The Mates That Went to War

Three Australian soldiers - WW1 - PICRYL Public Domain Image

Three Australian soldiers – WW1 – PICRYL Public Domain Image

Over 107 years ago, young men from all over New Zealand and Australia (The ANZACs – Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) left on troop ships from the port of Albany in Western Australia heading for Egypt and then on to Gallipoli in Turkey, to fight in “The Great War,” “the war to end all wars” – World War 1. By the end of this bloody conflict in 1918, 16,000 New Zealand soldiers had died in battle and 41,000 injured. Many of these young men had enlisted in the army thinking that it would be an adventure of a lifetime. Friends and neighbours joined up together excited to be leaving what many saw as a boring life here in New Zealand!

This postcard, sent by New Zealand soldier, Edwin Bennett to his older brother Gifford shows that the adventure of a lifetime wasn’t what Edwin was expecting. Edwin was killed a month later on 16 April 1918. He was 20 years old.

Postcard sent by NZ soldier Edwin Bennett to older brother Gifford, 4 March 1918. Photo courtesy of Sue Jane, Wellington City Libraries

Dear Gif, Just a note to see if I can waken you up a little. I haven’t heard from you now, for some time. What about dropping a line or two. Letters are very acceptable here. How are you keeping? How is work? Well old chap you’re in a great position and a good home to go to and for God’s sake and Mother’s and Father’s sake look after it. I’m sorry I ever stepped across here. But well I did want to come, and I did, now I’ve found my mistake when it’s too late. I could of had another twelve quiet months if my head was firmly turned the right way. But still there is a happy day coming, when we’ll all be home again. Sitting round a nice cosy fire telling some of our experiences. Well old boy I must go. God bless you. Best love from your loving brother Ed. xxxxxx


Sometimes it’s hard to get our head around such big statistics like 16,000 deaths and 41,000 casualties, but when we read about individuals and their war experiences, it can be so much easier to relate to what they went through. Here are a couple World War 1 stories that are written from an individual soldier’s point of view:

Best mates : three lads who went to war together / Werry, Philippa
“The three young soldiers in the story are best friends from school, and they leave New Zealand together to go and fight at Gallipoli. Landing first in Egypt, they travel by ship to Anzac Cove and dig into trenches to fight the Turkish troops holding the peninsula. Conditions are tough and Joe gets sick, but his mates help him off on the hospital ship. Then Harry is fatally wounded and his burial has to take place on the cliff-top, away from the snipers. The three friends are reunited many years later, when two men fly to Gallipoli and lay poppies on Harry’s grave. Taking her inspiration from Anzac Day, the New Zealand story Philippa Werry captures the essence of the Anzac spirit with her moving tale about mateship. The illustrated factual text on pages 30-31 spread provides extra information about the events pictured in the story.” (Catalogue)

Nice day for a war / Slane, Chris
“One man’s war tells the story of a generation. A totally unique graphic novel about NZ soldiers in World War I, based on the diaries of the author’s grandfather. A fictional story (based on fact) of a Kiwi lad as he heads away, full of excitement, to war with his mates from rural New Zealand. there he encounters the horror that was the Western front. It is primarily based on the diary of Matt’s Grandfather, and postcards he had sent home to the family. It also draws on published histories of the Kiwi military in WW1. the book aims to capture what the new experiences of war were like for the young soldiers. A fictional story (based on fact) of a Kiwi lad as he heads away, full of excitement, to war with his mates from rural New Zealand. There he encounters the horror that was the Western front.” (Catalogue)


Online Cenotaph of the Auckland War Memorial

image courtesy of rsa.co.nzIf you want to do some searching for family members who fought for New Zealand in World War I or World War II, the Online Cenotaph of the Auckland War Memorial is a great resource. You can even lay a virtual poppy on the wall of a loved one, or the UNKNOWN WARRIOR


 

 

 

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Well, that was certainly the case during William Shakespeare’s life. This year marks Shakespeare’s, or the Bard of Avon, (assumed) 457th birthday on the 26th of April and 405th death anniversary on the 23rd April.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

And pray tell, who was William Shakespeare?

Well, he was an English poet, playwright and actor who is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. People all over the world have come to recognise the image of William Shakespeare and would heard of his plays, but what do we know about the man himself, or even what went on behind the scenes during the performance of his plays, or even who his plays were being performed for?

