Return to quake city, II

Almost three years ago, in the middle of the Rugby World Cup, I returned to my old home town, Christchurch. I was so shaken (probably the right word in the circumstances) by the sight of places familiar from my early life and now piles of stone rubble on the ground, that I immediately wrote a blog post, ‘Return to quake city‘.

Several weeks ago I returned to Christchurch. This time I had a mission. I set out to take photographs at the very same spots where I had taken shots in 2006 – pre-earthquake – for the Te Ara story on Canterbury, so that we can update that entry and perhaps show ‘before’ and ‘after’ images.

Once more I was walking in the footsteps of my childhood; once more I was contemplating the effect of the big quakes. It was a fascinating exercise. Compared with 2011, there were now hopeful, and in places intriguing, signs of recovery. Yet, comparing photos from 2006 and 2014 reveals that few places were left unaffected by those terrifying moments at 12.51 pm on 22 February 2011.

I started at Lake Victoria. In 2006 this had been a peaceful, bucolic scene of a garden city.

Lake Victoria, 2006

Lake Victoria, 2006

When I came back in 2011, the lake had disappeared. The scene was no more than mounds of reddish earth.

'Lake Victoria', 2011

'Lake' Victoria, 2011

This time in 2014 the restoration was remarkable – apart from the lack of oldies sitting in the sun, it could have been 2006 again.

Lake Victoria, 2014

Lake Victoria, 2014

I moved on to my alma mater, Christ’s College, where in 2011 there was serious damage to the old Gothic revival buildings in the quad. This time the entrance had a proud notice fixed to the gate that read ‘Restoration wins two awards’, with photographs of before and after. The old order had returned.

Then it was time to visit the square. In 2011 I could only peer at the wreck of the Anglican Christchurch Cathedral through railings. Now I could wander and get close to the rubble. It was obviously still depressing for someone who had spent many hours singing psalms within its precincts. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos show not only the destruction but also the troubling lack of people in the square.

Christchurch Cathedral, 2006

Christchurch Cathedral, 2006

Christchurch Cathedral, 2014

Christchurch Cathedral, 2014

Yet, there were also hopeful signs. Everywhere there were plantings and colourful murals, and on one side a beautiful chorus of fluttering flags.

Flags, 2014

Flags, 2014

I came across an intriguing notice that read, ‘Audacious – explore the city by ear – resonifying the city’. It went on to explain that the project was designed to bring back sounds to spaces that had become quiet after the earthquake. There was also an advertisement for ‘Canterbury Tales’ – a carnival and procession of liberation through the former red zone.

Wherever I went, comparing before and after, I could not escape the quakes. I had wondered if it would be worth re-photographing the old Deans Cottage in Riccarton Bush, because it was a wooden structure and surely it had been untouched. Not so – here are the two photographs of 2006 and 2014. Scaffolding and barriers just cannot be avoided.

Deans Cottage 2006

Deans Cottage, 2006

Deans Cottage,2014

Deans Cottage, 2014

And when I visited the beautiful Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, the pain of loss resurfaced.

Catholic Cathedral, 2006

Catholic Cathedral, 2006

Catholic Cathedral, 2014

Catholic Cathedral, 2014

Yet even here the sight was still better than in 2011.

Catholic Cathedral, 2011

Catholic Cathedral, 2011

The containers were still holding up Francis Petre’s masterpiece, but the rubble had disappeared.

I ended my visit in east Christchurch, driving through the swampy ‘red’ area around the former Queen Elizabeth Park, where sizeable homes now sit vacant while sections around them are stripped bare, and I saw Steeple Rock at Sumner, now minus the steeple. But it was the collection of artworks along the main road at Sumner that attracted my interest. The huge murals sit beneath a cliff, at the top of which fragments of destroyed houses can be seen teetering on the edge. One of these murals shows a scantily clad woman with a worried, pensive look.

Sumner, 2014

Sumner, 2014

It reminded me of another artwork, on the wall of the Christchurch Art Gallery – which, despite having been a symbolic beacon of hope as the centre of operations after the earthquake, is now boarded up for $50 million worth of repairs. There too a lone woman looks down on the city.

