Friday, June 26, 2009

2009. Avonside and Six Bridges, Christchurch

2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River & Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge, Christchurch

As I wanted to continue walking beside the Avon River which I'd begun seven months ago, I parked my car on River Road beside the Avon near Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge. I avoided Avonside Drive on the opposite riverbank as it was a busy, narrow road with a narrow cycleway and no riverside walkway between Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge and Stanmore Road Bridge.

2009. River Road downriver view of Avon River & Avonside Drive, Christchurch

I walked downriver along a muddy path with duck dung on the grassy bank, past riverside houses, past leafless wintry willows, alders, liquidambars and lindens. I passed Avonside Tennis Club, and switched off my hearing-aid as traffic noise on the opposite bank was irritating. Despite my switch-off, I still heard a St John Ambulance when it howled past.

2009. River Road view of Christchurch City Council Organic Refuse Wheelie Bin in Avon River

Two male joggers passed me on River Road while I looked at ducks swimming in the Avon. I wandered past riverbank litter: paper, cardboard, paper cups, booze bottles, a supermarket trolley half sunk in the Avon, and a Christchurch City Council green-lid, organic refuse wheelie-bin fully sunk in the Avon. Ha!

2009. River Road downriver view of Stanmore Road Bridge, Christchurch

At Stanmore Road Bridge near Leah's work at Jean Seabrook Memorial School, London Street, I read a bronze plaque which stated:

"In pre-European times the Avon then known as Atakaroro was at this point the boundary between two families within the Ngai Tahu tribe. The swampland adjacent to the bridge site provided highly prized foods for the local Maori.

In the early days of European settlement the Avon and Heathcote rivers were used as vital shipping access to the infant City of Christchurch. Bridges were regarded as a nuisance and their construction was discouraged outside the city boundaries.

2009. Stanmore Road Bridge Plaque, Avon River, Christchurch

The first Stanmore Road Bridge was built at this site in 1862 and largely ignored ships statutory navigation rights. As a result in 1865 part of the bridge was cut away by Mr John Mills and his men to allow his steamer 'Maid of Avon' to pass.

2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River & Stanmore Road bridge, Christchurch

By 1875 the bridge was in a state of bad repair and in 1878 a new bridge was constructed with a 6ft path each side of a 24 ft carriageway. Since then the bridge has been further widened and strengthened over the years.

By 1995 the old bridge had reached the end of its economic life and was replaced by the present bridge. The stone facing on the wingwalls and the light support pillars are built from materials recycled from the old bridge."

2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River near Stanmore Road Bridge, Christchurch

2009. River Road view of Avon River downriver bend. Linwood Avenue on opposite bank, Christchurch

It was pleasing to know we'd arrived in Christchurch the same year, 1995, when the new Stanmore Road Bridge arrived. I remembered its construction and Leah and I drove over it many times.

I continued walking along River Road where the Avon took a sharp bend eastwards. On the opposite bank, Linwood Avenue began its long stretch towards Avon-Heathcote Estuary. I walked past houses, willows, Taxodium, liquidambars, toe-toe, flax and cabbage trees. Mostly bare, wintry trees enabled me to see Avonside better through a mesh of branches.

2009. River Road downriver view of Avon River opposite Avonside Girls High School, Avonside Drive, Christchurch

2009. Black Swan & Mallard Ducks, Avon River, Christchurch

With sunlight glistening Avon waters opposite Avonside Girls High School, two black swans floated over to scavenge food with a retinue of ducks. A man paddled upriver in his kayak. I stopped to coolpix a small flock of Canada geese on Avon River bank. Two men walking by with leashed dogs, scared the geese, which splashed into the Avon.

2009. Canada Goose, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. Canada Geese, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. River Road downriver view of Swanns Road Bridge, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. River Road view downriver of Swanns Road Bridge, Avon River, Christchurch

After I crossed Swanns Road Bridge 1954, Avon River meandered north-eastwards past birches, cabbage trees, flax and toe-toe. I strolled past riverside suburbia and on the grassy riverbank I found a smelly concrete and iron stormwater (sewage?) outlet covered by a solid iron hatch, right by Avon waters. While I examined the hatch, small flocks of grey gulls and Canada geese stood around expecting titbits.

