterbury landscape and people.

Sir Robertson Huntly Stewart (1913-2007). Businessman and industrialist, founder of PDL group of companies, pioneering exporter, generous host and benefactor to many causes.

Sir Tipene O'Regan (b. 1939) Rakatira, kaumatua, writer, orator and teacher, principal negotiator of the Ngai Tahu settlement which brought many positive results for all of Canterbury.
Middle Row
Diana, Lady Isaac. Quarrying and construction company co-founder, dedicated conservator of native birds, preserver of historic buildings, philanthropic benefactor to Canterbury

Elsie Violet Locke (1912-2001). Political, social and local community activist, well-loved historian and writer, determined and doughty fighter for the rights of the under dog, active to the end.

Sir Richard John Hadlee (b. 1951). World-class international cricketer, premier fast-bowler and all-rounder, first bowler to capture 400 test wickets, longstanding supporter of sports, youth development and health.

Frank Dickson. First chief executive of the Canterbury Savings Bank 1962-1988, leader and inspirer of the team which created over $300 million of funds for the Canterbury Community Trust.
Bottom Row
Emeritus Professor Donald Ward Beaven. Doctor, research specialist and teacher, loved and respected as the founder of diabetes research and care in New Zealand, tireless promoter of the healthy life.

Margaret Mahy (b.1936). Christchurch children's librarian, world-famous writer of magical stories and verse for children and young adults, giver of the gift of imagination.

Charles Luney (1905-2006) Master builder of many of the foremost buildings of Christchurch, upright and respected contractor and employer for the 75 years of his working life.

Sir Miles Warren (b. 1929). Eminent architect, at the forefront of building design for over 50 years, generous supporter of the arts and tireless worker for the betterment of Christchurch.

Photo Credit

We are greatfully indebted for the above thumbnails, which are from a photographic essay entitled Twelve Local Heroes, to Bob Hall of Christchurch (link opens in a new tab or window).

Mar 21, 2009

Lyttelton: May, 1924


As part of the 1923-4 world cruise of the Royal Navy's Special Service Squadron, the D Class Battle Cruisers Danae, Dragon and Dauntless visited Lyttelton from the 1st until the 8th of May 1924. With a combined complement of nearly 1,400 sailors, HMS Danae is moored opposite the inter-island ferry Wahine at the No.2 Wharf, with her sister ships at the No.3 Wharf.

Mar 19, 2009

Christchurch Now & Then: High Street

North-westerly views of upper High Street from the Cashel Street intersection, circa 1906 and 2009.

The earlier image is from a postcard printed in Germany and published (possibly by Craig's Pictorial Postcard Depot of Colombo Street) in both monochrome and hand coloured versions, probably to coincide with the Christchurch International Exhibition of 1906-7.

To indicate the modernity of Christchurch, a motor bus, which first entered the photographic record in 1905, is included in the photograph.

A much enlarged version of the earlier image, annotated on the 7th of February 1908, can be seen on The New Zealand Journal web site.

Mar 16, 2009

Cultural Exchange

Photographed at Lyttelton on the 9th of March 2009 by Elaine Hardman of Wellsville, New York is about $400 worth of rather tatty BMC Mini, which is about to join another seven in a shipping container, before heading off to the United States of America.

Although we've long held the dubious distinction of being a world leader in the importation of second-hand motor vehicles, we're also a significant source for vintage and classic cars, which can often be acquired here for a fraction of their international value.

The above photograph would appear to indicate that this market is now widening to include small economical cars that we have a tendency to take for granted. Had one a predilection for an eminently useable investment, then it's quite likely that good examples of this trendy genre (in the USA at least) would prove most rewarding.

Note: a very good example of a run-of-the-mill Mini can be purchased on TradeMe for around $5,000, but the same car in a Yankee dealer's yard would currently fetch in the vicinity of four times that price. 

Now let's see, with eight to the box...

Crucifixional Complexity

A recent north-easterly aspect of Cathedral Square by Jose Sanchez.

Behind the War Memorial of 1937 can be seen the 1901 facade of Warners Hotel, which is currently undergoing significant restoration and extension.

1863 is the date usually attributed to the foundation of this hotel as John Etherden Coker's Commercial and Dining Rooms. However, the records indicate that by that year the Publican's licence had already been transferred to William White. Renamed as the Commercial Hotel, it would appear from contemporary correspendence to have been commonly known as White's Hotel.

The current name was acquired in 1875 and the hotel's greatest claim to fame came in March, 1927 when King George VI (as the Duke of Cornwall) stayed there. Thirty years later the hotel was still claiming "under royal patronage."

Below: from the Christchurch City Council comes an artist's representation of the completed development.

Mar 13, 2009

For the Record...