How dost thou celebrate?image courtesy of gifer

In addition to the traditional birthday party, cake and presents, why not read all about his life, from his early and humble beginnings in Stratford upon Avon, England to conquering the stage in Queen Elizabeth’s court and the Globe Theatre.

image courtesy of syndeticsWilliam Shakespeare : a man for all times.

Who was William Shakespeare? How much do we really know about him, and why is he so famous? This book takes the reader step-by-step through Shakespeare’s life, looking at the evidence.
image courtesy of syndeticsShakespeare.

A spectacular and engaging non-fiction Eyewitness guide to one of history’s most iconic writers, William Shakespeare. Did you know special effects were used in Shakespeare’s plays? That devils and ghosts came up through trapdoors in the stage? Find out how in Eyewitness Shakespeare and discover the fascinating life and times of one of the world’s greatest playwrights. Travel back in time and follow Shakespeare from his birth in the small town of Stratford-upon-Avon to theatre life in 16th century London. Eyewitness reference books are now more interactive and colourful, with new infographics, statistics, facts and timelines, plus a giant pull-out wall chart, you’ll be an expert on Shakespeare in no time. Great for projects or just for fun, learn everything you need to know about Shakespeare.

image courtesy of syndeticsMuch ado about Shakespeare : the life and times of William Shakespeare : a literary picture book.

Take a peek behind the curtain to discover the boy, the youth, the man behind some of the greatest works of literature. The life and times of William Shakespeare are richly imagined in this unique biography told using quotes from the Bard himself.


Also search our catalogue for more biographies about Shakespeare and his remarkable life.


Read Shakespeare’s plays!

Read and relive your favourite Shakespeare plays. Wellington City Libraries holds a huge array of plays which is part of the Orchard book of Shakespeare Stories series written by Andrew Matthews. Plays include A Midsummer Night’s DreamRomeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing and King Lear.
image courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndetics
Also search our catalogue for more plays from the Orchard book of Shakespeare Stories series. Also, check out:

image courtesy of syndeticsShakespeare retold.

A beautifully illustrated collection of prose retellings of seven Shakespeare plays will bring the Bard to life for young readers. Not only is this a beautiful keepsake edition, full of gorgeous illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo, but the prose retellings by beloved classic children’s book author E. Nesbit are an excellent tool to introduce children to the complex language of Shakespeare.

A foreword by John Lithgow touches on his own childhood as a Shakespearean actor and the importance of Shakespeare. The book contains extensive support materials, including a biography, a timeline of Shakespeare’s life, and further recommended readings.

image courtesy of syndeticsMr William Shakespeare’s plays.

Seven classic Shakespeare plays presented in an accessible comic strip format. Take your place in the Globe Theatre of Shakespeare’s day to see seven of his best-loved plays in performance. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest are all brought vividly to life in Marcia Williams’ gloriously accessible comic-strip versions, which include the bard’s own dialogue and the rowdy remarks of the audience.

image courtesy of syndeticsShakespeare stories II.

By skillfully weaving his own prose with Shakespeare’s language, Leon Garfield has refashioned nine of the Elizabethan playwright’s dramas into stories, capturing all the richness of the characters, plot, mood, and setting. This format will delight both those who know the great dramatist’s works and those who are new to them. Plays included are: Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Measure for Measure, As You Like It, Cymbeline, King Richard the Third, The Comedy of Errors, and The Winter’s Tale.

image courtesy of syndeticsA stage full of Shakespeare stories.

Step on to a stage full of stories with this beautiful anthology of 12 stories from Shakespeare, rewritten to be accessible to children ages 7+. A section at the back gives details about Shakespeare’s life and further information about the plays. Each story is rewritten in a comprehensive way that is accessible for children and stunningly illustrated by collage artist Alice Lindstrom.

Recite some poetry!

image courtesy of syndeticsShakespeare edited by Marguerite Tassi.

A collection of thirty-one of playwright and poet William Shakespeare’s most famous verses, sonnets and speeches.

He was the world’s greatest playwright, and the English language’s finest writer, Shakespeare is the man the Oxford English dictionary credits as having invented over 1700 common words, and to whom we owe expressions such as ‘fair play’, ‘break the ice’, and ‘laughing stock’. The continued timelessness and genius of his work will be celebrated the world over on his special day.

Have some fun with William Shakespeare!

image courtesy of syndeticsPop-up Shakespeare.

