Site authors

Wendy Riley

Dip. Graphic Design

WendyWendy is not originally from Christchurch but has many connections to the city, which brought her to settle here in 1992. Like many other New Zealanders, her forebears travelled here from Scotland and England, taking less direct routes via Nova Scotia and Tasmania.

Decades ago, her uncle Donald Riley had spent many hours and a small fortune researching his family, the Dalziels from Lancashire. His grandfather had come to Auckland as a soldier, changing his name to Riley and leaving a mystery as to why. Unfortunately Don died without discovering the truth, but was able to uncover some possibilites. Decades later, and with easier access to historical records, Wendy was able to pick up the trail again and discover the secret behind his change of name. In the process Wendy discovered branches of the family her uncle and father never knew existed.

After moving to Christchurch, Wendy uncovered more family connections with the city. Her 3 x Great Grandfather and two of his daughters had lived and died here, her Grandparents had meet here, and another 3 x Great Grandfather had come from Yorkshire as a miner to work on the Lyttelton Tunnel. Family story has it that he and a relation were responsible for setting the blast charges in the tunnel. Having set four charges for the final blast through, they instead told their workmates there were five! After the 4th charge they ran through the tunnel so they could be  first through to the other side.

Wendy runs a graphic design business, Hot Pyjama Productions which, until the Boxing Day quake, occupied offices in heritage buildings in the Central City.

Her interest in family stories, social history and an increasing love of old Christchurch has been the inspiration for this site.

Helen Solomons

Bachelor of Arts, University of Canterbury & Diploma of Garden Design, London

Helly sitting in front of the view from Clifton Hill, Sumner

Born in the 1960s, Helen descends from a line of five generations of New Zealand adventurers, soldiers, gold fortune hunters, craftsmen, government servants and pastoralists – some of whom lived in colonial Christchurch.  She finds the Victorians the most fascinating ‘race’ of people and those who immigrated here, she has great admiration for.

After studying for a Bachelor of Arts at Canterbury University, Helen embarked on a four year stint in Paris and London.

She immersed herself in the architecture, art and gardens of Europe before applying for a place at the English Gardening School where she studied for a diploma in Garden Design at the Chelsea Physic Gardens.

On her return to Christchurch, she set up a garden design company and was a regular contributor to the Christchurch Press as well as many regional newspapers.  Her love of history has developed into writing several books which she hopes will be picked up and published soon.

This website has been inspired by the deep attachment of her ancestors and  the Victorian and Edwardian city which she desired her own daughter to experience and grow up within.

Now bereft of the permanence and history that once enveloped their lives, she wonders what future Christchurch has, as it re-embarks on recreating itself.  Most of all she hopes, that the values, principles and style which Christchurch possessed is not forgotten and can be incorporated in a new and better city.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim Conway says:

    Dear Wendy Riley. I am a local historian from Lurgan,Co Armagh Ireland, involved in breaking down sectarian barriers in the most divided town in Ireland. AE George Russell was born In Lurgan he would be a wonderful catalyst for a reconciliation programme, he was a major inspiration for P L Travers, he was known as the match man due to leaving string of spent matches behind him from lighting his pipe,It is my belief that he may be the muse for Pamela’s Bert, Pamela was with AE when he took his last breath and she described his spirit leaving his earthly body.
    Any information connecting AE to the Mary Poppins Characters would be fascinating and of great help.
    Thanks for your help.


    1. Wendy says:

      Hello Jim,
      This article principally focussed on Travers’ connection to Christchurch so unfortunately I don’t have any other information particular to George Russell.
      All the best.


  2. Wendy says:

    Hello Peter, which post are you referring too?


    1. Peter says:

      Sorry about that … the Whitcomb and Tombs one. The images have error messages. Have tired other browsers too. Be great to see them! thx, peter


      1. Wendy says:

        It will be a legacy issue from when we swapped over websites. I’ll message if/when it has been updated.


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