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Plaque(d) for the second time

Plaque(d) for the second time.

“It’s the second time I have been laid to rest,” quipped celebrated author and Port Hills aficionado Gordon Ogilvie at the unveiling of a sidewalk plaque in his honour in Christchurch today (25 January).

And Mr Ogilvie, 73, was heartened to note that the new sidewalk plaque site on Worcester Boulevard had an open vista to the Port Hills, a view that had been cut short on its previous site in the City Mall with the erection of an airbridge on Colombo Street.

The author was surrounded by family members as his grandson, Liam Comas, 5, unveiled the plaque at 11.30 am in a short ceremony organised by the Christchurch City Council’s Heritage Unit.

The plaque is part of the Christchurch Writers' Trail and celebrates Mr Ogilvie’s connection to the Port Hills with a quote from his book, The Port Hills of Christchurch. The quote reads: “Without the Port Hills giving distinction to its southern skyline, Christchurch would be a scenic disaster area - merely another sprawling metropolis helped out by a cute little river, some nice parks, and a few pieces of attractive neo-Gothic. The hills are its salvation.” The plaque is one of 32 writer's plaques that have been laid by the Canterbury Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors with assistance from The Christchurch Civic Trust and Christchurch City Council.

“Recent renovations in the City Mall had given us the opportunity to re-site the plaque first laid in 1999 and we had to look for an appropriate place for it: a place where one standing at the plaque could view the Port Hills,” says Sarah Dwyer, Assistant Heritage Planner.

Worcester Boulevard is at the heart of Christchurch’s cultural precinct and the plaque is sited on a busy crossroad, anchored by the Christchurch Art Gallery.

“The site is also significant as Mr Ogilvie attended the University of Canterbury when it was located on the present site of the nearby Arts Centre,” says Ms Dwyer.

Mr Ogilvie is one of the few living authors who features in the renowned ranks of writers on the Writers' Trail in Christchurch which honours writers connected to the City and includes Lady Barker and Samuel Butler.

He has twice won the J.M. Sherrard award for regional history, for The Port Hills of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula: Cradle of Canterbury. His biography on Denis Glover, lyric poet, satirist and war poet and author, has been widely acclaimed. In 2000 he was awarded an honorary LittD by Canterbury University.

He became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit this year for his services to historical research.


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