History & heritage  |  14 Jan 2020

A new digital repository captures the heritage of Canterbury, with rare images and previously unpublished community and personal records now publicly accessible.

Canterbury Stories collects and shares online collections from multiple Christchurch City Libraries’ sources, including archives, publications, photographs and content contributed by the community.

Christchurch City Council Head of Libraries and Information Carolyn Robertson says the innovative repository provides a valuable portal to the past.

“It’s vital to enhance and extend our collective memory and share our heritage with the widest possible audience via channels such as Canterbury Stories,” Ms Robertson says.

“By preserving our precious photographs and publications, we can protect those resources for future generations,” she says.


Canterbury Stories showcases the region's heritage.

Many photos have come from the 17,000-strong collection of city photographer Doc Ross, the Orion (Municipal Electricity Department) infrastructure archive, Christchurch’s The Star archive, the annual library-run Photo Hunt, and Christchurch City Libraries’ own heritage collection.

“Among the rarities is The New Zealand Wheelman, a very fragile Christchurch publication on cycling in the 1890s, along with never-seen-before records of local and community organisations and clubs, churches, businesses and individuals,” Ms Robertson says.

Christchurch City Libraries’ physical heritage collection covers Canterbury and the Chatham Islands from 1850 on, and includes letters, diaries, booklets, government documents, and personal papers.

Digitised material from this collection will be available over time.

Canterbury Stories features different themes, and various options for exploring the online repository, including the ability to enlarge images.

It also focuses on individual areas, such as this year’s Documentary Project on Woolston, a collaboration between Libraries and photography students from the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts.

“We will continue to share  and add  more diverse and personal stories and images that document the remarkable story of our region’s transformation.”

Learn more about Canterbury Stories here.