Archive for the ‘Christchurch – Central’ Category

People usually erect a small tent when they’re working on the fibre box outside our house in the rain. Yesterday was different. Two men huddled under a large umbrella which fitted conveniently into a road cone.

Brolly for workmen

An excellent idea to avoid the drizzle, yet leave space on the footpath.

If you’re obliged to work in wet
a brolly may remove the threat

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Exploring part of the new Urban Play Trail was my goal for this morning’s walk, but first I went to Turanga to return a couple of library books. I passed a homeless man sleeping in a New Regent Street doorway, and there were several others camping outside Turanga waiting for it to open at 10am.

The red phone box by Victoria Square is invitingly doorless. Years ago Telecom tried to paint all our phone boxes blue, but Alf’s Imperial Army repainted them red, and this one is a relic of that time. It’s suggested that people fit as many as possible into the box, then take a photo. No-one was attempting that this morning.

Red phone box

Across the road and along Cambridge Terrace a game of noughts and crosses is invitingly set up beside the river. This kind of board game can be traced back to ancient Egypt. The name of the river Otakaro (can’t get macrons here) means place of a game.

Riverside board game

On the riverbank I spied these toadstools among the chestnuts. I don’t know their name, and there are over 5,000 different native fungi in Aotearoa.


The Otakaro Orchard Food Forest has developed tremendously in recent months.

Otakaro Orchard

Some of the trees have individual names.

Cheryl, the peach tree

Near the Band Rotunda there is a Poet Tree where you are invited to add your creation, with boards and chalk provided. Another time I might be tempted.

Poet Tree

These are just a few of the current opportunities for fun in the central city, especially welcome at school holiday time. Thanks to Gap Filler for this project.

There’s lost of ways that you can play
why not check out the trail today?

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I like this sign on the toilets at the Richmond Club:

I felt immediate delight
because this statement says we’re right

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Yesterday I discovered two new murals in Gloucester Street beside Turanga. I gather they are part of this year’s Mini Flare Street Art Festival. The first is an attractive picture of a bird:

I’m not sure what kind of bird it is, but it could almost be a phoenix rising from the fire and I think it’s possibly by Dcypher.

On the adjacent wall someone was working on an image of three faces. The festival runs until 22 March, so it should be finished within a week.

I think it was a woman in the scissor-lift, so suspect this is by Kophie aka Meep. There’s nothing up yet to identify the artists. This year’s festival also features a new mural by Owen Dippie (of the adorable elephants and the ballerina), and I look forward to finding out where that is.

It’s great to have these additions to our inner city – thank you, Flare.

I always love to see a mural
and in this corner they are plural

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With high temperatures forecast Christine and I chose the Botanic Gardens for our monthly walk, thinking there would be plenty of shady spots. Many other people had the same idea and the car park was filling fast when I arrived at 9.30am. I carefully backed into a vacant spot at the end of a row.

There was no wind and the gardens looked immaculate as usual. It was obvious there was a cruise ship in town, we stopped to chat with a couple of tourists, and the Gardens tour shuttles were full.

I matched the flower bed
Tourists kindly took a snap of Christine and me

We popped into the Museum to inquire about the Shift exhibition there and discovered there are discount prices for Seniors and Community Service Card holders. The helpful woman told us booking is not essential and it’s best to avoid entering at the booking hour when it can be busy. Other times are less crowded and you can stay as long as you like.

When I returned to the car park I was surprised to find another vehicle parked close to mine, on the footpath. This was blocking my driver’s door so I got in the passenger’s side and climbed across. By now the car park was full with many cars seeking a spot, and as I prepared to leave a man guided his partner into the lane so she could take my place. The access road was jammed and visibility blocked, so I asked this man if he would guide me out, feeling very glad I’d parked backwards. He kindly stood in the middle of the road and held up both lanes of traffic to facilitate my exit.

Today the park was popular
no space left for another car

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The first Women’s Refuge in New Zealand (and possibly the world) started just round the corner from my home, at 249 Kilmore Street. Rosemary Howard spoke of how this came about. There were no photos to illustrate her talk, partly because of the time (1970s) and partly because of the need to keep Refuge secret.

