Sumner Joined The Greater Christchurch – 1st April 1945

On 1 April 1945, Sumner joined the Greater Christchurch and came under the care of the C.C.C.

Dr. John Bird Sumner was born in Henilworth, England. Ordained in 1802, he was consecrated as Bishop of Chester in 1828. In 1848, Sumner became the president of the Canterbury Association and was, at that time, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Like the suburb that was named after him, he wasn’t a dull character. He was notable writer – he even had a claim of heresy put against him by other Bishops as he supported divorce and didn’t back the ‘deceased wife’s sister bill’ (making it illegal to marry your sister-in-law and collect another dowry) in Parliament!

At the time Sumner [the suburb] was first surveyed in 1849, it was set up to be Christchurch’s second port. The beach at Pegasus Bay soon proved unsuitable for landing goods, leaving the only access to the Plains via the Bridle Path or the crossing of the infamous Sumner bar of the Avon/Heathcote Estuary. With the opening of the Lyttelton (Moorhouse) Railway Tunnel in the late 1860’s, the use of our city rivers as a means of transport became a part of our history. After this short burst of industrial life, Sumner slipped into being the relaxing coastal beach-side town that we all know and enjoy today.

According to Maori legend, Cave Rock is the carcass of a whale brought to the Maori of Opawaho by the black magic of Te Ake – a chief from Akaroa. Those who feasted on its flesh fell into a deep sleep to never to be awoken again!
From Sumner to Shag Pile (Shag Rock) was once known as Peacock’s Gallop. John Jenkins Peacock had such a great fear of falling rocks that he would ride his horse from his Sumner home to Christchurch around the shoreline as fast as he could – hence the name.
Sumner was also the early stomping ground of Arthur Dudley Dobson who grew up to be a surveyor/engineer who is remembered today in the naming of Arthur’s Pass.

* Image courtesy of The Alexander Turnbull Library – Sumner, Christchurch. Original photographic prints and postcards from the file print collection, Box 19. Ref: PAColl-7985-08. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

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