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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


No province in the colony was ever better served by its best public men than Canterbury; and no city in New Zealand can claim a more distinguished line of parliamentary representatives than Christchurch. The first city member in the parliament of 1854 was Mr. Henry Sewell, who, in 1856, was Premier of the Bell-Sewell Ministry. Christchurch country district, including what would now be called the suburbs, returned Mr. E. J. Wakefield, whose career contained elements of both romance and tragedy. In 1856 Mr. Wakefield's place was taken by Mr. John Hall, who has been ever since identified with the history of Canterbury, and from 1879 to 1882 was Premier of the colony. In 1858 Mr. John Ollivier, one of the best remembered of all the early provincial public men, was returned for Christchurch country district. From 1861 to 1865 Christchurch returned Sir Cracroft Wilson, whose distinguished career in India was a novel prelude to his long and varied colonial experiences. The country district electorate was subdivided, and Mr. W. S. Moorhouse, Superintendent of the province, and founder of the Canterbury public works system, appears in 1862 as member for Heathcote. In 1866 the city member was Mr. J. E. Fitzgerald, the first Superintendent of the province, whose splendid public services are recounted elsewhere in these pages. From 1866 to 1872 Mr. J. Hall represented Heathcote. In 1867 Mr. W. Reeves, inseparably connected in Canterbury with the “Lyttelton Times,” sat for Avon, but in 1868 was superseded by Mr. Rolleston, who, as Superintendent of the province, and later as Minister of Lands for the whole colony, rendered invaluable service to the cause of colonisation. Mr. Rolleston retained his Avon seat till the abolition of the provinces in 1876. In 1870 Mr. W. S. Moorhouse sat for the first time for Christchurch, unseating Mr. W. T. L. Travers, who had represented the city since 1867. Mr. Travers, as well as Mr. Sewell, Mr. Fitzgerald, and Mr. Wakefield, had held office in the Executive Council in 1854. In 1871 the growth of the city had qualified it for two members. These were Mr. E. J. Wakefield and Mr. E. Richardson, the latter of whom was afterwards Minister of Public Works in nine Ministries, which were in office at different times between October, 1872, and October, 1887. Mr. Richardson retained his seat for Christchurch till 1876, when, as the city was then a triple electorate, Mr. E. C. J. Stevens and Mr. Moorhouse completed the list of members.

Under the new regime the first city members were the old trio re-elected; and they remained unaltered till 1880, when Mr. Moorhouse stood for Ashley, and was replaced by Mr. S. P. Andrews. In 1882 Sir Julius Vogel, many times Premier, became one of the city members; as did Mr. John Holmes. In 1887 Mr. W. B. Perceval, who was afterwards knighted, and became AgentGeneral for New Zealand and for Tasmania, replaced Mr. Holmes. In 1891 Mr. W. P. Reeves was elected one of the city members, and afterwards became Minister of Labour in the Ballance and Seddon Ministries, and Sir Westby Perceval's successor in the Agent-Generalship. Latterly Christchurch has had, in Messrs G. J. Smith, T. E. Taylor, C. Lewis, and H. G. Ell, active and conscientious guardians of the great interests committed to their charge.