Christchurch Art Gallery, 2014

Christchurch Art Gallery, 2014

These images of women – worried, serious, reflective, yet also strangely determined to weather it all – perhaps symbolise a city that slowly, slowly, slowly, is in recovery mode.

Freshwater invertebrates of Campbell Island revealed

In this guest post aquatic scientist Shelley McMurtrie writes about the results of an expedition to a subantarctic island.

It’s a proud day when a scientist has a discovery named after her (thanks Adrian Pinder!) In the field of invertebrates the chance of finding a new species is certainly greater than, say, working in the field of mammals, but even so, it is a rare privilege and one thing on my bucket list that I didn’t think I would ever tick off.

In my case, my surname (McMurtrie) is being shared with a tiny worm (Macquaridrilus mcmurtrieae) that lives only in the streams and tarns of the remote subantarctic island known as Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku.

You can meet my namesake – and 35 other individuals – in the first interactive key (and associated information sheets) to the freshwater invertebrates of Campbell Island to ever be published.

Campbell Island is well known for its beautiful display of colourful megaherbs but it is also home to a vast freshwater network that has been poorly studied in the past. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

Campbell Island is well known for its beautiful display of colourful megaherbs but it is also home to a vast freshwater network that has been poorly studied in the past. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku is a special place, with lots of plants and animals unique to the island. It lies 700 kilometres south of New Zealand’s mainland, the most southerly of the five New Zealand subantarctic groups. It was once farmed, but it has been free of introduced animals (such as sheep and rats) since 2001 and has UNESCO World Heritage status for its outstanding natural values. Campbell Island is world famous for its unique and colourful megaherbs, one of the largest colonies of royal albatross, and because it was the focus of the world’s largest (and successful) island rat eradication programme.

I was privileged to visit in 2010, as part of the Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition – a multi-disciplinary research expedition marking 200 years since the island’s discovery by Europeans. I led a small team of freshwater ecologists whose mission was to unravel the mysteries of the freshwater environs, nutrient subsides (finding out how much the marine environment subsidises the food web of land-based habitats such as streams), and past climatic and environmental changes.

The streams on the island were very different from each other and even varied along their length. In its headwaters Camp Stream is almost an underground stream, carved deep into the peat layers and covered over with vegetation. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

The streams on the island were very different from each other and even varied along their length. In its headwaters Camp Stream is almost an underground stream, carved deep into the peat layers and covered over with vegetation. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

It was the most comprehensive aquatic sampling programme to ever take place on the island. We collected aquatic invertebrates, periphyton (algae), microbes (single-cell organisms), samples to test water and sediment quality, and samples to test for stable isotopes (carbon and nitrogen signatures that tell us whether the energy flow in food webs is sourced from marine or terrestrial sources) from 25 streams and 9 tarns. We also sampled 34 tarns for water and sediment quality. The 235 invertebrate samples collected as part of this research programme were used to develop the invertebrate keys.

We discovered that Campbell Island’s streams and tarns are home to a moderately diverse range of freshwater invertebrate species, with the 36 taxa being a big increase from the 16 taxa previously documented from streams on the island. Many of these are  are unique to the island, which is not surprising, considering its isolation and the harsh environment. But what is equally interesting is that the island also plays host to some of the same species that are found on mainland New Zealand – such as the common caddis fly, Oxyethira albiceps.

In its mid to lower reaches Camp Stream is wide and cobble-lined, and runs through a Dracophyllyum ‘dwarf forest’. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

In its mid to lower reaches Camp Stream is wide and cobble-lined, and runs through a Dracophyllyum ‘dwarf forest’. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

We also discovered there is a very high diversity of aquatic oligochaetes (worms). We have only had 2% of the oligochaetes identified and already there are 17 different taxa, so there is a great potential for more new species or new records for the island. They do not form part of the identification key yet, as we will need more funding to go through the almost 9,000 oligochaetes we found in the samples before we can properly describe them and unravel the mysteries of this little known group on the island.

All new knowledge of our world, even in far-flung places such as the subantarctics, helps build the bigger picture of life on earth. Understanding threatened ecosystems and the species they contain enables better conservation strategies to be implemented. Campbell Island is worthy of the best level of protection we can provide. And not just because my namesake calls it home.

