Christchurch: A Chronology to 1989

Events in March

March 1, 1851
“Isabella Hercus” arrives with settlers.
March 1, 1865
Godley Head lighthouse in operation.
March 1, 1880
School for the Deaf (now Van Asch College) opens in Sumner. Director Gerrit van Asch introduced oral teaching methods to New Zealand.
March 1, 1922
Addington School Committee presents a special certificate to Cecil Hughes for 8 years attendance without missing a day (probably a New Zealand record).
March 1, 1930
Majestic Theatre opens - the city’s first steel frame building.
March 2, 1970
Amid mounting controversy, City Council begins construction of road deviation through Hagley Park. The work was stopped by March 7 for legal reasons, and the project was eventually scrapped.
March 2, 1974
Re-built Centennial Pool opens.
March 3-7, 1977
Visit by Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.
March 3, 1862
First meeting of the Christchurch Municipal Council, which became the Christchurch City Council in November. John Hall elected Chairman, G. Gordon first Town Clerk.
March 3, 1879
First Town Hall design competition. But building costs were too high and the project was abandoned in March 1882.
March 3, 1939
Statue of J. E. FitzGerald in Rolleston Avenue 'unveiled' as a student prank. The statue, a gift from R. E. Green, had been offered to the City Council in 1934 and to the Beautifying Association in 1936, but had been declined by both because of legal diputes between Mr Green and his family. The statue was finally accepted by the Domains Board in 1938, but was never officially unveiled.
March 4, 1909
Te Wai Pounamu Maori Girls College established at Ohoka. The college moved to Christchurch in 1921.
March 4, 1977
Museum Antarctic wing opens.
March 5, 1863
Samuel Bealey elected third Superintendent of Canterbury.
March 6, 1856
Riccarton race course established.
March 6, 1914
First point to point flight in Canterbury by J. W. H. Scotland from Timaru to Christchurch. In the same year, Scotland had the dubious privilege of becoming the first pilot to crash in New Zealand.
March 6, 1989
Visit by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
March 7-8, 1964
Air exposition at airport marks opening of runway extensions (to 2400 metres) and 50th anniversary of Scotland’s Timaru to Christchurch flight.
March 7, 1925
Cholmondeley Home for children (a gift of Hugh Heber Cholmondeley) opens at Governors Bay.
March 8, 1958
Christchurch athlete Marise Chamberlain breaks world record for 440 yards.
March 9, 1880
First steam trams begin operation from Cathedral Square to the railway station.
March 9, 1963
Concerts by jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong.
March 9, 1968
Second Pan-Pacific Arts Festival opens.
March 10, 1907
Foundation stone laid for the Cashmere sanitorium. Poet James K. Baxter was an undistinguished employee in the 1940s.
March 11, 1899
Railway accident at Rakaia kills 4 and injures 22. The 2 trains which collided were crowded with Islington freezing workers returning from an excursion. The accident led to dramatic immprovements in railway signals, braking systems and safety equipment.
March 12-15, 1927
Visit of Duke of York (later King George VI).
March 14, 1987
“Te Maori” exhibition opens at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery. Over a nine week period, 147,012 people visited “Te Maori”, the largest number to a single exhibition at the Gallery
March 15, 1854
Sheepstealer James McKenzie arrested and imprisoned at Lyttelton. He subsequently escaped and was recaptured several times, and was conditionally pardoned on January 11, 1856.
March 15, 1856
Christchurch Club formed.
March 15, 1982
City Council resolution declares Christchurch City a nuclear weapons free zone.
March 15, 1983
New Zealand’s first "test-tube" baby born at St Georges Hospital.
March 16-17, 1970
Visit by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Princess Anne.
March 17, 1857
First vehicle crosses the Port Hills - a spring cart pulled by bullocks negotiates the Bridle Path.
March 17, 1864
Arthur’s Pass crossed by Arthur (later Sir Arthur) Dudley Dobson. He became the Christchurch City Surveyor in 1901.