Photographed on the 28th of December, 2008 by 29 year old Nickmard Khoey of Auckland, this embalmed Mãori head is displayed in the Oceania rooms of the Royal Museum for Art and History at Brussels' Cinquantenaire Museum.

Mr Khoey writes,
Enbalmed (sic) and shrunken head of a 19th century Maori warrior. Maori people are the indigenous people of New Zealand (where I was born/raised).

This head was on display in a musuem in Brussels I visited but can't remember the name of it. I believe it is part of a French collection that is was on loan for a pacific (sic) orientated exhibiton.
The tattoo on the warriors face is called moko or toi moko and is still practised by the Maori people in New Zealand today. However, very few on this kind of scale.

These heads are sacred and need to retruned (sic) to New Zealand.

For the sake of the historical record it should probably be noted that the early 19th century Mãori did a roaring trade in preserved heads for guns. 

The only culture believed to have farmed its own species for fresh meat, they would tattoo the heads of slaves to give them a chiefly appearance. After removal, the heads would be given an antique patina using juice derived from the Konini tree (the world's largest Fuschia).

The guns thus acquired perpetuated a vicious circle that was only broken by extensive European settlement. 

That the often repeated allegation these heads are sacred and therefore need to be returned to New Zealand is, in our unfashionable opinion, little more than ethnocentric hypocrisy.

Photo Credits

a 2008 photograph by Nickmard Khoey of Auckland.

Bottom: Major General Horatio Gordon Robley with his collection of Maori heads, an illustration from
Medicine Man: The Forgotten Museum of Henry Wellcome, British Museum Press, 2003.

Mar 12, 2009

The Early Days Of Canterbury


Canterbury Heritage is pleased to announce the Internet publication of a revised edition of The Early Days Of Canterbury.

A Cashel Street Ironmonger, Alfred Selwyn Bruce (1866-1936) collected stories of the pioneers, many of which were published in The Star evening newspaper. In 1932 they were brought together and published as The Early Days of Canterbury - something of a misnomer as the work mainly concerns the city of Christchurch and the surrounding area.

Subtitled A miscellaneous collection of interesting facts dealing with the settlement’s first thirty years of colonisation, 1850-1880, there are many brief, but entertaining pen portraits of early personalities.

The original type fonts and pagination have been retained, but where the subject matter deviates, the chapters have been re-paragraphed. Punctuation, abbreviations and grammar have also been slightly amended in accordance with current conventions, but beyond that, this revised edition remains faithful to the original text. The index has been expanded and the Editor's occasional annotations are parenthesised in blue.

Links to the chapters open in new tabs or windows.

   Frontis, Dedication, Introduction and Foreword

1 The Selection of Canterbury by Captain Thomas     11

2 Port Lyttelton and our Infant Town of Christchurch     19

3 The Growth of the New Settlement     30

4 Christchurch Grows Apace     40

5 Early Business Thoroughfares     53

6 Sumner and Lyttelton     61

7 Old Identities     75

8 Place Names and Early Settlers     88

9 The Presbyterian Mother Church of the Canterbury Province: St. Andrew's     100

10 Round About the Town     109

11 More Old Identities     118

12 Some More Old Identities     130

13 More Old Identities     139

14 Our Public Squares     150

15 Red Letter Days     158

16 Olla Podrida     167

17 Schools of the Sixties: Pioneer Women     182

18 Early Horse Racing     190

    Synopsis of Contents     198

    Index     202

Mar 10, 2009

Thinking of Building on Mount Pleasant?

This is what London architects Mackay+ Partners have designed as a residence overlooking the sea at Byron Bay, Australia.(more…)

Historically Important Photograph Indentified


A recent indentification enquiry from a reader has resulted in the discovery of a photograph of considerable signficance to historians of Victorian photography. By Nelson King Cherrill, it is a photograph of Oakford, his Christchurch home, and was purchased on a New Zealand Internet auction site for eight dollars, which is estimated to be approximately one hundredth of its value in an international market.

One of the most respected names in Victorian photography, Cherrill (1845-1916) is first recorded as active in that profession in 1865. Aged 32, with his wife and two children he emigrated to New Zealand in July 1876. An internationally renowned writer and lecturer on photography, Cherrill set about making a local name for himself, becoming a Warden of the pro-cathedral (St Michael and All Angels church), Honorary Secretary of the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury and a Christcurch City Councillor from 1879. After five apparently successful years, Cherrill closed his Cashel Street studio and returned to England. It has been suggested that, as a big fish in a very small pond, he lacked professional challenge in an obscure provincial backwater.

Situated upon a sandy hillock on a 20 hectare rural block on the southern side of lower Riccarton Road, Oakford had been built in 1857 by Henry Joseph Hall (1837-1897). Hall appears to have also owned the adjacent block, which now comprises most of the Riccarton shopping precinct, but was originally known as Hall's Township.