Sampling the many streams of the island was of great interest to the numerous sea lions on the island. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

Sampling the many streams of the island was of great interest to the numerous sea lions on the island. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

We are grateful for the many people that contributed to making this key come together, including 50º South Trust who made the original expedition possible, and the TFBIS (Terrestrial and Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) Fund.

The key can be accessed at http://ciinvertkey.com/.

Alex James (left) and Shelley McMurtrie (right) of EOS Ecology having lunch tucked in out of the strong winds. Sampling the streams relied on good old-fashioned foot power, and packing in all the sampling gear. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

Alex James (left) and Shelley McMurtrie (right) of EOS Ecology having lunch tucked in out of the strong winds. Sampling the streams relied on good old-fashioned foot power, and packing in all the sampling gear. Photo © Shelley McMurtrie

Shelley McMurtrie, principal scientist at EOS Ecology, Christchurch, specialises in studying New Zealand’s freshwater systems. She was the coordinator for the Campbell Island Bicentennial Expedition and leader of the freshwater research team, which was supported by the 50º South Trust.

The key was published online by EOS Ecology thanks to funding from TFBIS and EOS Ecology.

Ko te kupu te mauri o te reo Māori

Te kōhanga reo o Waiwhetū i te tau 1985 (click for image credit)

Te kōhanga reo o Waiwhetū i te tau 1985 – Waiwhetū kōhanga reo, 1985 (click for image credit)

Tērā te kōrero a Tā Timi Henare,
Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.
Ko te kupu te mauri o te reo Māori.
E rua ēnei wehenga kōrero e hāngai tonu ana ki runga i te reo Māori.
Ko te reo, nō te Atua mai.

Ko Te Wiki o te Reo Māori tēnei, ā, ko te kupu o te wiki te kaupapa. Āpōpō – koinei te kupu tuatahi hei whakahua ake mō te reo o te wiki.

Ahakoa, ko te kupu mō te wiki nei, ko ‘āpōpō’, i te tuatahi ka titiro ki tainahi. I te tau 1972 ka tukuna te petihana mō te reo Māori ki te Pirimia i Whare Miere. I te tau 1975 i whakaritea Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. Nāwai rā, ka puta mai tētahi o ngā hua o te petihana, ko te ture mō te reo Māori 1987.

Kei te pae tukutuku nei o Te Ara ngā tuhinga kua whakamāoritia. Mō te kaupapa nei, arā, mō Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, kua whakaputangia ngā tuhinga Māori mō te hapori. Arā anō te Tangihanga, Te mana o te wāhine me Ngā poropiti.

Nā, ko Tautoko ngā rangatira mō āpōpō ki te kōrero i te reo ināianei.

Tērā te kōrero a Tā Timi Henare,
Ko te reo te mauri o te mana Māori.
Ko te kupu te mauri o te reo Māori.
E rua ēnei wehenga kōrero e hāngai tonu ana ki runga i te reo Māori.
Ko te reo, nō te Atua mai.

The language is the life force of the mana Māori.
The word (te kupu) is the life force of the language.
These two ideas are absolutely crucial to the Māori language.
A language, which is a gift to us from God.

This is Māori Language Week, and the framework is a kupu (word) of the week. ‘Āpōpō’ (tomorrow) is the first kupu to be focused on this week.

Although the word for the week is tomorrow, it is useful to first look to what has happened in the past. In 1972 the petition for te reo Māori was delivered to the prime minister at Parliament. In 1975 Māori Language Week was established. A little over a decade later, one of the outcomes of the petition for te reo Māori would be the Māori Language Act 1987.

On Te Ara there is a large quantity of Māori content that has been translated. As part of Māori Language Week all the Māori entries written for the Social Connections theme – including Tangihanga, Te mana o te wāhine and Ngā poropiti – have been published in Māori. Furthermore, all of the biographies of Māori from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography have been translated.

Nā, ko Tautokongia ngā rangatira mō āpōpō ki te kōrero i te reo ināianei.

All these resources can be used, so ‘tautokohia ngā rangatira o āpōpō ki te kōrero i te reo ināianei’ – support the leaders of tomorrow to speak te reo today.

