Was Christchurch the birthplace of Mary Poppins?

89 years ago the story of Mary Poppins and the Match-Man was published for the first time – in Christchurch’s afternoon The Sun newspaper. But how did the story of the world’s most famous nanny find its way first into a Christchurch newspaper? To answer this we need to delve into the early life of…

The First Car Comes to Christchurch

A Packing Case on Wheels Local and General. Star, Issue 6789, 8 May 1900, Page 3 A weird-looking vehicle has recently been seen travelling through the streets of the city much to the amusement and astonishment of the onlookers. At first appearance it looks like an ordinary packing case placed on three wheels, the Jehu…

“Letter From New Zealand” …or Provincial Propoganda?

Dear Father and Mother, l arrived here all safe on the 23rd of September, after a splendid voyage of 94 days without a single storm. I enjoyed the voyage very much and was kindly treated by everybody, plenty to do and plenty of friends. I have nothing to say against the Government, for they looked…

“The Sick, Faint Feeling of Violent Shakes,” Jane Deans

For one of our city’s most famous early women settlers, poor health had marred not only her voyage to New Zealand but also her arrival to her new home at Riccarton. From the moment Jane Deans boarded the sailing ship at Plymouth for Canterbury in November of 1853, she suffered from motion sickness. As the voyage progressed, her sea…

The Spanish Beauty and the Beast – The Manchester St Murder

For £55, reports The Press in 1909, an Antipodean may travel to London and back via the Cape, and secure a very pleasant holiday. For boarders and employees at Alfred and May Burn’s ‘Silver Grid’ boarding house and amusement parlour, holidays in London, champagne suppers and aviation exploits are only to be read about.

The Mystery of the Severed Hand

“When the Clerk of the Court, in his quiet, matter-of-fact way, called Arthur Robert Howard, there was a hush of the murmured conversation among the crowd, and everyone looked towards the door by which prisoners enter the Court…” The Severed Hand or Severed Hand Mystery, Page 15-16, Published by Capper Press Eight miles from Christchurch…

Christchurch’s Countess – Léontine de la Pasture

To the inhabitants of colonial Nelson, Léontine, Countess de la Pasture, was the epitome of Victorian refinement and manners. [endnote The name de la Pasture has also been spelt de Lapasture] To her husband – Gerard Gustavus Ducarel, the fourth Marquis de la Pasture – she was his beloved Lily, a virtuous and noble woman, who not only possessed…

Flax, Coffee, Tea and Chicory – the Trent Brothers’ Christchurch Empire

It is ten days before Christmas, 1877 and two brothers, Frederick and James Trent, stand expectantly before the Reverend Henry Crocker Marriott Watson at altar in St John the Baptist Church, Latimer Square, Christchurch. That week, residents in Colombo Street are being entertained in the evenings by the antics of a pet kangaroo which had escaped from the confines of somebody’s backyard. The animal had managed to alight onto Mr Mein’s small goods shop, providing great amusement to the passers-by.

John Peacock and his Controversial Fountain

A Tale of Convicts, Ship Wrecks, Strange Family Relations and a £500 Bequest. Before the Canterbury Settlement was inaugurated, a young Australian lad landed at Port Cooper in the company of his father. It was 1844, and 17 year old John Thomas Peacock had arrived from Sydney on board his father’s brig ‘Guide‘, an ageing…

Rosa Harris’ Corner Shop, Beckenham 1919

It is the start of the second week of June 1919 and New Zealand’s Prime Minister, William Massey and the Minister of Finance, Sir Joseph Ward, are in Paris awaiting the signing of the Peace Treaty with Germany. Back home in Christchurch, at the corner of Colombo and Strickland Streets in Beckenham, Rosa Harris’ grocery…

Gala Day at Wainoni Park – 1909

There is great excitement in the households around Christchurch today. It’s the Labour Day holiday and many families are going to Wainoni Park for the opening of the season. Everyone has been looking forward to the visit ever since the advertisement for the Gala Day first appeared in the Star. At just one shilling for…