We take it for granted now, but it’s really not that long that Christchurch has had a city council that covered the whole city – only since 1989.
Before that was not only the Christchurch City Council (established in 1862) but also the Waimairi, Paparua, Halswell, and Heathcote County Councils, the Riccarton Borough Council, and the Christchurch Drainage and Transport Boards. Phew!
( The Banks Peninsula District Council joined Christchurch City Council later on, in 2005)
And that doesn’t even take into account other councils that had existed prior to that – one of which was the Sydenham Borough Council whose first meeting was held this day in 1877. At the time the population of the borough was between 5-6,000, which grew to around 12,000 by the turn of the century. According to The Cyclopedia of New Zealand by 1902 Sydenham had 26 miles of streets, 95 gas lamps for street lighting with 2009 ratepayers. Businesses included butchers, bootmakers, bakers and builders!
But the Borough was not to be long-lived: in early 1903 polls were held in Linwood and St. Albans as well Sydenham to vote on joining Christchurch City Council to make a Greater Christchurch. In Sydenham 939 voted in favour of amalgamation, 421 against, giving a 518 majority vote in favour. The first elections for the Greater Christchurch City Council were held on 29 April 1903, but it seems that voters weren’t particularly excited by the whole exercise, as the turnout was less than 50%.
Find out more
- Photographs of other Christchurch Municipal buildings
- Other Sydenham historic photographs
- Read more about Sydenham in Sydenham: the model borough of old Christchurch.