The Ngai Tahu and those before them thought nothing of walking from their Pa at Rapaki (a bay of Lyttelton Harbour) to the northern stronghold of Kaikai-a-waro, the area now known to us as Kaiapoi. Of course, they knew the quickest routes, their tracks through the marshlands and over the Peninsula resembling an over-land rabbit warren.
Scattered along these tracks were landmarks and resting places – such as the small outpost of Opawaho (Opawa), Putaringamotu (Riccarton Bush), and the Te Kouka (cabbage trees) of Burnside High School just to name a few. With the arrival of the Europeans, the plains were sold slice by slice and these tracks and resting places were suddenly out of reach from the Maori.
In 1858, a small slither of land, north of Hagley Park was made into a Native Reserve by the Canterbury Provincial Council. Here the visiting natives could rest. Many Maori used this area to camp when attending sessions in court over land disputes or were bringing their goods to sell or trade at the nearby Market Place – now Victoria Square.
Before this area was given to the Maori, it had been become known as Pilgrim’s Corner. As a small creek ran nearby, a few of our first families camped there as their land orders were being sorted. The most remembered were the Washbourne’s who roughed it there for 9 months before making the move to their own land. They had arrived in Lyttelton on the Sir George Seymour, the third arrival of our First Four Ships. This life giving water source now bears the name of this family today, Washborne Creek. Brockworth Place which runs off Deans Ave was the 50 acres the family moved to in late 1851. A fine home was built there which was named Brockworth, hence the now naming of this small street.
In 1862, lawyer Joseph Cornish Helmore arrived in Christchurch and purchased 50 acres which included the western end of Pilgrim’s Corner. The area then became known as Helmore’s Plantation. He surveyed and constructed what we now know as Harper Ave and Helmore Lane. He boasted to many that it only cost him 14 shillings to construct Helmore Lane. Over Washborne Creek he built the only remaining wooden street bridge in Christchurch. This historic bridge did sustain quake damage and has been out of use since.
The following year, 150 Ngai Tahu camped in the western end of Helmore’s Plantation to attend an important session in court over land. I believe the Maori lost that battle but the camp site remained in use for decades later. In 1970, the Ngai Tahu made the move from Little Hagley Park to their current site at Pages Road – the Nga Hau e Wha Marae.
Today, Little Hagley Park brings delight to those who use the thoroughfare for jogging or walking their dog, especially in Spring when the whole area is covered in flowers. Unfortunately many don’t know the history there and there are no markers to change that sadly.
*Photo of Little Hagley Park taken by http://sitimazwinkamaruddin.blogspot.co.nz/*
*All other photos taken by Annette Bulovic*