Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: White in Brighton

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  • Keir Leslie,

    No other city in the country has a public space equal to the botanic gardens.

    Um, Cuba St?

    I dunno, while, yeah, hahaha let's all laugh at Christchurch is a bit dull, nowhere else in New Zealand have I encountered the sheer casual racism and homophobia of Christchurch. Nowhere else have I gone down the supermarket and seen some chap with a swastika tattooed across his shaven head.

    (Waltham Sydenham Wigram Brighton-on-Sea Linwood Riccarton Spreydon Are All In The South; It's Grim Down South)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Jogging Solo - I grew up in CHCH - a long time ago. I still have cousin-family who live in CHCH.
    The venomous racism of the 1950s still persists (it was ameliorated with my family because our father was part of the hierrarchy (and dont tell me there isnt an English-based hierarchy to the place. I'd simply call you ignorant, anf a fool.)

    The poverty areas were deliberately created and still exist. And have *always* been visible. That is not a virtue.

    There are beautiful - very Englishified - public spaces. I'd frankly swap 'em for the gorgeous swamps my Kai Tahu lot settled in, utilised. Otautahi Forver!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    nowhere else in New Zealand have I encountered the sheer casual racism and homophobia of Christchurch

    My experience differs. Enormously. Have you ever been in a rural service town?

    Nice lumping there, btw. My youngest child attends Riccarton Primary. It's 30% Pakeha.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Jogging Solo,

    @Keir

    "No other city in the country has a public space equal to the botanic gardens.

    Um, Cuba St?"

    Ha - that's a good point, Ken.

    Christchurch did not have, at least when I was growing up, anything like the cosy inner-city cafe district that Wellington City has. I think geography has a lot to do with that: Wellington is a lot smaller than Christchurch, and many people live within walking distance of the central city, unlike ChCh. However, ChCh is getting better in that respect, with the old seedy end of high street having been completely revamped. I refer to Poplar Lane, etc. Additions that have revitalized an old part of the city that otherwise could have been bashed down and replaced with office blocks. The next challenge is to try to get people to move into the city to live... there's a couple of developers trying to do that. Previous attempts have not worked well... here's hoping.

    I can't recall ever seeing anyone with a Swastika on his face. I did see one in Wanganui, though -- a town by the way, which I think has the worst race-relations in the country.

    Homophobia... I have a number of gay friends that are happy here... and there's more gay bars here than in Wellington... but if you go to the strip and start pashing your boyfriend some drunk dork/s might feel confused and threatened.

    Waltham Sydenham Wigram Brighton-on-Sea Linwood Riccarton Spreydon.... Yes, they are all very poor working class neighborhoods in needs of some investment, robust ideas/development, and compassion.

    Grim... btw there's a cool edge to that grim/gothic/colonial history/church of England thing.... Some of our best artists, like the musician Dudley Benson are embracing it rather than being embarrassed about it and creating some of the most original work around.

    Since Oct 2009 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Emma, 50 years ago those proportions were *extremely* different.
    I & my 5 siblings, attended North New Brighton school: there were 3 recognised groups of children from 'other' families - us, the Momo whanau, & the Smiths (Romany/Gypsy). A total of (about - hey, it's a long time ago!) 21 in a burgeoning primary school of +600.

    I've lived in 2 rural service towns, and the racism is overt and blunt. You can counter it in overt and blunt ways (incidentally, the *religious* discrimination/hatred is WAY more vicious in those places.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Islander, I think they still are in most suburbs. But Riccarton/Ilam/Avonhead has become, in the twenty years I've lived in Chch, rapidly racially diverse. That's the little bit I live in, so that's the Chch I see. It's given my children something I find really precious, because I grew up in a very white town (and white trash too, it's okay, I don't mind).

    I guess I'm just a little tired of people like the guys in this column being somehow more 'representative' of what Chch is like than I am, or Ian or Joe or David.

    Meanwhile, Nick Smith and Rodney Hide get to 'review' ECan. That worries me a lot more than boot boys and boy racers.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Meanwhile, Nick Smith and Rodney Hide get to 'review' ECan.

    Yeah, about that... I don't know much about art, but I know what I like. This from a Christchurch artist.

