I’m sure from the age of ten Sir John Hall may have gotten the idea that his life was going to be more than just ordinary. He was far from home, being educated in the finest schools in Europe. Due to his bad health, the advertisements and promises of a warmer climate from the Canterbury Association caught his interest. Keen to learn more about sheep farming too, John seized the day and set sail to Lyttelton in 1852.
After looking at land in and beyond Canterbury, he finally purchased land south of the Rakaia River and had a special canoe built to transport his stock and goods across the temperamental river. From reports, the first crossing was so harrowing that John disregarded his southern land plot and just settled on the north bank instead, simply buying the land off the current owner. Naming his run ‘The Terrace’, his descendents still live on this historic property today.
In 1853, John became a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council, taking the role of Provincial Secretary at one time or another for three of our Superintendents: Fitzgerald, Bealey and Rolleston. His proudest moment during that era was being the driving force behind the opening of a direct land communication line with the west coast. John’s next huge role was as Commissioner of the Police, firstly in Lyttelton and then Christchurch.
He sailed through the ranks of Canterbury’s politics, taking the titles of Colonial Secretary, Post-General and was elected as the first Chairman (equivalent to “Mayor”) of the newly established Christchurch Town District Council (now the Christchurch City Council). Maybe no one should be surprised that in 1879, he became 12th Premier (equivalent to “Prime Minister”) of New Zealand, moving his growing family to Wellington. He inherited a grand mess though and is remembered as a great administrator who straightened out many of the troubles of the day – even through the darkest times such as the sacking of Parihaka.
Always one to keep an eye on the day’s current events, John took a great interest in the women’s suffrage and played his part in getting women the right to vote, along side of course, Kate Sheppard. Just when one would think he would be putting up his feet, he then reappeared in public life as he served Christchurch again as Mayor in 1906.
*Image courtesy of an Ancestry.com Community – http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com