Holding on to Heritage

Suffrage and Heroism was the title of the talk I heard today as part of the Heritage Week programme.  It was at the Trinity Congregational Church which is currently being restored, and was promoted as being a talk about Kate Sheppard and Henry James Nicholas, both of whom worshipped at this church.  While Dr Anna Crichton, Chair of Christchurch Heritage Trust,  did give an outline of their lives, most of her talk was about the Church and the adjacent Shands Emporium, and this was of greater interest to me.

Shands Emporium

We entered through Shands Emporium, needing to sign in, because the church is still a construction site, and as the building is not weathertight, it was cold inside.  Anna started by saying that much of Christchurch’s rebuild has a spreading of sameness with little individuality and the soullessness of internationalism.  She stressed that heritage buildings are about nostalgia, stories, and memories, a statement of faith that gives a visual connection between us and our ancestors.  Both the Trinity Congregational Church and Shands Emporium are Category 1 Heritage buildings.  Shands’ front window, which has been beautifully hand-painted in a copy of the original, is currently boarded up, but the covering was removed for today’s event.  All the original structure of Shands has been retained.

Shands front window

The Church, built in 1875 and designed in the early French Gothic style by Benjamin Mountfort has an amazing double barrelled vault ceiling.  The ceiling and timber pillars survived the 2011 earthquakes.

Vaulted wooden ceiling

In the early 1880s Kate Shepherd taught Sunday School here.  Another member of the congregation was Henry James Nicholas, who was the only Cantabrian to be awarded a Victoria Cross in World War One.  My own parents were married in this same church in 1935.

Three years ago a wild rabbit appeared in the damaged church and was befriended by the workers.  They named him Peter, and he became tame enough to eat from their hands, especially relishing Nutella.  When Peter died he was buried under a concrete column with a jar of his favourite Nutella.

Richard Lloyd, who has managed the restoration since 2011, told us that the double outside walls are now filled with a lime grout.  It’s the first time this system has been used in New Zealand, but it’s common in Europe and the U.K.  There are steel anchors tying the roof to the foundations and the building now meets 100% of code.  Many innovative techniques have been used during the restoration and the next stage is to reinstate the three rose windows.  Any possibility of rebuilding the tower is on hold, because of the cost.  The original tower which was large, ornate, and complex, was an expensive way to have a stairway to the mezzanine area.  The church restoration so far has cost $6 million which is an enormous amount for a small private trust.

The trust was unable to fund the restoration of the organ, priced at $250,000.  Instead they became an ‘organ donor’ and parts of the organ have been used to repair ones at the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church and a Methodist Church.

The Church’s future is likely to be as an entertainment venue.   I fondly remember having birthday dinners there when it was the Octagon, and hope those days may come again.

Trinity awaiting windows

‘A long way you would have to search
to find a more attractive church.’



The community at Gloriavale is often in the news, most recently because of the Stuff investigation into the death of Prayer Ready.   This book tells the story of Phil Cooper, son of Neville Cooper/Hopeful Christian who was the founder of that community and died earlier this year.  Phil eventually rebelled against his father and left the community, but that break caused him and his extended family much heartache.  Author Fleur Beale has written about cults before, and handles the subject sensitively.  Her book is a fascinating insight into the way such a cult exerts control over its members, yet the story ends with hope and love.  Any reader with an interest in the way individuals can be affected by indoctrination would find it thought-provoking.

‘The cult gave them security
did not allow maturity.’


I usually love Fiona Kidman’s novels, but was not enthralled with this one.  To me it seemed more like an essay on the abolition of capital punishment in New Zealand.  The main character is an Irish immigrant who is eventually hanged for murder, the second-to-last person to be executed here.  I enjoyed reading about Auckland in the 1950s, much of which was the same when I was a teenager there in the 1960s.  The well-researched story is based on historic fact, and perhaps it was the blurring between fact and fiction that underwhelmed me?  I’ll be interested to learn what other readers think.

‘It seems that justice was not done
for this poor Irish mother’s son.’

Floral Friday

Cecile Brunner

The first Cecile Brunner rose has flowered.  This rose was bred in France in 1881 by Marie Ducher.   I pruned it heavily in July, and now it’s covered in buds.

Dublin Bay

The Dublin Bay has also produced its first bloom, although this one is not as perfect.  This rose was bred in New Zealand 1975 by Samuel McGredy.  It was one of three roses named after the bays of Ireland.

Lilies of the valley

In the back garden lilies of the valley have spread widely, and are starting to flower.  Their scent is exquisite, so I needed to bring a little bunch inside.

‘Our garden now is full of flowers
they benefit from sun and showers.’



Modern Movies

The new Hoyts cinema in the centre of town was busy.  It’s just opposite the Bus Interchange, and school holidays are the ideal time for families to check it out.  They don’t advertise showing times in the newspaper any more.  You have to go to the website to find out what’s on and when.

Hoyts from outside

There’s an escalator to take you up to the first floor where the cinemas are, and also all the snacks you might want to buy.   You help yourself, then go round the corner to pay at a cash desk.  There were a couple of staff members who presumably keep an eye open to make sure people pay.

The escalator down is only for those who’ve been in the cinemas.  Those who’ve just been looking (like us) have to take the stairs.  There’s a good range of options for meals on the ground floor.  We went to Joe’s Garage, which has a sunny spot right on the corner.

Joe’s Garage at Hoyts

I had a hot chocolate and a cheese and spinach scone.  The scone was a little doughy and too big for me, but prices were reasonable.  The place was busy, but the staff were friendly and efficient.  I’m unlikely to watch a movie at Hoyts, as I prefer Alice’s or Hollywood Cinema, which are locally owned.  However it’s good to have another attraction in the central city.

‘I’m sure that crowds will gladly flock
to this newcomer on the block.’

Artful Andromeda

A popup theatre, Little Andromeda, is being created on the corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets opposite our new library.

Little Andromeda

It’s planned to open tomorrow until mid November with a wide variety of shows.  Prices are low and some events are free.  It all sounds great.

‘This is a chance not to be lost
a popup venue at low cost’

Spring Show

Our cherry tree is covered in beautiful blossoms.  It’s such a pleasure to see, and there’s the promise of lovely fruit at the end of the year – yum!