    (Very OT, but another Christchurch artist, Marian Maguire, is exhibiting in Wellington. Go see her work, dammit.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jogging Solo,

    @Islander

    There is, absolutely a clear division between the lifestyles of the middle-class and the poor in Christchurch. But Is there not even more so in Auckland?

    You say visible poverty is not a virtue. I agree. I was saying that calling middle-class Wellington city comparatively unified vs Christchurch while neglecting to mention the comparatively ghettoized poverty in Porirua down the motorway was a vice.

    As for racism... I'm white, so I can't speak for Others. Asian friends of mine have suffered abuse, for sure. And I've several time myself heard boyracers yell out racial abuse directed at Asian people. It makes me feel ashamed and disgusted. Hopefully a growing Asian population and a bit of time will take care of that...

    Christchurch does have more of an English character than Auckland or Wellington. People seem to get very upset with this, on the grounds that it is a throwback to the city's colonial past. To be honest, that attitude seems ignorant and foolish to me. Because you appreciate English style gardens, or Neo-gothic architecture, doesn't mean you support the colonial oppression of Maori. And I always think it is worth baring in mind that the vast majority of immigrants to the South Island were hardly whip wielding colonial oppressors of the Oxbridge ruling class. They were at best, farm laborers who braved the journey to improve the quality of life for their families, like successive waves of immigrants, whatever their origin. And at worst, coke-addled remittance men. That culture, often of English or Scots origin, came with the immigrants. And many preserved aspects of it, while adopting new cultural practices from Maori and other communities that immigrated here. And now we have a unique mix that still retains aspects of culture, but retaining, sometimes, an English flavor. I don't see what is wrong with that at all. And I don't think it's appropriate to view cultural practices that still retain an "English quality" in some way or form, as offensive, or as a reminder of economic oppression by subjects of the British Empire.

    @Joe It has been great to see Riccaton turning into our very own China/Korea town. I can finally get some Soju and vege dumplings at decent prices whenever I want!

    Since Oct 2009 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • andrew gunn,

    When I went to Ilam Primary it was a sea of white faces. Now my kids go there. At the last Cultural Day they did a rollcall of nationalities represented. I lost count after fifty.

    And just as Emma says, that's the little bit of Christchurch I see. Could be different elsewhere, probably is.

    Oh and this too: in all my years here I've never heard one local use the "more English than England" line in an irony-free way. It's the stuff of shoddily-written tourist and PR bumf. If there is a cult of anglophiles hereabouts, they're keeping a very low profile.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2009 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Nice lumping there, btw. My youngest child attends Riccarton Primary. It's 30% Pakeha.

    I am in fact well aware that Riccarton isn't the same as all the rest; likewise I dare say Harrogate isn't the same as Salford and Leeds. (Also, New Brighton is generally not known as Brighton-on-Sea and Linwood is a different stereotype from the rest.)

    Grim... btw there's a cool edge to that grim/gothic/colonial history/church of England thing.... Some of our best artists, like the musician Dudley Benson are embracing it rather than being embarrassed about it and creating some of the most original work around.

    Yeah, there's a definite Sheffield/Manchester thing you can play with about Christchurch --- especially a lot of the Chch Brutalism stuff. (Something almost Hatherleyite about the whole set up: class conflict, `old' buildings, Brutalism, hollowed out betrayed city centre, etc.)

    At the same time, aesthetically speaking grim is interesting, but I am unsure that that makes much difference to most people's lived experiences.

    The centre of Christchurch is a complete disaster all of it's very own, thank you mr. Parker & the rest of the incompetents on the CCC, and there's something revealing about the way Christchurch has no good urban public spaces, except shopping malls. (Arcades project reference goes here.) I dunno, I'm not that much of a fan of High Street, it really does feel just like Cuba Street but shit. (Likewise Poplar Lanes and the South-of-Lichfield bits; and again note the preponderance of private space.)

    And, of course, the old boy culture. And in terms of art, Ilam etc, and the associated cultural infrastructure.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I second Giovanni's suggestion.