In the 1970s Rosemary, who described herself as independent, curious and naive, moved from the North Island to study Sociology at the University of Canterbury. Subjects such as the Role of Women, Deviant Behaviour, and Race Relations were greatly stimulating and made her think about the structure of our society. At the age of 19 she joined a group of 60 people, academic and professional, who were thinking about alternative ways of living and how they might develop community and share childcare.

When a large historic house in Merivale, Chippenham Lodge built in 1862 and probably designed by Benjamin Mountfort, came up for sale in 1971 with a price of $20,000 they decided to buy it, and the community began. In an early version of crowdfunding they were able to raise the capital needed. Next they bought the house next door in Mansfield Avenue which cost $24,000. To support and nurture their ideas about sustainability they also bought Cricklegrass Farm at Oxford for $14,000. In 1972 there were 24 adults and about 10 children living on the three properties.

The intention of the community was to share resources and effect social change. Shared roles and childcare gave members the freedom to be involved in various projects such as Greenpeace and Four Avenues Alternative School, and they became social activists. I remember going to a Green Party dinner at Chippenham in the later 1980s, where the entrance pathway was attractively outlined with tea light candles.

In the 1970s Women’s Liberation was a strong movement in Aotearoa. Organisations such as the National Organization of Women and Zonta were all thinking and asking questions about the limitations placed on women, e.g.abortion law reform and equal pay. Women could not enter a public bar, and banks refused to accept a woman as a signatory for a loan. When Rosemary was refused equal pay at Watties she chained herself to a pea harvester. Broadsheet magazine, first published in 1972 fuelled the fire of many women and led to the United Women’s Conventions and the Radical Feminist Network. Women from all walks of life were talking and asking questions about patriarchy.

A meeting place for local women was needed, and the Chippenham group rented half a house at 249 Kilmore Street as a place where women could meet and talk about their oppression. (The house has since been replaced by townhouses.) Books about feminism were being circulated. The power imbalance between the sexes was recognised. The focus of this Women’s Centre was to talk about how they could change society. Then injured women started to arrive in great distress, with children and hastily packed bags. The Centre, staffed by a roster of women, became a Safe House.

They thought there would be just a few isolated cases, rented the other half of the house, and were soon overflowing with distressed women. It was decided to retain the Kilmore Street house as a discussion centre and look for another Safe House. They approached the Christchurch City Council who were initially not interested in assisting battered women. Rosemary refused to leave the Council offices until they gave her a house, which they eventually did, in Hastings Street, Sydenham, and so the first Women’s Refuge in Aotearoa was established. Previously women who experienced domestic violence might go to their local church or to the Society for the Protection of Home and Family, but the topic of violence against women was not to be mentioned. The police were not supportive at the time, but were persuaded to run some staff education programmes.

From 1973 to 1977 the Refuge was run by a roster of volunteers and many women from the Chippenham Community were involved. Other women asked how they could help – some gave goods, others pledged a dollar a week. In 1973 the Labour Government introduced the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) which gave single mothers the opportunity for economic independence. The Refuge set up a network of contacts in Christchurch to assist women with accessing DPB and State Housing.

Fundraising was an important activity. For instance Refuge ran a champagne party at the Arts Centre supported by the Court Theatre. Actors offered a play called The Liberation of the Shrew and a substantial amount was raised. Rosemary spoke to service clubs asking for money, but the response was often negative, because the reality of domestic violence was not believed.

The beginning of Refuge has not been well-documented, because the work was all voluntary, underground, and secret. In 1977 some roles became paid with Government funding. Importantly the issue of domestic violence in this country was recognised. Instances of this increased after the Christchurch earthquakes, and again with Cyclone Gabrielle so vigilance and activism are still required.

On the Avon Ōtākaro riverbank near The Bricks there are two kowhai trees planted by Daphne Terpstra, Dame Ann Hercus, and Lady Hay to mark National Awareness Week for Women’s Refuges throughout New Zealand in 1988. Daphne was the woman we bought our cottage from, and she told us that it had sometimes been used for the overflow from the Refuge. I wonder if this site was chosen for the memorial because of its proximity to 249 Kilmore Street.

