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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

Mr. Richard May Morten

Mr. Richard May Morten, J.P., an old Canterbury colonist, was born in 1830 in Buckinghamshire, England, educated at private schools, and brought up to the shipping trade. He left in 1859, by the ship “Yorkshire,” for Victoria, and after a short stay in Tasmania settled in Canterbury in 1860 as a sheepfarmer at Rakaia. Mr. Morten subsequently purchased “Mount Pleasant,” a block of 6000 acres, and also acquired “Ahuriri,” at Taj Tapu, which contains 4000 acres, and also “Waipara” and “White Rock,” two small sheep-stations, of about 1200 acres each. Soon after Mr. Morten came to Christchurch, he bought the land which forms the site of Morten's Buildings, for the sum of £3750, at that time considered an extremely high price. The investment, however, proved a good one, as the purchaser refused £20,000 for the site in 1885. The greater portion of the stone for the building was obtained from Mr. Morten's quarry at Ruapaki; it is of a very durable quality, and withstands the most severe fire-test. The building, five stories in height, is faced with Mount Somers stone, and cost £30,000. Mr. Morten has long been interested in the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and is one of the oldest members of the Canterbury Jockey Club. For a time he kept his own racehorses, and was for many years a steward and a member of the club committee. He was married, in 1871, and has two sons.