‘The ride along the road from Lyttelton was glorious, the morning was genial and bright, and the fresh sea air seemed to run like electricity through the veins, until one lost the done up feeling that had pervaded the system for the last few days, and felt once more that life was worth the living.’ Those words were written in January 1895, but they still hold true for those who live at or visit the head of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour – Teddington, Allandale, Ōhinetahi, Governors Bay, Sandy Bay.
The hills here were once covered in bird-filled native bush. Flax and raupo flourished. The sea was a rich source of kai moana for Māori who first arrived on Horomaka/Banks Peninsula in the mid-fifteenth century. Waitaha were followed by Ngāti Māmoe, who settled in sheltered Governors Bay. Te Manuwhiri of Ngāi Tahu later established himself at the head of the harbour, naming the area Ōhinetahi. The Scottish Manson and Gebbie families took up land at Teddington in 1845, remaining the sole European occupants until the arrival of the first Canterbury Association settlers in 1850.
The head of the harbour was originally the preferred site for the new settlement of Christchurch, but when this was built on the other side of the Port Hills, the area became known instead for its abundant orchards, market gardens and leisure activities – a haven close to, but geographically very separate from, the city on the swamp.
This immensely readable, impeccably researched and superbly illustrated book tells, for the first time in one place, the stories of the families who settled at the head of the harbour, of the homes they built, of their relationship with the land and sea, their working and recreational lives. It traces the influence of well-known residents such as Thomas Potts, Hugh Heber Cholmondeley and Margaret Mahy. It explores, too, the relationship between the natural and cultural environments and how this has changed.
The Head of the Harbour is very much a community enterprise. Jane Robertson has interviewed many residents and ex-residents, whose experiences and photographs enrich a book that is not just for those with connections to this special place, but for anyone interested in the history of Canterbury and of New Zealand.
A Christchurch dweller for most of her life, Jane has lived in Governors Bay at the head of Whakaraupō/Lyttelton Harbour since 2003. The meeting of hills, sea and regenerating native bush make this her home of choice, and her turangawaewae. Jane, who has a doctorate in education, has taught history and English, and worked as a teacher-educator, a researcher in the field of higher education and an editor and local history researcher/writer. Her previous publications include a short history of Risingholme Community Centre. Jane’s interest in the history of the head of the harbour developed when she was co-editing the local Bay News and decided to record the memories of some older local residents. Five years later this book took its final shape.
Hard back book
310mm x 245mm (portrait shape)
Full colour throughout
Over 350 b/w and colour photos and drawings
348 pages, with a comprehensive index
Attractive endpaper map
157gsm matt art paper
Ribbon book mark
Publisher: Philip King Publisher, for the Governors Bay Heritage Trust
Publication date: 11 December, 2016
Retail price: $100 (plus $10.00 Postage and Packaging for single-copy online purchases. For multiple-copy online purchases an invoice with freight included will be emailed to you on receipt of your order.)