Post-quake update from Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch locals love their gardens and often call it ‘the garden city’. Since the September 2010 quake we locals have added another nickname ‘the city that rocks’ – a saying of resilience and pride!
Thought it was time I gave you another post-quake update and background to this city of the plains down-under in New Zealand.
Because of the dry alluvial plains we farm on, Canterbury farmers and locals consider our grass-fed lamb to be the juiciest and best in the world, and over-the-hill on volcanic Banks Peninsula there are many places you can taste the ‘earthy, fruity and spicy wines at vineyards or picnic by the sea with crackers and local cheddar, havarti or gouda from the historic (1800s) cheese factory.
We consider we’re pretty cultured too and keep producing people who are prominent in the NZ and international contemporary music scenes: opera, rock, jazz, and rap are specialities. Love books? Make sure you grab a bus and visit the hillside home of Dame Ngaio Marsh, the international ‘Queen of Crime’ and see where she plotted and wrote her ‘who dun-its’.
Artist Rita Angus is a favourite daughter: her small piece Cass, in which she evocatively portrayed the bare emptiness of our Canterbury landscape, and has been voted ‘NZ’s favourite painting’ My favourite current artist is Marie Le Lievre, of course as a friend I’m unashamedly biased – however, as she’s got exhibitions this year in these galleries: Wellington, NZ; Sydney, Australia; and Paris, France I’m obviously not the only one who think she’s great.
Maori and settlers started the first city centre in Market Place, now Victoria Square and Maori continue to add to the city. Check out ancient and modern Maori culture performances at either Ko Tane or Tamaki Heritage Village.
Since the quake our new city centre is the colourful and vibrant container shopping centre in Cashel Mall – a must visit.
A few things you need to know about my home city: Christchurch woman Kate Sheppard was prime organiser of the petition that lead to New Zealand women being first in the world to get the vote in 1896. 19th September is celebrated each year – she’s on New Zealand’s $10 note.
The first organised settlers arrived here in 1850 and because it had a cathedral, Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on July 31, 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand – of course as I write, sadly this piece of our history is being demolished
And, despite some inner city hotels being demolished and rebuilt, there are plenty of places to stay from The Jailhouse back-packer – an award-winning backpacker in funky and trendy Addington – through to another place that’s also been converted. The Classic Villa has been transformed from an Italian style historic home, to a 5-star boutique hotel in the cultural precinct of our city centre. Just two of many!