Events of South Canterbury

Lots of things have happened that have impacted life in South Canterbury. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Photo of the wreck of the sailing ships the City of Perth (left) and Benvenue (right) at Timaru on May 14, 1882.

Image: Wreck of the City of Perth and Benvenue, Timaru, 1882 by [Unknown]. Collection: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 5-2553.

Which events can I learn about?

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


The Weller Brothers have whaling station at Caroline Bay.

Find out about whaling

Henry Kemp buys over thirteen thousand acres of land from Kāi Tahu for the Crown. South Canterbury is included in this purchase.

Find out about Kemp's Deed and the Ngāi Tahu claim

Arrival of the first immigrant ship direct to Timaru, the Strathallan.

Find out about migration to Timaru

Te Maiharoa leads Te Heke to Omarama to protest for land rights

Find out about Te Heke to Omarama

The first Caroline Bay Carnival is held.

Find out about the Caroline Bay Carnival

The first hydroelectric scheme commissioned at Lake Tekapo (Takapō).

Find out about hydroelectricity development

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.

South Canterbury resources

Lots of things have happened that have impacted life in South Canterbury. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Ngāi Tahu

This is the website of Ngāi Tahu. It has information about the history of the iwi, the Waitangi Tribunal, and Ngāi Tahu Settlement.

  • Select Ngāi Tahu and then History for information about Ngāi Tahu history.

  • Or choose The Settlement for information about the Waitangi Tribunal and the Ngāi Tahu Claim (Tē Kerēme).

Tips: Some websites have .iwi in their url. This tells you that the website belongs to an iwi and likely has Māori knowledge (mātauranga Māori).

Kā Huru Manu

Kā Huru Manu (The Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping Project) includes useful information on Te Kerēme/The Ngāi Tahu claim.

Aoraki Heritage Collection Online

This is the online heritage collection from Timaru District Libraries. It includes historical documents, newspaper clippings, photographs, biographies of local people and more.

  • Enter a keyword related to an event in the Search by keyword bar.

  • Or select the Browse All button.

  • Under Filter By and Format choose Event.

  • You can also look under Browse by Topic for types of events eg Disasters.

Tips: Old newspaper articles and documents like the ones found on Aoraki Heritage can be good for looking at how things have continued or changed over time. Remember, stories can be told in different ways so it’s helpful to look at multiple information sources to find different perspectives.

South Canterbury Museum Collections Online

This is where the South Canterbury Museum has items that they've digitised and made available online.

  • Have a read through the Tips for Searching to help you with your search.

  • Select Keyword Search and enter a word related to an event.

  • Choose a record to have a closer look.

General New Zealand resources

These websites have good information about the history of South Canterbury and the rest of New Zealand.

Papers Past

This website has digitised copies of South Canterbury newspapers, from between 1860 and 1945. Use it to search for information on South Canterbury events. Go to the website, then:

  • Choose newspapers and you will have the option to limit your search by title, region or date.

  • Local papers you can limit by are The Timaru Herald, Temuka Leader, the South Canterbury Times and the Waimate Daily Advertiser.

  • Search using keywords eg 'Caroline Bay Carnival' or 'influenza'.

Tips: We like Papers Past because it is from a government organisation (the National Library of New Zealand). You can tell this by their web address, which includes .govt. It is also a New Zealand site, so relevant for us.

Tips: Historical sources like newspapers 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.

Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for questions about South Canterbury. 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 South Canterbury select Sections, then Places.

  • From here look for South Canterbury.

  • The story South Canterbury region has information about some of the events that have happened in South Canterbury's history.

  • Or you can search using keywords related to an event to find articles.

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


NZHistory is a website from the Ministry of Culture & Heritage with information about people, places, and events in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Search this website by using words related to an event.

  • You could go to Culture and Society to find the Memorials Register to view the South Canterbury Memorials.

  • This page has links to memorials built to commemorate different wars.


This is a search site that focuses on Aotearoa New Zealand's history and brings together results from lots of different websites such as New Zealand libraries, museums, universities, and government sites all at once.

  • Use search words about people, places or events.

  • You can view a range of videos, audio, articles and images, and more on your topic.

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 eg for Kāi Tahu look for Ngāi Tahu.

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


Here are a few books about South Canterbury events for you to look for at your school or local library. Your local librarian is a great person to ask for the books on events in South Canterbury.

More about South Canterbury

People of South Canterbury

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from South Canterbury.

Learn about people of South Canterbury

Places of South Canterbury

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about places of South Canterbury.

Learn about places of South Canterbury