As Edward Gibbon Wakefield – the director of the New Zealand Company – was recovering from a stroke at Malvern, England, he got chatting with a new up and coming colonisation promoter who was beginning to make a name for himself. His name was John Robert Godley and this meeting was the birth of the dream known as Canterbury, New Zealand.
The following year, they founded the Canterbury Association (1848 – 1853) with the aspirations of building an Anglican city around a Cathedral and a college somewhere in New Zealand. There would be eighty four members eventually – a collection of upper class families, peers, clergy, politicians, military, work and college buddies whose names are mostly remembered in the naming of Canterbury’s towns, suburbs, rivers, mountains and lakes.
It was during the very first meeting of the Association on 27th March 1848 that Godley suggested the name Christchurch – not recorded down as Christ Church – for the new city on the newly named Canterbury Plains (formerly the Port Cooper Plains). He wanted to honour his old school. The name of Canterbury was chosen to honour the Archbishop of Canterbury who was a great supporter of the project. The General Committee was also formed that day, Lord Lyttelton being voted in as Chairman.
As Chief Surveyor, Captain Joseph Thomas, set sail to New Zealand that December to check out the Wairarapa at the suggestion of Governor George Grey, the New Zealand Company had already purchased millions of acres of the Port Cooper Plains in a transaction known as the Kemp Deed.
On 20th April 1849, Thomas chose these plains for the future site of Christchurch and the Canterbury Association purchased two and a half million acres of it for 10 shillings per acre. These were sold on to the settlers for £3 per acre, the remaining £2 being used for the construction of roads, and the set up of schools and churches. These funds also helped the Association offer assistance to those of the working class who couldn’t afford the whole fare. This fund was also added to by donations from the members of the Association themselves – throughout the entire process.
In 1853, the Canterbury Association disbanded and many of the members accepted that their money would never been seen again. Canterbury was heavy in debt before the Association ships even got here and land did not sell like hoped. The price was later dropped to £2 per acre. James Edward Fitzgerald, the Association’s secretary (and ‘Charlotte Jane’ settler and Canterbury’s first Superintendent), made it one of his milestones as the Christchurch’s leader to pay back those loans which he did with much success.
Christchurch today is the largest city in the South Island and the 2nd largest and oldest established city in New Zealand. Christchurch was named officially as a city on the Royal Charter on 31st July 1856. Named ‘Karaitiana’ by the Ngai Tahu, this was a transliteration of the English word ‘Christian’. During the 1930’s, the term ‘Otautahi’ – meaning The Place of Tautahi – was adopted as the official Maori name for Christchurch.
The Maori name for Canterbury is ‘Waitaha’ which was the name of a tribe that lived over most of the South Island many centuries ago. They were defeated and lost their lands to the Ngati Mamoe who in turn was pushed out by the Ngai Tahu during the 1700’s.
I think it is only right to note down the members of the Canterbury Association who played a role in the beginning of our city. As many of them changed titles over the years, I will not include any with their names. Some of these names will ring a few bells.
If they have the ’1st’ by their names, they were at the very first meeting and voted on the name of Christchurch and Canterbury.
Charles Adderley – 1st
Anthony Ashley-Cooper – 1st
William Bingham Baring
Charles James Blomfield – 1st
William Guise Brittan – Named New Brighton
Richard Cavendish – 1st
Francis Wemyss Douglas Charterius – 1st
William Henry Hugh Cholomondeley – sons travelled on the ‘Charlotte Jane’
Thomas Somers Cocks 1st – Brother-in-law to Godley
John Duke Coleridge
John Taylor Coleridge
William Hurt Coleridge
William Reginald Courtenay – 1st
John Hulme Cust
George Astley Charles Dashwood
Walter Rockliff Farquhar – 1st
James Edward Fitzgerald – Named Lincoln & Springston
John Philip Gell
George Robert Gleig – 1st – was to be honoured in the naming of Gleig Island, but remained Quail Island
John Robert Godley – 1st – founder of Canterbury
Henry Goulburn – 1st
George Guy Greville
Edmund Storr Halswell – 1st
Julius Charles Hare
Ernest Hawkins – 1st
William Heathcote – 1st
Alfred Henry Hervey – 1st
Samuel Hinds – 1st
Walter Ferquhar Hook – 1st
John Hutt – 1st
Walter Charles James – 1st
Willoughby Jones – 1st
Henry Thynne Lascelles – behind the naming of the suburb of Harewood
Charles Thomas Longley – 1st
William Rowe Lyall
George William Lyttelton – 1st
Henry William Maddock
John James Robert Manners – 1st
Forster Alleyne McGeachy
William Drogo Montague
Walter Francis Montague-Douglas-Scott
Robert Bateman Paul
Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham-Clinton – 1st
Henry Phillpotts – 1st
William Henry Pole-Carew
George Kettilby Rickards
Henry James Selfe
John Simeon – 1st
Augustus Stafford 1st – Was to be original name of Christchurch
Charles Richard Sumner – 1st
John Bird Sumner – 1st – behind naming of Sumner & Addington
John Chetwynd Talbot – 1st
Charles Martin Torlesse – 1st – Brother-in-law to Wakefield
Richard Chenevix Trench – 1st
William Sandys Wright Vaux
Granville Edward Harcourt-Veron
Edward Jeringham Wakefield – Son of Wakefield
Frederick Richard West
Richard Whately – 1st
Robert Isaac Wilberforce – 1st
Samuel Wilberforce – 1st
Charles Griffith Wynne – Brother-in-law to Godley
James Cecil Wynter
*Image courtesy of Man Vyi*