I’m sure as the schooner ‘Ballet’ sailed down the east coast of the Middle (South) Island from Port Nicholson (Wellington), William Deans leaned against the deck railing and watched the passing coastline with great interest. He was aboard Captain Edward Daniell’s schooner as an approved stow-away and he held great hopes for what he might find down on the Port Cooper (Canterbury) Plains. Port Nicholson had proved to be a great disappointment and held no future for this aspiring Scottish landowner/farmer.
When William shared his dreams with Akaroa local Jimmy Robinson Clough, Jimmy stated that he knew just the piece of land. He would take him there so William could see it for himself. The area of land was named Putaringamotu, meaning ‘the place of an echo’.
And so it came to pass that William Deans, Jimmy and George Duppa traveled around the Bays of Ohikaparuparu (Sumner) in a Whaler’s boat and crossed the (Sumner) bar into the Waipātiki – the low waters that we know as the Avon Heathcote Estuary. They sailed north-west through the Estuary and traveled up the Ōtākaro (Avon River) as far as they could before it became too boggy (around Oxford Terrace and Barbadoes Street). Then they transferred into a canoe and continued up the Ōtākaro – sometimes using the surrounding flax and Toi Toi to pull their canoe along – to where the Christchurch Public Hospital is now. There William climbed up on the shoulders of his companions and saw Putaringamotu; amazed at the 50 acres of gigantic Woodlands (Deans Bush which is only 13 acres today) that stood high over the vast plains. He was reported as saying “This will do. I will make this my home.”
And this is how we came to have the suburb of Riccarton today.
For a more in depth look at William Deans, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/deans-head-avon-heathcote-estuary-entry/
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