Events of Christchurch

Through our histories, lots of things have happened that have had an impact on Christchurch | Ōtautahi. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Close up of an entrance arch at the Peterborough Centre in Christchurch. It shows damage caused by the 2011 earthquake.

Image: Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake of 2011 - Peterborough Centre by Andy Miah on Wikimedia Commons.

Which events can I learn about?

Here are some events related to Christchurch you could find out about:

Before and during 17th century

Before and during 17th century
Waves of migration bring iwi such as Waitaha, Ngāti Mamoe and Ngāi Tahu to the South Island.

Find out about Māori migration to the South Island.
1830

1830
Te Rauparaha's raid on Takapūneke.

Find out about Te Rauparaha's raid on Takapūneke.
December 1850

December 1850
The beginning of organised colonisation with the arrival of the First Four Ships into Lyttelton.

Find out about the First Four Ships
19 September 1893

19 September 1893
New Zealand women won the right to vote (led by Kate Sheppard of Christchurch).

Find out about women's suffrage
18 November 1947

18 November 1947
Ballantynes' department store fire, the worst fire in New Zealand history.

Find out about Ballantynes' fire
22 February 2011

22 February 2011
Christchurch earthquake.

Find out about the 2011 Christchurch earthquake

Tips: These are just some examples of events you could research. You may have something different you're interested in finding out about. Just use words related to the event as your search terms in the resources below.

Christchurch resources

The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Tips: Stories can be told in different ways. It’s a good idea to look at multiple information sources about a topic to help you put together your own narrative.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

This is the official website of Ngāi Tahu, and has lots of information covering topics like culture and environment across Ngāi Tahu's rohe, which covers most of the South Island.

  • Explore the tabs along the top of the page to find your way around.

  • Or, you can use the search feature at the top of the page to enter keywords.

Kareao

This is the official website of the Ngāi Tahu Archive. Here you can find all sorts of resources, including primary sources.

  • You can use the tabs along the top of the page to find things like Biographies, Maps, Ngā Taonga Kōrero (audio and videos) and Photographs.

  • Or, you can use the search feature to enter keywords.

  • Remember to use the Search Filters to select Digital Results Only.

Christchurch City Libraries

Christchurch City Libraries has a whole section of their website dedicated to events that took place in Christchurch.

  • Select Explore along the top of the page.

  • Then choose Events, which is under the Local History heading.

  • The Christchurch Chronology is a timeline of Christchurch events to 1989. You can search by year or by firsts, bests, worsts or lasts.

  • Go to Early Christchurch to find out about the arrival of European migrants and the signing of Kemp's Deed.

  • Or look at the headings for Death and disasters and Wars and Conflicts to find out those histories.

Christchurch Newspapers

The Christchurch City library has local Christchurch newspapers from the first Lyttelton Times in 1851 through to the present day. Most of these newspapers are available on microfilm.

Tips: Primary sources like newspapers are useful for gathering information about people’s values and attitudes about a topic from that time.

Christchurch City Council

Christchurch City Council looks after services and facilities for the people of Christchurch. You can find information about local historical events here too.

  • Choose Culture and Community along the top of the page.

  • Then choose Heritage.

  • Next select Council History. On this page, there is a Chronology of local council events from 1851 to 1980.

Quake City

Quake City is an exhibition with displays and interactives about the earthquakes that happened in Canterbury and Christchurch in 2010 and 2011.

Visit Quake City at 299 Durham Street North, Christchurch Central to:

  • Learn about the science behind the quakes.

  • See pieces of the heritage buildings Christchurch lost in the quakes.

  • Find out how liquefaction happens.

  • Hear from earthquake survivors, and more.

Tips: Quake City is a special exhibition from the Canterbury Museum.

Canterbury Museum Collections Online

The Canterbury Museum has over 150 000 items available online including pictures and objects.

  • Select the Search button or look down the page for the search box.

  • Enter in the a word related to an event.

  • Select an item to get more details.

