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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 1 (April 1, 1940)

Picturesque… — Governor's Bay — Home of Early Settlers

page 16

Governor's Bay
Home of Early Settlers

St. Cuthbert's Church, Governor's Bay.

St. Cuthbert's Church, Governor's Bay.

By J. Joyce Garlick

Governor's Bay, at the southern reach of Lyttelton Harbour, was one of the first settlements in New Zealand. Like Akaroa, a still earlier settlement a few miles away, Governor's Bay has all the charm of an old-world scene.

There is little to doubt that the Bay owes its name to Governor, Sir George Grey. He was at Lyttelton to welcome the colonists on their arrival on 16th December, 1850, and the fact that his vessel was lying at anchor near the Bay would suggest the origin of the name. Before this time, however, there were settlers at Governor's Bay, notably Messrs. Manson and Gebbie.

According to early settlers the Bay was a very beautiful place, with its hills and gullies clothed with luxuriant native bush and giant tree ferns. As early as 1856 a bridle track was made as far as Dyer's Pass, and later a road was constructed as far as Gebbie's Flat. Most of this work was done by prison labour, and many contracts were paid for in land.

Years before the advent of the European the Bay was a Maori settlement. Ohinetahi Pa, defended with a palisade of split tree trunks, and with ditch and parapet, was a focal point for Maori gatherings.

One of the oldest of the few remaining homes in Governor's Bay is the charming home, of unique architecture, known as Potts’ home. Situated at the head of the Bay, the old home is on a steep slope, and through beautiful trees, commands a peerless panorama of the Lyttelton Harbour and surrounding hills. Mr. Potts was a very early Canterbury settler, but the home was not, however, built by him, for he had three predecessors. Mr. Dobbs built the home in 1852, and it was he who named it. It was subsequently bought by Mr. Willam Thompson, then by Mr. William Boag. An amusing tale is told of Mr. Boag's housekeeper, who received as wages ten cows, which became the nucleus of the herd of cattle so well-known in later years at Burnside Farm, Fendalton, Christchurch. Later, Mr. Thompson sold the home to Mr. Ben Moorhouse, member of a very well-known pioneering family in Canterbury, and he sold it to Mr. Potts. Mr. Potts was the type of Englishman whose cultural contribution to the life of early Canterbury could not be estimated. Much of the propagation of the Canterbury flora was due to his scientific botanical knowledge.

The architecture of this unique old home reveals two distinct periods. The original home was surrounded by a wide verandah on to which French windows opened. Later, but still at an early date, the building was cut in two, and
House built by Mr. Dobbs at Governor's Bay in 1852.

House built by Mr. Dobbs at Governor's Bay in 1852.

a very substantial portion of three stories built in the centre. The stone was carried from a quarry which supplied the stone for the Christchurch Cathedral, and also from Rat Island, in the Bay. The stone is of two kinds, yellow stone faced with sandstone, and grey stone, the warm tone of the yellow stone providing a charming effect. The stone steps were cut by hand, and on a step is an inscription dated 1866, which vouches for this fact. There is also a very capacious cellar, for the Potts family were gay folk, and kept open house. There was a family of a round dozen.

In direct contrast to this home, but one which also boasts of being partially built of the same stone as the Cathedral, is that at present occupied by Mrs. Garlick. Mrs. Small, one of the first settlers, first lived here. She came from Galway, Ireland, in 1875, and lived at first at the barracks at Addington, where she was married. Later, she lived at (Continued on page 51 )