The Godley statue was finally unveiled on the 6th of August 1867, after much delay.
It was inscribed:
John Robert Godley, Founder of Canterbury
The statue, the first public commemorative statue in New Zealand unveiled to a single person, was sculpted by the English Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner. In 1907 the statue was hidden from public view by the tram shelter. Despite public deputations to the Council, the statue was not moved to a more prominent public position on the north side of the Cathedral until 1918. There it remained until 1933 when it was returned to its present and original site. The statue fell from its plinth during the 22 February 2011 earthquake and has become one of the most photographed symbols of the damage to Christchurch. It is currently on display in the Quake City exhibition in the Re:START Mall.
In The Press on 7 August 1867:
The Godley Statue inaugural address by C. C. Bowen, Esq., R.M.
In some future day, when this generation is dead and gone, to those who look up inquiringly at this statue it will be told how the fathers of the colony left their homes and tamed the wilderness under the leadership of a man of heroic type; how, when he died, the representatives of the people, appreciating his character, determined to erect a monument worthy of his memory, and how a great sculptor in executing the work impressed it with the stamp of his genius. “So shall some old man speak in the after time To all the people, winning reverence.” And now I may congratulate the city that this statue is about to be handed over to its care, worthy as it is of admiration, like King Arthur’s sword of old, not only for the memory of a great man, but on account of its own intrinsic beauty not like that sword, to disappear from the eyes of men, but to be preserved by us and our successors as a possession for ever.
Inauguration of the Godley Statue Press, Volume XII, Issue 1480, 7 August 1867, Page 2
- Our page on the Godley Statue
- Our page on John Robert Godley
- More Godley Statue photos in our collection