Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holiday Update.....

Posting has been a little sparse lately due to a lack of time. However, I'll use the time I do have by beginning with describing my visit to the city of Christchurch.

I heard it said a few times that Kiwis are 'more English than the English'. I never quite saw this, they have always struck me as being more like Aussies with manners (no doubt political umpire will have something to say on this, as well as on the rest of my post!)

However, I think this may just apply to Christchurch, which was in fact modelled on an English city, built on a river with a university in the centre. And yes, it has stone builidings and spires! And men in straw boating hats punting tourists along the river. The English class structure was also intended to be replicated. While the founder of Wellington tried this there and failed, I think the founder of Xchurch may have succeeded.

I stayed with a middle aged gay couple. Refined gentlemen, if anything classic English eccentrics in the upper class sense! They have a slight fascination with British royalty, and are converts to Roman Catholicism. I will also have the pleasure to greet them on their visit to England next year. I had their permission to write about them here. I also had the pleasure to meet a couple of their friends - a Cambridge educated Mathematician with an accent to match, a white beard and a slightly snobby wife. Could have been at home, albeit not London. I'll upload a picture later.....


Political Umpire said...

Red rag to the bull alright. I'll try and knock together some thoughts on that later today/tomorrow.

Political Umpire said...

I'm still taking a run-up on the other provocative comments in the post, but a word about Christchurch and the whole England/Kiwi/Australian thing.

Christchurch was named after somewhere in England. They were obviously a homesick lot. They introduced sparrows, for a start. Then as well as the rather Anglican city name, they called the river running through the town 'the Avon'. (The university is not in the centre, though, is it?) They built an Anglican-based boys school called 'Christ College', whose architecture is a replica of Eton (I kid you not). It's teaching methods correspond. My Grandmother hailed from Chch, with an Irish sounding name. Her father was an RC. In her family history she notes that two older brothers, in the early C20, were sent there for a time "but as it was a CofE school, my father wouldn't have them there for long, there being no ecumenical spirit in those days". Later she was convinced a grandchild was going to hell as his parents were not married. (They are now, which might spare him the hotplace.)

Back to Chch. They called the main streets after Anglican dioseses, hence Colombo, Barbadoes (sp I know, but they never bothered changing it), Manchester, Durham etc. The Masons are in there, or were when I was there (one night a vast gathering of expensive German limosines was noticed outside the Town Hall, I was told that it was a Masonic function), meaning the RCs probably still don't hold sway. It was the only place in NZ where I ever saw a significant skinhead presence.

So all in all, it probably is the most English of NZ towns. The class system is another story. Most Kiwis would claim that they have a classless society, which I would maintain is impossible even absent a formal aristocracy/public school system/caste system (intend to blog about this shortly). Yet there are degrees of social mobility and it is true that in Chch the old boy network and disdaining of lower socio-economic groupings is more noticeable than most other places in the country. Until the far eastern immigration of the 1990s (near East for NZ I guess) it was the whitest major town, with very homogenous attitudes and values as well.

My inner prodnose, speaking in the style of Donald Rumsfeld, is intervening here: Am I making sense? Probably not. Am I wittering on? Certainly. Should I stop? Absolutely.

Well if nothing else Chch is a lot more English than Akaroa is French (it has French style street names, but not much else). Akaroa's still worth a visit, mind, if the weather's sunny. There's a nice bird sanctuary about half way there, quite well sign posted if I remember rightly. And a few wineries. Tree crop farm (in Akaraoa) is a quaint spot too, if it's still there. I enjoyed driving out there - went for about 40 minutes seeing not another sole save for the horse and cart.

Till soon,


james higham said...

University city, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Canterbury Uni is based there, but not in the centre of town

p ump

Liz said...

Hi PU, Christchurch is a place in England, in West Hampshire not far from Bournemouth. Old town.

I gave Akaroa a visit too, pleasant place although a bit touristy. I'll talk about the rest of my trip in my next post.

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