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Library Subject Guides

Ōtautahi - Christchurch: Society


This section looks at a range of aspects of Ōtautahi - Christchurch society including peace movements, workers unions, music, drugs and sport.

Christchurch as a Peace City


Christchurch was declared NZ’s first Peace City in 2002.

​However peace activism has a long history here. Below are some Christchurch based pacifist publications dating back to World War One. These publications cover not only war and conscientious objection but also such topics as vegetarianism and the death penalty.  

Word War One

World War Two (and pre WWII)


Have a look at these subject keywords in the catalogue:

Other items:

Workers and Unions


For an overview of working culture in Christchurch please see: 

Southern capital: Towards a city biography, 1850-2000. ‘Chapter 6: Workers and workplaces- industry and modernity.' 

Some resources on workers and unions can be found below:


Resources on the WEA (Workers’ Education Association) are below.


Canterbury WEA website:


Periodical searches:



Take a look at the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions website which contains press releases, information on workers rights and allows you to search for unions by industry. 

A large number of newspaper, journal articles, podcasts and more can be found on DigitalNZ using the search term “workers unions Christchurch.” You can also use the same search term to find academic research on the website

See Te Ara's story "Unions and employee organisations" for an overview of unionism in New Zealand. 

Another interesting website on New Zealand working class history is the Labour History Project. The site contains updated and open access papers and bulletins.




Christchurch has a long musical tradition. For an introduction see Philip Jane’s An historical survey of the establishment of an orchestral tradition in Christchurch to 1939 and John M. Jennings' Programmes of concerts presented between 1945 and 1974 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Macmillan Brown Library has an extensive collection of theatre and concert programmes from 1887 onwards, ask at the desk to see these.

For more recent music, we have several music and popular culture magazines. These are a great source of information and include gigs, reviews, interviews and rants.

  • Phantom: The magazine of Phantom Billstickers Ltd (2002-2004)
  • Cheap thrills. (2015). Interviews with Christchurch musicians and more.
  • Presto (1993-2010). Another Christchurch mag. with lots of reviews and opinion pieces.
  • Opprobrium

We also have music flyers from the late '90s and early 2000s in our ephemera collection (ask at the desk for these). See Web Resources below for Christchurch City Libraries' digitised band posters from the '80s.

Some books on the topic include:


Web resources:

Drug Cultures


Often maligned, feared, or pitied, intravenous drug users are popularly associated with the urban underbelly of cities. A window into Christchurch’s intravenous drug using community can be found through Mainline, the magazine of the Christchurch needle exchange, the Rodger Wright Centre. Written by and for intravenous drug users, the community magazine features harm minimisation information, news, editorials, cartoons, creative works, letters, and other content of interest to its marginalised yet unapologetic audience.

Further information about the history of the Rodger Wright Centre and the NZ needle exchange program can be found in:

Search The Press via the Christchurch City Libraries microfiche index (1954-94) or online Papers Index (1995-current).

For online resources, start with Multisearch on the Library home page. Search for "New Zealand drug culture". 

Information on drug use in New Zealand can be found on the Ministry of Health website

Youth Culture and Moral Panic


 The 1950s saw the rise of a “moral panic” in New Zealand society. Older generations believed that the influx of American media, particularly of horror films and films with sexually explicit content, was to blame for deviant behaviour in New Zealand’s youth.

In 1954 the Mazengarb Committee released the Report of the Special Committee on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents. The report discussed the “deviant” sexual behaviour of youth and the influence of media and unhealthy family relationships. 

Parker – Hulme Murder Case

In 1954, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were convicted of the murder of Pauline’s mother in Christchurch. During the trial, witnesses concluded that the pair were in a homosexual relationship and there was word that Pauline had also engaged in a sexual relationship with a young male. There was also a focus on the family life of both. These factors served to form connections between family, sexuality and criminality in the minds of conservative New Zealanders and acted as a focal point for the Mazengarb Report.

Christchurch City Libraries has a webpage on the murder case with a range of digital content.

Search “Mazengarb Report” on the Library Multisearch. This search also produces results relevant to the Parker-Hulme case including a useful online article: “Murder, Mazengarb and a Moral Panic: The Intersection of ‘Juvenile Delinquency’ and the Media in 1950s New Zealand” by Alice Krzanich. 

Relevent Ebooks


Sport and Recreation


The Macmillan Brown Library has an extensive collection of material on sport. 

Search on these keywords to see some of our material:

For club histories etc do a keyword search on the name of the sport and Christchurch e.g. soccer Christchurch

Web resources

Contact me for help

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Caroline Syddall
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Macmillan Brown Library.

My hours of work are Monday-Thursday 8.30-5.00
03 3693883 or x93883