School days: Villa Maria College 1958 – 66

Posted on November 22nd, 2014 by Chris.

This year I was contacted by the staff of Villa Maria College. I attended Villa from Standard 3 in 1958 – 1966.They asked me to write about my thoughts and memories; about the impressions which have remained throughout my life. The article is now presented in the October VMail / magazine and I include the script as a part of this blog.

Christine Smith 1958 – 66:

Two images represent the memories I hold of Villa Maria. The first is of a figure bent double in the fields to the right as we entered the school grounds from Peer Street. Mr Chin tended the practical nourishment of Villa’s requirements for the staff and boarders. Daily, he would tend and each season he would reap.

The other is the beautiful Magnolia Tree which stood at the corner of the boarding school and along from the music room. It’s tender yet pithy petals on display signified the Spring of our lives. It bloomed as exams approached. These annual events, like Mr Chin’s sowing and reaping, taught me to grasp the concept of finding balance, of giving and taking, of tending and nourishing and of recognising the right context in which to flourish.
I entered standard three in 1958. Our classrooms were flanked by the typing corridor, the old school hall and the laundry. On winter mornings we sat on the steps outside our rooms and drank steaming Milo from mugs which we brought from home. Eventually, the laundry buildings were demolished to make way for our new school hall built by donations, the proceeds from the annual school fete and the usual funding from the Church and the State.
The Hall had great acoustics and it was here I continued to develop my innate understanding of resonance and vibrations: silence and sound.  My love of music was something I could share with the students and I formed a Folk Music Club with the greatest membership the school had seen with approximately 150 members. We met weekly and spent hours engaged in the pursuit of group participation, new repertoire and inviting guests to perform for and with us. My public career  conflicted with my school  prefecture but this was eventually resolved and I was permitted to continue both.
After leaving Villa Maria in 1966 I continued my career in Television, Concert Performance, Radio and Recording throughout NZ and Australia.
Life has seasons and the next became a time of personal growth and marriage with the birth of my three children. We moved to Brisbane, Australia and as the children grew I began to share with them and with their schools my love of music. Eventually, I became employed by both State and Catholic Education Departments, where for nearly a decade I became a music specialist in primary and secondary schools. Jacarandas bloomed during their exams.
We returned to Christchurch in 1993 and in 1996 I commenced a life of studentship and as a mature-age student completed a double major in Political Science and Sociology, a Grad. dip. Teaching and Learning at the Chch College of Education the Cambridge University’s CELTA and Cert TESOL at CPIT. I taught at Canterbury University and at CPIT on Graduation.
When my children traveled overseas I decided to use my transportable skills in education and accepted a posting first in the Oil and Gas Industry and subsequently in The Aeronautical Industry in Qatar where I remained for seven years until 2013.
I am currently enjoying time to review life in Melbourne, Australia and like Mr Chin I continue to tend and reap the bounty with which I have been blessed.  This is the winter of my life and soon the Magnolia and Jacaranda will blossom as I examine what I still have to share.
This photograph was taken by my son, Daniel Batkin-Smith. He resides in London and you can view his work through
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When it falls…

Posted on January 28th, 2013 by Chris.

Lyrics settle somewhere between mind and matter. Zero 7 has the ability to linger in this realm … there, but not quite there. “When it Falls” mirrors the experiences of the past six years. Have been on the ground here since January, 2007. Am still taking everything as it falls.


Further to ‘Landfall NZ’…

Posted on January 28th, 2013 by Chris.

‘Land Ahoy’ ( ‘Aotearoa’ ) first came to my attention in the broadsheet which the initiators of Chch Folk Music had compiled for their meetings which were held upstairs at the City Campus of Canterbury University Students Association when I first began to publicly participate. It was written by Janet Smith, a BSc student from Nelson. I worked on it with the women of Te Wai Pounamu College in Ferry Road. I asked them to translate the chorus into Maori, then performed it regularly, renaming it ‘Aotearoa’, which seemed fitting. Later, I entered it in the Cook Bi-Centennial Celebrations held in Gisbourne. and was asked by Radio NZ to perform this and ‘Beautiful Coasts of New Zealand’ which was written by Willow Mackie from the North Island. Janet’s song won, but by now she was studying in America.


Japanese Hosa Bunka Foundation Radio Competition 1977

Posted on January 28th, 2013 by Chris.

Radio NZ Archives hold copies of this award winning documentary / performance which is available on request. My friends still stand and while they do more notice should be taken of their contributions to music. They should be recognised for these fantastic recordings made in RNZ Gloucester Street’s 3YA Studios, Christchurch, NZ in 1960’s and ’70’s.
****(See further comments for ‘Land Ahoy’)****

System ID 22664
Creator/Contributor Details Garland, Phil
JEMMETT, Charles
Smith, Christine, 1948?-
Canterbury Crutchings Bush and Ceilidh Band
Martin, Chas. A. (Charles Andrew), 1895-1960
Date 1977
Brief Description Landfall New Zealand – a musical documentary based on 19th century folk songs, featuring Phil Garland, Christine Smith and the Canterbury Crutchings Bush & Ceilidh Band . Includes narration. This programme was awarded 1st place in the 1977 Japanese Hosa Bunka Foundation Radio competition for programmes of traditional music. Musical details:
1) Davy Knick Knack/traditional. Dur: 1’07”.
2) John Smith AB/Colquhoun. Dur: 1’40”.
3) Land Ahoy. Dur: 3’02”.
4) Southward Bound/Garland. Dur: 1’49”.
5) Black Velvet Band/traditional. Dur: 2’52”.
6) The Canterbury Jig/Charles Jemmett. Dur: 4’07”.
7) I’m A Young Man/Charles Martin. Dur: 3’17”.
8) Davy Knick Knack. Dur: 2’10”.
Fully Transcribed DOC’s. Recorded approx 1977.