“Discover beloved playwright William Shakespeare’s plays and poetry in this spectacular novelty book from the Reduced Shakespeare Company comedy troupe. Featuring dramatic pop-ups and foldouts and loaded with jokes and fascinating facts, this hilariously informative and fully immersive look into the Bard’s world invites you to experience Shakespeare’s works as you’ve never seen them before!” — Back cover.

image courtesy of syndeticsWhere’s Will? : find Shakespeare hidden in his plays.

Each play in this book begins with a summary of the plot and descriptions of the characters. On the following page is a detailed picture showing the setting of the play and within it you can find the characters, William Shakespeare , and a spotted pig.

Watch movies inspired by Shakespeare’s plays:

image courtesy of amazon.co.ukThe Lion King… and The Lion King inspired by Hamlet.

You can never go wrong with an oldie but a goodie.

Tricked into thinking he caused his father’s death, Simba, a guilt ridden lion cub flees into exile and abandons his identity as the future King. However when the fate of his kingdom is threatened, he is forced to return and take his place as King.

image courtesy of sydneticsGnomeo & Juliet… inspired by Romeo and Juliet.

Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink flamingoes and epic lawnmower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness?

Also check out the sequel, Sherlock Gnomes.image courtesy of syndetics

Garden gnomes, Gnomeo and Juliet, recruit renowned detective Sherlock Gnomes to investigate the mysterious disappearance of other garden ornaments.

Where to find more information?

Wahine Disaster – 53 Years Later

Wahine sinking in Wellington Harbour

Wahine sinking in Wellington Harbour. Dominion Post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1968/1647/14-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22327912

On the morning of 10 April 1968 one of New Zealand’s worst recorded storms hit Wellington. This storm produced freak winds of up to 230 km per hour around Cook Strait. The Christchurch–Wellington ferry Wahine was driven onto Barrett Reef, at the entrance to Wellington Harbour.

When the ship hit the reef, one of its propellors was knocked off and an engine was damaged. The Wahine could no longer be steered properly so it drifted into the harbour before leaning to starboard (nautical term for the right side of a ship). Because of the heavy list (another nautical term for a ship leaning dangerously in the water), only four of the eight lifeboats could be launched, and most of the inflatable life rafts flipped in the savage seas.

The Wahine finally capsized at 2.30 p.m. Most deaths occurred on the Eastbourne side of the harbour, where people were driven against sharp rocks by the waves. Of the 734 passengers and crew, 51 died that day, another died several weeks later and a 53rd victim died in 1990 from injuries sustained in the wreck.

It remains one of New Zealand’s worst maritime disasters, after the wreck of SS Penguin in 1905.


Want to know more?

Wellington City Libraries Heritage pages have got loads of info, photos and footage from that fateful day: https://wcl.govt.nz/heritage/wahine

Other useful sites are:

Many Answers

Museums Wellington

Christchurch City Libraries


Want to read all about it?

No safe harbour / Hill, David
“Stuart and his twin sister Sandra are coming home to Wellington on the ferry. Stuart knows he’ll enjoy the trip – he’s a good sailor. But it’s April 1968 and the ship is the Wahine. As the tragic events unwind Stuart and Sandra must battle to stay alive. A vivid and compelling picture of the Wahine’s last hours.” (Catalogue)

 

Continue reading

Daylight Saving: What Is It?

time - hickory dickory dock clock | Evies hickory dickory do… | Flickr“Spring forward
“Fall backwards” 

On Sunday 4 April at 3am all the clocks in New Zealand will “fall backwards” ONE HOUR to 2am as Daylight Saving time finishes. But why do we do this strange practice? Well… to explain Daylight Saving, we first really need to understand modern time:

A brief history of time

Today we tell the time by cell phones, computers and radios, as well highly accurate clocks and watches. Time rules our lives much more than in the past. Before Europeans arrived, Māori told the time by the rising and setting of the sun, the seasons, and the phases of the moon. When settlers began arriving from Britain in the 1840s, not many could afford clocks or watches, so they used bells to ring the times for school, work and church. But each town would often have a slightly different time, which was confusing for everyone. So in 1868 the New Zealand government decided it was time to have a nationwide time for everyone to follow. We were the first country in the world to do this. We made our time 11½ hours ahead of the time set at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in England (known as Greenwich Mean Time). Towns and cities built public clocks, and by the 1880’s people were using clocks at home, and wearing watches.