March 17, 1928
Civic Theatre opens in Manchester Street. The theatre was built in the burned out shell of the old Alexandra Hall; part of the Canterbury Exhibition Hall. See 1900 and 1917.
March 18, 1850
Jollie completes survey and plan of Christchurch.
March 19, 1837
First permanent shore whaling station set up at Peraki Bay, Banks Peninsula, by Captain George Hempleman. Hempleman and his wife were New Zealand’s first German settlers.
March 19, 1854
Commission appointed to report on road, sea and railway access between Lyttelton and Christchurch.
March 20, 1866
First Cobb & Co. coaches to the West Coast.
March 20, 1873
Death of pioneer doctor and photographer Dr.A.C. Barker.
March 20, 1883
Sumner Town Board’s first meeting.
March 20, 1898
"Horse fiend" strikes at Halswell. The "fiend" killed several horses over a period of time, including 2 valuable stallions in 1899.
March 20, 1917
Avonside and St Martins join City.
March 21, 1848
Canterbury Association formed in London.
March 21, 1864
New Zealand’s first hansom cab arrives in City.
March 21, 1918
First meeting of the Canterbury Progress League (now the Canterbury Promotion Council).
March 22, 1894
First "local option" poll fails to achieve liquor prohibition in Christchurch.
March 22, 1975
3000 joggers take part in the first City-to-Surf fun run.
March 23, 1827
Edward Gibbon Wakefield, later to be the architect of the Canterbury settlement, tried and imprisoned in England for abduction.
March 23, 1866
Road to the West Coast officially opens.
March 23, 1977
Durham Street overbridge opens.
March 24, 1887
First City Council offices open. This building at the corner of Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street was designed by S. Hurst Seager. It was the first public building in Christchurch to break with the prevailing tradition of Gothic, Classic or Venetian style. It is presently tenanted by the Canterbury Promotion Council.
March 24, 1902
Professor Bickerton sacked from university. The charismatic and controversial professor of chemistry had been the college’s first appointment in 1874. He was ostensibly fired for mismanagement of his department, but was in fact a brilliant teacher whose star pupil was Ernest Rutherford. The real reason for his sacking seems to have been his socialist politics and his outspoken criticism of that venerable institution - marriage. See also 1929.
March 25, 1879
New Zealand’s first telephones in operation in City.
March 25, 1930
New Zealand’s first country library service begins as Canterbury adult rural education scheme under the auspices of the W.E.A.
March 26, 1891
New Zealand’s first agricultural conference held in City.
March 27, 1848
Canterbury Association decides to buy land from the New Zealand Company.
March 27, 1856
First wool cargo shipped to London from Lyttelton (via Auckland).
March 28, 1981
New South Brighton bridge opens.
March 30, 1883
Two young boys die of exposure on the Port Hills. Monuments can still be seen near the Rapaki Track.
March 31, 1854
Weld and Clifford pioneer the inland stock route to Marlborough.
March 31, 1863
21 Canterbury military volunteers sail north on “Phoebe” for duty in the Waikato land wars.
March 31, 1904
New Zealand’s first coin-in-the-slot postal franking machine on public trial in Christchurch.
March, 1849
Marine surveys of the coast, Estuary and harbour by HMS “Acheron”.
March, 1852
First Papanui bridge, now Victoria Bridge, built.
March, 1890
Ernest (later Lord) Rutherford enrolls at Canterbury University. His later work paved the way for the development of atomic energy, yet he once said "We cannot control atomic energy to an extent which would be of any value commercially and I believe we are not likely ever to be able to do so".
March, 1926
Radio station 3YA begins transmission. At first, the station was operated by the old Radio Society for the Radio Broadcasting Company of N.Z.
March, 1947
First issue of literary magazine "Landfall" published by Caxton Press.
March, 1985
World and Olympic Ice Skating Champions Torville and Dean perform in Hagley Park.