Canterbury Association

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Plaque at 22 Whitehall, London, commemorating the first meeting of the Canterbury Association CanterburyAssociationPlaque.JPG
Plaque at 22 Whitehall, London, commemorating the first meeting of the Canterbury Association

The Canterbury Association was formed in order to establish a colony in what is now the Canterbury Region in the South Island of New Zealand.

South Island Southernmost of the two main islands in New Zealand

The South Island, also officially named Te Waipounamu, is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand in surface area; the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres (58,084 sq mi), making it the world's 12th-largest island. It has a temperate climate.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.


Formation of the Association

The Association was founded in London on 27 March 1848, and incorporated by Royal Charter on 13 November 1849. The prime movers were Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John Robert Godley. Wakefield was heavily involved in the New Zealand Company, which by that time had already established four other colonies in New Zealand. He approached Godley to help him establish a colony sponsored by the Church of England. The President of the Association's Committee of Management was John Sumner, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Committee itself included several other bishops and clergy, as well as members of the peerage and Members of Parliament. [1] At its first meeting, the Association decided upon names. The settlement was to be called Canterbury, presumably after the Archbishop of Canterbury, the seat of the settlement Christchurch after the Oxford college at which Godley had studied.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Edward Gibbon Wakefield English statesman and colonial theorist

Edward Gibbon Wakefield is considered a key figure in the early colonisation of South Australia and New Zealand. Despite being imprisoned for three years in 1827 for kidnapping a fifteen-year-old girl, he enjoyed a distinguished political career.

John Robert Godley Irish politician and administrator, influential early figure in Canterbury, New Zealand

John Robert Godley was an Irish statesman and bureaucrat. Godley is considered to be the founder of Canterbury, New Zealand, although he lived there for only two years.

Establishment of the colony

An 1850 Canterbury Association poster aimed at working-class people Canterbury Association poster.jpg
An 1850 Canterbury Association poster aimed at working-class people

The Association re-targeted its planned settlement from the Wairarapa to the Banks Peninsula hinterland, [2] where it arranged to buy land from the New Zealand Company for 10 shillings per acre (4000 m²). The Association then sold the land to its colonists for £3 per acre, reserving the rest, the additional £2 10s, for use in "public objects such as emigration, roads, and Church and school endowments" (20 shillings = £1). The provision of funds for emigration allowed the Association to offer assisted passages to members of the working classes with desirable skills for the new colony. A poster advertising the assisted passages specifically mentions "Gardeners, Shep[herd]s, Farm Servants, Labourers and Country Mechanics". The religious nature of the colony shows in the same poster's requirement that the clergyman of their parish should vouch for applicants, and in the specific earmarking of some of the proceeds from land sales for church endowments. [3]

Wairarapa region in New Zealand

Wairarapa, is a geographical region of New Zealand. It occupies the south-eastern corner of the North Island, east of metropolitan Wellington and south-west of the Hawke's Bay region. It is lightly populated, having several rural service towns, with Masterton being the largest. It is named after its largest lake, Lake Wairarapa.

Banks Peninsula peninsula in New Zealand

Banks Peninsula is a peninsula of volcanic origin on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It has an area of approximately 1,150 square kilometres (440 sq mi) and encompasses two large harbours and many smaller bays and coves. The South Island's largest city, Christchurch, is immediately north of the peninsula.

Shilling unit of currency formerly used in the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, and other British Commonwealth countries

The shilling is a unit of currency formerly used in Austria, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, United States and other British Commonwealth countries. Currently the shilling is used as a currency in four east African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia. It is also the proposed currency that the east African community plans to introduce . The word shilling comes from old English "Scilling", a monetary term meaning twentieth of a pound, and from the Proto-Germanic root skiljaną meaning 'to separate, split, divide.' The word "Scilling" is mentioned in the earliest recorded Germanic law codes, those of Æthelberht of Kent.

Godley (with his family) went out to New Zealand in early 1850 to oversee the preparations for the settlement (surveying, roads, accommodation, etc.) already undertaken by a large team of men under the direction of Captain Joseph Thomas. These preparations were advanced, but incomplete when the first ships of settlers arrived on 16 December 1850 - Godley halted them shortly after his arrival in April due to the mounting debts of the Association. Lord Lyttelton, Sir John Simeon, 3rd Baronet, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, and Lord Richard Cavendish guaranteed ₤15,000 to the Association, which saved it from financial collapse. [4]

Joseph Thomas (surveyor) New Zealand surveyor

Captain Joseph Thomas (1803–?) was a British explorer and the chief surveyor for Lyttelton, Sumner and Christchurch in New Zealand. He took up surveying after service in the British army, gaining the rank of lieutenant. In the 1840s, he explored many parts of New Zealand and worked for the New Zealand Company. This gained him employment with the Canterbury Association, which sent him to New Zealand in 1848. Thomas' role was to find a suitable site for their proposed settlement, and what became the Canterbury region with Christchurch as its capital was the result of his efforts. He was dismissed in early 1851 over quarrels with John Robert Godley, the agent of the Canterbury Association, just after the first settlers had arrived in the colony. Thomas' life after 1853 is unknown. Having allowed for Hagley Park as a generous central city green space is regarded as his major achievement, and it is his lasting legacy.

George Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton English cricketer

George William Lyttelton, 4th Baron Lyttelton, was a British aristocrat and Conservative politician from the Lyttelton family. He was chairman of the Canterbury Association, which encouraged British settlers to move to New Zealand.

Sir John Simeon, 3rd Baronet British politician

Sir John Simeon, 3rd Baronet was a British politician and naval officer.

Charlotte Jane and Randolph arrived in Lyttelton Harbour on 16 December 1850, Sir George Seymour on the 17th, and Cressy on the 27th, having set sail from England in September 1850. The British press dubbed the settlers on these first four ships Canterbury Pilgrims. A further 24 shiploads of Canterbury Association settlers, making a total of approximately 3,500, arrived over the next two-and-a-half years. [1]

Charlotte Jane was one of the First Four Ships in 1850 to carry emigrants from England to the new colony of Canterbury in New Zealand.

<i>Randolph</i> (ship)

Randolph was a 664-ton ship-rigged merchant vessel constructed in 1849 in Sunderland. She was one of the First Four Ships to settle Christchurch, New Zealand.

Lyttelton Harbour Inlet in the Banks Peninsula, on the coast of Canterbury, New Zealand

Lyttelton Harbour / Whakaraupō is one of two major inlets in Banks Peninsula, on the coast of Canterbury, New Zealand; the other is Akaroa Harbour on the southern coast.

In 1852, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, which amongst other things established provincial councils. The Constitution contained specific provisions for the Canterbury Association; the first being that the new General Assembly (New Zealand Parliament) could not amend the legislation establishing the Canterbury Association, [5] the second being that the Canterbury Association could hand its powers to a newly-established provincial government (the Canterbury Province). [6]

Parliament of the United Kingdom supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament, or Westminster Parliament, and domestically simply as Parliament, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 Statute of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that granted self-government to the Colony of New Zealand. It was the second such Act, the previous 1846 Act not having been fully implemented.

Provinces of New Zealand administrative areas of New Zealand between 1841-1876

The provinces of the Colony of New Zealand existed as a form of sub-national government. Established in 1841, each province had its own legislature and was built around the six original planned settlements or "colonies". By 1873 the number of provinces had increased to nine, but they had become less isolated from each other and demands for centralised government arose. In 1875 the national parliament decided to abolish the provincial governments, and they came to an end in 1876. They were superseded by counties, which were later replaced by territorial authorities.

As a result, affairs of the Canterbury Association were wound up in 1855 and outstanding settlement lands handed over to the Canterbury Province. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

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New Zealand Company company formed for the purpose of colonising New Zealand

The New Zealand Company, chartered in the United Kingdom, was a company that existed in the first half of the 1800s on a business model focused on the systematic colonisation of New Zealand. The company was formed to carry out the principles devised by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who envisaged the creation of a new-model English society in the southern hemisphere. Under Wakefield’s model, the colony would attract capitalists who would then have a ready supply of labour—migrant labourers who could not initially afford to be property owners, but who would have the expectation of one day buying land with their savings.

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Pākehā settlers

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The First Four Ships refers to the four sailing vessels chartered by the Canterbury Association which left Plymouth, England, in September 1850 to transport the first English settlers to new homes in Canterbury, New Zealand.

Isaac Cookson (politician) New Zealand politician

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Godley Statue

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The Hon. Richard Cavendish was an English nobleman, politician, Member of Parliament, and a member of the Canterbury Association.

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Lieutenant-Colonel James Campbell was a lieutenant-colonel of the British army who distinguished himself in the Peninsular War. He emigrated to New Zealand and was appointed as a land commissioner, and later as Registrar of Deeds, in Canterbury.

Richard James Strachan Harman New Zealand politician

Richard James Strachan Harman was trained as a civil engineer. However, in Christchurch, New Zealand, he worked as a bureaucrat, politician and businessman. He was one of the Canterbury Pilgrims, having arrived in Lyttelton, on Sir George Seymour, one of the First Four Ships. He was a business partner of Edward Cephas John Stevens and senior partner of Harman and Stevens, and together they took financial control of the Christchurch newspaper The Press from its original proprietor, James FitzGerald, over a protracted period. Harman held many important roles with the Canterbury Provincial Council and was the last Deputy-Superintendent.

William Henry Valpy Jr.

William Henry Valpy Jr. was one of the earliest settlers of Otago.

Mary Townsend New Zealand painter

Mary Townsend was an artist and an early English settler in Canterbury, New Zealand.


  1. 1 2 Canterbury Association.
  2. Harrop, A. J. (1961). "The Companies and British Sovereignty, 1825-1850". In Dodwell, Henry Herbert; Rose, John Holland. The Cambridge History of the British Empire. 2. CUP Archive. p. 89. Retrieved 2013-06-26. [...] Lord Grey consented to instruct the Governor to procure for the Association about a million acres, at or near the Wairarapa Plains if possible. Meanwhile the Governor had acquired the land between Nelson and Otago for £2000, and it was in part of this district that the Canterbury settlement was eventually formed.
  3. Hearn, Terry (25 March 2015). "Canterbury Association advertisement". Teara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Government of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  4. Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848-1852): A Study of Its Members’ Connections (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 18–19. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
  5. Constitution Act 1852, Section 75.
  6. Constitution Act 1852, Section 76.
  7. "Canterbury Association's Ordinance 1855". New Zealand Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 5 April 2019.

Further reading