Posts Tagged ‘Word’

A clever exhibition Carpe Librum ‘Seize the Book’ was part of the Word Festival.  It’s on show at Ara Institute (formerly CPIT) Artbox in Madras Street until Friday.  Some of the works by Ara students and staff were made from decommissioned books from Ara’s library.

By Deborah Marshall

By Deborah Marshall

Deborah Marshall, photography tutor, sent her book out and asked those who picked it up to take a photo of themselves with it, then pass it on.

Dinner is served by Bruce Aitken

Dinner is served by Bruce Aitken


by Penny Jamieson

by Penny Jamieson

Penny Jamieson made a beautiful new book in a clamshell box.

by Carol King

by Carol King

Carol King’s offering used a book called ‘The Utilisation of Wood Waste’ and included a toilet roll holder.

'Bang Bang Bang' by Henry Sunderland

‘Bang Bang Bang’ by Henry Sunderland

The bullets in Henry Sunderland’s work were labelled Google, Facebook, and YouTube.

“It’s good to go and have a look
see what they can do with a book.”


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The walking tour along the Otakaro was a feature of this year’s WORD festival.  Offered on three days, it quickly sold out, and I was glad to have secured a place.  Joseph Hullen (Ngai Tuahuriri, Ngai Tahu) led us first to the riverbank in Victoria Square, opposite the law courts, where there is a significant group of Ti Kouka/Cabbage trees.

Ti Kouka (Small)

Ti Kouka trees, of the same family as leeks and onions, provided food, shelter, clothing, and footwear for early Maori.  This area was the largest mahinga kai/food gathering area in Otautahi, and from here food was transported to the settlement at Kaiapoi.  There were a number of Pa nearby, which served as way stations for travellers, and where people could keep an eye on their food source.  From the 1780s local Maori interacted and traded with sealers and whalers, but in 1850 the Pa sites disappeared with the Kemp Purchase.  The first organised commerce between Kai Tahu and Pakeha settlers happened at the Market Square (now Victoria Square).  Maori built houses on the corner where the Oxford Tavern later stood, and brought goods in from Kaiapoi to sell to the settlers.

There were urupa/graveyards all through the city, because Maori like to bury their dead where they can keep an eye on them.  When the St Luke’s Vicarage was built a skeleton was found which is considered to be that of Tautahi for whom Otautahi was named.  Since the earthquakes, wherever there are excavations they will be overseen by an archaeologist, and by a member of the runanga if it’s an area where there may have been an urupa.

Because of the food gathering tradition of the Otakaro/Avon River, Kai Tahu are keen to have their cultural values commemorated.  Patterns laid out in stone, such as this one at the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, help to tell the stories.

Maori Design MMP (Small)

The patterns are set in a metal frame so that if the area needs to be dug up in future the pattern can ramain intact.

Some of Joseph’s story was heard in an interview with Kim Hill on Saturday morning.  His part comes after the bit with Sam Crofskey of C1 Espresso.

After the walk I went to a session on Ngai Tahu Story Telling with Ta Tipene O’Regan.  He talked about an oral map, and how when cultures move they take the memories with them and plant them in a new place.  Place names are the memory posts, the signposts of the land.  He told the story of Poutini, and how Port Levy got its Maori name Koukourarata.   Ta Tipene said that myth is the only reality.

“An afternoon of Maori lore
has left me wanting to hear more.”



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Bust (Small)

‘Feminism and Popular Culture’ was the title of Saturday morning’s session at WORD.  Debbie Stoller is the co-founder and editor of Bust magazine, and the author of the Stitch n Bitch books.  There were more men at this session – at least ten – but they all appeared to be there with a female partner.  The session opened with an inquiry as to whether anyone had brought their knitting.

Bust magazine (“for women with something to get off their chests’) has been published since 1993 and just produced its 100th issue.  The aim is to publish the truth and variety about women – ‘girlie feminism’.  Debbie spoke of the difficulty of producing a feminist magazine in print and said they need to ‘pull themselves up by their brastraps every day’.  There is no money in feminism, and a hard copy magazine is considered retro and vintage these days.  She spoke of how they started by doing the layout by hand, copying by xerox, and stapling the sheets together.  I was reminded of my days editing the Values Party Linkletter (doing layout with removable cow gum), and the early days of Broadsheet. 

Debbie talked about how those working in the private sphere, e.g. stay-at-home mothers, get no public recognition, but these days they can start a ‘lifestyle’ blog with photos, and this transforms their work into something more satisfying.  People in the public eye used to be afraid to say they were feminists, for fear of backlash, but nowadays celebrities are afraid not to be feminist because of possible backlash.  She pointed out that the myth that feminists are ‘ugly and hate men’ goes right back to suffrage days.  Many issues are too complex to be discussed on Twitter, and there is no real arena available to explore issues affecting women.  These days mainstream media is the site of change and power, where once it was politics.

It was interesting to hear a younger woman talk about today’s feminist issues.  Most of my feminist friends are in their sixties or older, and I sometimes wonder where the young feminists are.  There is no feminist magazine in Aotearoa since Broadsheet ceased in 1997.  The Hand Mirror is a local blog which discussed feminist issues, and there must be more?  Debbie said that while women may now be able to make choices, they are still making them within a sexist society, and just being able to make a choice doesn’t mean you’re a feminist.  She wondered whether the fact that we can say anything is feminist may mean that feminism will die.  Having a satisfying paid career is often seen as the aim for women, but that comes from a male culture,  We need to re-value and re-consider the things that come from a female culture, e.g. knitting and cooking.

Asked about the U.S. Presidential election Debbie said that although she had supported Bernie Sanders she would be voting for Hilary Clinton, because the U.S. system means people are obliged to vote strategically ‘for the lesser evil‘.

“Feminist future seems to me
to be uncertain as can be.”



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A panel discussion on ‘Imaginary Cities’ included three authors, and an urban designer from the Christchurch City Council.

Anna Smaill spoke of how memory is accessed differently in the city where you grew up.  In a city you can be alone yet sociable, and every new city you move to has the potential to be utopia (or dystopia).

Hamish Clayton spoke of Wellington – how the geography there intensifies the city, and the university is close to other institutions such as Government.  He cautioned that Wellington may be turning towards self-satisfaction.

Hugh Nicholson, principal adviser in urban design at the City Council, pointed out that cities are always changing, and Christchurch is changing at speed.  The compexity of cities makes them vibrant and exciting, and the changes are the accumulation of millions of individual decisions.  He lameted the fact that there’d been no opportunity to turn ‘Share an Idea’ into a process.

Fiona Farrell read from the first chapter of her book “The Villa at the Edge of the Empire” (which sold out within a week).  The book has been described as being written with an angry mind, a philosophical spirit, and a wise and forgiving heart.  She pointed out that changes are often driven by politics, power, and the impulse to profit.

There was discussion of how memory is so much tied up with place, and that the loss of place can bring psychic disturbance.  However a novel can be comforting, bringing possibility and hope.  In Christchurch it’s dangerous to forget about streams and faultlines.  In the Blitz the City of London lost 45% of its buildings, and in Central Christchurch we have lost 70%.  The blueprint is essentially utopian, but utopias are always beyond our reach, while a city is continually changing and always in a state of becoming.

“How could our city yet evolve
is not a question we can solve.”


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