Tag Archives: research

Smoking on Campus; it’ll take your breath away

Recently, the Canterbury College Survey team looked at a series of artefacts that are in the care of the UC Art Collection. The artefacts included a box of stamps that were used by the Registrar, two academic trenchers, several writing implements, and even of a christening gown, which had supposedly been worn by Professor Jack Erskine when he was a baby. The artefact that piqued our interest, however, was a plain ceramic ashtray, embossed with the University seal.

The University has had a strict ban on smoking on campus since 2013, following in the footsteps of the University of Auckland and Victoria University, who banned it in 2009 and 2012 respectively. As the project technicians, Natalie and Amy, were both undergraduate students as the time of the ban, it is not surprising that the UC embossed ashtray came as a bit of a surprise. It spoke of a very different time in the University’s history. Ashtrays would have been a staple piece of crockery in any university common room up until the 1970s at least, as we can imagine how smoking complemented the socialising and scholarly pontification that took place in such settings.

In 2020, as cultural and social norms continue to shift around us, it is difficult to imagine ashtrays being sold alongside the hoodies and graduation bears that you find in UBS. In fact, fifty years from now, a new team of collection surveyors may stumble upon this ashtray and struggle to identify its use. This kind of artefact reminds us of the importance of our task in cataloguing these items, so that the history they provide can be preserved for the future.

The campus | Life at UC | University of Canterbury | University of Canterbury

We look forward to venturing out to more Departments over the coming weeks, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to provide any information about heritage artefacts that may be of interest.

Amy Boswell-Hore, collection technician.
Natalie Looyer, collection technician.

Putting the gown in ‘Town and Gown’


After keenly taking on the survey project, our team set out to begin searching for heritage artefacts around the University. Graduate Women Canterbury, an organisation with nearly 100 years of history associated with the University, became the ideal place for us to start.

GWC is widely known these days for tirelessly coordinating the regalia for all Canterbury, Lincoln and Ara graduates every year.  We paid a visit to Jean Sharfe and her team at GWC earlier this month to examine a number of artefacts in their care.

Jean, who is the author of Players, Protestors and Politicians: A History of the University of Canterbury Students’ Association (Canterbury, 2015), was a fount of knowledge on the history of both the University and its historical artefacts.

She provided us with information about two illustrious academic gowns and several trenchers for the survey, as well as a stock of original University of New Zealand regalia hoods and what looks to be an old regalia storage box.

Pictured is an academic gown thought to have been worn by the University Registrar, sometime prior to 1957, for graduation ceremonies. The gown is a rich olive green with dark red and gold trimming, and it was made for someone rather tall.

A similar black gown, thought to be worn by the Vice-Chancellor for graduation ceremonies, is about ten centimetres shorter.

We are unsure yet, however, whether these gowns were personally made for the Registrar and Vice-Chancellor at the time. Perhaps a study into the height of all Registrars and VCs at Canterbury is next on the cards for our project surveyors!

The University of New Zealand graduate hoods were another point of interest. Within the collection were original bachelor’s degree hoods with a fur trim.

Jean explained that bachelor’s graduates were forced to line up for their ceremonies outside in the cold, and so their hoods were adapted to allow any falling snow to blend in. Master’s graduates, however, could line up under cover.

Jean also revealed that the grey material used for Canterbury graduation hoods today was specifically designed to represent the greywacke stone of the surrounding Canterbury landscape.

The discoveries at Graduate Women Canterbury have been a successful addition to the survey project.

We look forward to venturing out to more Departments over the coming weeks, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to provide any information about heritage artefacts that may be of interest.

Gown image credit: Copyright University of Canterbury
James Logie image credit: courtesy of the Steven Family

Amy Boswell-Hore, collection technician.
Natalie Looyer, collection technician.

The Canterbury College Survey has begun!

Are you sitting comfortably? It’s time for some UC history!

The University of Canterbury recently launched a campus-wide survey to catalogue any heritage artefacts that once lived at the original Canterbury College site. The survey is being conducted by two recent UC graduates, Natalie Looyer and Amy Boswell-Hore, under the supervision of Terri Elder, Curator of the Logie Collection and UC Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities.

