Civic Ceremony

I was honoured to be presented with a Civic Award last evening.

My Civic Award

The event was held in the great Hall of the Arts Centre.  Awards were presented by the Mayor Lianne Dalziel, there was music from a string quartet of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, and refreshments afterwards.

Receiving the Award from the Mayor.

Each Awardee was invited to come up and stand with the Mayor while their citation was read.  Mine was ‘For Community Service’ and I had been nominated by members of the Volunteering Canterbury Board, particularly for what I’d done during the earthquakes and re-organising VolCan afterwards.  These Awards are usually for voluntary service, and I was surprised to receive one for fulfilling my paid role.  However, it’s true that when you’re in a paid role in the voluntary sector, the boundaries are often blurred and you end up doing voluntary hours as well (especially when there have been earthquakes).  I also saw the Award as being recognition of the value of managing and supporting volunteers.  I was able to refer to these aspects in the very short speech I gave afterwards.  We had not been warned that there would be an opportunity for the Awardees to speak, and it’s a few years since I’ve done impromptu public speaking.  It would have been good to have had a chance to prepare for this!

Over the years I’ve organised about thirty Volunteer Awards events, and it was interesting to be on the other side of such an occasion.  I was pleased to have Stephen and two close friends share the evening with me.  Afterwards there were group photos, including one of all the Awardees with the City Councillors.

I’m seated, second from left

‘This unexpected recognition
acknowledged my earthquake position.’




Sunday at the Seaside

Car parks were elusive at the beach this morning, and the sand was crowded with hundreds of people.  Apparently it was the Junior Life Saving Competitions with teams of 7-14 year olds from all over Canterbury.

Hordes of lifesavers

Further north the beach was quieter with only footprints.  This foot appeared to belong to a kelp creature.

Kelp foot

A turnstile appeared, or maybe it’s a direction finder.


‘A lot to see at beach today
in competition or in play.’

Seasonal Skeltonic

Skeltonic verse is named after the poet John Skelton (1460-1529).   It consists of short rhyming lines that flow on from one rhyme to the next for however long the poet chooses.  Skeltonic verse generally averages less than six words per line.  The challenge is to keep short rhymes moving down the page, in an energetic and engaging way.  Here is a seasonal skeltonic poem I wrote for our poetry group’s last meeting in 2018:


Christmas is nigh
go out and buy
bake a mince pie
fools’ rules apply
few people ask why
we eat so much kai
and maybe get high
at this time of Noel
when people who dwell
beneath yuletide spell
often strive to upsell
with ringing of bell
and pine needles’ smell
instore there’s a Santa
in red tam-o’-shanter
excelling in banter
the whole thing’s a bummer
let’s just enjoy summer


©Ruth Gardner

Support in the Southerly

The strong southerly was causing this hollyhock to bend over and I worried it might break.  Others had been staked, but this one was on its own.

Windblown hollyhock

I hurried out to place a strong bamboo stake and fasten the plant to it.  That should hold it firmly.

Staked hollyhock

‘I rescued it from a cruel southerly
with tender action, almost motherly.’


Marking the Milestone

On International Volunteer Day, 5 December, Volunteering Canterbury (VolCan) celebrated its 30th anniversary.  As Manager for 21 of those 30 years I was delighted to attend the carefully organised programme.  This started with a dance from the Catholic Cathedral College Filipino Cultural Group, gracefully depicting a fishing tradition.  The history of VolCan was narrated, several people spoke of how volunteering has changed their lives, and there were presentations to two special volunteers.  I was honoured to be invited to cut the anniversary cake together with a seven-year-old volunteer.

30th Anniversary Cake

The programme finished with items from two Star Jammers, refreshments, and a chance to chat.  This was a first-rate way to mark a special occasion, and a great opportunity for me to catch up with people who’ve been important in my life.

‘The VolCan folk will always be
respected and most dear to me.’


Seasonal Spectacle

This year’s Santa Parade took a route down Madras Street, very close to our home.  We sat in comfort on camping chairs with an excellent view of all the 130+ items on parade.  There were Storybook characters, Bands, Ethnic groups, Schools, and Youth groups.  The sky was overcast with some drizzle, but not enough for anyone to get really wet.  We were sitting by the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church which was offering free coffee and had a queue of people taking advantage of this.

Stephen was in the Parade for 30 years, even leading it one year.  More recently I joined him and we rode in style in an old model A.  This year ‘our’ Model A carried Bananas in Pyjamas.

Bananas in ‘our’ car

A more sedate couple in 2006

It was wonderful to have the parade back in the central city.  Events like this remind us of how special it is to live centrally.

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‘This grand parade was entertaining
despite the fact that it was raining.’

Colour-coded library

A guided tour of Turanga was offered to Friends of the Library today.  Although I’ve already paid several visits I knew there was more to explore and was pleased to take advantage of this occasion.  I hadn’t previously realised that each floor is colour coded, with walls and furniture to match, and a featured bird.  The birds are in the order of height in which they would be found in the forest.  Level Four, Creativity, is blue and features the kereru (I didn’t think to take a photo there).

Level Three, Discovery, is purple and features the tui

Level Two, Identity, is red and features the kakapo

No food or drink is permitted on Level Two because it holds some of our most valuable and culturally significant collections and we want to protect them for current and future generations.  On every other level you can consume if you wish.

Level One, Community, is orange and features the titi.

One aspect I hadn’t noticed before is the mirrored dressup area for children on Level One.

Dressups on Level One

The Ground Floor, Connection, is green and features the pukeko

We were shown the sorting room on the ground floor.  All the books go automatically through a machine which sorts them according to their bar codes.  A librarian then puts each lot into a trolley for delivery to the appropriate level or branch library.

Sorting the returned books

I noted on the upper levels there were often two or three copies of the same book, and a whole shelf of Mills and Boon.  One shelf in the sorting room held books which were ‘borrower’s own’, i.e. they’d been returned to the library but didn’t belong there.

Our tour group was guided by Emma.  I learned much more about the library, and enjoyed some peeks behind the scenes.  Afterwards we had afternoon tea in the Spark Meeting Room.

‘This library holds much more than books
there’s new things everywhere one looks.’