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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]


Akaroa is celebrated for its scenery, its salubrity, and its historic associations. The harbour is one of the finest in New Zealand, and abounds in fish; the town, with its population of 600 persons, has an arcadian character which is almost peculiarly its own in New Zealand; and the district, with its beautiful bays, its picturesque hills, its pastoral industries, idyllic valleys and pieces of bush, is dotted with well managed farms and pleasant homesteads. It has long been a favourite holiday haunt, not only with New Zealanders, but with visitors from Australia and the Old World, and will probably continue to be so for unnumbered generations. It was in the Akaroa district, in 1831, that the northern chief Te Rauparaha completed his conquest of the Middle Island Maoris; there, that one of the earliest whaling stations in the Middle Island was established by white men; and it was there, too, that, on the 11th of August, 1840, Captain Stanley, R.N., of Her Majesty's ship “Britomart,” hoisted the British flag and took possession of the Middle Island in the name of the Queen of England. A few days afterwards a small body of French colonists in the “Comte de Paris,” commanded by Captain L'Anglois, arrived in the harbour and settled in the district, and had not Captain Stanley been on the spot at the time he was, Akaroa would have become the site of a colony of France. Dairying, sheepfarming, cheese making, and the cultivation of grass seed are the staple industries of the district. The town has three churches—Church of England, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic. It has a public library, also a branch of the Bank of New Zealand, and of the Public Trust Office, a post, telegraph and money order office, and a telephone bureau. A high school has lately been established in conjunction with the local public school. A mail coach plies between Akaroa and Little River thrice weekly, and runs between Akaroa and Pigeon Bay on the remaining three days. Akaroa and the smaller bays within the harbour are connected by means of a small steamer owned by one of the residents. There are three hotels and three large temperance boarding houses in the town. The wharfage accommodation is at the southern end of the town, and consists of a large and well constructed wharf which runs out into deep water, and a smaller one for vessels of lesser tonnage. A little further to the south, on the same side of the harbour, there are swimming sheds and boat club rooms. Akaroa is in constant communication with Lyttelton by steamer, and is fifty-four miles from Christchurch, and eighteen from Little River.



Mr. Alexander Innes McGregor, sometime Member for Akaroa in the House of Representatives, was born at Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, Scotland, on the 9th of May, 1838. He was educated at the local grammar school, and subsequently at King's College, Aberdeen. In 1870 he emigrated to New Zealand, having been engaged as manager of the distillery at Dunedin. On the abolition of the distillery by Act of Parliament in 1871, he settled in Akaroa, where he at once entered into the public life of the community. When Akaroa became a borough he was elected a councillor, and was for many years mayor of the town; indeed he held that position at the time of his death in 1901. Mr. McGregor took a leading part in the agitation for the extension of the railway towards Akaroa, and was a member of the Lake Ellesmere Reserve Trust. In 1886, on the retirement of the Hon. W. Montgomery as member for Akaroa in Parliament, Mr. McGregor was elected to succeed him, and became Senior Whip for the Atkinson Government. He subsequently unsuccessfully contested the seat, when Lyttelton was merged into the electorate. Mr. McGregor took a keen interest in horticultural and educational matters. He was for several years chairman of the Akaroa High School Board and of the Akaroa Domain page 604 Board, and of the local school committee.

Akaroa was proclaimed a borough in July, 1876, and the Akaroa Borough Council held its first meeting on the 13th of September in the same year. Mr. George Scarbrough was the first mayor, and Mr. G. H. Watkins his successor. The present municipal building was erected about five years ago; it is of wood, in one storey, and stands in Blagueri Street. It contains the council chambers, the Mayor's room, and the Town Clerk's office. The Council consists of nine members and the Mayor. Business meetings are held fortnightly; councillors are elected every two years, and the Mayor is elected year by year. The present Mayor is Mr. H. C. Orbell, and the Councillors are Messrs T. E. Taylor, J. R. Newton, George Armstrong, junior, Charles W. Leete, George Checkley, E. F. Lelievre, A. R. Munro, W. B. Ingram, and H. Mottram. The Town Clerk, Mr. William Sims, was appointed in 1880. There are 190 ratable properties within the borough, and the Council levies a general rate of fifteen-sixteenths of a penny in the £, and a special rate of seven-eighths of a penny in the £ on the capital value. Water is supplied to the town by high pressure from an open reservoir, and a network of underground pipes connects every house. There is also an efficient fire brigade, superintended by Mr. W. B. Ingram, one of the town councillors. A complete drainage system is now (February, 1903) under consideration, and will probably be adopted before the end of the year.

His Worship The Mayor, Mr. Herbert Olement Orbell, was elected in January, 1901, to continue the term commenced by the late Mr. A. I. McGregor, and he has been twice re-elected. His connection with the Borough Council of Akaroa dates back to 1897, when he was elected one of its members. Mr. Orbell is a churchwarden of St. Peter's Church of England, and also a Freemason, and was for some time chairman of the Akaroa borough school committee. He was born at Waikuaiti, Otago, in 1865, and is a son of Mr. M. C. Orbell, farmer, now of Geraldine. He was educated at Christ's College, Christchurch, and, in 1883, was articled to Mr. B. C. Haggitt, Crown Prosecutor, Dunedin; five years later he was called to the bar. Mr. Orbell subsequently practised for a short time at Waimate and Ashburton, respectively; and in 1895 went to Akaroa where he now continues his profession as a partner in the firm of Messrs Beswick, Harris and Orbell. Mr. Orbell was married, in 1895, to a daughter of the late Mr. James Pilbrow, of Ashburton, and has two children.

Councillor George Armstrong, J.P., is the oldest member of the Akaroa Borough Council. He was first elected to that body about eighteen years ago, and has been twice mayor. Mr. Armstrong takes an active interest in all matters concerning the welfare of the borough. He is a member of the local licensing committee, chairman of the Akaroa borough school committee; also a director of the German Bay Co-operative Dairy Factory Company Limited, and a share-holder in the Canterbury Farmers' Co-operative Association. In the absence of Mr. Bishop, S.M., Mr. Armstrong acts as coroner for the district of Akaroa. He is a member of St. Peter's church, takes a considerable interest in religious work, and is an ardent prohibitionist. Mr. Armstrong was born in Akaroa, in 1853, and is the eldest son of Mr. George Armstrong, of Mount Vernon estate. He was educated at a private school, and afterwards at the local public school, and at an early age turned his attention to farming. Mr. Armstrong is now the proprietor of a valuable estate of about 300 acres. He was married, in 1879, to Miss Mary Gray, daughter of Captain Robert Gray, one of Nelson's earliest colonists, and has six sons and three daughters.

Councillor G. Armstrong, Junr.

Councillor G. Armstrong, Junr.

Councillor George Checkley has been a member of the Akaroa Borough Council since November, 1898. He was born at Akaroa in 1865, and is a son of the late Mr. George Checkley, noticed in another article as one of the early settlers. After leaving school Mr Checkley worked for seven years as a grocer in High Street, Christchurch, but when twenty-one years of age he returned to Akaroa to assist his father, at whose death, in 1897, he succeeded to Mount Pleasant estate. Mr. Checkley has been a member of the Akaroa and Wainui Road Board for eight years. He is a vestryman of St. Peter's English church, Akaroa. In June, 1888, Mr. Checkley married Miss Mary Pauline Dallas, of Christchurch, and has two sons and two daughters.

Standish and Preece, photo.Councillor G. Checkley

Standish and Preece, photo.
Councillor G. Checkley

Councillor Charles Walter Leete was elected a member of the Akaroa Borough Council in September, 1897, and was re-elected in September, 1900, and again in March, 1901. Mr. Leete was born in 1859, at Finedon, Northamptonshire, England, and is a son of Mr. W. S. Leete, a farmer. He was educated at the Bedford County School, and trained as a clerk in a large tea ware-house in London. In 1885 he sailed for New Zealand. For the first five years after his arrival, he was engaged at various occupations, and, in 1890, he commenced business in Akaroa as an accountant, with agencies for several insurance companies. He is also the Akaroa agent for the well known Christchurch legal firm of Messrs Meares and Williams. Mr. Leete was one of the founders of the Akaroa Boating Club, of which he is secretary, and has been a member of various other local bodies. He is a churchwarden at the local Church of England. Mr. Leete was married, in 1899, to Miss E. Bruce, of Akaroa, and has one son.

Councillor Henry Mottram was elected a member of the Akaroa Borough Council at a by-election, in the early part of 1901.

The Akaroa County Council was first formed in 1876, with jurisdiction over the whole of Banks' Peninsula. Recently, however, a movement was set on foot for the division of the county and the constitution of a second council, and in the early part of 1903, this second council, under the name of the Mount Herbert County Council, assumed control over Port Levy, and the district lying to its westward. The Akaroa County is divided into ridings, and the council consists of nine members. The council's offices consist of four apartments, in a two-storied building, near the post office in Duvauchelle's Bay. This building, together with the section on which it stands, is the property of the Council. The Council meets for ordinary business purposes on the last Saturday of each month, except November, when the annual statutory meeting takes place. The election of members takes place triennially, in the month of November. Those elected in November, 1902, were: Messrs John Pettigrew, S. B. Harris, John Montgomery, E. E. Lelievre, J. D. Bruce, James Reid, C. Fredericson, W. N. J. Thacker, and E. Scott. Mr. W. D. Wilkins has held the position of clerk and engineer for the Council since 1886.

Mr. John Donnett Bruce, Acting Chairman of the Akaroa County Council, was page 605 born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1854, and two years later arrived at Akaroa with his parents. He was educated at the Akaroa public school, brought up to farming, and now farms a property of 400acres, overlooking the township. Mr. Bruce has been a member of the Akaroa County Council since 1899, and is now (1903) its acting chairman. He was married in 1884, to Miss Newton, of Akaroa, and has a family of three sons and three daughters.

Councillor Sidney Buckland Harris was elected to represent Little River on the Akaroa County Council in November, 1899. Mr. Harris was born, in 1851, at Chepston, Monmouthshire, England, and educated at a private school. He sailed for New Zealand in 1874, landed in Lyttelton, and immediately proceeded to Little River, where he still resides.

Councillor John Montgomery was elected to represent Little River on the Akaroa County Council, in November, 1899. He is the second son of the Hon. William Montgomery, M.L.C., and was born in Christchurch in 1874. After attending school, at Aldenham, England, he returned to Christchurch in 1890 and completed his education at Canterbury College, where he graduated B.A. in 1894. He then turned his attention to farming, and has since been engaged, in conjunction with his brother, in the management of his father's estate at Little River. Mr. Montgomery has devoted considerable time to the study of engineering, and has put the knowledge thus acquired to practical utility in the construction of apparatus and machinery, and the lighting of the family residence with electric power.

Standish and Preece photo.Councillor J. Pettigrew.

Standish and Preece photo.
Councillor J. Pettigrew.

Councillor John Peitigrew, J.P., is one of the members for the Port Levy riding of the Akaroa County Council. He has been connected with the council since 1896, and has twice been elected chairman. Mr. Pettigrew has taken an interest in public affairs for upwards of fifteen years, and holds office in many local bodies. He is the eldest son of the late Mr. James Pettigrew, and was born near Glasgow, in 1853. When ten years of age he came to Lyttelton with his parents, in the ship “Chariot of Fame.” He was educated at Mr. Fitzgerald's school in Pigeon Bay, and was afterwards in partnership with his father at the sawmill they had erected on the Pigeon Bay flat. Later on he was farming at Holmes's Bay, in partnership with a local resident. In 1882, he bought his present farm in Pigeon Bay. In the early part of 1902, Mr. Pettigrew commenced a voyage round the world; he visited some of the chief centres in America, England, and the Continent of Europe, and returned to New Zealand in October. Mr. Pettigrew was married, in 1877, to Miss Mary Lyall, and has five sons and one daughter.

Councillor James Reid, J.P., was elected to represent Wainui riding on the Akaroa County Council, in November, 1899 He was born in Scotland, in 1860, and is a son of the late Mr. James Reid. When ten years of age Mr. Reid came to New Zealand with his father. After attending various public schools on the Peninsula, he assisted his father on the farm at Wainui, and at the latter's death in 1899, he succeeded to the ownership of the estate, which is named “Torcross.” Mr. Reid is chairman of the Wainui school committee, of the Public Cemetery Trustees, the wharf committee, and of the directors of the Wainui Dairy Factory; also a member of the Ellesmere Licensing Committee, of the committee of the Akaroa county horse show, one of the managers of the local church, and a trustee of the Wainui Public Domain. He was married, in 1891, to Miss Elizabeth West, daughter of the late Rev. William West, of Southbridge, Canterbury, and has one son and three daughters.

Akaroa District High School. This school was established as a public one about 1860, prior to which the education of the children was carried on in private schools. The rolls have been preserved since July, 1860, and there were then thirty-eight on the roll, apparently the first. The attendance was then very irregular, and some-times ranged from two to twenty-eight; the receipts from school fees ranging from one shilling to thirteen shillings per week When the public school was opened there were thirty-eight children on the roll, with an average attendance of about fifteen; but now there are 133 on the roll, with an average attendance of 110. A few years ago the roll rose to 180, and the average attendance to about 160. The school contains three rooms. It has been a District High School since July, 1901, when Mr. Alexander Gray, M.A., was engaged to teach secondary subjects, which are taught free to all who have passed the Sixth Standard.

Mr. A. Nicholls, the Headmaster, has been in charge of the school for twenty-five years. He is assisted in the primary branches by Miss M. A. Cradock and one pupil-teacher.

St. Peter's Church, Balgueri Street, Akaroa. The Church of England mission was commenced at Akaroa in 1852, and the first building set apart for worship was a small wooden place, capable of seating only fifty people. The Rev. W. Aylmer was the first incumbent of the parish. The church in Balgueri Street was erected in 1863, and the dedication service held in June of that year. It is a pretty wooden building capable of accommodating 250 worshippers. The Rev. Thomas Jasper Smyth, M.A., was vicar from 1892 till the end of 1902, when he was called to St. Stephen's, Lincoln. Since November, 1902, the Rev. Walmsley Sedgewick has been incumbent of St. Peter's, Akaroa.

The Presbytertan Church, Lavaud Street, Akaroa. Services were first held in Akaroa by the Presbyterian body in 1857, when they were conducted by the the Rev. C Fraser in the house of Mrs E. Brown. Shortly afterwards a church was built, mainly through the efforts of Mr. E. Hay, of “Annandale,” Pigeon Bay, and later on the present church was built in Lavaud Street. It is of wood, and has seating accommodation for 200 worshippers. Service is held on Sundays at the usual hours, and there is also a mid-week service. The manse is situated in Balgueri Street, about half a mile from the church. It is a wooden building of two stories, and stands on a glebe of five acres.

The Rev. James Pattison, the present minister of the Presbyterian church, at Akaroa, was called to the charge about the middle of 1902, and inducted early in 1903.

St. Patrick's Church, Lavaud Street, Akaroa, is the centre of the united Catholic parishes of Akaroa and Little River. It stands, together with the presbytery, upon an extensive and prettily planted section, with native bush on its upper portion. The building is cruciform, is built of wood, and contains one large room and two sacristies. The presbytery is a large two-storied building, a few yards from the church. There is a day school which is under the charge of four Sisters, and is conducted in a large building presented to the parish by Mr. I. Narbey, senior. For many years the spiritual needs of the Catholic people upon Banks' Peninsula were supplied from Leeston and Lyttelton, but, about 1886, Akaroa and Little River were constituted a separate parish, and since then it has without interruption had a resident priest. Father O'Connor (dead), Father Purton, of Auckland, and Dean Bowers, of Geraldine, have occupied the position.

The Rev. James Aloysius Kennedy, D.D., who was appointed resident priest at Akaroa in August, 1902, succeeded the Rev. S. Dunham, who was Rector of the Mission for nearly ten years.

Akaroa Crayfish Preserving Factory. This factory was established in 1895 by Messrs Irvine and Stevenson, of Dunedin, but has since been closed down.

Mr. J. Irvine, Junior, who was Manager of the factory, and son of the senior partner, gained his experience in the firm's employment in Dunedin, and at Hokitika and Westport. He was appointed to his position page 606 at Akaroa in 1895. Mr. Irvine was born in Dunedin in 1875, and was apprenticed to the fish preserving trade for four years. When nineteen years of age he went to the West Coast factories, and there gained valuable experience.

Bruce Hotel (Charles William Burland, proprietor), Beach Road, Akaroa. This hotel was originally built in 1841, by Captain Bruce, a master mariner, from whom it takes its name. It is at the terminus of the journey by coach from Little River, and close to the Akaroa harbour, with the main wharf within a few yards, and is popular with travellers and tourists. The main building is of wood, two stories high, and has a varandah facing Beach road. It contains eighteen rooms, including a well-kept diningroom, a neatly arranged parlour, and a spacious commercial room on the ground floor, and the bedrooms are upstairs. The “Bruce” has a first-rate reputation for the quality of its accommodation, and for the attention invariably shown to guests.

Mr. Charles William Burland, proprietor of the Bruce Hotel, was born in London, in 1860, and is a son of Mr. William Burland, a tradesman of that city. He was educated in the City of London Corporation School, and subsequently trained to commercial life. On landing at Lyttelton in 1893 he commenced farming, which he followed for about five years, but in 1898 he entered into partnership with his brother and took over the Bruce Hotel. The partnership existed until September, 1900, and since then the hotel has been conducted by Mr. Charles William Burland, who is ably assisted by his wife. He was married, in 1900, to Miss Read, daughter of an Ashburton farmer, and has one son.

The Madeira Hotel, (A. Rodrigues, proprietor), Lavaud Street, Akaroa. This is a two-storey wooden building, and occupies a pleasant site on freehold land not far from the waters of the bay, and yet in the main street of the borough. The house has excellent accommodation, and is much frequented by visitors to Akaroa.

Mr. Antonio Rodrigues, Proprietor of the Maderia Hotel, was born in the Madeira Islands in 1831. He went to England in 1857, and arrived at Lyttelton during the following year. Mr. Rodrigues took charge of the Commercial Hotel, Akaroa, for nine months, and then established a bakery and butchery. Afterwards he returned to his original occupation, as proprietor of the Criterion Hotel, which he kept for three years, when he removed to the Madeira Hotel. Mr. Rodrigues is a member of the Catholic Church, and was for some years a member of the district school committee. He was married, in 1856, to Miss Adelaide Rodrigues, of Madeira, and has two sons and six daughters.

Vangioni, Joseph, Storekeeper, Akaroa. Mr. Vangioni was born in 1857, in Calomini, Central Italy, where his father was a merchant. He was educated at private schools, and afterwards trained under his father. At the age of twenty he sailed for America, where he remained three years and a half. In 1861 he landed in Victoria, Australia, and in the following year arrived at Port Chalmers. He was engaged for about three years on the goldfields in various parts of the colony, and, in 1864, commenced contracting at Akaroa. Thirteen years later he established a general store, which he still conducts. Mr. Vangioni was married at Akaroa, in 1870, to Miss Julia Brockelbank, of London, and has two sons and seven daughters.

Standish and Preece, photo. Mr. J. Vangioni.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. J. Vangioni.