In 1941 the clocks were set 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. And since 1974 Kiwis have enjoyed daylight saving during summer, when the clocks are put forward one hour.

What Are Time Zones?

World Time Zones | FOTOGRAFIA.Nelo.Esteves | FlickrWithout time zones, it would be impossible for all countries on Earth to have the sun at the highest point in the sky at noon. Why? Because Earth rotates by 15 degrees every hour. This is exactly why time zones were created. Basically, the planet was split into 24 slices of 15 degrees each. Each slice is a time zone.

So…What is Daylight Saving Time (DST)?

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of adjusting clocks so that we humans can enjoy more daylight hours during the summer to pursue our activities . Typically clocks are adjusted forward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn. So, in New Zealand we put our clocks FORWARD 1 HOUR at the end of September (beginning of our Spring), and on Sunday 4 April 2021, at 3am we will all be putting our clocks BACK 1 HOUR (beginning of our Autumn / Fall). And you’ll be pleased to know that your cell phones will do all this automatically for you – Smartphones!

Here’s a quick tutorial on Daylight Saving – a practice first suggested by New Zealand entomologist, George Hudson, so that he’d have more daylight hours available to study bugs!


If you’ve got time to kill, why not check out some of these great reads all about time:

The Time Wreccas / Tyler, Val
“The Guardians look after time for all people. Humans always rush around claiming that they do not have enough time, but no one thinks of guarding it. The Guardians do this and in every region of the world there is one who protects time for us all. In Greenwich, it is Old Father Tim. When the Wreccas, who populate the Underneath (below ground), send Snot to steal the Tick, their only intention is to wreak havoc on the Guardians who live Topside (above ground). They don’t expect Snot to find out that she feels more at home Topside and that she really rather likes Tid (Old Father Tim’s grandson) who she has to trick. And little do they know that without the Tick, time will stop forever…” (Catalogue)

The terrible truth about time / Arnold, Nick
“Find out what happens if you go too close to a black hole and how flies tell the time! With a fantastic new cover look and extra horrible bits at the back of the book, this best-selling title is sure to be a huge hit with a new generation of Horrible Science readers. If you think you can stomach the sick side of science, then read on as we clock up some terrible time secrets. Find out who was killed for changing the calendar, make your own crazy clock, meet the tortured time geniuses and check out your chances of a time-travel trip.” (Catalogue)

One minute / Ahn, Somin
“In one minute, you can blink your eyes twenty times, hug your dog, plant seeds, say good-bye, watch the rain, or even save a life. So much can occur in this sliver of time one minute can feel like a singular experience. This poignant picture book is at once an introduction to time for young readers, an ode to living each moment with purpose, and a thoughtful exploration of how children experience one minute (may it seem short or long) playfully, profoundly, and with a boundless sense of possibility.” (Catalogue)

Time, tides and revolutions / Brasch, Nicolas
“This fascinating series poses and answers intriguing science questions that students are often curious about. Each book takes one theme or topic and explores it via thirteen engaging questions. The highly visual content assists students’ understanding of the sometimes quite complex concepts and processes. Focusing on time related issues it presents information via 13 engaging question-and-answer spreads.” (Catalogue)

Telling time / Adler, David A
“Readers follow along as a loveable crew of kid astronauts and their Martain friends go about their daily routine, exploring the differences between seconds, minutes, and hours; what A.M. and P.M. mean; and how to tell time on both digital and analog clocks. Ten seconds to lift-off Are you ready? Veteran children’s nonfiction author David Adler incorporates math concepts, such as addition and subtraction, into this fun narrative with problem-solving exercises for readers to tackle at their own pace. Edward Miller’s vibrant cartoon art depicts the happy group of friends embarking on space walks, working together on projects, and settling in for bed.  A glossary explains time zones, daylight savings time, and more. An out-of-this-world STEM book.” (Catalogue)

Telling time : how to tell time on digital and analog clocks! / Older, Jules
“Time isn’t an easy concept for kids to grasp, but young readers will delight in learning all about it with the fun and lively lessons in TELLING TIME. Exploring what time is and discovering why we need to tell time, young readers certainly learn more than ‘the big hand is on the one and the little hand is on the two’. With the help of a whole lot of clocks, a dash of humor, and a few familiar circumstances, learning to tell time is a lot of fun. It’s about time.” (Catalogue)

