Personal stories recorded for new generations

For 17 years, Hubert Foster, rose before 5am to ‘very carefully’ collect the readings from the Southern Hemisphere’s only magnetic observatory based in Amberley - one of only 12 such observatories worldwide.

A mechanic, he was offered the role when the observatory was moved to the Amberley Domain from Christchurch sometime after trams were introduced in 1910 because the sensitive equipment picked up the vibrations, which affected the readings.

“I didn’t know if I could do it at first”, Mr Foster confesses, but it turned out he didn’t need to know anything particularly technical, simply collect the readings twice daily and put them on the bus to Christchurch to be read.

 His story has been captured in a new recorded histories project initiated by the Hurunui District Council for new generations to enjoy and learn from.

Community Development Advisor, Dr Bronwen Byers, has worked with a group of students to arrange interviews with a number of older members of our community to record their recollections.

“The elderly are a valued part of our community who have helped nurture and shape our district. We can learn a lot from their life experiences and the contributions they have made.”

Mr Foster, who has also operated the government’s rain gauge for Amberley for 40 years, is the second identity to have his story, recorded by Sarah van Eyndhoven, published.

The first, “Women in Farming” by Chris Willocks featured an interview with Roddy Thomson, an octogenarian whose family has lived in the district for many years.

In it, Mr Thompson paid tribute to the many women; some no longer with us, who shaped the lives of today’s farming families in the Hurunui.

All the stories will feature on the Hurunui District Council website.

Hurunui Kete, an online history of the district (which is linked from the Hurunui Libraries website) also contains photographs and recorded interviews of district identities.


For further information contact:

Lauren McKenzie

Communications Advisor

Hurunui District Council

P: 03 314 0024