Looking Back #1

A chance comment over morning coffee during the recent school holidays brought our negligence to light. The biscuity treat accompaniment (in truth found lurking in the secret biscuit tin where it had been hidden an indeterminate while ago in an effort to stop it being inhaled in one sitting) was deemed “so stale it was probably brought out on one of the first four ships.”

“What’s the first four ships?” asked Farm Girl.

Feeling slightly embarrassed by our slackness, we decided the time was ripe to impart some local days-of-old knowledge to the youngest Homesteader. So it is that recent Union Homestead days off have taken a slight historical bent, starting off with exploring the a slightly more salubrious homestead: that of the Dean’s family, Christchurch’s undisputed founding fathers. 


Riccarton House

The two Deans brothers, John and William, were the first Europeans to set up home on the Canterbury Plains in 1843, pre-dating the “official settlement” of the area by seven years.  Not that either of them got to live in this flash house;


Their more humble abode,  Deans’ Cottage, is the oldest building on the Canterbury Plains.

by the time it was ready for occupation they had both departed this mortal coil leaving John’s widow, Jane, to run the show. This she did in a no-nonsense display of doughty Scottish girl-power, until her death 1911. In 1914 the Deans family gave the almost 17 acres of bush surrounding the house to “The People of Canterbury” on the condition it be preserved in its natural state and in 1947 the Christchurch City Council reached into the kitty and bought the house as well. 

Deans Bush

It’s prime real estate


with the homestead surrounded by reminders of the homeland…


while the “backyard” has been left as it was when the family arrived


including the statuesque native Kahikateas 


with their amazingly long surface roots

A pleasant time was spent exploring the grounds and peering in windows until the smell of caffeine proved too alluring and we retired to a nearby cafe to fortify ourselves for another week on our very own, more modest patch of Christchurch soil. 

Union Homestead

Be it ever so humble…



12 thoughts on “Looking Back #1

    • The first four ships, The Randolph, Cressy, Charlotte Jane and Sir George Seymour, are akin to the US Mayflower; they brought the first official settlers to Christchurch (carefully selected, across the socio-economic scale but all firmly Anglican 🙂 ) in 1850/51. Union Homestead history has no direct ties to these “first families”. we’re more recent imports and oOur existence here owes more to NZ’s need of “skilled migrants” in the 1950’s.

  1. Thanks for the history lesson, I loved the cottage reminding me of the first place I stayed in when I came to NZ in 1963. I boarded with an elderly woman whose parents’ home it had been.

  2. Langholm has a close connection with NZ and at any one time, there is almost always someone from Langholm visiting friends there. We has advertisements on our local paper in the mid 1800s offering free trips to NZ for shepherds and farm workers.

Thoughts? Comments? Advice? We'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s