Memorial kowhai trees on riverbank

In the 1990s I worked at the Women’s Centre which was then in Cathedral Square. It had been set up as a link between Refuge and the wider community. The women there taught me about power and control, and about working collectively.

Do you have Refuge memories you’d care to share publicly?

The women looking after others
with care for children and their mothers

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I’ve bought my eggs from PIKO for the past 36 years. I appreciate that they come from free range hens and egg boxes are recycled. Deliveries are made Monday and Thursday mornings, and I usually get half a dozen at a time, occasionally a dozen.

With the nationwide shortages lately PIKO have limited sales to two dozen per customer, and deliveries sell out quickly. Yesterday we had only three eggs left, so I went across at 10.30am hoping to buy a dozen, as I knew I’d be out on Thursday morning and not able to stock up then.

To my surprise there were no eggs on display, they were all stacked behind the counter where a staff member was busily packing them into boxes. When I inquired I was told eggs now need to be pre-ordered, and that when they’d filled the prior orders they would phone me to let me know when mine were available. I was relieved to get my dozen and have placed a standing order for every Monday.

Egg rack re-stocked

I haven’t checked the egg shelves at the supermarket but have heard of friends who’ve missed out on getting eggs. It’s especially hard for vegetarians and those who like to bake. There are lots of hints around as to what you can substitute for eggs. One friend told me she made a Christmas cake using golden syrup instead of eggs, which turned out fine.

The egg shortage is likely to last for another six months until more young hens come into lay. The upside is that no hens will now be confined to battery cages. The price of eggs and of some baked goods will go up, sad when the cost of living is making life hard for many, but we need to remember that previously it was the hens who were paying.

Have you changed your ways with eggs?

Support for moves to free range hens
means liberation from cruel pens

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Big Birds

A mural I hadn’t seen before is on the fence outside Rydges Hotel in Oxford Terrace. It features birds and reptiles of Aotearoa, and is by Chilean born artist Rodrigo Rozas.

I love all these images, and like to think that the people in town for the Buskers’ Festival will admire them too.

I hope that you will spread the words
so folk can see these native birds

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Peculiar Plate

This number plate caught my eye in the car park at The George.

To me it seemed slightly offensive and reminiscent of the objectionable term used by a former M.P. to describe women. The fact that it was attached to an expensive BMW made it seem worse. I thought that someone with that kind of money should have better sense.

I googled and found that colleges in India offer a Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery, and some of these institutions are known as Top BUMS. Maybe this BMW driver is a medical graduate?

Could graduates perhaps become
known locally as a Top Bum?

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Stephen’s favourite activity is to eat out, so one of his Christmas presents from a daughter was a Christmas Eve dinner at Venuti, our favourite Italian restaurant. I’m lucky that he was happy to share his present with me.

We arrived early to be sure of nearby parking, and strolled down to Victoria Square where the dandelion fountain was playing and people were starting to set up for Carols by Candlelight at 9pm.

Venuti was taking bookings from 6 to 7pm, so they could close at 9pm and go home to do their Santa duties. We were happy to eat early and support their being able to finish ready for their two weeks’ holiday.

Our table was by the window and we enjoyed watching the passers-by who included many members of the Salvation Army Band complete with instruments, and members of the combined Christchurch Choir carrying songbooks, all headed for Victoria Square. We also saw people with bags of takeaways, and uber eats being delivered across the road. All this while we relished our delicious meals. Stephen had his favourite Margherita pizza while I chose grilled gurnard with caponata (eggplant relish), vegetables and salad.

Dinner at Venuti

To finish we shared a serving of Tiramisu – always our choice at this restaurant and always delectable.


We drove home in daylight, thus avoiding any late-night hoons, in plenty of time for a Christmas Eve Zoom with the distant daughters.

The meal is always such a beauty
at favourite restaurant Venuti

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