    (And, I have a lovely original Sam Mahon work, courtesy my friend David Alexender: it's a tin, with a label like DoC dog tucker on the front, with a kakapo above the print. On the back is a description of contents: (something like)
    "Snuff snuff snuffle bark Bark! BARK! *crunch aaarrrRRRK*
    O dear'
    -There's a local here, a highly experienced and respected DoC worker, who's *muzzled* dog got a kakapo on Rakiura-

    -I've never opened the tin-)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Something almost Hatherleyite

    Gasp! I knew the man had a large following, but the throwaway adjectivisation is a whole nother level.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • andrew gunn,

    I'm sure I'd have something witty to say if I knew who Hatherley was. Curse this cultural desert in which I was brought up!

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2009 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Jogging Solo,

    the old boy culture

    Keir -- people often talk about the old boy culture or the old boys club in relation to Christchurch. I'm curious, how do you see this manifesting?

    Because, apart from having had some great teachers, I haven't got any kickbacks from having gone to a private school. In fact more often than not people roll their eyes and I feel embarrassed and try to avoid answering questions along the lines of "what school did you go to."

    Maybe it's true of/in the business community, I don't know. I usually live overseas and am not involved in the business world.

    Who knows, perhaps Christchurch is secretly controlled by a satanic-masonic ritual murder cult of private school boys who worship a giant owl and plot to oppress the rest of the populous? If so, I've never been invited to any of their meetings. :(

    Since Oct 2009 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I'm sure I'd have something witty to say if I knew who Hatherley was.

    This bloke.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Jogging Solo
    -scattershot-
    St Margarets/Rangiruru/CHCH Girls' HS/St Bedes/St Andrews/Christ's College (there are the primary/intermediate schools also but why bother to go there?)- peripheral but erstwhile important - Avonside GHS/ Shirley HS-

    -it is emphatically not just 'the business cimmunity': you're looking at a farming squatterarchy and entrenched political machine. You wonder about the water ownership shennagans going on on the Plains?
    Have a look at the people involved.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    OK, we get it - ChCh PAS readers all live within a suburb or two of the Uni, and gee there are some great noodle houses around now...

    There is something different about Christchurch though. The locals there certainly think so. It’s our most parochial town in our most parochial province. Sure, there’s the ‘Naki, the Bay, or Southland, but only Christchurch has the scale to sustain its parochialism beyond irony. Other provincials know full well they’re from Hicksville – people from ChCh think they live in a city. An English City (not British, or European, mind). Specifically, Home-Counties-1950’s-English, before mass migration from the New Commonwealth. They persist with the whole “first four ships” and “what school did you go to?” crap. It’s all designed to reinforce the social hierarchy, which is one based on a particularly narrow definition of ethnicity. You can be a wealthy neurologist living in Fendalton with all your kids at Middleton Grange, but if you surname is Gunasekera you (and your kids) will never hit the top rung.

    So yes - there are nasty racists up and down the country. But stabbing an Afghani taxi driver is such a quintessential Christchurch crime. I think it’s because it’s only in Christchurch that the notion of a hierarchy with white English-bred people on top has been so blatantly nurtured for decades by the local middle-class and media. It’s no wonder that the more bone-headed citizens seek to cement their own place in that hierarchy by picking on victims who are decidedly “other”. They just want to be loved.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Keir -- people often talk about the old boy culture or the old boys club in relation to Christchurch. I'm curious, how do you see this manifesting?

    Well, you don't see it manifesting, that's the point. What good is a secret handshake if everybody knows about it?

    To be honest, I think there's two kinds of old boy's stuff in Chch; there's the classic `all went to Christ's together' stuff, and then there's the broader mates of mates stuff involving property developers and the good ol' CCC and all that.

    And (cheating, a third type) then there's just plain snobbery about schools.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • andrew gunn,

    Crikey

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2009 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    st ephen & Keir Leslie - you've articulated it.
    Which is why almost all of mine, and me, have left the place.
    There are wonderous & beautiful things in & about the city on the plains.
    They aint worth living there for, though-
    thank goodness my mother's roots are south!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    JoggingSolo, how long have you been gone?

    I see your Tosh and raise you 'We are putting down an ancient Maori house in one of our best suburbs. It will be quite out of keeping.'p238 Southern Capital Christchurch.

    Our Council has two lefty types on it. Yani & Chrissie & a couple who will lean left if the wind blows hard enough.

