Canterbury’s Second Superintendent Elected – 30th August 1857

When the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 was established, New Zealand was split up into six provinces. Each province was its own sub-government and these were built around the six original settlements. The Canterbury Province sat between the Hurunui and Waitaki River and stretched right over to the West Coast.

At the head was a Superintendent and below him, councilors. To be able to become a member of the Canterbury Provincial, you had to be over 21 years old and own land worth over £50.

On the 30th August 1857, William Sefton Moorhouse was elected as Canterbury’s second Superintendent, after James Edward Fitzgerald resigned due to ill health.

Moorhouse was born in Yorkshire, England in 1825. He was trained in law and with his two brothers and arrived in Lyttelton in 1851. In 1855 he was elected to the Canterbury Provincial Council.

As Superintendent, he will always be remembered for the construction of the Lyttelton (Moorhouse) Railway Tunnel which ran through the Port Hills. He achieved this without much support from his peers, especially James Edward Fitzgerald, due to the huge debt it caused Canterbury. The rift between these two men caused Fitzgerald to start up his own paper “The Press” so he could express his concerns and disapproval freely.

In 1863, due to personal financial woes, Moorhouse resigned from his position. To protect the Superintendent position from his rival James Edward Fitzgerald, he searched his own ranks for a temporary replacement. His eye turned to Samuel Bealey – he was steady, safe and just the right man for the job.

When Samuel Bealey resigned, Moorhouse began his second term as Superintendent on the 30th May 1866. Again, personal financial problems surrounded his resignation just two years later.

For a more in depth look at William Sefton Moorhouse, please check out the attached link:

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