From the Sign of the Takahe: Picturing Canterbury

From the Sign of the Takahe. Kete Christchurch. PH13-135. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Taken from the Sign of the Takahe out a window across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps.

Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt.

Photo Hunt 2017: Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way

This year the theme for Photo Hunt is Plains, Port Hills & Peninsula – Finding our way. However, the photos you submit are not limited to this theme. We invite you to share any of your photos and help grow the city’s photographic archive. All entries must be received by 31 October.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Thanks Harry!

Head and shoulders portrait of Henry George Ell, 1914
Henry George Ell. S P Andrew Ltd :Portrait negatives. Ref: 1/1-013861-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22750368

Thank you, Harry Ell.

Without your dedicated work over many years, the residents and tourists in Christchurch wouldn’t have the wonderful reserves of the Port Hills to walk, cycle and play in.

Henry George Ell was a husband, father, soldier, stationer, politician, prohibitionist, conservationist, and was the driving force behind the establishment of the reserves on the Port Hills, and the building of the Summit Road. By the time of his death in 1934, some 500 acres of reserves had been created, with the help of his “Ell’s Angels”. His Summit Road scheme was a very important employer in the time of the Depression, although he himself was a known as a tough taskmaster.

His vision was to have a series of resthouses along the Summit Road for use and enjoyment of people walking – hence the Sign of the Takahe (built last, and finished in 1949 after his death), Sign of the Bellbird, Sign of the Kiwi and Sign of the Packhorse. The resthouses were designed by Samuel Hurst Seager.

Dr Cockayne and Harry Ell [1904] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0058
Dr Cockayne and Harry Ell
[1904] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0058
Along with his work on the Port Hills, Harry Ell served as a Christchurch City Councillor (1903, 1917-19), and a Member Parliament (1899-1919) where he worked to improve schooling, the banking system, access to Old Age Pensions, and was instrumental in the passing of the Scenery Preservation Act. He is really remembered for his work as conservationist: he wanted to preserve forests to conserve soil and water, and create reserves and afforestation programmes to ensure adequate timber supplies and to provide better training for scientific foresters.

More resources

Christchurch – this week in history (1 April – 7 April)

Plans for New Regent Street1 April 1932
New Regent Street opens, built on the site of the old Colosseum.

Sign of the Takahe photo1 April 1949
Sign of the Takahe opens. This was the completion of the Summit Road developments begun by Harry Ell in 1908.

5 April 1844
Frederick Tuckett and a party including surveyors, land at Lyttelton from the “Deborah” looking for a suitable site for a Scottish settlement in the South Island. They subsequently got lost in the swamps, so it is not surprising that their eventual choice was Otago, not Canterbury.

6 April 1876
Birth in Auckland of Harold Williams. He was to become one of the world’s greatest ever linguists, speaking 28 languages fluently.

6 April 1982
Premiere of “Roadshow” road safety stage show. The show was later taken on a national tour for 6 months from February 1983. It played to a total audience of over 250,000, probably the biggest of any New Zealand musical show.

More April events in our Christchurch chronology.