The Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō community is what we’re about – Harbour People, Places and Stories. So we’re regularly going to have a chat to someone connected to the museum and/or the community and share their stories with you.
Christine Wilson is Chair of the Lyttelton–Mt Herbert Community Board and so much more
Katherine Cottier talked to Christine about her connections to Lyttelton and her memories of the old Lyttelton Museum.
Many a Lyttelton child today runs riot in the Rose Garden, conjuring up the sounds of clanging cell doors and the gruff voices of prisoners long dead. However, few are lucky enough to hear about prison life from a grandmother who lived in Lyttelton when the gaol was part of the community.
Christine Wilson, Chair of the Lyttelton–Mt Herbert Community Board, was one such child.
‘Nana told us what it was like when she was little. The prison guards used to put out some kind of signal to the community when there was going to be a hanging. I just wish I could remember what it was but hearing about it from her was a big thing when I was a kid. That and running scared witless from the Rose Garden with my brothers and sisters.’
Christine and her six siblings were fifth generation Lytteltonians when their parents, Timi (Timiteri) and Skeeter (Norman) Bachop, moved into the family home on Reserve Terrace in the early 1960s. Skeeter’s grandparents and parents had made their lives in Lyttelton before them, while Christine’s Tahitian mother moved from Rarotonga to fall in love with Lyttelton and its surrounds at the age of 25. In the early 1950s she was one of the first people with Pasifika links to live in Lyttelton.
Beyond Lyttelton the family is most known for its contribution to the world of rugby: Christine’s brothers Stephen and Graeme Bachop were All Blacks in the 1990s, and two of Christine’s three sons, Nathan and Aaron Mauger, were All Blacks in the early 2000s.
‘Although we are very proud of the boys’ achievements, they are still the same as always to us’, she says, quietly admitting that such an achievement would be ‘extraordinary’ for any family.
Christine’s dedication to serving the Lyttelton community is also out of the ordinary: ‘I don’t really know how it started, probably with netball and rugby clubs, plus our parents were volunteers. I think there’s something about Lyttelton and the harbour that brings people closer – they are somehow forced to bond as small communities and be involved in each other’s lives.’
Along with first husband, Keith Mauger, Christine established the Lyttelton Youth Group when their sons were teenagers in the early 1990s. What began as a Sunday roast for family and friends soon morphed into a regular gathering of 50 or more young people at the Holy Trinity Church on Winchester Street. Christine returned in 2007 to oversee the group’s reincarnation as the Lyttelton Harbour Basin Youth Centre.
Other highlight roles include Manager and Community Facilitator of Lyttelton Community House, Justice of the Peace, organiser of the Annual Parihaka Remembrance Service, and a second term serving as Chair of the Lyttelton–Mt Herbert Community Board.
It is in this role that Christine has been a staunch supporter of the Lyttelton Museum re-build: ‘I loved visiting the Museum, especially seeing anything to do with Antarctica, old bottles, and items that had been “found”. The new Museum is among some of the most exciting things to happen in Lyttelton.’
Like many Lytteltonians, Christine is keen to see her old favourites return for general exhibit but she is equally eager to hear new narratives. The Lyttelton Gaol and its untold tales still hold a firm grip, particularly stories linking Rāpaki, Parihaka and the prison. As a passionate advocate of remembering those who were unlawfully and immorally removed from the settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki in 1881, many of whom were jailed in Lyttelton, Christine believes the Lyttelton community wants to know more.
‘We’ve got so many stories to tell here in Lyttelton, haven’t we? We’ve definitely got the variety and the Museum will be a really good home for them.’