Christchurch – this week in history (27 January – 2 February)

27 January 1860
Writer Samuel Butler arrives at Lyttelton on “Roman Emperor”. He is best remembered for the novel Erewhon, published after his return to England several years later.

31 January 1921
New Zealand’s first regular airmail service begins between Christchurch, Ashburton and Timaru.

2 February 1960
Burnside High School opens. For a long time it was the biggest high school in the Southern Hemisphere.

2 February 1974
Commonwealth Games end with “the greatest middle distance race of all time”. Tanzanian Filbert Bayi wins the 1500 metres in new world record time. Second was John Walker who also broke the existing record. The national records of five countries Tanzania, Kenya, Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand – were all broken in this race.

See the DigitalNZ set Xth Commonwealth Games 1974 and QEII Park.

Photo of Colombo St, Christchurch - January 1974
Colombo St, Christchurch – January 1974 Kete Christchurch
Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in
chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

More January and February events in our Christchurch chronology.

Christchurch – this week in history (20 – 26 January)

40 years since the 10th Commonwealth Games held in Christchurch

24 January 1974
10th Commonwealth Games open at Queen Elizabeth II Park, one of the greatest sporting events in New Zealand’s history. Visitors include the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne. Highlight of the opening ceremony was the New Zealand Army Band’s spectacular novelty marching routine.

25 January 1974
Cantabrian Richard Tayler wins 10,000 metres in games record time. This was the first live colour TV coverage of a major race. Tayler was honoured as 1974 “Sportsman of the Year’, but his sports career was cut tragically short by the onset of crippling arthritis.

See the DigitalNZ set Xth Commonwealth Games 1974 and QEII Park.

Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in
chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

More January events in our Christchurch chronology.

40 years ago – Xth British Commonwealth Games 1974

Games 74: The camera in the sky sweeps over Christchurch towards the newly minted QEII Stadium.

Watch the first of seven clips from this full length film at NZ On Screen.




On 24 January 1974 , the Xth British Commonwealth Games (the Friendly Games) kicked off in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Dick Tayler won gold in the 10,000 metre race on that opening day. Names like Don Quarrie, Filbert Bayi as well as Kiwis John Walker and Jaynie Parkhouse were on everyone’s lips – and town was bedecked by that familiar logo designed by Colin Simon and humming along to Join Together by Steve Allen.

When QEII was farewelled in 2012, one of the key memories was the Commonwealth Games.

QE2 - Farewell Event - 9 December 2012. Photo on Kete Christchurch by Gina Hubert.
QE2 – Farewell Event – 9 December 2012. Photo on Kete Christchurch by Gina Hubert.

Do you have any memories from the time?
We’d love you to share them in the comments.

Christchurch – this week in history (21 – 27 January)

22 January 1929
Death of Professor Bickerton in England. Since his sacking by the university – see 1902 – he had operated the extraordinary Pleasure Gardens at Wainoni, made fireworks, promoted patent medicines and then travelled to England to promote his “partial impact” astronomical theory.

24 January 1974
10th Commonwealth Games open at Queen Elizabeth II Park, one of the greatest sporting events in New Zealand’s history. Visitors include the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne. Highlight of the opening ceremony was the New Zealand Army Band’s spectacular novelty marching routine. Seen on international live TV, the idea was soon copied by bandsmen throughout the Commonwealth.

25 January 1974
Cantabrian Richard Tayler wins 10,000 metres in games record time. This was the first live colour TV coverage of a major race. Tayler was honoured as 1974 “Sportsman of the Year’, but his sports career was cut tragically short by the onset of crippling arthritis.

27 January 1860
Writer Samuel Butler arrives at Lyttelton on “Roman Emperor”. He is best remembered for the novel Erewhon, published after his return to England several years later.

More January events in our Christchurch chronology.