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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 1 (April 1, 1938.)

Wakefield Meets Godley

Wakefield Meets Godley.

These are great associations, but for Canterbury the greatest association is that from the heights of Malvern the idea of the foundation of Canterbury was born. It was at Malvern that Edward Gibbon Wakefield met John Robert Godley. When things seemed blackest for him, and in the hour of his great need, fate sent to Wakefield the man who had both the social influence and the intellectual ability to bring to fruition the dream that Wakefield had given the best years of his life to accomplish. The meeting of Wakefield and Godley was quite accidental, although Godley was conversant with Wakefield's writings and Wakefield knew of Godley's schemes for Irish immigration to Canada.

Ever an adept in using other people to carry out plans which he had prepared, Wakefield was not long in seeing what valuable use he could make of Godley. Scarcely had Godley left Malvern when he received a note from Wakefield saying “I have a suggestion to make for your consideration, relating to yourself and a very pleasant colonising object, which I fancy you are likely to embrace.”

Godley came. The possibilities of the “very pleasant colonising object” immediately appealed to him, even though he was shrewd enough to see that Wakefield wished to make use of him, largely because of the power he could exert in high places. Writing to a friend, Godley said: “Did I tell you that the New Zealand Company are flirting with me to get me into their direction, so as to work the labouring oar in the business of colonisation there. If I take up this affair, I have a scheme for the formation of a Church of England colony. While writing to you there came a definite offer from the New Zealand Company, which I shall accept, so you will see me in full work there next month.”

Edward Gibbon Wakefield.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield.

True to his word, Godley became, within the next few weeks, a Director of the New Zealand Company, and forthwith set to work with an energy and an enthusiasm that soon induced powerful friends to interest themselves in the project, as shown by the following letter sent from the Secretary of the New Zealand Company to Colonel William Wakefield: “Mr. Godley has lately been elected a member of the Direction. Through the intervention chiefly of that gentleman, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Bishops of London and Exeter, Lord Harrowby, Lord Lincoln and other gentlemen of great weight and influence have been induced to take a lively interest in the undertaking.”