CHRISTCHURCH & CANTERBURY – Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796 – 1862) John Robert Godley (1814 – 1861)

So, what are cities built on? Before all the politically correct answers start rolling through your mind, the answer is much simpler than that…a city is built on a dream.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield (Owner of the New Zealand Company) and John Robert Godley (pictured) shared the same dream. In 1848, they founded the Canterbury Association (1848 – 1853) with the aspirations of building an Anglican city around a Cathedral and a college, just like Christ Church in Oxford, England.

John Robert Godley graduated from Christ Church College in 1836. He had studied the classics. It was during the very first meeting of the Canterbury Association on the 27th March 1848 that he suggested the name Christchurch – not recorded down as Christ Church – for the new city on the newly named Canterbury Plains (formerly Port Cooper Plains). He wanted to honour his old school and we know the rest. The Association had been playing around with the idea of calling the new city Stafford – sounds crazy now. To add to that, the Avon was to be named the Shakespeare! So glad the Deans asked to name it themselves.

So, now we know how our city got her name but where did the name Canterbury come from?

I have been unable to link these two men directly with Canterbury in England but it is pretty clear why they chose the name.

Canterbury is a historical cathedral city in the district of Kent in South East England. In 1540, King Henry VIII started to hand out the status of ‘city’ to those towns that had a cathedral – it was quite an honour in the day. Canterbury just happens to be one of those cities.

It seemed that Canterbury in England mirrored what was very paramount to these two men. That Christchurch – meaning the ‘house of God’ in the shape of a Cathedral – would be the centre of this new colony.

Dubbed as the heart of Christchurch, our Cathedral indeed was our city centre. Makes the thought of losing it to demolition so much more painful.

Christchurch today is the largest city in the South Island and the 2nd largest and oldest established city in New Zealand. Christchurch was named officially as a city on the Royal Charter on the 31st July 1856. Named ‘Karaitiana’ by the Ngai Tahu, this was a transliteration of the English word ‘Christian’. During the 1930’s, the term ‘Otautahi’ – meaning The Place of Tauahi – was adopted as the official Maori name for Christchurch. I couldn’t find the meaning for the whole name of Tauahi so looked it up as two separate terms and came up with ‘Beyond (or the further side of) the fire’ –this is just my take.

The Maori name for Canterbury is ‘Waitaha’ which was the name of a tribe that lived over most of the South Island many centuries ago. They were defeated and lost their lands to the Ngati Mamoe who in turn was pushed out by the Ngai Tahu during the 1700’s.

I think it is only right to note down the members of The Canterbury Association who played a role in the beginning of our city. Men from all walks of life – mostly upper class of course – made up this group. Bishops, Arch-Bishops, politicians, Sirs, Revs, Barons, Lords, Military and Dukes with new and old money all took part in the formation of Canterbury. As many of them changed titles over the years, I will not include any with their names.

Some of these names will ring a few bells and I will make note if I know the story behind the name. If they have the ’1st’ by their names, they were at the very first meeting and voted on the name of Christchurch.

Charles Adderley 1st
Edward Archer
Anthony Ashley-Cooper 1st
William Aylmer
Francis Thornhill
William Bingham Baring
Charles James Blomfield 1st
William Guise Brittan – Named New Brighton
Richard Cavendish 1st
Francis Wemyss Douglas Charterius 1st
William Henry Hugh Cholomondeley – sons travelled on the ‘Charlotte Jane’
Thomas Somers Cocks 1st – Bro in law to Godley
Edward Coleridge
John Duke Coleridge
John Taylor Coleridge
William Hurt Coleridge
William Reginald Courtenay 1st
Edward Cust
John Hulme Cust
George Astley Charles Dashwood
Francis Egerton
Walter Rockliff Farquhar 1st
James Edward Fitzgerald – Named Lincoln & Springston

William Forsyth
John Philip Gell
George Robert Gleig 1st – was to be honoured in the naming of Gleig Island, now Quail Island
John Robert Godley 1st – founder of Chch
Henry Goulburn 1st
George Guy Greville
Edmund Storr Halswell 1st – Halswell
Julius Charles Hare
Ernest Hawkins 1st
William Heathcote 1st – Heathcote River
Sidney Herbert
Alfred Henry Hervey 1st
Samuel Hinds 1st
Walter Ferquhar Hook 1st
Edward Hulse
John Hutt 1st
Thomas Jackson
Walter Charles James 1st
Willoughby Jones 1st
Henry Thynne Lascelles – Harewood
Charles Thomas Longley 1st
Samuel Lucas
William Rowe Lyall
George William Lyttelton 1st – Lyttelton
Henry William Maddock
John James Robert Manners 1st
Forster Alleyne McGeachy
Arthur Mills
William Drogo Montague
Walter Francis Montague-Douglas-Scott
Horatio Nelson
John Owen
Robert Bateman Paul
Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham-Clinton 1st
Henry Phillpotts 1st
William Henry Pole-Carew
George Kettilby Rickards
Thomas Rowley
Henry James Selfe
Henry Sewell
John Simeon 1st
Cornwall Simeon
Augustus Stafford 1st – Was to be name of Chch
Charles Richard Sumner 1st
John Bird Sumner 1st – Sumner & Addington
John Chetwynd Talbot 1st
Charles Martin Torlesse 1st – Bro in law to Wakefield
Richard Chenevix Trench 1st
William Sandys Wright Vaux
Granville Edward Harcourt-Veron
Nugent Wade
Edward Jeringham Wakefield – Son of Wakefield
Frederick Richard West
Richard Whately 1st
Robert Isaac Wilberforce 1st
Samuel Wilberforce 1st
John Wadehouse
Charles Griffith Wynne – Bro in law to Godley
James Cecil Wynter

*photo taken by Chris Bulovic*

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