Advertised for sale or to let in the Lyttelton Times, as located over Hagley Park, near the Riccarton Railway Crossing, with nine principal rooms, Nelson Cherrill sold Oakford in 1881 for £650 to George Low Beath (1827-1914), a Draper and Outfitter also of Cashel Street.

The last owner of Oakford was John Heaton Rhodes (1888-1960), lawyer, chairman of the Christchurch Press Company Ltd. and a grandson George Rhodes (1816-1864), an early Banks Peninsula farmer.

The much enlarged and somewhat modified Oakford homestead was demolished in 1965 to make way for the development of the Riccarton Village Inn motel in Mandeville Street (which was originally known as Chinamen’s Lane).

Donated to the Riccarton Borough by Jack Rhodes, the Mandeville Reserve on the eastern corner of Riccarton Road and Mandeville Street survives as the last 888 square metres of his 3.2 hectare garden.

Photo Credits

Top: circa 1880 photograph by Nelson King Cherrill (1845-1916), courtesy of Early Canterbury Photographers.

Bottom: circa 1960, illustration from Riccarton, the founding borough: a short history, by Ian McBride, edited by Malcolm Hopwood, prepared for the Riccarton/Wigram Community Board, Christchurch City Council, 1994.

Mar 8, 2009

Old Lyttelton (for Richard)

These are old survey maps and photographs of the intersection of Lyttelton's Winchester and Canterbury Streets.

A north-easterly view across the intersection in 1858.

An 1860 survey map.

The north-west corner about 1865.

A survey map showing the extant buildings in 1867.

A circa 1890 elevated north-easterly view (above). At the north-eastern corner, the home of the Tobacconist William Wales Junior was completed with the addition of a western wing by 1901. The same house photographed in 2007 (below).

Hatherly's grocery shop on the southwest corner in 1901.

The 1860 Anglican church of the Holy Trinity and the 1880 vicarage at the southeast corner, photographed prior to 1906.

Major Christchurch Restoration

A comprehensive restoration is currently underway of a row of nine late Victorian terraced town houses on the south side of Worcester Street, between Barbadoes Street and Fitzgerald Avenue.

Unfortunately, we've been unable to locate a pre-restoration view of the terraced town houses, but they appear to the Right in this circa 1905 photograph.

Mar 7, 2009


Barry King bought Christchurch's oldest bicycle shop for $200 in 1945 and continued to operate the business until 2008, when it was offered for sale by the 83 year-old as a potential redevelopment site.

Situated on the north-eastern corner of Barbadoes and Armagh Streets, the historically significant circa 1875 building has been remodeled rather than conserved. 

Close to half a dozen backpacker hostels, the shop reopened in February, 2009 as the "funky retro" Beat Street Café.  Case Ornsby and Tobin Smith's Form Architecture + Design Ltd now occupy the upper floor.

Mar 6, 2009

Early Hanmer Springs

From a collection of early photographs of Hanmer Springs by C. A. McEvoy.

The ten much enlargeable images can be viewed at the Early Canterbury Photographers web site.

Mar 3, 2009

Photographic Excellence


A north-westerly view of the Avon-Heathcote Estuary in the vicinity of the anchorage at Redcliffs by Mark Herring of Christchurch.

Mar 1, 2009

Corporate Psychopathy


Entitled A north-easterly aspect of Lyttelton from near the Oil Wharf, this is an image by a local photographer.

This photograph was stolen and published by Harcourts Group Ltd for the specific purpose of making a commercial profit or gain; namely, to promote sales of the Fitzroy Head residential subdivision.


In deliberate infringement of New Zealand’s Copyright Act, the photograph appeared in a double page advertisement of issue 506 of the Bluebook Canterbury magazine. It was also used on twelve pages of four separate web sites (one of which, Harcourts proclaim, receives more than half a million views each month).


In late 2008, Bryan John Thomson, CEO of the Riccarton, Christchurch based Harcourts Group was asked by the amateur photographer to address the matter of this theft of intellectual property. He responded with the assurance that "this matter will be addressed in the appropriate manner."

With no subsequent communication, Thomson's interpretation of an appropriate manner might appear to constitute ignoring a criminal offence punishable by substantial fines and a lengthy custodial sentence.

Perception IS NOT Reality is the title of Thomson's latest blog post. In view of the foregoing it could seem that the chief executive of the New Zealand’s largest real estate group's personal perception of legal responsibility may be overdue for a reality check.


Now an international conglomerate in an industry whose ethics are reputedly perceived by New Zealanders with less than favour, the Harcourts Group is currently part of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World global network of nearly 700 real estate companies with 5,500 offices and 170,000 sales associates in 38 countries.