General New Zealand resources

These websites have information about events that have happened in New Zealand Aotearoa, including Christchurch.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa, including Christchurch. If we look down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • To find information about Christchurch, go to Stories A-Z, choose C.

  • You can find information about Christchurch under both Canterbury Places or

    Canterbury region, so explore both of them to see what you can find.

  • You can also do a keyword search on Te Ara, using the search box at the top of the page.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg Christchurch. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

NZHistory

NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • To find information on Christchurch, first choose Places at the top of the page.

  • Then choose Canterbury.

  • Then you can choose Christchurch.

  • You can also choose a specific area of Christchurch to look at too eg Addington, Halswell, Linwood, or Waltham, so have a look down the list and see if you can spot your area.

  • There are also links to events in Christchurch and biographies of Christchurch people.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have .govt meaning they are from government organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Papers Past - Newspapers

The Papers Past website has a collection of early New Zealand newspapers that have been digitised. To use this website to find information about Christchurch people, places and events you can:

  • Browse newspapers by going to the tab By Region then selecting All regions and choosing Canterbury to find a list of Canterbury newspapers.

  • Enter your keywords into the search bar and filter by date and title.

  • Limit your search to Ngā Tānga Reo Māori only to find titles printed in te reo Māori.

Tips: Primary sources like newspapers are useful for gathering information about people’s values and attitudes about a topic from that time.

Papers Past - Magazines and Journals

Papers Past also has magazines. To find information about Christchurch people, places and events you can search all magazines or search individual titles like Te Ao Hou.

  • Open the search bar at the top left and enter your keywords.

  • Try 'Christchurch' or 'Otautahi' to find articles that mention Christchurch.

  • Or you can enter search words like the name of a person, place, or event.

  • Please note, this website does not recognise macrons.

Tips: Historical sources like magazines and journals can be useful for finding different perspectives on a topic. Keep in mind that they may not fairly show a wide range of views or experiences.

DigitalNZ

DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites. It’s an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once, and has lots of primary sources.

  • Enter your keywords into the search bar.

  • You can choose images, videos, newspapers, articles, research papers and more.

Tips: Websites that have .org in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on this website. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Online Cenotaph

The Online cenotaph belongs to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It contains biographical details of New Zealand men and women who served in wars overseas.

  • If you know the name of a Christchurch person who served overseas, you can enter that in the search bar and then select their war or conflict from the drop down menu.

  • Use Browse from the menu, choose Place then enter Place of birth eg 'Christchurch' to find local names.

  • Custom search allows you to search by place, keyword, Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe and more.

Tips: Researchers, veterans and families can add information and photos to this website.

The Aotearoa History Show

This video podcast from Radio New Zealand tells the story of Aotearoa New Zealand from when the land was formed to today.

  • Select an episode to watch or listen to.

  • Look under the video for the topics that the podcast covers.

Te Arawhiti | The Office for Māori Crown Relations

This government website has information about Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

  • Select Te Kāhui Whakatau (Treaty Settlements).

  • Then choose Find a Treaty settlement.

  • Look down the page to find the Deeds of Settlement for the iwi you're looking for.

  • The summary documents are good to start with and have an overview and historical background.

Books

For any Māori topic you are researching, visit Tūranga, the central library in Christchurch, and look at Waruwarutū on Tuakiri, Level 2. This is where you will find the Ngā Pounamu Māori collection. There is a special reference collection here called Ngā rākau teitei e iwa, the Ngāi Tahu collection, which holds books by and about Ngāi Tahu.

As well as these resources, check out your school or local public library for books. Here are some titles we have found:

More about Christchurch

People of Christchurch

Christchurch | Ōtautahi has a lot of local people who have made a difference to Christchurch, and sometimes the whole world. Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Christchurch.

Learn about people of Christchurch

Places of Christchurch

Christchurch | Ōtautahi is the largest city in the South Island. It covers the area from the Waimakariri River to Banks Peninsula, and shares a border with Selwyn district to the west and Waimakariri district to the north.

Learn about places of Christchurch