2009. River Road downriver Avon view of Canada Geese. Avonside Drive on opposite bank, Christchurch

2009. River Road Stormwater Outlet, Avon River & upriver view of Avonside Drive, Christchurch

2009. River Road downriver view of Gulls, Avon River & Avonside Drive, Christchurch

2009. River Road downriver view of Medway Street Footbridge, Avon River, Christchurch

Near Medway Street, I walked past a steel & wooden footbridge across the Avon, and further on by a south-eastwards bend, a tributary flowed into the Avon. River Road began / ended as a road bridge over the tributary, then continued round the riverbend as Dallington Terrace.

Beside the road bridge, I walked across a wooden footbridge, and coolpixed grey gulls on the handrail, then I followed Dallington Terrace along Avon meander.

2009. River Road upriver view from Footbridge, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. Avon River Tributary Footbridge, River Road, Christchurch

2009. Avon River Tributary Footbridge downriver view, River Road, Christchurch

2009. Dallington Terrace downriver view, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. Dallington Terrace upriver view, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. Dallington Terrace downriver view of Avon River & Witch Hill backdrop, Port Hills, Christchurch

Warm sun on my back, on a long reach past Dallington houses on my left and Avon River on my right, I admired Port Hills in the distance and St Pauls school on my left. I crossed the Avon at Gayhurst Road Bridge and returned upstream to my car along Avonside Drive.

2009. Gayhurst Road Bridge upriver view of Avon River. Dallington Terrace right, Christchurch

2009. Avon River downriver view of Dallington Terrace left & Gayhurst Road Bridge, Christchurch

I followed three women pushing prams along the tarsealed track splattered with bird dung. I thought they were safer on Avonside Drive side of Avon River, as River Road and Dallington Terrace side of Avon River had muddy, clay tracks.

By a wooden boatramp, I passed a yellow CCC sign on a post warning about Egeria aquatic weed. I watched a male kayaker paddle upstream, while grey gulls stood on the bank and ducks swam towards me begging food.

2009. Avonside Drive upriver view of Avon River near Gayhurst Road Bridge, Christchurch

2009. Avonside Drive Boatramp downriver view of Avon River, Christchurch

2009. Avonside Drive Stormwater Outlet left, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. Upriver view of Avon River Bend by Tributary Bridges. River Road left, Dallington Terrace right, Christchurch

2009. Upriver view of Avon River, Medway Street Footbridge, between Avonside Drive & River Road, Christchurch

By another Avon bend, I passed another concrete stormwater outlet, with thick iron grills, padlocked closed, and disguised by riverside trees near a weeping elm. After passing the two footbridges again, Avonside track became muddy and slippery. Below willows, I watched a woman and her infant daughter on a pink tricycle, throw food to grey gulls swirling above the Avon.

2009. Upriver view of Avon River Gulls & River Road, between Gayhurst Road Bridge & Swanns Road Bridge, Christchurch

2009. Upriver view of Avon River between Gayhurst Road Bridge & Swanns Road Bridge, Christchurch

2009. Avonside Girls High School Students crossing Swanns Road Bridge from Avonside Drive, Avon River, Christchurch

2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River & Avonside Girls High School, Avonside Drive, Christchurch

2009. River Road view of Avon River Canada Geese & Avonside Girls High School, Christchurch

Back at Swann Road Bridge, to avoid Avonside Drive congestion, I recrossed the Avon to River Road again, where groups of Avonside Girls High School girls also crossed the Avon on their way home after school.

Near Avonside Tennis Club, three cop cars and a St John Ambulance pulled up, and a cop led a middle-aged woman from a house to the ambulance. She looked battered.

2009. River Road upriver view of Avon River near Avonside Tennis Club, Christchurch

2009. River Road view of Cop & Ambulance Call Out near Avonside Tennis Club, Avon River, Christchurch

I kicked my way through ugly litter mulch, mowed by CCC mowers on Avon River bank. I examined a discarded bottle: "Woodstock Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Cola 5%." And a discarded aluminium can: "William Cody's 8% Bourbon and Cola." I thought Avonside alcohol and Avonside assault were a toxic mix.