    Cr Harrow (Ecan) spouted off about maaris earlier this month. Harrows were orchardists and Jam makers who then became the property developers of Avonhead.

    Community Board member Andrew Yoon (of Avonhead) is quickly proving multicultured societies are not devoid of racisim.

    Mandeville St was Chinamens Lane. Because two Chinese brothers had stables along it. Now at the North end of what was Chinamens Lane & Riccarton Rd is the Chinese Buddist Centre. - I like that.

    All Aliens (non-British) were treated poorly and the Chinese worst of all.

    Poplar St is a success, because the developer worked to Urban Renewal priciples of People First. Apartments put in first and a few long term 'retail' businesses (Brothels are very compatable businesses to live near) of which more have moved in along with clothing boutiques, cafes, and finally bars.
    Contrast David Henderson a ZAP member and council beneficiary - This is where the Goat Riders have got outa control. His uniunsulated apartment next to Sol Square is called Living Space - which translates directly into Nazi ideology.

    The Botanic Gardens only exist because of people protesting and keeping the University out of it, thus creating the Arts Centre, which we must again degfend against the privatisation of public space - Christs College built on a Hagley Park 2 years after it was named a reserve.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    @Joe It has been great to see Riccaton turning into our very own China/Korea town. I can finally get some Soju and vege dumplings at decent prices whenever I want!

    Wouldn't know about that, Riccarton never did it for me but whatever rocks your boat. If you're into the local cuisine of your present listed whereabouts though, you'll understand something of how pleased I am to find a regular supply of ketjap asin at Cash & Carry in Cashel Street, just round the corner from Fitzgerald Ave.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Jogging Solo,

    Other provincials know full well they’re from Hicksville – people from ChCh think they live in a city. An English City (not British, or European, mind). Specifically, Home-Counties-1950’s-English, before mass migration from the New Commonwealth. They persist with the whole “first four ships” and “what school did you go to?” crap. It’s all designed to reinforce the social hierarchy, which is one based on a particularly narrow definition of ethnicity. You can be a wealthy neurologist living in Fendalton with all your kids at Middleton Grange, but if you surname is Gunasekera you (and your kids) will never hit the top rung

    Last time I checked, Christchurch was a city, in New Zealand terms.... The second biggest in the country. It's certainly provincial in that it is in its own province and has its own character. A character misjudged by people who don't live in it.

    It's the people outside Christchurch persist with "the first four ships" thing. People do still sometimes ask: "what school did you go to," I think, though I haven;t encountered that since I've been back. But then I'm an adult now. I think if someone asked me that now I would say laugh at them. The view of Christchurch as "Home-Counties-1950’s" is more commonly held outside the city, also. I've never heard anyone talk about it here. However people outside Christchurch often used to say things to me like: "People in Christchurch are so provincial and think of their city in 1950s-Home-Counties-1950’s terms".

    I think that's just the prejudiced view of the city from other centres. A comparable view would be the Southerner's view of Aucklanders as Venal C-grade celeb obsessed dirtbags who think they K road is like a certain hip inner-city Sydney suburb, while it actually falls way short and is actually less of a city but a serious of Timaru size villages.

    The surname comment is bullshit. There's some truth to what you are saying but that's more down to demographics than anything else... I don't believe that there is any economic barriers based on whether or not you have an English surname.

    @Islander

    There's the big farming families, for sure - they still exist - and water's scarce. Do you think there's something corrupt or some level of collusion going on between those families and the city council?

    Since Oct 2009 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Jogging Solo,

    @Joe

    Bagus! Do you know where you can get a decent Rendang that does not look and taste like an Indian curry?

    Since Oct 2009 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Jogging Solo- Cristchurch has been a farmers' city since the Deans' brothers (okay, that's a bit over the top, but since it was a Wakefield settlement, with all the deliberate hierarchy imported, and since it was primarily an Anglican settlement, the squires were designed to be the leaders in the new Christchurch.)

    "something corrupt, or some level of collusion going on"?

    Naturally, an informed and intelligent person, with a lot of experience of living in CHCH, could suspect that.

    The Canterbury Plains aquifers, that used to provide some of the world's purest & best artesian water ,have become increasingly polluted. Now, just what has caused the pollution?

    Hint: not global warming.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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