Author(s): Karen Stade
Meet You At The Church Steps captures the unfolding social tapestry that has played out on Church Hill and its historic steps since the arrival in November 1841 of the New Zealand Company to establish the colony of Nelson. Published to mark the 2013 centennial of the Cawthron Steps, the ornate granite stairway gifted to the city by philanthropist Thomas Cawthron in 1913, the book also covers the history of the original flight of wooden steps built on Church Hill in 1858. As a landmark of Nelson City and a natural rendezvous point, the Church Steps have borne witness to gatherings of celebration, thanksgiving and commemoration. They have hosted generations of royalty and other VIPs and revelled in the pomp and circumstance of military and civic pageantry. It was on the steps that Nelson farewelled soldiers on their way to war and where it welcomed some of those men home again. They have long been the platform for protest and public demonstration, while also a favourite spot to sit and take in city views. The rich photographic collections of the Nelson Provincial Museum, the Nelson Mail and private collectors, are the core of the book, partnered with newspaper reportage of the events which have played out with the steps as their backdrop. The call "I'll meet you at the Church Steps" continues to echo across generations.
Nelson historian Karen Stade has researched and written a number of local histories, including Appo Hocton, New Zealand's First Chinese Immigrant, Nelson 1842-1920, and The School by the Sands, A Century of Tahunanui School, 1908-2008. As a journalist she wrote history columns published in the Nelson Evening Mail/ Nelson Mail and was involved in the research and writing of the initial stories for the Top of the South Island history website, The Prow (www.theprow.org.nz). Karen has also worked on exhibitions for the Nelson Provincial Museum, including Appo Hocton, and in August 2013 was curator of Kiwi Keith, Portrait of a PM, an exhibition on former Prime Minister Sir Keith Holyoake. Working in partnership with Karen Price, their history of Nelson's Italian community is due to be published in 2014. As President of the Nelson Historical Society, Karen is also working with the Nelson Provincial Museum on the region's World War I centennial commemorations.