All about time / Hope, Charles
“Time is a key component of mathematics. It helps us make sense of an enormous amount of information, and it can have many practical applications in our everyday lives. Join our maths mutts as they learn all about the wonderful world of Time!” (Catalogue)

One day : around the world in 24 hours / Din, Suma
” ‘One Day’ follows fifteen different children from around the world through a 24 hour period. Not only will readers learn about their different lives and cultures, but they will also discover how time zones work, and what’s happening on one side of the world while the other sleeps. This is a fantastic and accessible introduction to the concept of time and time zones for a younger audience.” (Catalogue)

Saint Patrick’s Day 2021: Painting the Town Green!

A day of leprechauns, four-leaf clovers and painting the town green! St Patrick’s Day is coming to the Capital and Wellington City Libraries on 17th of March! Why not call into your local library and take out some amazing books about Saint Patrick’s Day and Ireland. 


image courtesy of wikimedia
What is Saint Patrick’s Day?

Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural, religious and public holiday celebrated on 17 March, the anniversary of his death.It celebrates the life of  Saint Patrick, the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. On the day, people go to church services, wear green attire, attend public parades, eat Irish food and party the Irish way with music, singing and dancing, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers (or shamrocks).

image courtesy of wikimedia.org


Interesting facts:

  • Patrick was an Englishman who was captured as a boy by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He managed eventually to escape and made his way to France where he studied to become a priest. When he was made a bishop he was sent back to Ireland to spread the Christian faith among the tribes there.
  • The shamrock is now the emblem of Ireland and is used to explain the Christian belief of the Trinity or the idea that God is three in one – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
  • Over half a million New Zealanders have Irish ancestors, whose stories have been passed down the generations. Read more about this history of the Irish in New Zealand on  Te Ara.

Where can I find information about Saint Patrick’s day?

  • ManyAnswers has a page dedicated to websites, resources and ways to search for information about festivals and celebrations in New Zealand, which includes Saint Patrick’s Day.
  • You can also find pages dedicated to Saint Patrick’s Day at Britannica and National Geographic for Kids.
  • Visit your local library and check out the find the following books:


Books about St. Patrick’s Day (and the Saint himself):

image courtesy of syndeticsThe St. Patrick’s Day shillelagh.

“On his way from Ireland to America to escape the potato famine, young Fergus carves a shillelagh from his favorite blackthorn tree, and each St. Patrick’s Day for generations, his story is retold by one of his descendants.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe life of St Patrick.

“This series explores the lives of saints, and includes the four patron saints of the UK. Each book tells the life story of the saint in a chronological manner, introducing evidence that survives from that era. The primary source materials are used to explain how we know about the saint’s life and how we can learn from events in the past. The books can be used in the Literacy Hour as examples of biographical recount, and they support the learning strand study the lives of famous people.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsSaint Patrick and the peddler.

“When a poor Irish peddler follows the instructions given to him by Saint Patrick in a dream, his life is greatly changed. Includes background on Saint Patrick and on the origin of the story.” (Catalogue)

Books about Ireland:

image courtesy of syndeticsIreland.

“Known as the “Emerald Isle,” Ireland is an island famous for its green, grassy fields. With tips and insights from an Irish native named Seamus, readers will take a trip across the Irish countryside and explore its biggest cities. Along the way, they will see how Irish people live, learn about Ireland’s fascinating history, learn to speak Gaelic, and much more.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsIreland.

“This series offers comprehensive coverage of countries around the world. Each book offers complete coverage of one country, including sections on history, geography, wildlife, infrastructure, culture, and peoples.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsIreland.

“What’s it like to live in Ireland? This book is part of a series which takes you on a tour so you can find out about the landscape, the weather, the people and the places.” (Catalogue)

Irish Folk Tales and Stories:

image courtesy of syndeticsThe names upon the harp.

“A collection of classic Irish legends, retold for children of eight and over. It includes tales of fiercely fought battles, passionate romances, spells and curses, heroes and villains, and loyalty and betrayal.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe cloak of feathers.

