Redcliffs in Maori is ‘Raekura’ and for some historians, the name of Redcliffs came about in the attempt of the European trying to spell and pronounce ‘Raekura’ correctly. ‘Raekura’ means ‘red glowing headlands’ so on the flip side of the ‘naming’ coin is the obvious red cliffs of Redcliffs.

The first European name for the area was Watsonville, named after Alfred Clayton Watson who owned 150 acres along side what we know now as Main Road (pictured here in 1895). This term was used by ‘The Star’ newspaper in 1889. This name was more for the hill side whereas the seaside was known as Poverty Flats or the Fisherman’s Flats.

By 1896, the name Clifton was the accepted term. When the township had a meeting about getting a post office of its own just two years later, the name Clifton was rejected by the officials as it was a double up on the name. This is where Redcliffs was chosen. The newspaper reporter that attended this meeting recorded the name down as Radcliffes so there was some confusion to sort out soon after.

The naming of Watson’s Creek today remains as a reminder of this past.

One of the first families to settle in Redcliffs were the Moorhouse brothers: William, Thomas and Benjamin in 1851. They weren’t to settle there long as the brothers soon decided to leave Christchurch briefly to follow the gold rush madness in Australia. William Sefton Moorhouse would serve Canterbury as Superintendent twice, his first term beginning in 1857.

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