Six very large photographs from St. Paul’s Trinity, Christchurch, were deposited in the Archives recently. Unfortunately no extra information was given at the time and so began the task of linking clues with known facts and sleuthing the Archives records to find further links to enable some description for cataloguing. Compared to many of our searches of unidentified photographs this one was relatively easy. At least, in this case, we had an important clue where and that was the ‘Provenance’ –St. Paul’s Trinity.
From our initial observations the images were taken inside St. Paul’s Trinity and on the steps at what appeared to be a service. The next obvious step was to identify the significant people and here institutional memory could be called upon. Once named a visit into the Presbyterian Ministers Register gave us a date range, 1975-1982.
We made an assumption from the outset that the photographs were taken by the Presbyterian Photographic Unit which was based in Christchurch during this period and searched the catalogue under the identified names. A description of an exterior photo confirmed both that it was the Unit’s photo and the photo belonged to the series; however no indication of the event was noted.
Clues in the photographs suggested the event was of some significance. There are cameras and speakers, Pacific Island mats on the floor and walls, and large floral arrangements in evidence. After considering possibilities, such as a General Assembly or a Pacific Island Church Conference, we concluded it was very much a parish event confirmed by the presence of both parish ministers, the Revs. Kanape Faleto’ese and Rymall Roxburgh.
It was the presence of the Rev. Michael Jackson Campbell, the Director of the Presbyterian Communications Department, however that convinced us the event was either a recorded or televised service; but when and why had not been resolved.
Neither the parish nor presbytery collections nor the usually reliable Outlook offered further information. As a last resort (which we should have thought of earlier in the process) we searched the papers of the Rev. Rymall Roxburgh. There a file labelled ‘T.V and Broadcast Services’ revealed all; the photos – a practise for a televised service held 19 October, 1975 on TV2.
The file contains the detailed plans for the service down to the colours for the floral arrangements and suggestions for attendees dress, a full description of the worship, a printed order of Worship, and a list of instructions for the attendees.
Two rehearsals took place one on the Sunday morning a week before and the second on the Thursday evening; the photographs were taken at the morning service on the 12 October, 1975.