This Tuesday I have decided to write a bit about the history of Christchurch, why well because Christchurch is the town we flew into and out of on our recent holiday to New Zealand.
Maori history suggests that people first inhabited the area about a thousand years ago, those first people were moa-hunters who most likely arrived there as early as AD 1000, by around 1450 the Moa had been killed off. These hunters cleared large areas of the Matai and Totara forest by fire.
After the moa-hunters came the Waitaha people who are thought to have migrated from the east coast of the North Island in the 16th century.
The first European settlements
The first Europeans came around 1815 when Governor Bligh landed on what was called Banks Peninsula, the name I think came from Captain James Cook when his ship the Endeavour first sighted the area in 1770 and he named the are Banks Island after the ship’s botanist, Joseph Banks.
In 1827 Captain William Wiseman, a flax trader, named the harbour (now known as (Lyttlelton Harbour) Port Cooper, after one of the owners of the Sydney trading firm, Cooper & Levy.
During the 1820s and 1830s the local Māori population fell. The reasons included fighting between different groups of Ngāi Tahu, raids by the Ngāti Toa chief Te Rauparaha from 1830 to 1832, and the impact of European diseases, especially measles and influenza, from which hundreds of Māori died.
More and more whaling and sealing ships visited the peninsula and harbour, and in 1837 Captain George Hempelman set up a whaling station on-shore at Peraki on Banks Peninsula.
Captain William Rhodes first visited in 1836. He came back in 1839 and landed a herd of 50 cattle near Akaroa.
The first attempt at settling on the plains was made by James Herriot of Sydney. He arrived with two small groups of farmers in April 1840. Their first crop was successful, but a plague of rats made them decide to leave.
In August 1840 Captain Owen Stanley of the Britomart raised the British flag at Akaroa, just before the arrival of sixty-three French colonists on the Comte de Paris
In May 1840 Major Thomas Bunbury arrived on the HMS Herald to collect the signatures of the Ngāi Tahu chiefs for the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty had been signed by many North Island chiefs in the Bay of Islands earlier in the year on 6 February. During Bunbury’s visit only two of the Ngāi Tahu chiefs signed it.
During 1850-1851 the first organised groups of English settlers, the founders of Christchurch, arrived on the ‘first four ships’ into Lyttelton Harbour.
Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on July 31, 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand.
Canterbury’s economy was built on primary products and Canterbury has long been recognised as living “off the sheep’s back”. Although its economic beginnings were in refrigerated sheep and dairy meats and in other dairy products, Canterbury now has a diversified regional economy with growth across a range of “new economy” sectors.
In 1893 New Zealand women achieved a first in the world when they won the right to vote. This significant event was honoured in 1993 when the Kate Sheppard memorial, a commemoration to Women’s Suffrage was unveiled on 19th September 1993.