The trip of a lifetime – 28th Māori Battalion pilgrimage

Kaitaki Abraham Karaka (Ngāti Maui, Ngāti Pūtaanga, Te Whānau a Hinerupe, Te Whānau a Tūwhakairiora), seen here at Souda Bay cemetery on Crete, navigated the group onto many a sacred place

Kaitaki Abraham Karaka (Ngāti Maui, Ngāti Pūtaanga, Te Whānau a Hinerupe, Te Whānau a Tūwhakairiora), seen here at Souda Bay cemetery on Crete, navigated the group onto many a sacred place. Pic: Pila Lolohea

I have a great job looking after the 28th Māori Battalion website. My work is an incredible privilege. I spend my days with the men of the Māori Battalion, at the time when they were in the prime of their lives and fighting a war in distant lands ‘for God, for King and for country’.  Many of them didn’t make it home, and many returned irrevocably changed.

In May 2014 I was part of a once-in-a-lifetime tour that travelled to Tunisia, Italy, Greece and Crete.  The tour was organised and led by historian Monty Soutar. The majority of our tour group were descendants of soldiers that had fought with the Māori Battalion, most affiliated to C Company – Ngā Kaupoi from the East Coast. We visited many of the places where our Papa fought and died and where some of them now lie.

Whakamaharatanga – Commemoration

We held a service at every cemetery we visited; it was integral to our journey. We honoured our fallen soldiers with prayer, song, tears and maumahara – we remembered them, their families who suffered through their loss and their ultimate sacrifice.

Visiting these cemeteries I gained a real appreciation for the care that our soldiers are given by the home people. For Māori, custom for honouring our dead requires that the tūpāpaku (deceased person) be returned for burial to their ūkaipō (home). The care shown goes some way to allaying this separation.

Cassino cemetery. Pic: Leanne Tamaki

Cassino cemetery. Pic: Leanne Tamaki

Kei wareware tātou – Lest we forget

These places of such sacredness and tranquillity are an important part of the story of war. It is heart-wrenching standing in a cemetery full of young men who died in the prime of their lives and far from home. The impacts of war are very real and apparent.

Haka, Forli cemetery. Pic: Leanne Tamaki

Haka, Forli cemetery. Pic: Leanne Tamaki

Māori Battalion veteran Nolan Raihania accompanied us during the Italy leg of our journey. It was a privilege to have him travel with us and share his experiences and recollections of the war and his comrades. In Italy we were joined by students and teachers from East Coast secondary schools. Along with members of our group they performed songs and haka before Nolan and his fallen comrades at Forli cemetery. This was an important part of our commemoration. Many of the songs are old and were once performed by some of these men. Some of the songs have been composed for them; the men would have never heard them before.

Pt 209. Pic: Pila Lolohea

Haka at Pt 209. Pic: Pila Lolohea

Battle sites

Tebaga Gap, Tunisia

Battle site visits were another integral part of the trip. We stood on the same ground where our forefathers of the Māori Battalion had fought and in some circumstances died.

Pt 209 and Hikurangi at Tebaga Gap in Tunisia was the first site we visited. Hugely significant, this site is synonymous with the deeds of Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngārimu, gaining him the highest military honour, the Victoria Cross. We had descendants of the Ngārimu family and of the other men who had died there with us. We were also the first Māori group who had been there since Bully Jackson and other soldiers returned to bury the bodies of their comrades who had died there in 1943.

We held a service and paid tribute with songs and haka.

I learnt so much from visiting the battle sites; it brings a whole new perspective to my work. I also gained a huge respect for the German soldiers. The privates on the other side were in much the same position as ours.

Being there and trampling those grounds also instigated a lot more questions. Being at Tebaga Gap brought to the fore the futility of war. And I wondered, what were they doing there – all of them, the Germans included. What kept them there? And was it all worth it? Perhaps the latter question is something we as descendants need to respond to by making their sacrifices worth it.

