Christchurch Photo Hunt 2023 – The Winners

Christchurch City Libraries has held a Photo Hunt in October since 2008. It aims to gather photographs, digital and physical, from across the community and to encourage people to share their photographs and stories of Canterbury.

This year’s theme was Our Stories of Living and Learning, which aligned with the Christchurch Heritage Festival. In total, we had 870 entries submitted and these are available to view on the Discovery Wall. The images can also be found on the Discovery Wall in Tūranga as well as on the Mobile Discovery Wall.

They will also be available to view on our digital heritage repository Canterbury Stories very soon.

Local artist, Janneth Gil, was our guest judge. She is a Colombian-born New Zealand photographer and engineer. Janneth uses a broad range of artistic processes as a tool for social change and wellbeing including photography, collaborative practices and community engagement. Her work has been shown in various galleries around New Zealand.

Janneth joined Digital Curation Librarian, Sarah Snelling, and Community Stories Liaison, Simon Daisley, in selecting the winning images. They decided on an overall winner along with winners and highly commended for the categories of People and Places. They also selected highly commended collections.

Overall winner: New beginnings in NZ contributed by Georgina Ward

New beginnings in NZ. 1954. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-DW-166331.

Judges' comments: This well composed photograph gives us an insight into the life of a Dutch migrant who has arrived in 1950s Christchurch. After having lived through the horrors of the Second World War, she looks relaxed and happy while standing casually in the doorframe holding a cigarette in her hand. The presence of the bicycle, a common form of transport in both the Netherlands and Christchurch in the 1950s, shows that she is maintaining a connection to her former life while learning to live in a new country.

Winner for Places: Witnessing an avalanche at Ball Hut contributed by Valerie Murray

Witnessing an avalanche at Ball Hut.12 September 1959. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-VaMu-0003.

Judges' comments: This is a photograph of many contrasts. There is the contrast of the white snow against dark rocks and shadows and the rugged face of the glacier with the seemingly smooth surface of the snow. However, the size of the figures in the foreground, contrasted with the size of the mountains and the avalanche, reminds us of the inherent risk mountain activities pose. Despite the dangerous situation, the people appear relaxed, as if unconcerned by what they are witnessing. 

Winner for People: Christchurch Star Proofreader contributed by Cheryl Jesson

Christchurch Star Proofreader. 1986. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-DW-165711.

Judges' comments: This is a well composed image which captures the character of the individual depicted. There is a juxtaposition of formality, represented by his well-groomed appearance, with casualness, as evident by his crossed legs. Given that he is holding both his umbrella and briefcase, there is an impression that he has just arrived at work and the photograph has been taken on the spur of a moment. The Town Hall can be seen through the window behind him, while the umbrella informs us that there was a possibility of rain on that day, both of which give us a sense of place. 

Highly commended collections

Collection contributed by Gabrielle Heath 

Portrait of Judy Clancy as “Cigarette Girl”. Late 1940s. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-0317a.

Judges' comments: This is a fun and interesting collection which depicts concerts, musicians, and roller skating. The collection captures how much fun these groups had and conveys a strong sense of community performance. We were drawn to this particular photograph because of the contrast with the standards we have today.
View the whole collection.

Collection contributed by John Paerata 

Judith Fairbrother and Andrew Phipps in the University of Canterbury “Procesh”. 4 May 1966. In copyright. CCL-PH23-0007a.

Judges' comments: This collection depicts a university student event during Capping Week which was once an annual feature of Christchurch, but which has since been lost. The students appear to be having fun and it is evident that Judith Fairbrother is enjoying her role as Queen Elizabeth. There is also a social commentary about the expenses of supporting royal tours.
View the whole collection.

Highly commended: Places

Damaged willow tree in Victoria Square contributed by Greg Comfort

Damaged willow tree in Victoria Square. 3 October 2023. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-GrCo-0001.

Judges' comments: This photograph symbolises how, as Cantabrians, we are connected to disaster. It reminds us of the volatility of nature and the resilience of Cantabrians to overcome adversity. 

Sea Rangers at Queen Elizabeth II Park opening contributed by Barbara Newcombe

Sea Rangers at Queen Elizabeth II Park opening. 25 November 1973. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-BaNe-0060.

Judges' comments: This photograph captures the atmosphere surrounding the upcoming 1974 Commonwealth Games. It shows the enthusiasm the Christchurch community had for being involved. It also depicts a location which played a prominent role in the city, but which is now lost to us. 

Traffic during a snowstorm contributed by Richard King

Traffic during a snowstorm. 19 September 2005. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-RiKi-0002.

Judges' comments: This photograph reminds us of how the inner city looked in the years leading up to the earthquakes. Along with the tram, it also shows the old Metro red bus. While the building under construction, Victoria Apartments, was demolished after the earthquakes, the building in the foreground (779 Colombo Street) survived, giving us a sense of continuity. Given that a snowstorm is an infrequent event in Christchurch, it captures a rare moment. 

Highly commended: People

Boogie boarding at North Beach contributed by Beverley Hanham

Boogie boarding at North Beach. 2001. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-SuHa-0001.

Judges' comments: This is a fun photograph which symbolises our affinity with water and going to the beach. The movement of the foam makes you feel like you are there. This is a genuine moment which shows the connection between the two people as one of them is learning to boogie board. 

Mock wedding 1950s contributed by Kareen Gibson

Mock wedding 1950s. In copyright. CCL-PH23-DW-169321.

Judges' comments: At first glance this seems like a standard wedding photograph from the 1950s. On closer inspection, one sees that there is an element of frivolity and transgression as gender roles are reversed for a performance. Set against the entrance of an Odd Fellows’ hall, the photograph gives us an insight into community social life in 1950s Christchurch.

Wednesday Camera Club at Central New Brighton School contributed by Robert Gibbons

Wednesday Camera Club at Central New Brighton School. 1970s. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-0138.

Judges' comments: This is a well composed photograph. The students appear to enjoy their class and are enthusiastic about learning the art of photography. There is also a sense that the teacher was well liked by his students. 

Staff Pick - Winner: Punting at Mona Vale

Punting at Mona Vale. 17 February 1993. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. CCL-PH23-0265a.

Christchurch Photo Hunt isn't just for the public. Each year we encourage staff across Christchurch City Libraries and the wider Christchurch City Council to enter their photographs. This year we received a total of 219 staff entries. Staff selected this photograph as the winning staff entry for 2023.