The Avonside six bridges walk took me 2.5 hours with many coolpix stops.

2009. River Road Litter. Upriver view of Avon River near Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge. Avonside Drive left, Christchurch

2009. Upriver view of Avon River & Fitzgerald Avenue Bridge, Christchurch

Coda: The above was idyllic pre quakes Avonside. During Christchurch 2010-2011 earthquakes, much of Avonside, including River Road, Dallington Terrace & Avonside Drive, was severely quake damaged & liquefactioned into a muddy mess: schools closed; bridges cracked or twisted; broken drains and sewage pipes; broken roads & houses; tilted houses sunk into liquefaction mud. Most of the area was red zoned with houses abandoned & demolished.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009. Suicide by Cop, Burnside, Christchurch

South Africans endured sharpened vigilance against attack, which added stress to normal living. Thankfully we lost that sharpened vigilance and stress after emigrating to Christchurch NZ. It wasn't necessary as NZ was safe. My email response to an Auckland SA expat, who emailed me material from Dr Rudolph Zinn's research into SA's violent robberies - UNISA School of Criminal Justice:

"Thanks..., a reminder of some reasons why we left SA: Armed robbery, murder, female torture, rape & arrest rates are bad. Current SA black burglars are spawn of the 1976 Soweto 'liberation before education' generation. Moral of SA robbery stats: Sack black servants & do without, as they're either in cahoots with black robbers, or are intimidated by black robbers to supply property information.

For 6 years, 1989-1995, incl, at the two East London houses we lived in: Two Rivers Drive & Sandhurst Road, we had a flood of racist black door-knockers targeting & harassing us for work, or begging, or door-knocking to suss out our home security.

We had a front door with a strong iron-hatch which we first opened when anyone knocked. We never opened our front door before checking out the knocker through the security hatch. Our black rubbish bags on road verges were regularly rifled by Xhosa street kids & hustlers.

In EL, we had two vicious little rottweiler X & bull terrier X black bitches. Their baying at our home gates & front door kept most attackers off our EL property. We never bothered with expensive cctv, alarms, razorwire, high walls, etc, although some of our neighbours did.

Our first Xhosa maid in EL regularly stole food from our pantry, until we locked our pantry door whenever she came. After a while she got the hint & didn't return to work.

Our next Xhosa domestic maid didn't live on our property, & she house-cleaned & did washing & ironing for us once a week. Other domestic work, cleaning, gardening, etc, we did ourselves. Our maid was scared of our dogs, rightfully so, & we locked them away whenever she arrived.

We always kept our solid-wood back gate locked, & our two garden gates separating our front & back yards stayed locked too. Our three front gates stayed unlocked but closed. Some of our house & outbuilding windows in EL weren't burglar-guarded. Fortunately our Sandhurst Road house was on an upper slope which gave us good views of front roads, & day & night, our dogs roamed our back yard which had a back wall at the end of a cul de sac.

I believed in low perimeter walls so I could see attackers coming, if I had to pot-shot with my .22 pistol. It seemed to work. I also kept perimeter shrubs & trees trimmed short in our front & back yards. Didn't please my neighbours tho!

In EL, I remember Leah once calling me from painting our garage roof, as a cheeky coloured man insisted to Leah at our front door he, "Wanted to speak to the baas!" Annoyed at being called from the roof & his disrespect for Leah, I told him to, "Bugger off!" And was ready to shove him off our front steps as a trespasser if he didn't comply. It was a 5 foot fall to slasto stones below. He left, looking for easier pickings.

I once told a black oke to, "Fuck off!" at Vincent carpark when he followed me from the library towards Pick 'n Pay supermarket. He'd sussed me out while we read newspapers in Vincent library! On two occasions black hustlers followed Leah from the street onto our property after she drove in. She reversed out, & pointedly waited for them to leave.

When I saw black hustlers on our street, I drove my car following & intimidating hustlers sussing out properties for burglaries, & that was in the early 90s. I also regularly did Vincent / Selborne Neighbourhood Watch volunteer duties late at night in my car, sometimes on my own & sometimes with a male neighbour, to keep in touch with neighbours & the security situation & what cops were doing to keep our district safe from vagrants, robbers, burglars & rapists.

