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Canterbury Association

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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.


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. 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.

Establishment of the colony

The Association re-targeted its planned settlement from the Wairarapa to the Banks Peninsula hinterland, 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" aimed to allow 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.

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.

The Charlotte Jane and Randolph arrived in Lyttelton Harbour on 16 December 1850, the Sir George Seymour on the 17th, and the Cressy on the 27th, having set sail from England in September 1850. The British press dubbed the settlers on these first four ships the 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.

The affairs of the Canterbury Association were wound up in 1853.


Canterbury Association Wikipedia

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