Friday, 19 October 2012

Christchurch - the Final Frontier (of my Ancestors)

(Some Christchurch humour)
Monday 17/9
Continuing from last entry, I had gotten the bus from Dunedin, got off at Hornby and picked up by Erika, my workmate from my time at Corrections. Had a good catch up that evening.

Tuesday 18/9
I spent the day doing my washing and planning the rest of my week, including organising my flight back to Auckland on Sunday morning. I booked a flight using my air points generated from the trip to London in 2009.
(This is the new mall, constructed from cargo containers)
Wednesday 19/9
I went into Christchurch with Phil, Erika's husband, on his way to work. I eventually worked out the maze that is now the CBD and got to the i-Site. I organised a red zone tour and booked a cheap rental car for Friday to go to Oxford in North Canterbury (where my ancestors had come from). From there I went to Archives New Zealand to do some research. Came back to i-Site and did the red zone tour. I had been warned that some people didn't think it was worth doing. For the price it wasn't too bad, although it certainly wasn't as dramatic as I imagined - I guess because all the images I had seen were from the day after the quakes, and of course now everything was demolished and/or cleaned up. I was feeling rundown after that so I sat about for a while, before dragging myself to the Christchurch hospital (not for medical reasons, but because it was where one of the few BNZ banks still stand in Christchurch, and I knew there would be a cafeteria. My overall impression of Christchurch in 2012 was that it reminded me a lot of Belfast, less the murals and bomb-proof trucks.
(The Christchurch Cathedral)
Thursday 20/9
Went into town again with Phil and attended a Genealogy Society meeting, I had rung them on Tuesday and mentioned my Christchurch ancestors in the hope someone may've researched them already, unfortunately no one had, but they did prepare some books for me to look at, and were helpful in general, although one lady kept giving me things that may have related but in the end were just more things to sift through - info overload.

Friday 21/9
Got a ride into town with Phil again, and went hard out around some car wreckers in the CBD looking for a particular part for my car (an internal plastic panel - I want one from a better spec car, as  they come with a rear speaker and grill) I predicted that Christchurch may be the place to find some, as it is about 3 times bigger than Hamilton, and of course had been through an earthquake, potentially writing a few more cars off.

After that I went and picked up my rental car, and headed back to Archives New Zealand to complete my research there. I had done the hard yards the night before, and got all the things I wanted sourced into a list, so I could just give it to them and they could go get them. That worked well, especially considering how much I had to look through. I had an interesting chat to someone else researching there, but in the end wished he would just let me get through what I had. At closing time, about 1pm my new friend had left, and the Archives staff said I was free to finish off looking at what I had - they just couldn't tell me that when the other guy was around as he was hard enough to get rid of at closing time most days. As it was I didn't require much more time there, and I was eager to get to Oxford.

On the way to Oxford I stopped to get some petrol. While I was in the shop paying for it there was a huge BANG. I thought it was just a truck going past, but apparently it was an earthquake.
I got to Oxford and spent about an hour at the museum before it closed at 3pm. I then had a quick look at Pearson park next door, and the cemetery down the road, where some of the Pearsons were buried. From there I decided to go and see Burnt Hill - the station where Joseph Pearson (my 3 x Great grandfather's brother) had farmed. On the way there, just off the main road I had to cross a small ford - with all the gravel I got stuck for a little bit, until a guy in a ute came the other way, and I asked him for a small push, which he humbly obliged. For a moment there I was a little worried, especially being a rental car and all.
At Burnt Hill there was this long drive, and I didn't think it right to drive down and have a look at the house - as I'm not sure how cool my story of how "My 3 x great grandfather's brother was Joseph Pearson" would be received.
From Burnt Hill I headed to View Hill - where Joseph's first house was. Unfortunately it wasn't as clear where exactly it was, I found View Hill School, but there are plenty of hills around there.
From there, I figured I may as well head north and find Lake Pearson, despite it getting late in the day. The journey took me through Springfield, pictured here with the Doughnut - given to the community when The Simpsons movie came out, as apparently they gave every town in the world called Springfield one.  This other picture shows how some cheeky person has capitalised on the landmark.
It also took me into the Southern alps, which of course looked beautiful with the sun setting.
Eventually I made it to Lake Pearson, it wasn't the easiest trip because it wasn't a location of note on my GPS, so I did have to guess a little bit to work out where it was. Unfortunately as you can see it was dark so I didn't get to appreciate it in it's full daylight splendour. Never mind, now I know where it is, and especially that you can camp there, I may very well be going back. Coming back to Christchurch was also an adventure in itself, driving in an unfamiliar car, on unfamiliar roads.
Saturday 22/9
I got up and made a quick visit to a couple of wreckers before dropping off my rental car. From there I went to the Christchurch library and went through all their genealogy card files (with the surnames of my ancestors) and photographed any that were relevant. About lunch time Erika, Phil, and the boys came and picked me up and we all went to the heritage village - a museum place with old trams and houses, set up how they would have been in Christchurch's early days. Erika had a joke by telling her kids that this place showed how things were when Phil was a boy, and the kids believed her.
Sunday 23/9
Got up and Phil took me to the airport. I flew back to Auckland and was picked up by my old school mate James. Some of James's friends were having a cook breakfast together, so we went along to that as well, which was great.

Mum and Dad then picked me up before lunch and we went to our old friends the Manson's, and had a two-family reunion, ie with all the kids and grandkids, not too hard a feet with our family (now we are all back in NZ) but the Manson's have four kids, all married, and three of them have had children. It was nice having a good catch up.

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