Canterbury Province

Canterbury Province

"(For the current top-level subdivision of Canterbury in New Zealand, see Canterbury, New Zealand)"

The Canterbury Province was a province of New Zealand from 1853 until the abolition of provincial government in 1876. On the east coast the province was bounded by the Hurunui River in the north and the Waitaki River in the south. The boundary on the west coast was largely undefined.

The capital of the Province of Canterbury was Christchurch and it was there the Provincial Council sat. Elections were held in 1853 for Superintendent and, later, for the 12 member council. These elections pre-dated any elected national assembly. The franchise was extended to men over the age of 21 who owned property in the province. The council first sat in temporary facilities but later the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings were completed in 1859 to house the council.


In 1868 the West Coast was separated from the Province with the formation of the County of Westland on the West Coast with the boundary line defined as the crest of the Southern Alps. In 1873 the County formed its own Province, the short-lived Westland Province.

In the south the course of the Waitaki River was not known and disputes arose with the Province of Otago over pastoral leases in the inland high country.

In the 1860s South Canterbury made two bids to become separate province but this was rejected by the national government. Instead in 1867 the General Assembly created the Timaru and Gladstone Board of Works which received a proportion of the Canterbury provincial land revenues and was authorised to maintain and build the Timaru harbour and local roads and bridges.


The Canterbury Province was the first to open a public railway in New Zealand, at Ferrymead in 1863. Edward Dobson was the Provincial Engineer.

The Canterbury Provincial Railways were eventually absorbed into the New Zealand Railways Department in 1876.


* 20 Jul 1853 - Oct 1857 James Edward Fitzgerald (b. 1818 - d. 1896)
* 24 Oct 1857 - Feb 1863 William Sefton Moorhouse (1st time) (b. 1825 - d. 1881)
* Mar 1863 - May 1866 Samuel Bealey (b. 1821 - d. 1909)
* 30 May 1866 - May 1868 William Sefton Moorhouse (2nd time) (s.a.)
* 22 May 1868 - 1 Jan 1877 William Rolleston (b. 1831 - d. 1903)

Anniversary Day

New Zealand law provides an anniversary day for each province.


* [ Canterbury Ordinances 1853 - 1875] The full text of the legislation enacted by the Canterbury Provincial Council between its inception in 1853 and its demise in 1875.
* Church Property Trust Ordinance 1854
* Christ's College Ordinance 1855
* Municipal Councils Reserves Ordinance 1862
* Municipal Corporation Reserves Ordinance 1868
* Reserve No 424 Ordinance 1873
* Educational Reserves Leasing Ordinance (No 2) 1875
* Reserve No 168 Ordinance 1875
* Reserve No 62 Ordinance 1875


* A page containing a map of the old provincial boundaries is available [ here] .
* [ List at Rulers site with provincial superintendents]

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