On the 15th December 1848, Canterbury Association surveyors, Captain Joseph Thomas, Thomas Cass, Charles Orbin Torlesse (pictured) and New Zealand Company Agent William Fox arrived at Port Cooper (Lyttelton) – almost two years to the day before the arrival of the First Four Ships. They stepped ashore on the beach at Rapaki and surrounded by the beauty of Banks Peninsula, they dared to dream. They were there to build the foundation of a future settlement of Christchurch.
One of the first things to take place was the renaming of Port Cooper and the Port Cooper Plains – they were renamed Port Victoria and the Canterbury Plains.
Soon Captain Thomas, the Chief Surveyor, realised that he needed more space for the city of Christchurch and abandoned the idea of surveying the area we now know as Teddington – near Gebbies Pass. He then looked towards the plains.
These men spent Christmas Day with the Deans Brothers at Putaringamotu (Riccarton) where the renaming of Putaringmotu to Riccarton took place, along with the Deans’ request to rename the Otakaro to the Avon River. The Canterbury Association had planned to call the Avon River, the Shakespeare.
*Image courtesy of the Akaroa Museum – http://www.akaroamuseum.org.nz/ *