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CUP book

Still Standing: A memoir

21 November 2023

By Anna Crighton


February 2024

240 pages + 48 pages of photographs, softbound
228 x 152mm
ISBN: 978-1-98-850341-7


For decades, whenever a heritage building in Christchurch has been under threat, especially in the aftermath of the 2010–11 earthquakes, one woman has consistently defended this city’s architecture and history against shortsightedness and the threat of bulldozers – Dame Anna Crighton. Fearless and articulate, she has fought tirelessly and passionately, not only for the heritage of her hometown, but for the built past of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Still Standing: A memoir

But behind this well-known persona, the city councillor and heritage advocate, lies an extraordinary and unexpected life story, now told publicly for the first time. In Still Standing, Anna recounts, with her usual unflinching honesty, a childhood bereft of parental affection, a wild adolescence that included a stay at the Mount Magdala Convent ‘to straighten her out’, unsuitable relationships clung to in a desperate search for love, an unplanned pregnancy that led to adoption, and a violent marriage.

Not many people would survive all this, let alone rise above it, to bring up a beloved son, to restore a magnificent Victorian home, to begin university study as an adult and end up with a PhD, to travel the world and, in 2020, to be appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to heritage preservation and governance.

Still Standing will delight anyone interested in history, architecture and the arts, but, even more than that, it is a riveting story of a life lived with courage, and of triumph over adversity.

About the author

History, classics, art and architectural history have been at the heart of Anna Crighton’s careers in the public and private sector. Before graduating in these subjects later in life at Canterbury and Otago universities, she was registrar of Christchurch’s Robert McDougall Art Gallery for 20 years. She then embarked on a career in local politics as a Christchurch city councillor for 12 years and a member of the Canterbury District Health Board for a further 12. Over three decades, she was a trustee and director of many trusts and companies. Anna has lived in Wellington, Sydney and England but has always returned to the city of her birth. In 2020 she was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to heritage preservation and governance.

Listen to Anna Crighton being interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on RNZ Nine to Noon.

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