Despite our watchdogs, our clothes were stolen off our backyard clothes line twice in 6 years in EL. Two of my sports-jackets were stolen from my classroom chair at Selborne College, & a bike was stolen from outside my class in broad daylight. My fifth form biology boys chased the black thief & recovered the bike.

At night, black vagrants regularly slept on the back steps of Guild Theatre next to Selborne College grandstand, & black vagrants dossed in a room below the grandstand, until I suggested Selborne install a door to stop black vagrants using the room as a toilet & khaya.

Money I'd foolishly left in my Golf cubbyhole, when I took the car for a VW service, was stolen. The VW dealer denied the theft after I complained, but years later when the VW garage black driver delivered my car to my home after another service, he looked guilty. I didn't say a word & let him squirm on our trip back to the VW garage. I drove back via Cambridge SAP copshop to make him squirm more, but didn't bother to report him.

Recently my over six foot brother-in-law was mugged in Durban, money, cellphone, keys stolen. He had to change all the locks of his house. Durban bus services had collapsed: no buses. Hospitals were on strike. Private hospitals just had to cope. SATV was in debt & kept showing repeats or local garbage.

Thankfully, black racist 'you owe me whitey' harassment doesn't happen in Chch NZ. We're left to live in peace & quiet, & black African immigrants are left to live in peace & quiet too, without vicious dogs, high fences, locked gates, razorwire, alarms, cctv & burglar guards. We do have security lights at our present Chch rented house. The lights switch on automatically if a 'visitor' arrives..."

The Auckland expat's emails:

"Yep... we were in the Eastern Cape for much of the time that you were there... and in that time had our vehicles broken into three times, our house once, sporadic theft of hose pipes, slip slops (this really irritated me... they had beautiful contours worn into them and were paper thin on the sole in parts but special and someone who would steal something of so little value either had to be absolutely desperate or doing it out of spite and I often thought the latter applied), etc.

My wife also had her wallet stolen from the passenger seat while at a traffic light and while being distracted on the driver side, someone in cahoots leaned in from the other side and helped themselves. She also had cash stolen out of her hand while paying at the till at Ackermans. We still have a fridge with locks on it and it is a real talking point when Kiwis see it. And, we still have a surplus of Tupperware lids... it is amazing how many containers managed to go walkabout... probably filled with sugar or rice or mealie meal...

[At work] I had a tab on unemployment rates in the 9 provinces and the Eastern Cape was one of the highest... in the late 80s / early 90s, unemployment was around the 70% mark... somehow suspect that it hasn't changed but governments have wonderful ways in which they measure these things and disguise the truth... here in NZ we start getting speed wobbles when we hit 7% (and ignore all those up north who live from Thursday to Thursday and grow wacky-backy in between)!...

And, while there is unemployment, there will be theft, even purely to survive. The real tragedy is that there is so little value placed on life in Africa... those who stoop to theft become brazen and will snuff you out if they encounter resistance or feel threatened... Zinn also mentions the aspect of [no] eye contact [by robbery victims] and I think his comment is valid.

We are very glad to be in NZ (even if a tad crisp at sparrow at present)...

I was Googling to find info about a gent who was shot in the hand and stomach who lived in the same.... complex... as my mother... he died of his wounds..."

"Later yesterday, got [an email] from some friends... and although he is a colonial... and she is Brit, they spent 6 years in Lesotho (late 80s)... they identified with all Zinn had to say. And his brother was burgled in... and he and his two children were tied up with wire ties while four blacks ransacked the place and left them like that. The... daughter managed to work her way to where her father was, and using scissors, cut his ties. I have met him... in NZ when visiting his brother.

I think it was Zinn in The Times article where someone responded saying 'have two sets of valuables... the real stuff and the fake stuff and show the crims the latter'... I think this is excellent advice."

30.06.09. Police Investigation of 28.06.09 Sime Shooting: view up Guildford Street towards Wadhurst Place from Wayside Avenue corner, Burnside, Christchurch

Sunday night 28.06.09. Leah and I bought crepe paper from Northlands Countdown, Christchurch. On our way home to Heath Street an Asian Armed Offenders Squad cop, dressed in black and toting a black machine gun, stopped our car at the top of Wayside Avenue saying, "Shots were fired."

