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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

Some Very Early History

Some Very Early History.

Although Canterbury naturally dates as a province from the momentous day when the first ships arrived at Lyttelton, the immigrants were not the first whites to settle in the district. There were Europeans on Banks Peninsula one hundred years ago, and when the Canterbury settlers landed they found living at Riccarton, the Deans brothers, two hardy Scots, who had come out with the Wellington settlers and then gone South, as they could not get suitable land in the North. It was in 1843 that these two brothers settled at Riccarton, which they named after their Scottish home in Ayr. Many people knowing the English origin of Canterbury, immediately jump to the conclusion that the Avon is named after the famous Warwickshire stream, but it was so named by the Deans after their own Scottish river. Other settlers who had come out with the Wellington parties and then went on to Canterbury, were the Hays, pioneers at Akaroa. Still another settler who dates from before the first ships was Edward Pavitt, who came out to Akaroa in April, 1850, and is now living at New Plymouth, aged over 88 years.

In the very early days Port Lyttelton was known as Port Cooper, being named after a Sydney merchant, who, in 1830, purchased land from the Maoris with the intention of establishing whaling stations, but the pioneer vessel was lost, and the scheme was not revived. When the Canterbury settlement was decided upon, Port Cooper became Port Victoria, being named after Her Majesty, but eventually settled down as Port Lyttelton, the godfather being the earl of that ilk who took a keen interest in the settlement and in the colonisation generally.

It is interesting to know that when the Canterbury settlement was first discussed with the New Zealand Company the idea of the latter's officials was to place the settlement on the banks of the Ruamahunga River, so that to-day we might have had to look in the Wairarapa Valley for Christchurch instead of on the banks of the Avon.

As in the case of all the ventures fathered by the New Zealand Company, the Canterbury Association financed its settlement by page 68 the sale of land. Incorporated in 1849 by Royal Charter, the Association in the same year entered into an agreement with the Company for the purchase of 2,500,000 acres at 10/ an acre, but the price to the settlers was to be £3 an acre, the difference to go to a fund to be administered "for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the settlement."