“Once every hundred years, the small, forgotten, rural Irish town of Lisahee welcomes The Fairy Festival – a week of celebration where the mysterious and magical ‘sidhe’ emerge from the hill above the town and take residence alongside their human counterparts for seven days of ancient traditions and games. Filled with dancing, music, goblin markets and fae-folk, the festival has only one rule: never, ever, say ‘the f word’ – that’s ‘fairies’ – a rule twelve-year-old Brian unfortunately breaks. When mayhem ensues, it’s up to Brian and his friends to avoid the wrath of the King and Queen and help keep the town in one piece. A magical adventure filled with myth, mischief and misunderstandings, perfect for fans of modern fairy tales with a comic twist.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsMagical tales of Ireland.

“Fairy tales get a modern twist in this dazzling collection of newly written and illustrated Irish stories for the 6-9 year olds. This is a sparkling collection of newly commissioned stories and illustrations from Ireland’s best-known writers and illustrators. From Roddy Doyle’s poignant story of a young girl dealing with the loss of a parent, powerfully illustrated by PJ Lynch to Paul Muldoon’s witty narrative poem about a girl with a knack for seeing things backwards, accompanied by Niamh Sharkey’s zany illustrations and Malachy Doyles’s hero, famous Seamus who scores a very unusual ghostly goal 21st century tales combine contemporary realism and magic, making this a collection unlike any other. These tales are as diverse as the authors themselves.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsBetween worlds : folktales of Britain & Ireland.

“Rich and strange, these eerie and magical folktales from across Britain and Ireland have been passed down from generation to generation, and are gathered together in a definitive new collection from storyteller Kevin Crossley-Holland. Dark and funny, lyrical and earthy, these fifty stories are part of an important and enduring historical tradition that dates back hundreds of years.” (Catalogue)

Waitangi Day 2021

Image: Reconstructing the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by Marcus King from Archives New Zealand on Flickr.

Waitangi Day is a special day in New Zealand’s history. This year it will be celebrated on Saturday 6th of February. Waitangi Day is a public holiday. Therefore, Wellington City Libraries (except He Matapihi Molesworth Library) will be closed Saturday 6th February. All Wellington City Libraries’ branches will be closed Monday 8th February, which is observed as a Waitangi Day Holiday.


image courtesy of Ōriwa Haddon from Archives New Zealand on Flickr.

Image: The Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by Ōriwa Haddon from Archives New Zealand on Flickr.

What is Waitangi Day?

Waitangi Day marks the anniversary of the initial signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. on 6th February 1840. The Treaty is the founding document of the nation and an agreement, in Māori and English, that was made between the British Crown and about 540 Māori rangatira (chiefs).

Did you know? The first Waitangi Day was not celebrated until 1934, and it was made a national public holiday in 1974

What’s on this Waitangi Day?

  • Click here to find out what other events are on in Wellington to celebrate Waitangi Day.

Where can I find information about Waitangi Day?

Solstice and Yule: The Grandfathers of Christmas

Everyone knows the story of Christmas, but actually celebrations of this time of year go back thousands of years into the past. Two cultures, the Celts and the Norse each contribute to some of the world’s original festive celebrations at the Christmas time of year.

Two drawings of the Oak king and the Holly king.

The Oak and Holly Kings of the Celts. Image © Anne Stokes 2020.

The Celts celebrated the Midwinter Solstice (and so do the Zuñi and Hopi peoples of America), whereas uniquely the Celts feature the Green King which was even used in the later Medieval Period, despite the greater popularity of Christianity.

It centred around the dawning of the new solstice, when the sun would return from the darkness during Winter and the use of two figures namely the Holly King and the Oak King. These two deities would battle one another, triumphing for six months of the year to rule over the seasons until the next fight (in which the victorious king would then reign). This would be celebrated at Midwinter (and Midsummer) when the respective king for the season was at the peak of their powers and thus claim victory over the other.

The Druids of Britain would use holly as a sacred symbol of life during the dark Winters, and offered it as a blessing (BBC, 2006).

Image of the Norse God Odin riding Sleipnir during the Wild Hunt

The God Odin and Sleipnir during the Wild Hunt.

The Norse would celebrate the Wild Hunt, where the God Odin (or the All-Father) would hunt down trolls and other creatures as he gave gifts to children across settlements during Mid-Winter.

The winters in Northern Europe were dark and foreboding, and so it lent itself to the idea that Odin and his gang would ride across the winds, amid much howling and shrieking of the trolls and other creatures as they were hunted down by the party. Along the way, Odin – similar to and pre-dating Santa Claus – would send little gifts to the children he passed through the villages and towns during the Viking Age.