Leah was alarmed that Luke was home alone nearby, but the AOS cop didn't let us through to Heath Street just down the road. I was annoyed that we were stopped from going home, and thought cops were hassling us.

2009. Wadhurst Place, Burnside, Christchurch

I drove off and parked nearby on Grahams Road, and Leah and I walked home in the dark via a right of way. The area was quiet. I then walked via the top of Guildford Street back to my car and drove down Wayside Avenue where the Asian AOS cop stopped my car again, and rapped my car roof, saying, "Go back!"

2009. Paraplegic Gunman's House, 7 Wadhurst Place, Burnside, Christchurch

I drove back up Wayside Avenue to Grahams Road and down the top of Guildford Street to our home in Heath Street. Earlier that evening our son Luke had skateboarded Guildford Street and said, "I thought I'd heard fireworks." We texted a neighbour, who said cops had warned people to stay inside their homes and stay away from street-facing windows.

2009. Shotgun Damage to Neighbour's House, Wadhurst Place, Burnside, Christchurch

2009. Shotgun Damage to Neighbour's Front Door, Wadhurst Place, Burnside, Christchurch

Later that night we heard more shooting.

2009. Rifle-fire Damage to Neighbour's Window, Wadhurst Place, Burnside, Christchurch

Monday morning: Tape sealed off the bottom of Guildford Street and a cop stood guard, turning traffic back. The Press headline Monday morning: GUNMAN SHOT DEAD. AOS had shot a suicidal paraplegic, who'd started pot-shotting neighbours and cops along Wadhurst Place. No neighbours and cops were seriously injured, as cops had evacuated people to nearby Burnside High School.

30.06.09. Police Investigation of 28.06.09 Sime Shooting: view up Guildford Street towards Wadhurst Place, Burnside, Christchurch

Shayne Sime the dead gunman had lived about 500 metres from our home. Sime had previous alcohol convictions, was a paraplegic, had recently joined a gun club, and cops had investigated a February complaint from a neighbour when Sime had fired an airgun on his property.


1. Given the above, why was Sime's firearm licence approved?
2. Why did Sime need to own firearms and ammunition in peaceful Burnside?
3. What screening procedures did the gun club have and do regarding Sime's membership?
4. As hundreds of school students, walkers like me, cyclists, bus commuters and motorists passed Sime's house daily, why was Sime allowed to own firearms?
5. Why did Sime's family and cops do nothing about confiscating his firearms after the February complaint and cop investigation?
6. Why did Housing NZ house Sime behind a Greers Road pre-school, the rabbit patch?

Looked like suicide by cop to me, as the AOS were trained to be trigger happy and to hell with human life. As Guildford Street and Wadhurst Place were police tape cordoned after the shooting, I though investigating cops were ensuring they had their facts "right" to protect AOS gangsters & bugger the paraplegic.

2009. Back of Gunman Sime's House in Wadhurst Place overlooking the rabbit patch pre-school, Greers Road, Christchurch

When I emigrated from SA 14 years ago, I chose not to bring my licensed firearm to protect myself and family, as I thought NZ was safe. I was wrong, as Sime could legally own two licensed shotguns and a licensed high-powered .308 rifle to shoot anyone he drunkenly chose within a high-powered radius of 7 km from his home.

Of course AOS were trained to shoot to kill such people. Pity they weren't trained to fully evacuate neighbours and talk the gunman out of his stupidity. What a waste.

30.06.09. Police Investigation of 28.06.09 Sime Shooting: view down Guildford Street towards Wadhurst Place, Burnside, Christchurch

While our lives were at risk in Sunday Burnside, NZ government spends 9 million dollars having an August "Citizens Initiated Referendum" asking: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

NZ had a recent anti-smacking law making it an offence to smack ones own children needing discipline. The money would've been better spent controlling firearm licences and firearm sales.

01.07.09. Sime Homicide Enquiry, Police letterbox drop Burnside, Christchurch

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont