Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood
“The Ugly Duckling.”
So Sir George Grey christened Canterbury, on the occasion of his second visit here, seventeen years ago, and all those who remember Andersen's charming little stories will admit the appositeness of the name. Let us see how it was born and how it grew.
It is Canterbury. But the chances of its being something vastly different were, at one time, very great. The narrow escape it had of becoming a mere offshoot of a French settlement —probably a penal one—is known to all early settlers, and has been heard of by many of our readers; but there are few who know that the hoisting of the British flag at Akaroa, and the taking possession of the South Island in the name of Her Britannic Majesty, have been recorded in stone in our Canterbury Cathedral. The font, which was placed in position so lately as December 23, 1881, and which was presented by the late Dean Stanley, bears the following inscription:—"To the memory of Captain Owen Stanley, R.N. By whose enterprise, A.D. 1840, this Island was secured to the British Empire. This font was erected, A.D. 1881, by his brother, Arthur Penhryn Stanley, Dean of Westminster."
This hoisting of the flag and taking possession was only by a few hours early enough to forestall a similar ceremony by the French. The narrative is thus told by James Robinson Clough, commonly known as Jimmy Robinson and by the Maories as Rapahina, one of the first Europeans who settled in Akaroa, and one who helped to hoist the flag:—
After stating how he ran away from home, led an adventurous life, and finally left a whaler he belonged to, to remain in Akaroa, in March 1837, married a daughter of Iwikau, a chief of the Ngatirangiamoa, and settled down, he says:—"It was in the year 1840, in August, I had been up to the Head of the Bay getting a load of pipis, of which the Maories are very fond. I had in the boat with me my wife and her youngster, who was about a year old, and named Abner. Holy Joe page 2(another European in the settlement) was also with me, as I found him more useful in handling the whaleboat than the Maories. We were beating down with a light south-west wind when I noticed a ship come round the point with a fair wind. I said to Joe, 'We shall get some tobacco at last,' as we had been out of it for some time. We then stood towards her, but when we got a bit nearer we could see her ports and that therefore she was a man-of-war. I said so to my mate, and he said, 'If she is, for God's sake let me get ashore.' I suppose his guilty conscience pricked him, or else that he had not 'finished his time,' and thought he might be recognised. To satisfy him I said I would land him, and paid her head off for the shore. I had not got far when I heard a blank shot fired, and saw some signals run up, so I thought I was wanted as a pilot perhaps, so hauled on a wind again and ran alongside. She had come to an anchor by this time a little above Green's Point, as it is called now. She turned out to be the British man-of-war Britomart, Captain Stanley, who came to the side and asked me to step on board, which I did. He asked who the female was, and I told him; so he said, 'Ask her to come on board.' I could hardly persuade her, but she came at last, and squatted down on deck with the young one in her arms. The Captain ordered the cook to bring her something to eat, so soon she had a good spread of pies, cakes, and fruit, in front of her, but she seemed too nervous to eat them. The Captain asked me to come below, so I went down, and he asked me all about the place; how long I had been there; and how many vessels had called, and their names; and how many Maories were living there. I gave him all the information I could about the place, so he told me I must be sworn in as Her Majesty's Interpreter, as he intended to take possession of the Island in Her Majesty's name, and wanted me to explain it to the natives. I was given a bell and a small ensign to roll them up the next morning, which I promised to do. We got what we wanted in the shape of tobacco, and something to whet our whistles as well, and went ashore. I sent word all round to the natives, and next morning there was a great muster on the sandy beach between the two townships. Three or four of the ship's boats were ashore, and a party of them was sent with me to get a flagstaff. We had not far to look, as we soon found and cut down a kahikatea, as straight as a die and forty feet long; a block and halyards were soon rigged on, and a hole dug, and it was very soon up. After all the Natives were squatted down, and the chiefs set out by themselves on an old ensign, the Captain commenced to read his errand here to the Natives, all of which I had to interpret; but there was so much of it I forget what it was all about. I know, however, that it ended with God save the Queen, after which the British Standard was run up, and a page 3discharge of musketry fired by the marines. A salute was also fired with the big guns on board, over which the Natives got into a great state of excitement. The Captain invited myself and several of the chiefs on board, where he gave us a grand spread, and I was presented with a lieutenant's uniform, and each of the chiefs had a marine's coat given to him. Next morning the French vessel arrived and landed her colonists. The Maories did not look upon their arrival with much favour, and if it had not been for the presence of the ships, an attempt would have been made to drive them away."
And so this fair land is not a French settlement.
It also had a narrow chance of being snapped up by Colonel Wakefield, for one of the bodies of colonists he was sending out. Messrs Duppa and Daniels used all their powers and eloquence to induce him to colonise our plains, instead of Nelson, but. Governor Hobson put in his veto, refusing permission for any settlement to be planted in this Island. Evidently it was to be reserved for a novel experiment in colonisation by the Church of England, who afterwards proceeded to do what the London Times described as taking a section of the old country and planting it out here with all the ecclesiastical and educational machinery which the settlers had been accustomed to in England.
And let us see how that was done.
As early as 1825 a company was formed to colonise New Zealand, which purchased a small quantity of land, of little value, and very unfit for the purpose, and left it uncultivated and uninhabited. In May, 1837, another Association for the colonisation of New Zealand was formed, which first applied for a Royal Charter, and then rejected it when it was found to be clogged with such restrictions as to give little scope to the enterprising genius of the promoters. In 1838 this Association brought its claims before the House of Lords, by whom they were rejected. It subsequently caused a Bill to be introduced in the House of Commons, which was thrown out. This Company, in June 1839, put forth a prospectus, and sold a quantity of land; sent out a survey party, and subsequently despatched to various parts of the colony, but not to Canterbury, twelve vessels with 216 cabin, and 909 steerage passengers. Meanwhile the Crown took possession of the Islands and sent out a Governor. The Company then applied for a Charter, and Lord John Russell, then Colonial Secretary, agreed to give them one acre of land for every five shillings they had expended, on their increasing their capital to £100,000. Accounts were gone into, when it was found that the Company had expended £161,560.page 4
In December, 1849, the Canterbury Association haying been formed, acquired all the rights held by the New Zealand Company to "all that tract of waste and unappropriated land situated in the Middle Island of New Zealand, being bounded by the snowy range of hills from Double Corner to the river Ashburton, by the river Ashburton from the snowy hills to the sea, and by the sea from the mouth of the Ashburton to Double Corner, and estimated to contain, 2,500,000 acres, more or less, with the exception of certain buildings, and the land marked out as appurtenant thereto, situate on Banks Peninsula, and purchased by the said New Zealand Company from the Nanto-Bordelaise Company, and with the exception of certain property acquired by purchase and exchange with Mr De Belligny, such lands so excepted being reserved to Her Majesty, Her heirs and successors."
The Canterbury Association, prior to the obtaining of these rights, had been busy. The Committee and officers included gentlemen after whom have been named most of our towns, forests, rivers, lakes, and mountains; men of high position, who caused such attention to be given in England to their project that it may fairly be said no scheme for colonisation ever received before. The Archbishop of Canterbury (after whom, the province is named) was the President of the Association. The Committee were: the Archbishop of Dublin, the Duke of Buccleuch, the Marquis of Cholmondeley, the Earl of Ellesmere, the Earl of Harewood, the Earl of Lincoln, M.P., Viscount Mandeville, M.P., the Bishops of London, Winchester, Exeter, Ripon, St. Davids, Oxford, and Norwich; Viscount Alford, M.P.; Lords Ashburton, Lyttelton, Ashley, M.P., Courtenay, Alfred, Harvey, M.P., and John Manners; Sir Walter Farquhar, Bart., Sir William Heathcote, Bart., M.P., Sir Walter James, Bart., Sir Willoughby Jones, Bart., Right Hon. Henry Goulburn, M.P., Right Hon. Sidney Herbert, M.P., Hon. Sir Edward Cust, K.C.H., the Dean of Canterbury, Charles Bower Adderley, M.P., Lieut. Col. Archer, W. H. Pole, Carlew, M.P., Hon. Richard Cavendish, Hon. Francis Charteris, M.P., S. Cocks, M.P., Rev. C. Coleridge, William Forsyth, Rev. G. R. Gleig, Edmund Halswell, Ven Archdeacon Hare, Rev E. Hawkins, Rev Dr. Hook, Samuel Lucas, F. Alleyne Mc Geachy, J. Simeon, M.P., A. Stafford, M.P., Hon John Talbot, Rev. C. M. Torlesse, Rev. R. C. French, Ven Archdeacon Wilberforce, Charles Wynne, and Rev J. C. Wynter. John Robert Godley was appointed Resident Chief Agent, Captain Thomas was Chief Surveyor, and Mr Thomas Cass and Mr C. O. Torlesse were appointed Assistant Surveyors.
The object was to found a settlement, the colonists of which should be members of the Church of England, with a bishop page 5and clergy, to establish schools and a college properly endowed. Indeed, in the matter of education, the Association's views and hopes were of the largest; the influence of the system to be established to extend not only to Australia, but to attract students from India and China.
The cost of rural land to settlers was to be £3 per acre, in sections of not less than 50 acres; of this money 10s was to go to the cost of forming the settlement and paying for the land; £1 per acre was to be devoted to the Religious and Educational Fund; £1 per acre to the Immigration Fund, and 10s to survey roads, bridges, &c. The price of a half-acre allotment in the capital was to be £24, and of quarter-acre allotments in other towns, £12. These prices were paid by all the first settlers.
In 1848 Captain Thomas, Chief Surveyor, with his two assistants, sailed for New Zealand, under instructions to survey the Canterbury land, and prepare matters, so far as possible, for the arrival of the colonists; and in September 1849, he wrote Home from Lyttelton as follows:—"We have now over 110 men at work on surveys, roads and buildings. Lyttelton resembles a country village in England, such is its decency, its order, its regularity and sobriety. The town is surveyed, and we have got the trigonometrical stations fixed and extending over 30,000 acres. By Christmas we hope to complete the trigonometrical surveys of half a million of acres, and the surveys and maps of Christchurch, and the town at the mouth of the Avon."
In the meantime the Association in London had not been idle. Meetings had been held; land had been sold; ships chartered; the agent, Mr. John Robert Godley, sent out to the colony, and all had been got ready for the departure of the first body of colonists. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Oxford had preached sermons specially to the departing colonists, the former in St. Paul's Cathedral, taking for his text 2 Cor. xiii. 14, "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the Communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all;" and the latter in the Abbey Church of St. Peter's, Westminster, from Genesis xii. 1, "Now the Lord said to Abram, get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house unto a land that I will show thee." A public breakfast was also given them in July 1850, on board the Randolph, in the East India Docks, Blackwall, when 340 guests, including 160 of the intending colonists, were sumptuously entertained. The London Times and other papers had articles on the projected movement; and having been prominent characters in the eyes of the three estates of the realm for months, having been prayed over and blessed by page 6the heads of the clergy, and feasted by the laity, the Canterbury Pilgrims, a little band, of 1200 hopeful emigrants, set sail in the Randolph, the George Seymour, the Charlotte Jane, the Cressy, the Castle Eden, and the Isabella Hercus. The first four left Plymouth within a few hours of each other, on the 7th of September, 1850. The Charlotte Jane arrived at Port Cooper the first, on Monday morning the 16th December, 1850, the Randolph and the Sir George Seymour dropped anchor within a few hours, and on the 27th December the Cressy entered Lyttelton Harbour. The 16th December is therefore kept as the day of the foundation of Canterbury.
It is not easy to convey to those who have only known Lyttelton lately a good idea of what it was in those first days. Harbour works, reclamations, and street formations have completely altered it. Captain Thomas described it as like an English village. So it was, but like a very little one. The immigrants were able to see some signs of civilisation, £24,000 having been spent by the Association in preparations for them. A good substantial jetty, 150 feet long and 16 feet wide, had been run out from the shore, from about where the corner of Oxford-street and Norwich Quay is now, the sea then washing what is now Norwich Quay. Four large immigration barracks had been erected near the site of the present gaol. Some of them are standing at this day. These were capable of holding between 200 and 300 people. A boat-house for a crew, and a boat-shed, a kitchen, wash-house, well 44 feet deep, and other conveniences had been built; and besides these—among the works done by the Association—were a house, office, and stable, all fenced and with gates, for the agent. Captain Thomas had had over 100 men at work for him, and these, besides putting up V huts and tents, had attracted storekeepers and others from "Wellington. There were two public-houses of the rough-and-ready sort, one of which was on the site of, and has since developed into, the well-known Mitre Hotel. There was a butcher's shop, a bakery—owned and worked by our respected and now prosperous citizen, Mr. W. Pratt—a storehouse, and a temporary building for a church. Nearly thirty buildings in all, including raupo huts, dotted about the hill-side near the beach —a small beginning for a wealthy settlement, but enough to give the new arrivals a sense of welcome and friendliness. And most of them thoroughly enjoyed the change, thought nothing of the little roughing or absence of old Home luxuries, and proceeded to make themselves really comfortable, Their first letters to friends in England show this. One wrote, "We had roast turkey, beef, peas, potatoes, and plum-pudding for our Christmas dinner, all that was wanting being the mince pies." Another, "The harbour is beautifully surrounded with high. page 7mountains, covered with verdure and bush, in which grow convolvulus and clematis;" while a third speaks of their first gathering on shore for Divine worship—a gathering and a service that must have been more than ordinarily impressive—in the little temporary church, which was crowded to excess, "We had four clergymen and three schoolmasters among us. The latter understand church singing, so we had the whole service chanted beautifully."
When the settlers landed, they found Mr John Robert Godley, the Agent of the Association, ready to receive them, he having come out to the colony some months previously. The first to land was Mr James Edward FitzGerald, whose name is inseparably connected with the foundation of the settlement and its early history. Others followed as fast as they could find accommodation, or build for themselves cottages to live in. Many remained in Lyttelton, which for several years was the principal town in the province, but some preferred to settle down at once on their allotments on the plains, where they roughed it in tents, and some even in excavations in the river banks. A bridle track, which for many years continued to be the route for light traffic, had been made over the hill down to the Heathcote Valley. This track was just passable for horses and cattle, but easy for foot-passengers and sheep. From the summit was gained, a view which could scarcely have been cheering to the new-comers, however grand it might be judged merely as a view. A vast panorama of grassy plain, in places stony, in others swampy, through which the Avon and the Heathcote rivers wound tortuously along to the sea beach; the apparently dead level only broken by the Riccarton Bush and Mr. Dean's homestead in the distance to the left, about 200 acres of bush where Papanui now stands, and a somewhat larger patch of bush near where Rangiora now is. To the north the Kaikoura mountains and Mount Grey, to the west an unbroken chain of snow-capped mountains, of which Oxford Hill, Mount Torlesse, Mount Hutt, and Mount Peel—the last sixty miles off in a strait line to W.S.W.—are the principal peaks; while to the south the only boundary was the ocean-like horizon of level land. The only signs of civilisation in all this vast extent were the thread-like paths to. the Heathcote—spanned by a rough bridge far away under the hills in the distance towards Riccarton—and to the Ferry, two temporary buildings erected by Captain Thomas for the use of his survey party, and the blue smoke curling upwards against the sky, which indicated Mr. Dean's homestead.
For the settlers just arrived were not the first to tread the plains. Mrs. Deans has written an interesting and graphic account of earlier occupation, which, we cannot do better than quote:—page 8
“In the autumn of 1842, the Plains (now known as the Canterbury Plains), then a very wilderness, had been abandoned for the second time as unfit for colonisation, first by Messrs Cooper and Levy, or their agents, and then by Mr Heriot, agent for Messrs Abercrombie and Co., two rival firms of Sydney, Previous to 1840, Messrs Cooper and Levy traded with the Natives of the Middle Island of New Zealand, in flax, &c., &c., giving their names to the plains, and two bays. One of their vessels was lost with all hands, and the speculation given up. The late Mr W.B. Rhodes, of Wellington, landed cattle at Akaroa in 1839, without settling there. In 1840 or 1841, Mr James Heriot, from Berwickshire and Canada, was sent from Sydney by the firm of Abercrombie and Co., and brought two teams of bullocks, and two men-servants, Ellis, and McKinnon, as well as the wife of the latter. They all camped at what was then known as Potoringamotu (the place of an echo), but what is now. Riccarton, and began to cultivate to a limited, extent; they had a good crop, but the native rats devoured it, and this, with a dread of the bar at the mouth of the river, so discouraged them that they abandoned the place, after about eight months' residence, and left behind them a stack of straw. About 30 acres of land were ploughed up, and either Mr Heriot or one of his men was the first to stick a plough in the soil of Canterbury. The McKinnons afterwards settled on the Peninsula, and Ellis returned, and was partner with Gartner in the Golden Fleece Hotel, Christchurch. There is no tradition of Messrs Cooper and Levy having cultivated any land.”
“Between 1840 and 1842, William Deans, of Kirkstyle, Riccarton, Ayrshire, Scotland, who came to Wellington in 1840, in the Aurora (one of the first four ships to Wellington), seeing no prospect of getting possession of the land in Wellington that he had purchased from the New Zealand Company in London before leaving, decided on making his home on Port Cooper Plains, provided his brother John, then on his way to the colony, joined him in the venture. John landed at Nelson from the ship Thomas Harrison, on 25th October, 1842, and being disappointed and dissatisfied with his section of land there (which he had also bought in London), at once determined to join his brother, and decided to try and effect an exchange of their land orders at a future time. So, with permission of the then existing Government, and with more courage and hope of success than his predecessors showed, William Deans, having twice seen the Plains, and being fully persuaded that sooner or later they would become the site for a large British settlement, left Wellington on 11th February, 1843, in Mr Sinclair's 30 ton schooner, and arrived at Port Levy about ten days after.page 9
He brought with him John Gebbie, wife, and three children, Samuel Manson, wife, and three children, as well as poultry, provisions, and timber to erect a house. A few old whalers had settled at Port Levy with the Maoris, and near them the women and children were left for a few weeks, with John Gebbie as protector. William Deans made what arrangements were necessary with Mr Robinson, Magistrate at Akaroa, who had instructions from Government to render what assistance he could, and then, with S. Manson and a few other hands, sailed up the river Avon in a whaleboat, as far as the 'Bricks' (so named because bricks for building chimneys were landed by them there), and thence in a canoe to the large pool at a bend of the river (at gully west of the Hospital); they then followed the creek which joins the river there (Washbourne's creek), to avoid the flax swamp and bush to the west, to where it outflowed from the river (above Wood's Mill); then up the river-banks through tall fern to Potoringamotu, now 'Riccarton,' where they erected the 'first house built on the Plains.' It still stands, but is somewhat the worse for forty-one years' wear; it is built of wood, put together with wooden pegs, which were made in the tent in the evenings; they had to take the place of nails, which were unfortunately left behind at Wellington. When it was finished, in May, Manson and others returned to Port Levy for John Gebbie and the women and children. They followed the same route as before described. When they reached their destination, William Deans stood all alone by the one only dwelling on the vast plain, watching and waiting to welcome that band of pioneers, the first instalment of the hosts that have since followed to reclaim the wilderness. As the canoe with its contents could not be brought further up the river on account of the shallows, and the distance being too great for the children to travel, each father and boatman on landing, took a child on his shoulders and bravely strode on, the mothers as bravely following, fighting their way through the tall fern and scrub till they reached their destination. On their complaining of the roughness of the way, and the damage done to boots, &c, in consequence, William Deans laughingly told them, there would in the future be roads and railways in all directions, and in all probability a tunnel through the Port Hills, and that hereafter they would be able to drive about in their carriages. The house, or rather shed (now known as the 'old barn),' that was to shelter them during the winter months, was partitioned off into three apartments with blankets and sheets, the two families taking one each, leaving the sitting room for the Messrs Deans. It had also a loft above for stores The weather was very cold from the first, and battens had to be nailed in to exclude the cold and rain.”
“In March, Mr Sinclair returned to Wellington for his own page 10wife and family, and he was joined by the late Ebenezer Hay, wife and family, both of them settling in Pigeon Bay; the Messrs Greenwood also accompanied them, and settled at Purau, with what provisions they required. A few weeks after William Deans left Wellington; John Deans also sailed from there, by. the first chance, to Newcastle, for stock, and arrived at Port Cooper (now Lyttelton) by Princess Royal, on 17th of June, after a passage of 21 days, bringing with him 61 head of cattle, 3 mares, and 43 sheep, all of a good class. A larger number of sheep were bought, but were not delivered in time before the ship sailed; he lost on the passage six steers and heifers, and one mare. He also brought seed wheat for five acres, seed oats for three acres, and barley for three acres, lucerne seed, and potatoes. Samuel Manson is now (in 1884) the only male survivor of that first band of stout-hearted pioneers; but with the exception of the Sinclairs, who sold out and went to Honolulu, and the Greenwoods, who also sold out, the descendants of the others, as well as Manson, continue to occupy their first selections of land.”
“It was no easy matter bringing the stock home after landing—first the hills to climb and then the swamps and boggy creeks to encounter on the plains, but the task, though difficult, was accomplished successfully. William Deans had brought a small hand steel flour-mill with him from Wellington, and at it each (as amusement) took a turn in the evening to grind the flour for their bread. It ground 40 lbs. an hour. In January, 1844, they had broken in and milked 20 cows, from which they made cheese and butter of excellent quality, which obtained a high name in Sydney. They had also cleared three roods of garden ground of fern and tree stumps, and had good crops of cabbages, peas, potatoes, onions, leeks, and parsnips; but carrots, turnips, melons, cucumbers, &c, were eaten off by a small fly as soon as brairded. They had also planted strawberries, but without success, and apple and plum trees. They came as colonists, and put their shoulders to the wheel. In two years' time, besides the above mentioned work, they had built three houses at Riccarton (Manson chief carpenter); all these buildings are still in use, and one of them, for strength and finish, will bear favourable comparison with any wooden house since erected on the plains. Two bridges were also built, and cattle sheds and yards were erected. John Deans and John Gebbie re-ploughed the ground formerly broken up by Heriot, and broke up several acres of new land, where the insignis trees are now growing, west of the gully in Hagley Park. Their crops were good, their barley was early, and they reaped it on Christmas Day. The little community was composed of Scotch Presbyterians from page 11Ayrshire, and began to long for a pastor. The settlement was occasionally visited by the Catholic Priest who had charge of the French settlers at Akaroa, and the late Bishop Selwyn sometimes visited the settlement on his missionary tour. The grain was threshed with flails. The families on the Peninsula bought descendants of cattle landed at Akaroa in 1839 by the late Mr W. B. Rhodes, of Wellington.”
“The chief occupations were building, fencing, gardening, and stock-keeping, the latter being William Dean's special care; and the women, at all stations, besides their domestic duties, attended to the dairies, and made the soap and candles required. Their sport was stock riding when the flocks or herds strayed, an occasional wild dog or wild pig hunt (the wild pigs were not very plentiful), duck shooting, pigeon shooting, and fishing for eels and flounders. The native quail and pigeons soon became very scarce, but flounders and eels were plentiful far up the river. At Riccarton they had a memorable visit from the late William Lyon, of Wellington, who started from Akaroa with Mr. Greenwood to walk round by the old Maori track. He was taken ill in the Big Swamp, near Ahuriri, and had to be left in a flax bush there till Mr. Greenwood came on to Riccarton early in the morning for a horse, blankets, and warm refreshments and assistance, which he soon procured, and Mr. Lyon was found and brought on, and after a few days' nursing he recovered. It was during that visit that he pointed to the western (now Malvern) hills as most likely to contain coal. It was about that time the first slight earthquake was felt.”
“In May of 1845 the Gebbies and Mansons took up their own selections at the Head of the Bay, where the families still remain. They left Riccarton on a fine calm morning, but before reaching the bar of the river at Sumner the wind had risen, and the bar was very rough. The women and children were landed, and remained in a cave all night, hungry and cold; the whaleboat was capsized on the bar, and William Deans saved his life by clinging to a box of tea. The late William Todd and wife (Lincoln) replaced the other two couples, and remained nearly seven years. At one period of that time Mrs. Todd had been nearly two years without seeing a white woman.”
“In 1846, there was the most severe winter they had known, storms, frosts, rain, and snow, leaving the ground so wet that no wheat could be sown that year. Mr Sinclair left again in his schooner for Wellington for a supply of provisions, but the vessel was lost with all on board. The settlers were on the point of starvation—there being only one bag of flour and a few potatoes amongst all the families. A French ship arrived and gave temporary relief, and afterwards reported their condition at Wellington, from whence they soon received supplies.”page 12
“Early in August the settlers at Riccarton were called upon by three men, describing themselves as shipwrecked sailors. They were hospitably received and welcomed, as all visitors were. They stayed the night, giving and receiving news. Next morning they praised the comforts of their quarters, and especially admired the size and warmth of the blankets. After gaining all the information they could of people and places, and being provided with necessaries for the journey, they left for the Head of the Bay, where they spent another night, and then proceeded to Messrs. Greenwood's station at Purau, where they were engaged as labourers and worked for a few days. Suddenly one evening, while seated at tea, at a given signal, they rose and pinioned their masters, who were at table with them. They searched the house, taking whatever they thought desirable, and obliged one of the brothers Greenwood and William Prebble (now of Prebbleton) to carry the plunder to the boat on the beach, which they also took possession of to cross the Bay on their way to Riccarton to do the same. They dared Messrs. Greenwood and Prebble to leave the spot on pain of death till they had gone a certain distance across the Bay. The latter, as soon as he considered it safe, returned to the house and released the other brother, who had remained bound all the while. They immediately left for Port Levy, where a number of old whalers (most useful people in those days) had settled down, and they at once took boat and came round, and up the river next morning, anticipating the robbers by several hours. A mist had overtaken them on the hills, and, instead of coming direct to Riccarton, they wandered to the caves near Sumner, where they heard the splash of the oars of the whaleboat passing. The brothers Deans had armed all hands with what weapons they could provide, and waited the approach of the robbers, who found their way into the bush at dusk. Their camp fires were seen for three nights, but seeing the place so well defended by so many men marching up and down and all round, they never ventured out of their hidings till the coming of a snow storm made their quarters uncomfortable. They then decamped, and their footsteps were traced in the snow for some distance towards Otago. One was drowned crossing a river on the way, the other two were captured in Otago, and taken to Auckland by Mr. Cass (late Chief Surveyor), where they received their sentence.”
“In 1846, after 'squatting' three years, the brothers Deans obtained leave from Government to lease land from the Natives, who were still the owners of the soil. The first lease of land on the plains was entered into and signed by the brothers Deans and the Maori owners on 3rd December. That was another step towards successful coloniaztion. Regularly as 'rent day' page 13came round, the 'landlords' came for their rent (sometimes no easy matter to provide, though the amount was small), and a great feasting on pigs, potatoes, sugar, flour, and rice lasted for about a week each year. The Natives were always most friendly, and looked upon the white people more as protectors than as enemies. They still continue to work on the Riccarton estate, when there is potato digging or turnip or mangold lift to be done.”
“In 1847, the Messrs. Rhodes bought Purau from theGreenwoods, who, with Mr. Caverhill, took up Motonau Run. John Deans returned to New South Wales for a second shipment of stock, arriving again at mid-winter in the Comet, (a small vessel), with 600 sheep and some steers, the latter for killing purposes.”
“1848—The New Zealand Company had now purchased from the Natives (with the Governor's consent) all the land along the East Coast, and the Messrs. Deans were enabled, at last, to effect an exchange of their Wellington, Manawatu, and Nelson land orders for an equal quantity (400 acres) at 'Potoringamotu,' which they now named 'Riccarton,' after their native parish in Ayrshire. This block contained the greater part of their cultivations and fencing. They also gave up (for the use of the expected settlers) one half of the timber in the bush, which they might have retained. They named the river "Avon," after the Avon flowing into the Clyde near Hamilton; it bounded their grandfather's property in Lanarkshire. Mr. Hay, of Pigeon Bay, effected a similar exchange of land orders. Sometimes as many as thirty vessels would visit the Bays during the season. In October of this year (1848) the first great earthquake occurred, and it was felt all over New Zealand.”
“In 1849 Sir George and Lady Grey spent a few days with the Messrs. Deans, at Riccarton, and afterwards presented them with some Cape oak trees, the first planted on the plains. The surveyors for the Canterbury Association had arrived, and were busy preparing for the expected settlers. The map of Riccarton was drawn, and signed on 22nd August, 1849, by Captain Thomas, agent for the Canterbury Association, as "approved" in accordance with agreement made with Mr. (now Sir William) Fox in December, 1848. Riccarton was the first estate reserved on the plains, though numbered 163 on the surveyors' map—placed after, instead of before, the Pilgrim selections.”
Such is Mrs. Dean's account of the first settlement on the plains. We will now return to our pilgrims.
Once landed and housed the settlers were not long getting to work in earnest. Lyttelton rapidly became a thriving little business town. Mr L. T. Shrimpton, one of the first arrivals, page 14brought with him a printing plant, and within three weeks of his landing Canterbury had its weekly paper, The Lyttelton Times, published and printed by Mr Shrimpton, and edited by Mr J. E. Fitz Gerald. Shops and wholesale stores multiplied rapidly, and the work of supplying the material wants of the settlers was fully attended to. The Union Bank of Australia opened a branch in Lyttelton, and the opening was connected with rather a sad circumstance. The agent sent out with the necessary funds was found to be so mentally afflicted on arrival that the effects were taken charge of, and business transacted, by one of the Government officials, till his successor came down. The London and Liverpool Insurance Office also opened a branch, under the management of Mr J. T. Cookson. Mr A. J. Alport was the first auctioneer, and among the business firms the names of Longden and Lecren, D. M. Laurie, B. Beamish, Tippits, Silk, and Heywood, Nankivell, P. Campbell, and Waters, will be remembered by old identities. There was also a lawyer to manage their legal business, Mr R. Wormald's advertisement appearing constantly in the newspaper, spreading nets for the flies. How rapidly the settlement grew may be gathered from the fact that by January 1, 1852—one short year—nineteen vessels had arrived from the Mother Country, bringing 3000 souls, besides numbers of craft from other parts of New Zealand and Australia. By this time 25,000 acres of freehold land had been purchased by—with but few exceptions—resident proprietors; 600 acres were tilled for the coming year, a great breadth of freehold being substantially fenced and under cultivation; and pasturage runs to the extent of 400,000 acres taken up for stock. Not a bad record this for a portion of the first twelve months' work in a new country.
It is opportune here to mention that the leasing of large tracts of country for sheep runs was contrary to the first intentions of the Association, whose idea was to sell the land in small blocks with commonage attached, so as, if possible, to settle the outlying districts with small holders. When sheep farmers from Australia first arrived, Mr. Godley refused to grant them pasturage licenses, and as strenuously as he could opposed the landing of sheep. Had he been able to maintain his point the fate of Canterbury might have been very different from what it is. But he was forced to yield, and, as we have seen, a large tract of country was rapidly taken up and stocked.
We have said that many of the first settlers preferred crossing at once on to the plains to remaining in Lyttelton. As no preparations had been made for them, they had literally to pitch their tents—at least those who had been fortunate enough to bring such articles out with them—to improvise page 15flax and raupo huts, or to make caves in the banks of the river. The allotment of sections had not been made, so house building could not be commenced; and till that was done they continued to live in this primitive style. It was on that part of the plain near where the hospital now stands that most of them chose for their temporary dwellings. In planting and making even these rude residences they found that mistakes were easy to make. But for the help of some Maories the thatches of flax and raupo to the huts would have been too sieve-like to be serviceable, while even the pitching of a tent was an awkward matter for a novice. When a few days' rough weather came on, shortly after they had camped, it taught them some lessons. One had selected a hollow, which the rain soon changed into a small lake, to the detriment of bedding, and the discomfort of the inmates. One night a southerly-buster carried the Rev. Mr. Willock's tent clean away, leaving him and his family, all being in bed at the time, exposed to the full fury of such a storm of wind and rain as we seldom get now, but which the early settlers will remember vividly. And similar contretemps were not uncommon during the few months that elapsed before the settlers could get on their allotments. A little rough weather made a walk across where Christchurch and its suburbs now stand, almost a matter of wading knee-deep through mud. Those first Christchurch settlers fully learnt the meaning of roughing it. They had to carry their provisions from Lyttelton over the hill to their camp, and they had to put up with inconveniences which their fellow settlers in Lyttelton were spared. Those were really primitive days. A pole laid across the Avon, near where the Hereford-street bridge now is, with the upper side roughly trimmed off with an axe, making a surface about three inches wide, was the first Christchurch bridge, and the dexterity with which it was used would astonish some of our young gymnasts now. Papanui bush was soon brought into requisition, most of the timber for the first houses in Christchurch being obtained from it, and Mr. Deans' bush at Riccarton.
Christchurch had in twelve months grown, if not into something like a town, at least into an embryo one. The road from the foot of the Bridle path to the Heathcote ferry had been finished, and continued from the ferry to Christchurch, and another one branching from it carried straight along about where Madras-street now runs to the Bricks wharf, on the Avon, which stood close by where the Madras bridge crosses the river. We believe a boatshed now stands on the exact spot. A Mr Beresford had commenced running a conveyance cart to and from the Ferry and Christchurch. A description of the plain, as it looked then, will not be uninteresting. The page 16following account is taken from the Lyttelton Times of 17th April, 1852. When we remember that it describes what was the work of little more than twelve months, done in the face of difficult, slow, and infrequent communication with the port; we can but wonder; and to look on the plain from the hills to-day, it is difficult to realise that we are writing of what was only thirty years ago; that without any adventitious aid of goldfields or other attractions, the place has grown so large in such a short time.
The writer says:—
“The moment the traveller has crossed the neck, 1100 feet high, over which the Bridle Path leads from Lyttelton, he sees signs of industry and plenty. Christchurch looms in the distance, on the level plains, larger than it really is. In the valley, the eastern edge of which he skirts in going to the Ferry, he passes a neat parsonage, inhabited by the Rev. E. Puckle, with its flourishing garden; the embryo establishment of the Rev. Mr. Paul, one of the Commissaries of the Bishop of New Zealand for this district; the farmhouse and garden of Mr. Townsend, and two or three smaller dwellings with their patches of kitchen garden. Cattle and horses are enjoying the rich pasture of the unreclaimed soil.
“A new ferry and wharf is being constructed opposite Mr. Townsend's house. When this is finished the road will be still further shortened, and the ascent of the low spur avoided. North of the ferry the Heathcote Arms Inn, with its stable, and two or three other houses, with their gardens, form the nucleus of what promises to become a village at no distant date.
“About a mile along the road you pass Christchurch Quay, where there are often four or five schooners and cutters unloading at ones, and as many carts loading. For the next mile and a half there are several dwellings, and good sized patches of cultivated land on either side. There have been very good crops in these small farms, a small crop of wheat belonging to a labouring man of the name of Parish, and a field of oats on Mr. Cridland's land, being especially remarked. Allen's market garden is also distinguished by the goodness of the vegetables, and the bright colours and sweet smell of the flower beds.
"Looking towards the Peninsula hills numerous homesteads are seen on the rural sections which border both sides of the Heathcote; and when near the quay, a goodly row of stacks at Mr. Kent's farm across the river cheers the eye.
"East of the town of Christchurch, on either bank of the Avon, there are some improvements worthy of notice.page 17
"On the north bank, opposite the wharf at the 'Bricks,' a cemetery has been reserved, of which a few acres have been fenced in by bank and ditch. Near its outer fence is the house and garden of Mr. Bowron, who owns the nearest rural section.
"Adjoining the wharf, 22 acres, reserved for a Botanical Garden, have been substantially fenced in at the expense of the members of the Horticultural Society. A nursery gardener named Wilson has been allowed to occupy a part of this ground for the present. In a small inner enclosure he has raised a large number of young plants and trees, including Australian wattle, firs, and fruit trees of various kinds. A hive of bees is also struggling for existence.
"Two slaughter houses stand on that part of the Town Belt which is reserved as a cattle market, just outside the south eastern boundary of the Gardens.
"A road, made by private subscription, leads from this spot for about a quarter of a mile along the south bank. The first farm is Mr Brittan's. A neat wire fence fronts the road for a short distance, and is succeeded by a row of healthy looking hawthorn and furze plants on the top of the bank. The kitchen garden on the slope between the buildings and the road displays an abundance of vegetables and fruit trees of many kinds, besides a few willows and wattles. All the vegetables have succeeded to perfection here; there could not be finer potatoes, cabbages, turnips, onions, carrots, and parsnips; celery also flourishes. Peas and beans of several kinds were equally productive in their season.
"A substantial cob house is being erected in the rear of the temporary hut, covered with rushes, which has afforded the first year's shelter to the farming man. Well-stocked piggeries and fowl house, a milking shed, and two ricks, stand in the neighbourhood.
"Beside the kitchen garden, about twenty-three acres have been cropped on this farm. The soil is a light sandy loam, easily worked with two horses, now that the tutu roots have been extracted. I am told that this operation swelled the cost of tilling, in the first year, to £10 or £12 per acre; which is reckoned to have produced from twenty-eight to thirty bushels per acre; oats, barley, and potatoes afforded a much larger crop in proportion. The quality of all the crops is remarkably good, and as the land is now thoroughly cleansed, the yield, may be expected to augment next harvest.
"The next section is Mr. Tancred's. A very small patch of maize is remarkable as the only one in the settlement likely to ripen, and as promising a really good crop. A good example page 18is set here, in the shape of a genuine, well-hung, English five-barred gate. A neat cottage is nearly completed, built of concrete. There is also a small kitchen and flower garden, with a few fruit trees.
"The greater part of the next section has been sold by its proprietor, Mr. Bradley, in small lots. Three or four dwellings of various sizes stand on it, each with a small piece of cultivation.
"Next in succession is Mr Joseph Brittan's farm, on which a small house has been built, the foundations of a larger one laid; and a small patch of ground fenced in, broken up, and sown, although the owner only arrived in the last ship. The soil becomes much more sandy hereabouts, and there are, indeed, sandhills on the section barely covered with grass, on which stands Trig Station, No. 11, C.
"About a quarter of a mile lower down the river is Mr. Percival's house, and about an acre of well-cultivated garden full of vegetables of all kinds, and fruit trees. Still lower down there are two labourers' cottages, each with a small patch of potato garden, on the sections of Captain Westenra and Captain Wilkinson.
"On the north bank, opposite these last, there is a large house built by Mr. Dudley on his section, and a short distance higher up the tasteful cottage of Dr. C. Dudley, whose thatched roof and dormer windows remind the eye of England. Three smaller houses stand in the neighbourhood of these two, and there are several patches of fenced cultivation.
"Between the sections bordering on the south bank and those fronting the Lyttelton road, Mr Tuson owns a section, a part of which has been sold out in small lots, so that there are already three or four cottages besides his own; a good deal of fencing done; and a little land roughly cultivated.”
In the centre of the town there was an appearance of business. Michael Brennan Hart had opened the White Hart Hotel, on the site of the present hotel of that name, which was in those days, and for long afterwards, described as "at the corner of Cashel-street and the Sumner road," there being no houses between it and Caversham House, now the Caversham Hotel, at the corner of Madras and Lower High-streets. The Golden Fleece Hotel, on its present site, had also been opened by Gartner and his partner. Mr. C. W. Bishop's store was near it. Mr. G. Gould had a timber yard and store. A few shops, bakers,' bootmakers,' butchers,' &c., were scattered about. In May, 1852, J. C. Thacker set up a printing office.page 19
But besides money making these early settlers had much stiff work to do. They had to build up political, religious, educational and social institutions on a firm basis if Canterbury was ever to be a powerful, prosperous community. Hitherto public matters were managed by the agent and officers of the Canterbury Association, with some little assistance, or rather interference and hindrance, on the part of Sir George Grey's Government, both being further hampered by the Home Government and the head office of the Association in London, to either of which authorities matters of importance had to be referred. This was soon found to be a most wretched state of things, and in the work of forming and bringing into acceptance and operation a better system, the Society of Land Purchasers, as it was called, took the lead. This Society was formed originally in London of those who had purchased their land of the Association, and on their arrival they continued to meet at regular intervals, but soon re-formed themselves into the Colonists' Society, on a broader basis, taking in as members other settlers, and meeting regularly in Christchurch and Lyttelton. One of their first works was their agitation, begun almost immediately after their arrival, for a Provincial Constitution for Canterbury, and a memorial, signed by 343 male adults, was in September, 1851, forwarded to Sir George Grey on the subject. They, however, guarded themselves from approval of a measure for establishing Provincial Councils which had been passed, believing that it did not give the people any real control over their local affairs or the expenditure of their own revenues. They urged the erection of Canterbury into a separate province.
The want of adequate machinery for the administration of justice, civil and criminal, was much felt. There was a judge of the Supreme Court in Wellington, who presided over the province of New Munster, receiving £800 a year, and Canterbury cases beyond the jurisdiction of the Resident Magistrate had to go to Wellington; the consequence was that people preferred to take no notice of felonies sooner than incur the annoyance and expense of prosecution, involving as it did the serious delay of a journey to and from Wellington—a grave matter in those days, when the quickest route to Auckland was via Sydney, and lesser journeys on the same scale.
There was a judge in Otago, who received £800 a year, and who in two years had only sat once on the Bench, and Canterbury settlers feared that one result of a memorial to Sir George Grey for the holding of the Supreme Court here which they had forwarded to him, would be that he would be appointed. He was in very bad odour at the time. He had just brought an action for defamation of character against three persons, page 20conducting his own case. The Otago paper had referred to his conduct as "more befitting a street brawler than a judge," and in his speech he had indulged in slanders of so gross a character that the paper would not publish them. A cross action had been brought against him for assaulting a man in the street, when he was convicted, his plea being that he had received such provocation that "he could not wait for the slow and tardy operation of the law." Such conduct and language in open court on the part of a Judge of the Supreme Court revolted people in Otago, and made our Canterbury settlers very uncomfortable at the chance of having him to preside over them.
There were duels in those days. And we may mention here that one result of the cases just referred to was that Dr. Manning sent Judge Stephen a challenge, which, however, he did not accept, but had the sender bound over to keep the peace.
Another question which had to be fought out in those days was that of communication between Lyttelton and the plains. The want of an easy road was felt severely by settlers in both places. There are many now living who remember the time when they had to carry their provisions, flour, sugar, &c., on their backs over the Bridle Path, and only those who have done it know what that two mile walk over a hill 1100 feet high was. Unencumbered with any package it was bad enough, but under a load of half a hundred of flour, a bag of sugar, and a box of tea, to say nothing of sundries, it was killing work. Yet scores had to suffer it or let their families go short. A dozen years' afterwards Dick Thatcher, "The Inimitable," sang to Christchurch audiences the miseries of that walk, and as it is very graphic we give his song as follows:—
Over The Hill.
My breath is short; I feel weak, and I'm blowing
Like a huge grampus. I must toil until
I reach the top; how slowly I am going
Over the hill.
My strength is drawn on by my resolution,
But strength's unable to accept the bill,
I climb no faster than a Lilliputian
Over the hill.
This toiling to condition might restore me,page 21
Were I a man in training for a mill;
But I've no pugilistic work before me
Over the hill.
I dare not ride; it is such freezing weather;
Equestrian exercise would cause a spill,
My horse and I might tumble down together
Over the hill.
I grasp the rugged rocks now with my flippers:
To climb the frozen ground requires some skill.
My boots are for the time transformed to slippers
Over the hill.
Unto myself I frequently now wonder
If this can be the spot where Jack and Gill,
When fetching water, made that fatal blunder
Over the hill.
What early riser who, his bed forsaking,
Would choose this walk for his pedestrian skill?
An early rise out of him 'twould be taking
Over the hill.
The ascent called "Difficulty," Bunyan tells us,
Was overcome by Christian's earnest will;
In climbing we must own that he excells us
Over the hill.
Oh! would that I could mount as fast as he did:
I lack the strength although I have the will.
My progress by my bunion is impeded
Over the hill.
Oh! for some cognac to assist my tussles;
'Twould warm the cockles of my heart; but still
Would it afford assistance to my muscles?
Over the hill.
Napoleon and his staff seem to upbraid me,
Even the Alps were crossed by his stern will:
But just remember, I've no staff to aid me
Over the hill.
With perspiration now my brow is wetted:
Napoleon's mettle was first rate, but still
That sovereign, it strikes me, was nicely sweated
Over the hill.
The slippery path my onward path doth hinder,
Before I reach the top the toil must kill;
I've lots of pains— I'll be a broken winder
Over the hill.
Sure, "Facilis descensus est averni!"page 22
I've gained the top and feel a pleasant thrill;
But going down's the worst part of the journey
Over the hill.
Before me, on the plain, the river's flowing;
But, though descending, my nerves tremble still;
I find my hams too are not cured by going
Over the hill.
The cart is starting soon, and I must hasten,
I take a nice draught of the trickling rill
Flowing into kind Charlotte Godley's basin
Over the hill.
I'm down at last; I own its been a corker,
To go back now would be a bitter pill;
The pleasure of that two miles' walk's all "Walker"
Over the hill.
That public meetings should have been held on this question needs no saying. Various persons advocated different plans. Captain Thomas had commenced the road round the side of the hill to Sumner, but though its completion to a fit state for dray traffic would be a long and expensive matter, many urged this work; and that Sir George Grey should be applied to for a loan of £15,000 to defray the cost. Others advocated the formation of a road over the Raupaki Spur, and others again urged the purchase of two steamers to ply between Lyttelton and the Heathcote. At the time all heavy traffic was sent round in lighters, from the port to the Ferry and up to a wharf built on the Heathcote; but as they were frequently detained in Lyttelton by rough weather, for a week at a time, and the Sumner Bar was as often dangerous even in fine weather, it was always entirely a matter of chance whether goods sent round that way arrived at their destination in a day, a week, or a month, and even then the expense was very heavy. That the question should have been a burning one is not surprising, and it continued to be agitated for several years, till, in fact, the "hole through the hill" was finally decided on. The Sumner road, however, we may state here, was slowly gone on with, and eventually opened with much rejoicing. But of that anon.
At this time the Old New Zealand Company being very much in debt, and having come to an end of its colonising works, an attempt was made to saddle the colony with its liabilities, which was strenuously resisted, as far as Canterbury was concerned, by the entire body of settlers.
1852 was an important year for Canterbury. Settlers had got pretty well settled down on their allotments, and business had got into something like a proper train. Already land, in both Christchurch and Lyttelton, had risen in value—an "unearned page 23increment," as it would be called now, of which the original purchasers reaped the benefit. As early as March in this year four quarter-acre sections near the Market Place in Christchurch were sold for £30 each, a good price in those days.
In March, 1852, the members of the Church of England held meetings both in Christchurch and Lyttelton for the purpose of organising a government for the Church in New Zealand, when a committee was formed to communicate with the Bishop of New Zealand on the subject of their managing their own ecclesiastical matters. In this month a Government Gazette was issued, proclaiming the middle and southern districts of the island united for the purposes of the Supreme Court, and appointing Judge Stephen to act as Judge for the whole district —i.e., for Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, and Otago. Again, in this month, Sir George Grey, the then Governor of the colony, paid his first official visit to Canterbury, and received a deputation in the old Land Office in Christchurch. In reply to it, arrangements were made for a mail between Christchurch and Lyttelton, the plains having been without any mail service hitherto, settlers having had to journey to Lyttelton for their letters. Another necessary institution—a lock-up in Christchurch —was arranged for. This was put in hand very speedily, and finished in a couple of months by the contractor, Mr. Isaac Luck. It was situated at the corner of Armagh-street and Cambridge Terrace, and on its completion the contractor opened it with a ball, which many people now in Christchurch remember well. The singularity of celebrating the completion of such a building in such a manner does not appear to have occurred to people then.
Another matter arranged by Sir. George Grey on this visit was the holding of sittings of the Supreme Court in Lyttelton, which was felt to be a great boon. It was not, however, till November that the full fruition of this was experienced, the first sittings ever held in Canterbury being opened on the 7th, in Lyttelton, by Judge Stephen.
In April, 1852, the foundation-stone of the first church in the Canterbury settlement was laid in Lyttelton. It was on the site of the present church, and was attended with the impressive ceremony which such an event naturally demanded. For eighteen months the settlement, avowedly a Church of England one, had been without a consecrated building, and the delay had been a matter of much regret to those who had looked forward to its erection being one of the first works undertaken. The church—named "The Most Holy Trinity"—was completed and opened in January, 1853, the Rev B. W. Dudley being appointed minister. Very shortly afterwards it had to be pulled page 24down, the timbers having given and warped to such an extent as to render it absolutely unsafe, and eventually the present church was built.
In April, 1852, the first commencement of Christ's College Grammar School was opened in Christchurch, in a building now standing in Oxford Terrace, close to St. Michael's Church, with the Rev—now Dean—Jacobs as head master. The school had hitherto been held in Lyttelton in a very primitive way, and indeed the commencement in Christchurch was far from imposing, the building being poor, the attendance small and uncertain, and many of the scholars being more fit for the "primer" than the classics. Still it was a beginning.
In June, 1852, the settlers were much exercised over a proclamation issued by Sir George Grey that persons should send in their claims to be placed on the Electoral Roll for the Provincial Council, and in August another proclamation determined the number of members to sit in the Provincial Council of New Munster for Canterbury. It gave one member to the town of Christchurch, two to Christchurch country, one to the town of Lyttelton, and one to Akaroa. There was a great ferment over this action of Sir George Grey's; his scheme of a Provincial Council, to include Otago, Canterbury, and Nelson, not meeting the views of our settlers on local Government, and the majority of the people declined to register their claims. Eventually Sir George's action in this matter was disallowed by the Home Government.
But though attending to political, religious, and educational affairs, other matters were not ignored in those days.
The first cricket match in Hagley Park was played in April, 1852, between two teams, Married v. Single, the married being the victors. They knew how to put their hands in their pockets too, for the necessary funds, £30 being collected towards making a good ground. The first exhibition of Agricultural, Botanical, and Horticultural produce was also held this year, in Hagley Park, on the 16th December. A public meeting to take steps to establish an Athenæum in Christchurch was held in July; other matters also occurred.
A Christchurch paper, The Guardian, was started, but died after a run of very few months, but the very fact of anyone being bold enough to. commence publishing it, proved how the town had progressed. The Freemasons had applied to the Grand Lodge of England for a Charter, or warrant of constitution; improved means of communication enabled news to be received from Auckland only a month old; the first prospectus of the now well-remembered New Zealand Steam Navigation Company had been issued, and a farewell breakfast to Mr. J. R. Godley, page 25prior to his departure for England, given in a marque in Hagley Park, winds up the record of this year. We should not omit that a Mr. Thompson had brought an empty dray, drawn by two horses, over the Bridle Path from Lyttelton to Christchurch, a great feat in those days. A glance at the path now will convince anyone of the difficulty of it.
1853 was another year of work and progress. Provincial Institutions, as we enjoyed them for twenty years, were first brought into being. The early part of the year was a time of political ferment, consequent on this and the coming election of our first Superintendent and Provincial Councillors. Three candidates were in the field for the Superintendency: Mr. J. E. FietzGerald, Colonel Campbell, who held the post of Commissioner of Lands, and Mr. Tancred. The election took place on the 20th July, when Mr. FitzGerald was at the head of the poll with 135 votes, Colonel Campbell coming next with 94, and Mr. Tancred closing the list with 89. The great interest taken in the fight is shown by the fact that out of 125 voters on the Lyttelton roll 100 polled, and only 12 did not vote. Closely following this were the elections for the first House of Representatives, which took place, for Lyttelton, on the 17th; for Christchurch town on the 20th; and Christchurch country on the 27th August.
The first meeting of the Provincial Council of Canterbury was opened on the 27th September, 1853, in the building that had previously been used as the printing office of the Guardian Newspaper, then defunct. Captain Simeon was elected Speaker, and the Rev. W. Aylmer Chairman of Committee. His Honor, the Superintendent, in his opening speech, drew attention to the great progress the province had made. Not three years had elapsed since the landing of the settlers, and yet 3400 acres were under crop, 7500 acres fenced, while it owned 100,000 sheep, 4000 cattle, and 400 horses. Within the Canterbury block one million acres had been taken up for pasturage purposes, yielding £2400 a year. The property in the province was roughly estimated at half a million sterling. The customs' duties for the year ending June, 1853, were £3894; the imports £54,715, and the exports of produce (including wool, £8290), £13,000. The vessels entering the port in the same period numbered 68, representing 11,864 tons.
By a proclamation in the General Government Gazette, dated 1st October, 1853, a Collector of Customs was appointed for the port. Hitherto the work attached to the office having been performed by a sub-treasurer, which office was then abolished. All departments of Government connected with the settlement, except Customs, Postal, and Lands, were given over to the page 26Superintendent and Provincial Council; one-third of the net revenue of the Customs and Post Office were remitted to the Colonial Treasurer, and two-thirds were to be at the disposal of the Provincial Council.
Thus in this year a great step in the direction of genuine local Government had been achieved, thanks to the steady refusal of the settlers to accept Sir George Grey's first scheme. This comparative freedom from outside interference was thus recorded:—
"As when a stream, long chafing to be free
From narrowing banks that do its course refrain,
From rocky islets' intercepting chain,
And tangled overgrowth and drifting tree—
Forth bursts at length from dull obscurity,
And sweeps majestic through the boundless plain.
So have I seen an infant state remain
Long trammelled by obstructive policy,
Misgovernment, official prejudice,
Numbed by suspense and chilled by mystery;
At length free scope is given. I see it rise,
Strong, active, self-reliant—May we see,
Who watch thy course with loving, anxious eyes,
Thy province ripen to maturity.”
Other matters were progressing in like manner. In May, 1853, the first public market was held in Christchurch. It was said to be "well attended" when fifty persons were present. Considerable quantities of wheat changed hands at 10s a bushel (what would farmers say to that price now?). Seed wheat fetched 12s; barley 8s; oats were enquired for at 6s; potatoes brought £4 to £6 per ton; carrots £4 to £5; swedes, £2 10s. The Canterbury Standard, a paper that lived for many years, first appeared in August. In the same month the first vessel built of New Zealand timber, and by Canterbury industry, was launched in Lyttelton. It was the Caledonia, 20 tons registered tonnage, cutter rigged, built by Messrs Grubb and Marshall. In October a cattle show was held in the Market Place, Christchurch; and in September the first commercial steamer entered our waters, the P. and O. S. N. Co's. S. Anne, 154 tons, Gibbs, and of course over such an event there was great rejoicing. A signal station, to signal the approaching vessels, was, by the kindness of Major Hornbrook, established on a point of the hills on his run that commands the entrance to the harbour. Wesleyans were getting subscriptions for a chapel in Lyttelton; an English church at Riccarton was commenced; and a meeting had been held "in the village of Papanui," about a Mechanics' Institute and schoolroom. Christchurch had its Town Hall at the corners of Hereford-street and Cathedral Square, facing down what was then called the Sumner road (i.e., High-street at page 27present). The Hall was 66 feet by 22 feet, with a gallery 10 feet wide. It had also two rooms united by a verandah, capable of being enclosed. A door led out from the gallery to a covered verandah over a porch that was used for a hustings.
A Postal Service, three times a week, between Christchurch and Lyttelton, was established in November, 1853; Mr. Bayfield's shop, "on the Sumner road," being the Christchurch office, and grand the people thought it to get this. The other postal service in the province was a fortnightly one, between Lyttelton and Akaroa.
The first partridge's egg laid in New Zealand was laid in Mr. W. G. Brittan's grounds, in November, 1853. They were safely hatched in the following January.
The year 1854 was one of quiet progress, undisturbed by any particularly great events. The Wesleyans had completed, and in this year opened, their first modest little chapel in Christchurch. The members of the Free Church of Scotland were busy with their building committee. Gold had been found in the Malvern Hills; the Avon flour mills were opened; the Rev. G. Cotterill opened a Grammar school in Lyttelton; the formation of docks in Lyttelton was mooted; the Canterbury Jockey Club was formed; the second sitting of the Supreme Court, since the foundation of the settlement, was held on the 27th November, and Mr. J. E. FitzGerald handed to the Colonists' Society, Lyttelton, £116, the amount allowed him for his expenses as M. H. R., for the foundation of a library.
Both Christchurch and Lyttelton had grown considerably. The former had a population of 548, and 109 houses, and the latter a population of 924, and 183 houses.
In the meantime the Provincial Council had been steadily at work, law framing and road forming, both in the towns and suburbs. Its second session had been held in Mr. Brittan's house (now the Clarendon Hotel), but tenders were invited for the erection of a Council Chamber and offices.
There were, in December of this year, five recognised parishes in Canterbury:—Lyttelton, Governor's Bay, Akaroa, Kaiapoi, and Christchurch, according to the Bye-Laws passed at a meeting of the Church Property Trustees.
The year 1855 was a memorable one for Canterbury, as during it the Pŕovincial Council obtained the only thing then wanting to give it thorough control over local matters. Hitherto the Canterbury Association had, through its office in London, and its agents, still claimed the right to have a say in certain matters, partly on account of a debt said to be due from the page 28settlement to it. This was disposed of in June, 1855, Canterbury taking over the Association's liabilities with regard to this province (£29,000), for which the province gave debentures, and receiving in return all the Association property in the province. At this time it was estimated that the property, as endowment for churches and education, amounted to £40,000. In or about October, 1855, Mr. Godley resigned the agency of the province.
In church matters the settlers were busy, and in November a large meeting was held in Lyttelton, the Bishop of New Zealand presiding, regarding the appointment of a Bishop for the settlement. The difficulty hitherto had been the endowment, but now it was worth £600 per annum, and a resolution was passed that a memorial should be sent to Her Majesty, beseeching her to nominate a Bishop.
In other ways 1855 was another year of progress. The first public steps towards the establishment of the Bank of New Zealand were taken; coal had been found in the Malvern hills, and was regularly used in the Provincial Government offices, and several hotels and other buildings; Lyttelton was agitated over its formation into a municipality; the first steam vessel built in the province had been launched in Lyttelton; the first steps towards the formation of the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce had been taken, and civilization had so far advanced that Holloway's pills and ointment were advertised in the local papers, and a wedding-ring maker had established himself in Lyttelton.
The record of 1856, though including matters of great interest, is brief. His Excellency, Col. Gore Browne, visited Canterbury. The farming interest should have been prosperous, for flour was selling at £36 per ton, and wheat at 11s to 12s per bushel, while by the new land regulations, which came into force in April, the price of land was reduced to £2 per acre. Many were grumbling at the expense of the Provincial Government, which was £6800, while the income from all sources was only £12,300. The second windmill in Canterbury had been erected by Mr.W. D. Wood. The first direct shipment of wool, from Canterbury to London, took place this year, when Messrs Cookson, Bowler and Co., and Messrs Waitt and Hargreaves, loaded the William and Jane, 498 tons, with 1018 bales, of an estimated value of £18,000. The total export of wool this year—the fifth of settlement—was valued at £40,000, and besides this there was a considerable quantity of agricultural and dairy produce shipped.
The Rev H. J. C. Harper, who had been consecrated Bishop page 29of Canterbury, arrived in the Egmont on the 23rd December, and was installed on the 25th.
It will give our readers some idea of Christchurch in those times if we mention that some rural sports, that attracted for then a considerable meeting, were held in September, in a vacant gully opposite the White Hart Hotel, about where Mr. J. Inglis' buildings and the U. S. N. Co.'s offices are. Still the settlement had grown. The population was estimated at 6000, while the exports for the half-year ending June, 1856, were £43,000, and the imports for the same period £55,200.
The 1st of January, 1857, is memorable as the day when a daily post between Lyttelton and Christchurch was established. Letters were also delivered to persons living along the line of route of the mail cart, which was the first attempt at a mail delivery in New Zealand. The mail between Christchurch and Kaiapoi was at this time increased to twice a week. The cost of local mails was now borne by the provinces, having been thrown on them by the General Government. St. Andrew's Church, belonging to the Free Church of Scotland, was opened in February, the Rev. C. Fraser preaching from the 93rd Psalm,. "Holiness becometh Thine House, oh Lord, for ever." He read the notice of ordination by the presbytery of the Free Church of Aberdeen. A baptism followed, the child receiving the name of Charles Fraser, in accordance with the Scotch custom of showing personal regard to the minister by giving his name to the first male child baptised in a new church. The collection on the occasion amounted to £74 8s 6d, the largest church collection that had then been made in Canterbury.
The foundation stone of Christ's College was laid on the 24th July. The day was a wretched one, and the procession, formed of those who took part in the ceremony, which assembled at St. Michael's parsonage, had a most miserable walk through wet flax and tussocks and over rough ground to the site.
The Sumner road, the great highway between the port and the plains, commenced by Captain Thomas before the landing of the settlers, was this year so far completed that it was opened for traffic on the 24th August. A public holiday was declared for the occasion, and a great procession formed, headed by Mr. J. E. FitzGerald, the Superintendent, driving a dogcart,. with a band, banners, and demonstrative crowd. The processionists met at Day's Hotel, Sumner, where they had lunch, and there forming proceeded to Lyttelton, where 200 guests sat down to dinner in Heaphy's Universal Hotel. Mr. FitzGerald, in his speech at the dinner, pointed out as one proof of the progress of the settlement that whereas three years before it had only possessed three miles of formed roads. page 30it then had seventy miles. The formation of the Sumner road cost the provincial Government £7000, or somewhat less than half what had been formerly estimated.
On the following day an address was presented to Mr. FitzGerald, who was leaving for England, with a testimonial which took the form of a sum of money that was invested in land settled on his male heir, and a marquetrie table, designed by Messrs Mountfort and Luck, and made by Mr. Willcox. It was thirty inches in. diameter, with a chess board slightly raised in the centre, and bearing the Fitzgerald arms and the Canterbury arms. The whole was in New Zealand woods, the inlayings displaying seventeen varieties and containing 1500 pieces.
Mr. FitzGerald sailed on the 30th September for Sydney, in the schooner James Gibson, leaving Mr. Bowen as Deputy Superintendent.
In October, 1857, Kaiapoi was proclaimed a township. In less than four years it had been changed from a wilderness to a thriving town, containing a church, school, court-house, land office, merchants offices, stores, &c., and numbering a larger constituency than Lyttelton, and within fifty-three of Christchurch. At that time the port was considered, next to Lyttelton, the safest and best shipping place on the Coast. A weekly market dinner had been established, and some land sold at £180 per acre.
Avonside Church and burying ground were consecrated early in this year, the land being presented to the parish by the Rev. A. Bradley, and the glebe, containing six acres, adjoining, being the gift of the Rev. C. Mackie, the Incumbent. The church, when completed, contained 200 sittings.
In this year the Somes' trust was handed over to Christ's College to establish scholarships. It is now exceedingly valuable, and its history is interesting. Mrs. Somes, the widow of Joseph Somes, a ship-owner, and one of the chief promoters of New Zealand settlement, purchased in London, of the Association, before the settlement was formed, fifty acres for £150. On the day appointed for the ballot for the choice of land, the name of Mrs. Somes was first drawn out of the ballot box, and thus fifty acres in the best part of the settlement was, from the day of the settlers' landing, devoted to purposes of religious and useful learning.
The second election of a Superintendent of the province took place in October, Mr. W. S. Moorehouse and Mr. Joseph Brittan being the candidates. The former was returned by 727 votes as against 352 votes polled by his antagonist.page 31
The question of the carriage of mails between the settlement and England was even in those early days a matter of deep interest. Up till now the settlers had to depend on chance whether they received the English Mail early or late, and this uncertainity was felt to be such a great hardship that the Provincial Government offered £75 per month—a large expenditure in those days—to schooners to bring the mails down from Wellington without delay. There was also a considerable agitation on the subject of establishing a branch from Australia to Canterbury of the service running so far, which resulted in the Provincial Council voting £1000 for the purpose.
In minor matters the signs had all been of progress. The Union Bank of Australia opened a branch in Cashel-street, Christchurch, in January, and in February commenced the red stone premises in Lyttelton which they still occupy. The first Town Hall in Christchurch was opened with a concert. It was decided to lay out a road to the West Coast, along a route lately travelled by Messrs Dobson and Taylor. Mr. H. B. Gresson, hitherto Crown Prosecutor, resigned that office, and first acted as Judge in October. Gold was discovered in the Waimakariri Gorge; the Mitre Hotel, Lyttelton, was rebuilt by a Mr. Compton; Mr. J. Anderson's foundry, in Cashel-street, Christchurch, was opened in May; the first Theatre in Canterbury was opened by Mr. W. H. Foley, in the Theatre Royal, Lyttelton; and a "debtor's room" was added to Lyttelton gaol. Both Christchurch and Lyttelton had increased. The former of three public houses, the Royal, the White Hart, and the Golden Fleece, while in Lyttelton the number had increased to four.
The year 1858 was not a very eventful one. Early in January the foundation-stone of the Provincial Government Buildings was laid by the Superintendent, Mr W. S. Moorehouse, it being the first public event in Canterbury in which he took a leading part. The very description of the site given in those days, viz., "the western side of the Avon between the Land Office and the Papanui Bridge," indicates the change that has taken place since then. Messrs. Mountfort and Luck were the architects. About the same time Mr. E. J. Wakefield, having presented to the Foresters some land on the banks of the Avon, and "fronting upon the intersection of two streets between the Market Place and the Bricks," the foundation-stone of the Foresters' Hotel was laid.
A Canterbury Steam Navigation Company had been formed shortly before this, and its first vessel—the Planet, paddle steamer, 45 tons—made its trial trip to Akaroa early this year, page 32making a speed of between six and seven knots. Mr. T. S. Duncan was appointed Crown Prosecutor, an office which he has held ever since. For the Indian Relief Fund £922 was collected. The first omnibus in the settlement was started this year by Wheeler and Nurse, and ran between Christchurch and Lyttelton. The Riccarton Church was consecrated; gold was found north of the Buller; a Total Abstinence Society, under the presidency of Mr. C. W. Turner, was formed; a contract for the conveyance of English mails between Australia and New Zealand was made. The urgent necessity for a railway and a telegraph between Christchurch and Lyttelton was mentioned by the Superintendent in his opening address to the Provincial Council. The Lyttelton Jetty was extended fifty yards, the length originally made by Captain Thomas being found to be too small for the trade of the port; and Tribe's, or Peacock's Wharf, as it was then called, was also extended. The Avon Steam Navigation Company was projected. A Land and Building Society was started in Christchurch; and in the Provincial Council, the necessity for a hospital being recognised, provision for such an institution was made. English mail arrangements were at this time very unsatisfactory, the July and August mails arriving in November. The exports for the half year were £100,596 and the imports £97,462. The first important fire in Christchurch took place this year, when Taylor's brewery on the Papanui Road was destroyed. This was soon followed by the formation of a Fire Brigade.
The year 1859 should ever be remembered in Canterbury as the one in which the Provincial Council decided to have the railway between Christchurch and Lyttelton, and, consequently, the tunnel made. The Railway Bill was passed, not without opposition, authorising the Government to enter into a contract to the extent of £70,000. Reports from G. R Stephenson on the subject had been received, and upon them Messrs. Smith and Knight, of London, took up the contract, with the proviso that should they find after preliminary tunnel works that these reports were incorrect they should be at liberty to throw it up.
This year the Provincial Council met in its own building; His Honor, in his address, congratulating the councillors on "meeting for the first time in a chamber worthy of the legislature of the province. The first session was held in a house on the edge of a wilderness; then they had the comparative luxury of a rented chamber in Oxford-terrace, and after it a session in the town-hall."
A Bill to provide municipal institutions was passed this session, and an overland mail to Dunedin, doing the distance in page 33nine days, was arranged. A big fire occurred in Akaroa bush this year, completely destroying the glory of the Akaroa forest. The race-course was let to the Jockey Club for twenty-eight years, at £15 per annum; the introduction of salmon and game was advocated; the Christchurch Mechanics' Institute was opened; the Chamber of Commerce in Lyttelton was started; the first Canterbury Rifle Corps was formed; the Intercolonial R.S.M. Co's s.s. Royal Bride, 878 tons, from London, viâ Melbourne, arrived in Lyttelton; and mould candles were first made in Canterbury.
In January, 1860, another step in the way of postal communication was made. Mails were carried daily between Christchurch and Lyttelton, and Kaiapoi; twice a week to Rangiora; once a week between Kaiapoi and Saltwater Creek, and once a week between Lyttelton and Akaroa.
About this time street formation, the inhabitants finding the funds, commenced in Lyttelton. The Chamber of Commerce advocated the Registration of land titles on the basis of Mr. Torren's Act. Pottery works in the Ferry-road were commenced by Messrs Jackson and Bishop; a cavalry corps was started in Christchurch; the first public pump set up opposite the Triangle in High-street; and Mr. Ladbrooke drove four-in-hand from Christchurch to Lyttelton.
In religious matters the settlers had not been idle. The foundation stone of the Governor's Bay Church had been laid; the new Lyttelton English Church was consecrated; and the Wesleyan Church at Kaiapoi was opened for Divine service.
The settlement had also been extending its business relations. The Fiji Islands attracted the attention of our business men; Mr. E. Reece, in particular, paid them a visit, and opened up a trade that lasted for some years. The exports from Canterbury this year amounted to £151,325.
Messrs Smith and Knight, the English contractors for the railway, having thrown up their contract in November, it was decided that pending a contract being entered into with another firm, the ends of the tunnel should be opened up by local work. It may be mentioned here that Mr. Moorhouse did not let this interruption check the railway works for long. He went to Melbourne and brought back with him Mr. George Holmes, with whom a contract for the completion of the railway was signed in May, 1861, the contract price being £240,500. A most flattering public reception was given to His Honor on his return.page 34
The year 1861 is still vividly remembered by old colonists, not only on account of its being the year when our railway works—the first railway works in the colony—were commenced in earnest. In May an extensive fire broke out in Christchurch, doing damage to the extent of £10,000. Packer and Sons' brewery, and five houses in Cashel-street were destroyed. Two or three days afterwards Lyttelton was visited with most disastrous floods. Very heavy rain had fallen, causing a flooding of the gullies and natural watercourses, and the water swept down to the sea, carrying everything before it. Houses were swept away, the inmates barely escaping with their lives; stores full of merchandise were wrecked and hurled down to the beach, and such a scene of ruin and disaster was beheld as fortunately few had witnessed. When the waters subsided the gullies were found choked up with furniture, mud, scrub, bedding, goods and remnants of all kinds, and the beach was strewn with debris. Along the Sumner-road several heavy landslips occurred, which rendered it impassable for some time.
In July, work was begun on the tunnel, the first sod being turned on the 17th. About the same time the province, acting on the principle, since claimed by others, that immigration and public works should go hand in hand, appointed Mr. John Marshman Immigration Agent in London.
The minor events of the year were also such as showed progress. Gold was found near Oamaru, also in sinking a well on Mr. Fereday's Station on the Waimakariri, and at Lindis Fields. The New South Wales Bank opened branches in Christchurch and Lyttelton—under Mr. C. W. Turner, in Christchurch in Mr. W. S. Moorhouse's house in Herefordstreet, and in Lyttelton at the corner of Canterbury and London-streets. The Press newspaper was started by Mr. J. E. FitzGerald, ostensibly to oppose the railway scheme. The movement in Timaru for separation from Canterbury commenced. The prospectus of the Bank of New Zealand was issued; a Boating Club was formed in Christchurch, and the Music Hall in Gloucester-street commenced; a quarter acre section opposite the White Hart was leased for twenty-one years at £202, considered then a very heavy rental; the well-remembered Birdsey's British Hotel was opened; and the wool shipped that season was estimated at £194,083. In August Mr. W. S. Moorhouse was re-elected Superintendent without opposition.
1862, when Canterbury was barely ten years old, commenced well, and was an eventful year for the settlement. The land sales were increasing, and the Public Treasury was so well filled, in spite of £19,000 spent—outside railway works— on roads, &c., that the Provincial Council was able to purchase page 35and cancel the first instalment (£50,000) of the loan for the railway: this for a settlement barely ten years old, and not numbering 20,000 souls, was something to be proud of. Lyttelton and Christchurch were proclaimed municipalities early in the year, Dr. Donald being elected the first Chairman. The first Christchurch Municipal Councillors were John (now Sir John) Hall, J. Anderson, Grosvenor Miles, William Wilson, W. D. Barnard, E. Reece, J. Barrett, H. E. Alport and Geo. Gould. Mr. Hall was chosen Chairman and Mr. G. Gordon Town Clerk. A census taken in April showed the population of Christchurch 3,200, with 640 houses.
Messrs. Holmes & Co's, tender for the erection of a telegraph line between Christchurch and Lyttelton being accepted, the work was done, and the line opened in July. Of course there was a complimentary dinner, and Mr. Alfred Sheath, the Superintendent of Telegraphs, as his title was, highly complimented. This was the first line laid in the Colony.
The whole province was filled with regret to hear early this year of the death of Mr. John Robert Godley, at the early age of 47, on the 17th November, 1861. At the time of his death he held the post of Assistant-Under-Secretary of State for War.
A branch of the Bank of New Zealand was opened in Cashel-street, Christchurch, on the 1st of March, and a few days later a Lyttelton branch was opened in London-street. The Provincial Government account was at once transferred to it. Tuesday, the 18th of March, was observed as a close day of mourning on account of the death of Prince Albert; the church bells were tolled at intervals, and the shipping in Lyttelton Harbour hoisted flags half-mast high. Five cases of Canterbury produce were sent to London Exhibition of 1862, including wool, some photographs by Dr. Barker, and some boots made by W. Adams, of High-street. The Provincial Council voted £5000 for a site and the erection of a Lunatic Asylum; and voted the Christchurch Municipal Council a subsidy of £3000, and an endowment of 10,000 acres of land. Mr. W. S. Moorhouse was for a third time elected Superintendent of the Province. The work of road making through the country districts was pushed on vigorously. The Philosophical Institute of Canterbury was founded; the Gloucester-street suspension bridge—the first of the kind built in the Colony—was thrown over the Avon. Prospecting parties were sent out by the Provincial Government to the Waitaki, Hurunui, and Teramakau; the first stone of the tunnel arch was laid on the 29th of September; the Christchurch Gas Company was formed in November; and two men, Isaiah and Thomas Dixon, claimed the Government reward offered for the discovery of a gold field.page 36
It will give an idea of Christchurch at the time if we state that the streets were lighted by the Municipal Council by fifteen lamps, and that footpath formation was commenced, portions of Armagh-street, Colombo-street, Oxford Terrace, Cashel-street, and High-street being made. The formation of Hereford-street from Oxford Terrace to Latimer Square was undertaken at this time, and, as the Council's report mentions, "the holes beyond Manchester-street were filled."
In 1862 the police of Canterbury was first put on an efficient footing, Mr. Shearman and two constables being imported from Melbourne to organise a force.
1863 was a year of quiet progress rather than excitement. The Christchurch Municipal Council commenced to lay out eleven miles of roads within the City, at a cost of £600 per mile, and to form and plant the Town Belts. Two miles of roads had been partially made. The rental of rateable property in the city was estimated at £90,000; there were 800 houses, and a population of 5000. Four artesian wells were sunk at Bethel Ware's corner (now Mr. A. J. White's), opposite the City Hotel, at the Triangle, and in Victoria-street (then called Papanui-road).
The first sitting of the Court of Appeal was held in the Provincial Council Chamber in February by Chief Justice Arney, and puisne Judges Johnston, Gresson, and Richmond. In March, Mr Samuel Bealey was elected Superintendent, Mr. Moorehouse having resigned owing to private affairs. The first locomotive for the railway arrived—the first of its family in New Zealand—, the "Pilgrim," by Slaughter & Co., of Bristol. The carriages and waggons were imported from Melbourne. The first cab stand was initiated in Christchurch by one cabby, who, however, before long, had competitors, the fare then being half-a-crown for a set-down within the belts. The Church of England cemetery was consecrated, The Prince of Wales' marriage was celebrated on the 8th July, two oak trees being planted on the belts by Mrs. Deans, Mrs. C. Davie, and eight young ladies. Miss Rye came out to forward her woman's immigration scheme, but met with small favour. And. last, but not least, the Christchurch and Heathcote railway was opened on the 1st of December.