Earlier this month, the team began their survey in the Department of Classics, where they found several typewriters, two tables, a lectern, and a spindled club chair. The chair was of particular interest as it may have belonged to John Macmillan Brown, one of the founding professors at Canterbury College.

While the chair itself is not remarkable, the same cannot be said for the man who may have once owned it. John Macmillan Brown arrived in Christchurch on Christmas Day, 1874, to take the Chair of Classics, History, and English Literature at a newly founded college with nowhere to call home. Fortunately, Macmillan Brown not only had a passion for scholarship but also for University policy and administration. He became a central figure in the College’s growth.

With his innovative teaching methods, students flourished and class sizes rapidly expanded under Macmillan Brown’s care. To accommodate the growth, he gifted many of his books to the university for the student’s use. His donation eventually became the Macmillan Brown Library, which takes particular interest in Māori and heritage studies like Macmillan Brown himself. Outside of his teaching role, Macmillan Brown became a member of the Royal Commission on Higher Education (1879-82), a member of the University Senate (1879), was Vice-Chancellor (1916-1923), and finally Chancellor (1923-1935). He also acted as a de facto rector in the early years of the College, particularly supporting women and students from lower-income households. By the time of his death in 1935, Canterbury College was well on its way to becoming the world-renowned University of Canterbury that we know it as today.

As the University of Canterbury moves towards our 150th anniversary, it is time that we dust off the artefacts that are hidden away, no matter how unassuming they might initially seem. You never know what story they can tell us.

Keep an eye out for more stories of Canterbury College as the survey team visits more departments around UC.

Want to know more about the survey? You can find contact details and links at http://teecemuseum.nz/collection/canterburycollege/

Image Credit:

London Stereoscopic Photographic Company. London Stereoscopic Company: Portrait of Professor John Macmillan Brown. Haast family: Collection. Ref: PA2-2914. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22590878

Professorial Lecture Series

Celebrating Fresh Thinking
Professorial Lecture Series

Join me in celebrating the very substantive contribution to academe made by Professor Elena Moltchanova and Professor Peyman Zawar-Reza in the next presentation in the Professorial Lecture Series for 2020.

Date:               Thursday, 13 August, from 4.30 – 6.00 p.m.

Location:        E14 – Engineering Core

I encourage all staff and postgraduate students to attend this lecture, to actively support our new Professors, and take the opportunity to appreciate the fantastic research being undertaken in parts of the university we may be less familiar with.

Presentation details:

 “Serial Killers, Epidemics and Control” – Presented by Professor Elena Moltchanova, School of Mathematics and Statistics.

How many patients can a doctor kill before someone notices? What about a statistician? (Hint: significantly more!) Could it have been stopped? When to declare an epidemic and what to do once it has been declared? When is it worth it to gamble? Is learning worth the wait? In this talk, I will discuss the underlying principles of the control chart theory which can help answer all these questions. I will also introduce a novel dynamic control chart and explain how, together with reinforcement learning, it can help us make better decisions in the future.

“Climate of Arid Environments: From central Iran to Dry Valleys of Antarctica” – Presented by Professor Peyman Zawar-Reza, School of Earth and Environment.

 In this talk I will give an overview of our research on the very hot and the very cold places on Earth. Arid environments – mainly defined by a distinct lack of surface water – might seem bland or unforgiving in a meteorological sense, but they provide some of the most interesting ‘wild’ temperature fluctuations of the atmosphere near the ground. For example, in the Dry Valleys, air temperature can increase by 30 degrees in just a couple of hours in the middle of winter and the absence of the sun.

Professor Ian Wright

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research | Tumu Tuarua Rangahau

The business of science

A wonder gel for wound healing, birth control for possums, and beating antibiotic resistance in cattle worms – it’s all part of the job for UC chemist and entrepreneur Prof Rudi Marquez, our guest on the latest episode of UC Science Radio.

Prof Marquez’s goal as a scientist and businessman is to come up with solutions that leave the lab and make a difference in people’s lives. Listen to the episode here, or on SpotifyStitcher | Youtube | Apple Podcasts