NB two copies held: also on TX1492
Duration (programme) 00:24:40


6 Years on …

Posted on January 13th, 2013 by Chris.

Have just completed six years in the Middle East. I have experienced so many tantalising and perplexing changes during this time and in future there may be a few more posts to pick up where I left off. It’s a long time since the last entry. But worlds continue to collide and I’ve caught up with some significant family, friends and people from the past. They, thankfully, remain engaged in music. This is what brought most of us together and is a really uniting compass. With globalisation the world can at times be rudderless as we tumble and pitch from continent to continent. Takes little more than an eyeblink to move thousands of miles. Once there we tend to build alternative life styles and either exist or embed and remain.


Merry Chrismith

Posted on December 24th, 2006 by Chris.

24th and all is well. Surrounded by boxes – sorted and packed. My precious books, which have lost their lives to the goodwill shops, call and I reach mentally for their pages and pictures and wisdom and all. Had to let them go. I know others will get as much joy out of them but something tells me that tangibles are no longer of interest. Intangibles have tempted me to leave for another climate so on 10th January Emirates will transport me sans carpet to my new contract in the east. Am excited about the prospect of hearing new cadences. In 1988, as a music specialist at Marist Brothers Rosalie in Brisbane, four teachers and I took a party of twenty five 16 to 18 year-olds up to Singapore, Malaysia and on to Bangkok. While in Melaka we stayed at a Cannosan Sisters’ retreat house.On the night we were there torrential rain pelted our walls and windows, thrust at the buildings by tropical winds. In the calm after the storm and the shadows of dawn the hymns of the sisters in Chapel and the chant of the Koran across the morning light merged and settled on the new day. If I can hear one more sound in life like this which has fed my soul, instead of the decadent cacophony of Christmas shoppers and the droning of the media hyped up with commercialism, I will be satisfied.

Merry Chrismith to you and to all a goodnight!


Darrell Scott – Live in NC/cd review and a bit more

Posted on December 5th, 2006 by Chris.

Wrote a review recently for the Christchurch Folk Music Club’s magazine which is issued by the committee and compiled by John Sanchez-Lloyd. I had been sent this cd by a friend who has immaculate taste in music and a vast collection to boot. Sat down and listened and it knocked my socks off. Reminds me of the old days at the Stage Door when the Chants used to play Friday and Saturday nights and then come and join us folkies on Sunday. There was an earthiness about the music then – and the musos were engaged in a path of discovery at a time when everything was still a little bit ragged – but cool. Mike Rudd, in sartorial splendour, strutted his stuff in the infamous Borries label when corduroy was king and the Mods and Rockers inched along the streets of Christchurch – with trouser legs the width of the minds of the councillors who berated them. This cd reminds me of the raw and unbridled energy of that particular time in Christchurch’s music history. It presents as authentic and ‘on’.

Had the priviledge of spending three days working with Pentangle and performing as the first half of their Wellington concert during the New Zealand tour in the early ’70’s. Danny Thompson, their bass player, appears on this cd with Darrell and Kenny Malone. Again we’re presented with the consumate mastery of a living musical treasure.

Anyway, listen for yourselves. You won’t be disappointed.

For the review, go to:


Carole King concert at the Westpac Centre, Chch 4/12/06

Posted on December 4th, 2006 by Chris.

Went to the concert at the Westpac centre last night. Hadn’t considered the place small before but it was truly an intimate affair. It had all the trademarks and familiarities of a friend coming over for dinner rather than a concert in an auditorium. The capacity crowd of absolute fans spent 90 minutes retracing old steps verbatim as each new/old song unfolded. If you’ve lived vicariously through her lyrics it’s hard to know who’s intruding. Each song holds a part of you that won’t let go. No lapsed moments, no regrets- except that she didn’t get to sing everything.

The A and R Director for Phonogram, Jay Boelee, brought to my attention two of her songs which I recorded on my third album in 1972. ‘Why are you Leaving’ and the title track ‘Lady’ settled somewhere in the New Zealand charts. They were both off Carole’s 1969 album ‘Now that everything’s been Said’ which she recorded with The City.

Thanks Carole for all of the music and a lifetime of pleasure in sharing your immense talent, insight and humanity.


Hello World!

Posted on December 2nd, 2006 by Chris.

I am just about to construct this site with my trusty advisor, Dan, and we will be adding more  for you to ponder over the next few weeks before I disappear into the middle east. I’ve just signed a contract for a year in Qatar so before I go I want to release some of my thoughts and music history onto this page. Have had a few surprises this year and now that I am beginning to join a few more professional dots the big picture is providing bounty beyond my wildest dreams. Later.

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