The record of 1864 again shows steady progress, undisturbed by any startling events. The Provincial Government continued to push on road making and other useful works. The lighthouse on Godley Head was erected, and first lit in April. A large fire occurred in Christchurch in June, which resulted in improved buildings replacing the old ones. The Ferry-road and High-street were metalled; Cobb and Co. started their page 37line of coaches between Christchurch and Kaiapoi, an instalment of their north line; Latimer-square church was commenced; the first steeplechase in Canterbury was held in August, on land near Christchurch, lent by Mr. E. J. Wakefield, eight horses entered. The Christchurch new Town Hall was opened in September; in the same month the Bank of Australasia opened a branch in Hereford-street, and the Victoria bridge over the Avon, which cost nearly £11,000—the first of its kind in Canterbury—was opened by Mr. Ollivier (as chairman), and the members of the City Council, in Barnard's well-known yellow van, in which they drank some champagne, looked happy over it, and declared the bridge opened. Uniform time between Christchurch and Lyttelton, which now that the telegraph was at work could be managed, was established. Hitherto one man's time had been as good as another's, and nobody was quite sure who was right. The foundation stone of the Cathedral was laid on December 16, the anniversary of the province, with all due ecclesiastical ceremony, a procession of clergy and all recognised bodies, social and political, marching through Christchurch (and through a frightful downpour of rain) to the square. After the ceremony a grand breakfast was partaken of. On December 24 the Christchurch Gas Company having got well to work, many houses and shops (not street lamps) were lit with gas for the first time, the principal streets being well lit up by the illumination. It was estimated that about 400 burners were supplied for ordinary consumption.
The Province had progressed in its twelve years of existence steadily but surely, as the following table will show:—
|Year.||Population.||Land Fenced.||Under Crop.||Horses.||Cattle.||Sheep|
From 1864 to 1874 is a long stride in the history of a young settlement, and during that time Canterbury made vast progress, but also has sincerely to regret one at least of the principal events which occurred during it.
During this ten years the settlement, in common with the whole Colony, passed from a period of prosperity to one of greater commercial depression than has ever been experienced page 38by it before or since, which lasted five or six years. In 1865 the land sales rose to a great amount, and with the pasturage rents which, at that time, exceeded the revenue from similar sources of all the rest of New Zealand, filled the Provincial Treasury to overflowing. But the following year the depression commenced, and lasted till 1871, when matters gradually improved; the three following years were times of uninterrupted prosperity.
The Railway works commenced by the Provincial Government were pushed on rapidly. Under agreement Messrs Holmes commenced to construct the southern line as far as the Rakaia, the first sod being turned on the 24th of May, 1865. The Lyttelton was completed on May 24, 1867, when the first engine was driven through it. In 1871 the northern to Kaiapoi and Rangoria was commenced, and opened in 1872; and on the 24th August, 1874, the south line, as far as Ashburton, was opened.
The West Coast gold fields, which were discovered in 1863, caused a rush from Victoria and Otago; in 1865, every steamer that could be laid on arriving at Lyttelton crowded to excess. The route across was rough though plain, and lying as it did through sheep stations and over mountain ranges, hotels were unknown, and provisions only obtainable at the sheep stations. A constant stream of thousands of diggers quickly caused a scarcity at these places, and the Provincial Government—including Mr. John Hall and Mr. W. Rolleston—being warned of the fact, instead of promptly establishing depôts along the route till regular traders took up the ground, issued placards and had them posted up in Dunedin and Invercargill, informing diggers that between Christchurch and Hokitika no provisions were obtainable. The tide which was previously flowing through the country was checked in a day, and as diggers would not come here to pass through 150 miles of country where no food was to be obtained, the steamers from Melbourne ran direct to Hokitika, then considered a most dangerous coast. This also caused the bulk of the trade of the Coast to be thrown into the hands of Melbourne firms instead of remaining in Canterbury. Messrs Hall and Rolleston have been charged with thus deliberately injuring Canterbury and retarding trade, sooner than permit their own and their friends' sheep runs to be disturbed. It was either that or the most complete incapacity which prompted such a piece of folly. What Canterbury lost by it is beyond calculation. Every other place within reach benefitted by the extensive and rich goldfield in its own district except Canterbury.
The howl of public indignation that followed this ruinous act caused the Provincial Executive to stir themselves. The page 39mischief was done, however. A road to Hokitika was pushed on and opened in 1866. It was 156 miles long; cost £145,000 (all paid out of provincial funds), and along it Cobb & Co. started their line of coaches in July, 1866, doing the distance in thirty-six hours. A gold escort was enrolled and drilled, and buildings for them and their horses put up at three or four places on the route, at a cost of £5000, but it only did the trip there and back once, all the gold going direct from Hokitika to Melbourne.
The Panama service, the best line to be chosen at the time, with the establishment of which one of Canterbury's ablest men, Crosbie Ward, was closely connected, had, during this decade, been opened and closed, and the San Francisco one commenced, the pioneer steamer, the Nevada, visiting Lyttelton the 9th May, 1871.
Christchurch was brought into telegraph communication with the Bluff in May, 1865; with Picton in December, 1865, and with other parts of New Zealand as the lines were extended. English news was first received by telegraph in 1872.
The casualties of this ten years make a long list. Earthquakes in August and October, 1868, June, 1869, and August and September, 1870, visited us, some of them doing damage to a few buildings. In 1870 a considerable part of the business portion of Lyttelton was destroyed by fire, the loss amounting to £100,000. In 1873 several fires in Christchurch did damage amounting to several thousands of pounds each. The losses by sea to be recorded include the City of Dunedin, in June, 1865, the Blue Jacket, in 1869, and the Matoaka, in 1870. There were floods in Canterbury in 1868, which were most severe; the damage caused by them to roads, bridges, crops, gardens, and even dwellings, it was almost impossible to estimate. The Waimakariri having overflowed its banks, much of Christchurch was flooded, the Market Place was a lake, Gloucester-street and Colombo-street rivers, and smaller creeks ran in all directions. It was several days before the water fell sufficiently to allow foot traffic to be thoroughly resumed.
Since 1874 there has been a steady onward march in the province, and one great change sincerely to be regretted.
This decade is to be remembered, as during it provincialism was abolished, and Canterbury, without a struggle, saw its local Government Institutions, for which it had fought so hard, and which it had fostered and protected so energetically, wrested from it to be vested in a centralist Government in Wellington. At one stroke it lost its magnificent land revenue, and the control and profits of its railways. To the policy of public works and immigration to go hand in hand, which it had inaugurated, when adopted by the General Government, it page 40unsuspiciously gave its hearty assent, being blind to the almost necessary consequences. Under the old system it managed its own local affairs, great and small, paying the cost out of its own revenues. Under the newer one it manages its lesser matters by a clumsy, expensive machinery, and being without land revenue has to find the funds by increased taxation. Several years have passed again since then, and the mistake of that change is universally acknowledged.
In 1877, the Provincial Government having spent considerably over £150,000 on the Lyttelton Harbour Works, and provincial institutions being abolished, the Lyttelton Harbour Board, constituted under Act of the General Assembly, took over the works and proceeded with them vigorously, the result being the most commodious harbour in this colony, supplied with wharves, sheds, graving-dock, patent slip, and all the appliances necessary for a large shipping trade. A full description of these will be found under the head of "Lyttelton."
Christchurch had in the meantime outgrown its original boundaries in every direction. Within the Belt it now has thirty miles of thoroughly well-formed streets, with macadamised roads and asphalted footpaths. It has a population of 15,915, with 2971 houses, and rateable property assessed at an annual rental of £250,000. The Gas Company, which at starting supplied 400 burners, now lights 242 street lamps and about 2000 buildings, having in the city and the suburbs 50 miles of main pipes. The extension on the south side of the city has been formed into the Borough of Sydenham, with 28 miles of formed streets, a population of 9500, and rateable property assessed at the annual rental of £70,000. To the north the extension has been formed into the Borough of St. Albans, which includes the "village of Papanui," as it was called in the old days, the interval between it and Christchurch belt being well covered with houses surrounded by well-kept grounds and gardens. The population is 4650, and its rateable property assessed at an annual rental of £29,354. On the east of the Belt the Town Council of Linwood has been formed to manage its streets and such matters.
Since 1874 the Christchurch Drainage Board has been called into existence, and has accomplished the work of providing a complete system of drains for the city at considerable expense, and to the immense improvement of the health of the place.
The shipping entered outwards at the Port of Lyttelton for the year ending 30th June, 1883, represented a total of 411,964 tons, and that inwards 410,821 tons.
The total population of the Canterbury District in February, 1881—not quite thirty years after the first ships arrived—was 111,024. The total acreage of the district is 8,658,534 acres, of page 41which 3,527,146 is sold, leaving 5,131,388 acres; of this 701,540 acres consist of lakes, rivers, &c., and 1,615,919 acres are barren, leaving 2,813,929 acres crown lands for sale under a system of free selection, at an upset price of £2 per acre, or on deferred payments.
In 1883 Canterbury produced 6,359,992 bushels of wheat; 4,086,965 bushels of oats; 378,457 bushels of barley; and 32,401 tons of potatoes. The imports for the year ending June, 1883, were £1,648,388, and the exports (exclusive of those to intercolonial ports) £1,892,596. These latter included 51,659 bales of wool, and 121,213 tons of grain and other agricultural produce.
Throughout the Canterbury District there are 332 miles of railway; and along these in the grain season just gone by, considerably over 200,000 tons of grain, the produce of the district, were carried.
The number of sheep in the district is 3,800,000.
The average yield per acre in the farming districts in 1883 was:—wheat, 25½ bushels; oats, 30 bushels; barley, 26½ bushels; and potatoes, 6½ tons.
Telephones have been in use in Canterbury since 1878, when the first in the colony was erected for Messrs J. T. Smith & Co., printers, between their premises in Hereford-street and in St. Albans. They soon got into use between town offices and outside grain stores, and between Christchurch houses and their Lyttelton branches. After some considerable time the Government established the telephone exchange, to which there are in Christchurch about 200 members.
Within this period street architecture has taken immense strides, old leases having fallen in, and occupiers having erected buildings which are both substantial and handsome. For a long while Christchurch was far behind Dunedin in the character of its buildings, and indeed a stranger at first sight might be inclined to think so now, because within a few hundred yards of the Dunedin railway station are clustered all the principal edifices in the city, whereas in Christchurch they are scattered over a wide area, which, being flat, necessitates more time being spent on their inspection. The College buildings and Government schools include some of the handsomest in the colony, and the same may be said of the banks, while the cathedral stands unrivalled; and a stranger may well wonder if this well-managed, populous, rich city is really the one of whose early days and growth we have given this brief record.
Thus Christchurch has grown since 1851, when a dozen or so adventurous persons pitched their tents on the plains, to a city and suburbs with a population of nearly 35,000 inhabitants.