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Wednesday 21 December 2016

Politician William Rolleston (1831-1903) was Canterbury’s fourth and final Superintendent. At this time New Zealand was divided into provinces which were governed by an elected superintendent and provincial council. The provincial council had control over education, local land legislation, hospitals, roading and immigration.

During his time in office between 1868 and 1877, Rolleston was a key figure in the establishment of two educational institutions: Canterbury Museum and Canterbury College (a precursor to the University of Canterbury). The inscription over the entrance to the Museum was suggested by William Rolleston and carved by Claudius Brassington in 1896. It reads, 'Lo these are parts of His ways but how little a portion is heard of Him' (Job 26.14).

Following Rolleston's death in 1903, part of Antigua Street between Cambridge Terrace and Armagh Street was renamed Rolleston Avenue. In 1906 a white marble statue of William Rolleston was erected outside Canterbury Museum, across from Canterbury College (now the Arts Centre).

Rolleston’s statue fell off its plinth during the February 2011 earthquake, losing its head during the fall. The statue has been reinstated by the Christchurch City Council.

Images (L To R): A portrait of William Rolleston by J L Balfour, 1904. Oil on canvas. 19XX.2.5085; The reinstallation of the statue of William Rolleston was marked with a ceremony attended by the Rolleston family and city dignitaries on 21 December 2016