Wendy 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.
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.
Her interest in family stories, social history and an increasing love of old Christchurch has been the inspiration for this site.
Wendy is the Business Builder at Okains Bay Museum, a unique rural museum with over 20,000 items on display. The Museum vividly conveys the stories of early Māori and Pākehā life through an impressive collections which include items from the Banks Peninsula area associated with whaling, farming and colonial rural life and a nationally significant collection of taonga Māori that rivals those of New Zealand’s larger metropolitan Museums.
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.
Having co-founded this site post ‘quakes, Helen has moved on to other areas and is no longer actively involved in producing content for the site.
5 Comments Add yours
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.
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.
Hello Peter, which post are you referring too?
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
It will be a legacy issue from when we swapped over websites. I’ll message if/when it has been updated.