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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 9 (December 1, 1937.)

The Moorhouse Policy

The Moorhouse Policy.

It is but natural to assume that the man who could make such a strong and indelible impression on Butler must be a person of outstanding character, as indeed Moorhouse was. In the stirring days of the development of Canterbury he was, for many years, the leading man amongst a unique group of unusual leaders who guided the destinies of the infant province. He it was who initiated the policy of freely borrowing—later known as the “Moorhouse” policy—a habit quickly acquired by the rest of the provinces as well as the Central Government.

Behind this progressive policy of public works was the dynamic personality of William Sefton Moorhouse, eagerly pushing on his country's interest and so sacrificing his chance of piling up a private fortune.

The Lyttelton Tunnel was the favourite child of Moorhouse. To such an extent did he devote his aggressive energy to this enterprise that he earned the pseudonym of “Railway Billy.” Moorhouse vowed that before the colony was much older, he would have railways radiating north and south of Christchurch and he set to work forthwith to implement his programme. As preliminary to this policy, the first railway line in New Zealand was opened on December 1st, 1863. The line ran between Christchurch and Ferrymead.

The heart Moorhouse must have thrilled when dawned the day that enabled him to have the first ride in the first locomotive in New Zealand. As mark of the esteem in which he held his Mesopotamian friend, he invited Butler to share with him this signal honour of the first ride on the first locomotive. That Butler deeply appreciated this courtesy is illustrated by the fact that forty years later, Butler recalled: “I suppose I am probably the last survivor of those who rode on the trial trip of the first locomotive that ever travelled in New Zealand. Moorhouse, Reeves, myself and one other (but of this I am not certain) were the only ones on the engine as it started from Christchurch and ran to Heathcote.”