On the 25th December 1856, at the Christmas Day service at Christ’s Church (St Michael and All Angels), Chaplin Henry John Chitty Harper became the first Canterbury Anglican Bishop, ordained by Bishop George Augustus Selwyn, the Bishop of New Zealand.
Consecrated by Dr. Henry Bird Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Canterbury Association member, he arrived in Lyttelton on the 23rd December 1856. Bishop Selwyn met him right there on the jetty and together, they got the Harper family and their belongings over the Bridle Path.
It didn’t take Henry long to touch base with his flock that couldn’t make it to church. On foot, Henry walked out into the Plains where there were few roads and few rivers bridged. There he visited isolated homesteads and preached…performed marriages, baptisms and opened new churches.
“Pity there’s no artist handy,” a sheep inspector called out during one of Henry’s walkabouts near Bluff. He had caught the Bishop, naked, up to his waist in mud and water, carrying his clothes up over his head during a river crossing!
Surveyor Charles Orbin Torlesse summed up Henry perfectly, “He was the right man in the right place.”
For a more in depth look at Bishop Henry Harper, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/bishop-henry-james-chitty-harper-1804-1893/