Takrouna, Tunisia

Not long after the battle at Tebaga Gap, the Māori Battalion were again at the spearhead of another attack. Takrouna is renowned for the deeds of Haane Manahi and Sergeant John Rogers. Sadly, Rogers died here. Manahi was recommended for a Victoria Cross, but was instead awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Ngā tamariki o te kohu – Leanne Tamaki and Karina Ngaropo in front of Takrouna

Ngā tamariki o te kohu – Leanne Tamaki and Karina Ngaropo in front of Takrouna. Pic: Leanne Tamaki

Because I’m Tūhoe and a descendant of B Company soldiers, Takrouna has personal significance for me. A number of our Tūhoe men fought and died in this battle, including Timi Pokai (who was reinforcing C Company at the time), Tu Pioioi Rangiaho and Te Naawe Tupe. They are all buried nearby at Enfidaville cemetery, along with John Rogers. Tahae Trainor received a military medal for his deeds here. He survived this battle only to die at Cassino in Italy.

Haka, 42nd Street. Pic: Leanne Tamaki

Haka, 42nd Street, Crete. Pic: Leanne Tamaki

42nd Street, Crete

The whole journey was an exercise in ‘following in the footsteps of our ancestors’. A very poignant example of this was at 42nd Street, an olive grove in a little village on Crete. This is one of the sites where the Māori Battalion forged their fierce reputation. Roused to action and inspired by Hemara Aupouri, who started the tūtū-ngārahu (haka performed in the moment of battle) on the embankment, they killed 80 Germans, a third of the attacking force.

As a tribute to this event our group did the haka ‘Ka panapana’ and ‘Ka mate’, led respectively by Hemara’s great-granddaughter Rhia and his close relative Tawhai Aupouri.

Our group. Pic: Mike Jonathan

Our group. Pic: Mike Jonathan

We were all part of a once-in-a-lifetime trip and the bonds we have made will be treasured.

E kore e mutu aku mihi ki a koutou e toku Whānau Rima Tekau. He nui aku whakaaro me taku aroha hoki ki a koutou, ka mau tonu a au te rama o te pūmahara. Aroha tino nui!

A Dutch play

The youngest children at Waiuta School dressed as flowers, under the command of Gwen Jones (right) as a fairy

The youngest children at Waiuta School dressed as flowers, under the command of Gwen Jones (right) as a fairy

When I was researching the work of mining-town photographer Joseph Divis a few years ago, I came across a small group of images of children from Waiuta School, apparently dressed in costumes for a play or plays. There were no labels, and no one could tell me anything about the play. Waiuta is now a deserted mining village, and the school was closed in 1951.

In 2009 I took the photographs to a meeting of the Friends of Waiuta in Christchurch, and passed them round to see if anyone had any ideas. To my delight, Gwen Poole (nee Jones), then in her 80s, had vivid memories. She was the fairy in the photograph above, and remembered that the play, performed at Waiuta in 1933 or 1934, was called Jan of Windmill Land. It was a musical written by Clementine Ward, and widely performed through the British Empire – on Papers Past you can see reviews of when it was performed locally by Southbridge District High School in 1931 and Miramar South School in 1938. This musical was particularly suitable for schools as it had parts for children of all ages. The youngest children were flowers under the control of their guardian fairy.

The older children dressed as Dutch men and women, with some ‘men' pretending to smoke pipes

The older children dressed as Dutch men and women, with some ‘men' pretending to smoke pipes

The older children played Dutch men and women, dressed in traditional dress. It was a wholesome picture of Holland seen through British eyes – possibly rather different to the memories of the large number of Dutch settlers who came to New Zealand.

The play contained a segment about the Dutch festival of Sinterklaas, when St Nicholas (known in English-speaking countries as Santa Claus) arrives in Holland accompanied by Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) and his black assistants wearing golliwog masks.

Jan and his friend together with Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet and his black assistants

Jan and his friend together with Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet and his black assistants

Gwen Poole remembered that the costumes, which were circulated around different schools by the Education Board, arrived at school in boxes. There was great competition among the children for different costumes as everyone wanted a golliwog costume.

Present-day readers may be horrified at the images of boys smoking pipes (or at least pretending to) and children dressed in golliwog costumes – a reminder of how ideas about what is appropriate or offensive changes over time. I wonder what parents in 80 years’ time will tut-tut about when they look at pictures taken in 2014.

Source: Simon Nathan, Through the eyes of a miner: the photography of Joseph Divis. Wellington: Steele Roberts, 2010.