‘…High Fern And Tutu…’ – George R. Hart

“All round, except the cleared space in front of the tent, was high fern and tutu, stretching away over the [Canterbury] Plains as far as could be seen…where Lichfield Street now stands, was a large raupo swamp, which was a resort for wild ducks and pukaki. Tracks here and there had been roughly cut through the fern and tutu by the survey parties of the [Canterbury] Association, who had been engaged in laying out the future city. Streets, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, there were none in our locality”

George R. Hart ~1886

* Well known journalist and critic for “The Press” from 1870 onwards, George R. Hart was only 9 years old when he arrived in Canterbury with his family aboard the ‘Cressy’, the Canterbury Association’s 4th ship in December 1850.

After some time living at Lyttelton, the family packed up their belongings and made their way over the Bridle Path to make a life in Christchurch. They walked until they could walk no further and where they stopped, they made a camp under a ship’s sail – one of George’s memories of this time is recorded above.

This campsite is known to us as the site of the now demolished Westpac Building on Cashel Street. Here George’s dad, Michael, erected the humble beginnings of what would be Christchurch’s first hotel/drinking establishment – the White Hart Hotel.

George died suddenly of heart failure on 22nd March 1911 at his home at Latimer Square. He is buried at Linwood Cemetery. He had always delighted in sharing his memories of early Christchurch, especially with school children and at public gatherings.

*photo courtesy of Two Frozen Kiwis – https://twofrozenkiwis.wordpress.com/

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