About Ōtautahi Christchurch

Ōtautahi Christchurch is the largest city in Te Wai Pounamu, the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, and home to the University of Canterbury Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha. Ngāi Tahu people have long inhabited the region, near Nga Kohatu o Tamatea (the Port Hills). Following European settlement the city has developed around its agriculture on the plains of Waitaha Canterbury.

Since 2010 Ōtautahi’s recovery from a series of traumatic events has highlighted the importance of community, its fragility, and its integral connection with the land. The earthquakes of 2010/2011 led to a rebuild of infrastructure and changes in the makeup of the city, with significant demographic and cultural shifts. The shootings of 15 March 2019—when a white supremacist murdered 51 Muslim citizens at prayer and live-streamed the attack—ruptured the cultural fabric of the city anew. These events have made us look closely at our communities and consider carefully and honestly how to respond to the city’s colonial legacy, promote healing, resist hatred, and create a positive and inclusive future for all.

University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha

The University of Canterbury is the first university in Aotearoa New Zealand to offer a Digital Humanities programme with teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and internship opportunities for students. DH at UC is highly interdisciplinary, with connections to Aotahi: The School of Māori and Indigenous Studies, The Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, English, History, Art History, Classics, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Media and Communication, Journalism, Political Science, Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics, the University Library, and the Human Interface Technology (HIT) Lab. Ongoing DH activities at UC include text encoding, digital archiving, GIS mapping, data visualisation, ‘big data’ analysis and online publishing.

UC Arts at The Arts Centre | Te Matatiki Toi Ora

In 2017, the University Of Canterbury moved UC Music and UC Classics back into the city centre, reconnecting itself with Christchurch city and its residents. The Old Chemistry building, located in The Arts Centre of Christchurch, is now a place of teaching and learning for Classics and Music students. The custom restoration of this Grade 1 heritage building features a beautiful recital room, teaching spaces, staff offices, and the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities – home of the James Logie Memorial Collection.

UC Arts Digital Lab | Te Pokapū Aronui ā-Matihiko

Following the Canterbury Earthquakes, UC led the development of a large scale digital memory project called CEISMIC, a federated digital archive bringing together material from various collecting institutions related to the earthquakes. Drawing on the example of the Centre for History and New Media’s (CHNM) 9/11 Digital Archive, CEISMIC sought to tell the stories of the earthquakes and to ensure that the experiences of the people of Canterbury during this time were not forgotten but commemorated and preserved. Beyond commemoration, CEISMIC provides an invaluable resource for researchers interested in the socio-cultural impacts of earthquakes, as well as for investigations into aspects of trauma, community identity, community building, and community resilience.

The CEISMIC project catalysed a number of DH initiatives at UC leading to the Arts Digital Lab, which is the hub of Digital Humanities at the University. The Lab develops and manages a number of Digital Humanities projects, but also serves a much wider research and teaching community across the College of Arts. We collaborate with other UC departments and service units, as well as the wider GLAM sector. The Lab benefits from strong partnerships with a variety of local and national organisations who work closely with us on digital projects, including:

  • Canterbury Museum
  • National Library
  • Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Ministry for Culture and Heritage
  • Christchurch City Libraries
  • Ngāi Tahu Research Centre
  • Digital NZ