Odin could be seen riding on the winds, with his horse Sleipnir, the eight-legged child of the God Loki. He was the fastest and strongest horse in the world. Every year when the Midwinter sun came over the lands, it was said to be Odin and his party hunting down trolls and other nasty creatures. On this night in particular, Odin would leave gifts out for the children, and they in turn would leave a small parcel of food for Odin and of course a carrot or bits of hay for the horse Sleipnir.


If you’re browsing the shelves at your library for books on the Celts and the Norse, you can use the Dewey Decimal system to help you find the right book. Dewey Decimal numbers are magical numbers that help us organise which books go where. Here are some useful numbers for this topic:

And here are some of our favourite books in the collection about the Celts and the Norse:

Celts / Newland, Sonya
“Who were the Celts and who were their leaders? Why did they come to the British Isles and how did they live? Explore this ancient civilisation to understand how prehistoric people have influenced the way we live today. Discover the artefacts that give evidence of their way of life, and how historians have pieced together the evidence of their lives. Learn about the homes and communities that they lived in, the food that they ate, how they travelled and worshipped, and the influence of the Romans on their society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Myths and civilization of the Celts / Martell, Hazel
Myths and Civilization of the Celts focuses on life during the Iron Age period when the Celts dominated much of Europe before the rise of the Roman Empire. The book looks at their way of life, their arts and crafts, trade and transport, religion, food and entertainment. It also includes a map of the Celtic tribes of Europe. Using double-page spreads, Celtic myths are retold & followed by historical & cultural background material.” (Catalogue)

Norse myths and legends / Ganeri, Anita
“The world’s myths are filled with characters, creatures, and stories that have fascinated people for thousands of years. This series mixes dramatic retellings and non-fiction information to give a full picture of a culture’s myths.” (Catalogue)

Illustrated Norse myths / Frith, Alex
“A brand-new collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, the battles of Thor the thunder god, and the tale of Sigurd the Dragonslayer and the curs A collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, and the battles of Thor the thunder god.” (Catalogue)

Need Help Writing Your Poem for Tūhono?

Kia ora! We have loved receiving all of your entries so far for Tūhono, our brand new poetry journal for young Wellington writers! If you need a refresher on what Tūhono is, feel free to check out our first blog post about it.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting some useful tips and tricks on writing poetry on this blog, to help you with your submission! We thought we would start by recommending some really good books you can borrow from our libraries that are all about how to write poetry, and what poetry is all about. Big thanks to Stephanie, the wonderful librarian who buys all of our books for children and teenagers, for putting this list together for us!

How to write poems / Coelho, Joseph
Our first books is packed with exciting activities and starting points to get you creating your own poetic masterpieces! This book is really great for beginners as well as more experienced poets. There are many different types of poetry covered in this comprehensive ‘how to’ guide. If you want to reserve it, you can click on the book’s title, and then the orange “Place Reserve” button — then just choose which library you would like to collect the book from!

What is poetry? : the essential guide to reading & writing poems / Rosen, Michael
Michael Rosen is a well-known and popular British poet. In this book, he draws on his many years of experience to share information and tips on how you can become a poet too. What makes this book especially interesting is that he takes the time to walk you through a number of his own poems, explaining how and why he wrote them. Understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of poetry is really important if you want to write your own some day!

Jabberwalking / Herrera, Juan Felipe
What exactly is ‘Jabberwalking’? The author Juan Felipe Herrera (a well-known American poet) explains that jabberwalking poets aim to create something that’s not like a typical poem. To be a jabberwalking poet you must move and write at the same time! You must write everything that comes into your head — things you see, things you hear, and things you feel. The challenge then is to interpret all your scribbles and turn them into a poem. This is an incredibly creative and unusual way to craft a weird, wild poem — just the kind of poetry we’d love to see in Tūhono.

The Usborne creative writer’s handbook / Daynes, Katie
This super useful handbook covers many different forms of creative writing, including a useful section on poetry. You will find though that much of the advice you can find throughout this books is relevant to crafting poems — for example, coming up with ideas, planning, grammar, and punctuation. With this book in your poetic toolbelt, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a super successful writer!

Dive Into Online Activities with Your Favourite Authors!

As we move into Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown, I was curious to know what some authors were doing with their time. I decided to do some online searching, and it was fascinating! Not only are there some very creative authors out there, but I also kept getting side-tracked by all the other groovy stuff that’s being created and shared online at this time. It reminded me of diving into a very deep swimming pool of creativity.

