Christchurch - a chronology

Before 1700


Moa hunting Māori appear in Canterbury.


Fires, lit by Moa hunters, destroy Canterbury Plains forest. This process continued until the 1500s. The original vegetation was largely replaced by open tussock grassland, except for isolated patches of bush such as those which survived at Riccarton and Papanui. Erosion denuded the foothills, and the rivers spread across the plains, burying all traces of the forest. See February 1979.

Early 1500s

Moa hunted out of existence. Māori tradition records that the Waitaha tribe migrated from the east coast of the North Island to the Pegasus Bay area during this period.

Late 1500s

Ngāti Māmoe invade and settle from the North Island.

1675 approx.

Ngāi Tahu tribe begins to move down from the North. This migration continued until about 1830. The discovery of passes over the Southern Alps led to the establishment of a thriving greenstone trade, and the emergence of Kaiapohia [near Kaiapoi] as an important trading centre for West Coast greenstone.

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