John Herrett Tibetan Buddhism collection

Tashi Delek (བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས)!

Christchurch City Libraries has recently acquired the John Herrett Tibetan Buddhism collection. The collection covers visits made to Christchurch by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama in 1992 and 1996 along with visits made by other important teachers from the different traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Dalai Lama with Dean John Bluck. Copyright John Herrett. CCL-Herrett-60.

John Herrett was born in Christchurch in 1962 and first became interested in Buddhism while at primary school. He started practicing Tibetan Buddhism in 1980 after attending a retreat held in Taupō by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. He later established a meditation group in Christchurch and invited teachers to give talks. One of these talks, given by Lama Choedak from the Dorje Chang Institute in Auckland, was held in the John Stringleman room at Canterbury Public Library. John studied Buddhism in India and has also undertaken pilgrimages in India and Nepal where he received teachings from His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Sakya Trinzin. 

Puja by Tibetan Buddhist lama at Lake Tekapo. Copyright John Herrett. CCL-Herrett-80.

The group founded by John became known as the Canterbury Buddhist Trust. One of these members was Della Simmons who had also attended the talk held in the John Stringleman room. The trust helped organise the visit of the Dalai Lama to Christchurch in 1992 and his subsequent visit in 1996 where His Holiness gave a talk held in ChristChurch Cathedral. The Canterbury Buddhist Trust eventually became known as the Canterbury Karma Kagyu Trust. In 1999, a centre was established in Christchurch which is now known as Kagyu Choeyang Ling.

Also included in the collection are photographs of lamas who regularly teach in Christchurch including Lama Assi of Kagyu Choeyang Ling (70 Brittan Street), the Fifth Amnyi Trulchung Rinpoche of Christchurch Buddhist Centre (43 Harrow Street) and Geshe Nyima Dorjee of Phen Day Dhargyey Ling (34 Dudley Street).

Lama Assi, Tibetan Buddhist teacher. Copyright John Herrett. CCL-Herrett-101.

Another highlight of the collection are childhood photographs of Pong Re Rinpoche, a tulku (the emanation body of a Buddha), who was born in New Zealand in 1993 and was recognised in 1999 as the rebirth of the previous Pong Re Rinpoche. The photographs in the collection cover his visits to Christchurch as a child and the Canterbury section of his Kiwi Buddha tour through New Zealand which became the subject of a the documentary, Kiwi Buddha.

Pong Re Rinpoche with his uncle. Copyright by John Herrett. CCL-Herrett-06.
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