Maybe you could “go swimming” yourself, with a parent or caregiver on hand to keep you safe online of course!

Here’s some of the great activities and webpages I discovered, so this might be a good place to start your swim:

Dav Pilkey – author of Dogman and Captain Underpants books and so much more has created a fantastic lockdown activities page, Dav Pilkey At Home, on the Scholastic Books website. This page is chock full of videos, activities, and things to draw, read and write to keep you occupied during lockdown. While you’re checking out Dav Pilkey At Home, why not read Dav Pilkey’s books online through our eLibrary?

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Fifi Colston is not only an amazing NZ children’s author, but she’s a wonderfully creative artist as well. Check out her Fifi Colston Creative Pandemic Resources page for a huge range of really creative craft activities you can do with stuff you find at home. For example, see below for an incredibly cool project you can do with nothing but empty toilet paper rolls and a couple of other bits and bobs

Image credit: Fifi Colston – Pots of Love

Finally, don’t forget to check out local school websites as well. Wellington’s Raroa Normal Intermediate School library website has a very deep pool of at-home resources and activities to swim amongst, and it was here that I really started to swim down some side streams and waterways! They’ve aptly named their page Rāhui Resources.

Here are just a couple of pages I freestyled my way into from Rāhui Resources:

  • New Zealand Geographic magazine have put together an awesome Together at Home page with something new to explore in this beautiful country of ours for every day of lockdown.
  • And life just wouldn’t be complete without a few comics to enjoy. SJL.com (School Library Journal) have put up some free kids and teen comics for you to enjoy including the popular Cucumber Quest, Ozy and Millie and Wormworld Saga comic books.

Finally, just because… if you’ve got an iPad at home, why not try your hand at some blackout poetry:

Here’s my blackout poem using this Stuff News KEA Kids News article

Celebrating in lockdown,
Special day, cake, video chats
A happy family wish to you.
Our planet healthier
Growing native plants
In this unusual time.

Keep safe, and remember — wash your hands!

Family Lockdown Challenge: Stand Apart Together this ANZAC Day

We will be celebrating ANZAC Day differently this year. ANZAC Services are cancelled for the first time in 104 years. However there are many ways for you you can honor our fallen and returned soldiers from the safety of your doorstep. You can:

Virtual Dawn Service:image courtesy of standatdawn.com

Take part in Stand at Dawn. Stand at your letterbox, at the front door, your lounge rooms, etc, on Saturday 25th April at 6am to remember our fallen. The official dawn service starts at 6am on Saturday 25 April. It will be broadcasted on Radio NZ National. The morning service includes the Last Post, National Anthems, and an address by Hon. Ron Mark, Minister of Defence / Minister for Veterans. For more information about the virtual dawn service and other online events, please visit the Wellington City Council website.

Activities for kids:

You can make poppies at home. image courtesy of standatdawn.comYou can place them on your window, decorate your letter box and even create you own poppy garden. For more ideas, visit the Stand at Dawn Activities page

Bake ANZAC Biscuits:image courtesy of standatdawn.com

People are making the most of their time with cooking and baking since lockdown. Why not bake some yummy ANZAC biscuits with your whanau and serve them out of the oven with a nice cup of tea after the dawn service. Click here to view the recipe.

ANZAC Fact: The biscuits were sent by wives and women’s groups to soldiers abroad because the ingredients did not spoil and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation.

Watch the Ballet from your living room:

Watch the ballet, with your ANZAC biscuit and cup of tea, from confort of your own bubble… and living room. image courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/nzballet/The Royal New Zealand Ballet will be livestreaming on Facebook a special broadcast of ‘Dear Horizon’ and ‘Passchendaele’, two works that were commissioned for our Salute programme back in 2015 and performed live with the New Zealand Army Band, to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings. You can view the RNZB Facebook live event Anzac Salute here. For more information, visit the Royal New Zealand Ballet Facebook page and website.

Read up on the ANZACs and Anzac Day?

ManyAnswers has a page dedicated to websites, resources and ways to search for information about the ANZACs and ANZAC Day. You can also refer to last year’s blog post and this previous post, which  provides a list of websites that will provide you with reliable information about ANZAC Day and World War 1.
Remember stay safe in your bubble, stay at home and be kind. Kia kaha!