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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009 Edith Morris


Catchword Corner

November 2008

Our Neighbourhood Treasure

On a wet, windy day I went to the Chartwell library to wile away a few hours. It was the last week of the school holidays, and the place was a buzz of activity with children and people everywhere. Rather noisy I thought. No "please be quiet signs" anywhere. Gone are the days when libraries and Churches were shrouded in hushed and deathly silence.

I had intended to do a bit of research about voting. I thought that would be a subject you'd like to know about. Just joking. I got side tracked when I discover the huge, flat folder entitled "The NZ Herald 100 years of news."

September 20 1893: Women voters walked to the polling booth at the Auckland Drill Hall through a pathway of curious men, to cast some of the first votes by women in New Zealand. The document allowing women to vote was not without protest, right up to the last minute before signing.

September 21 1933: (exactly 40 years later) Mrs E.R. McCombs, the first woman member of parliament was sworn in. Bellamy's restaurant sign "no ladies admitted" was removed.

I began to lose interest in voting and looked around the library. "What a wonderful place" I thought to myself. I could live here for 100 years and still not get bored. There are so many books. New Zealand has a high per-capita of active readers and a fair few were in the Chartwell library on a wet school holiday day. I wondered when the library was built. Who was responsible to getting it built in the first place? Why was Chartwell chosen? Who made the lovely glass window panel?

With the kind co-operation of the library staff I had some of the answers: The new library was opened in August 1984 by the then Hamilton Mayor Ross Jansen. The coloured window is 6 meters long and was designed by Tauhei glass artist Jo Shroff and paid for by the Hamilton City Council. The Librarian then was Andrew Peacocke. Next year will mark 25 years since the opening of our Chartwell library.

I love the vibrant atmosphere of children selecting their books, of students on the computers doing their last minute school assignments, of genealogy buffs searching for family clues, and of the helpful and polite staff.

I suppose I could have searched the internet and googled myself silly, but why would I want to miss out on the pure pleasure of going to our very own library. Chartwell Library is the largest of the Community Libraries, servicing the expanding northeastern suburbs of Hamilton, - our treasure in the neighbourhood.