This page looks at the important council events that took place between 1901 and 1920.

Year Date/Month Event
1902   Henry Francis Wigram (1902-1904) is elected as 25th Mayor of Christchurch.  According to Rice (1999:64) Henry Wigram is “…chiefly remembered as the father of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, for his pioneering support for the aviation in the First World War and his gift of Sockburn Aerodrome, which became the Wigram Air Force Base”.
1903 22 January

Christchurch Tramway Board holds its first meeting.  

1903 1 April

Sydenham, Linwood and St. Albans amalgamate with the City to form Greater Christchurch. Following a poll of ratepayers in favour of amalgamation with the City in January 1903, on 31 March 1903 at the same time as the Linwood and St Albans boroughs merged with Christchurch City, the Sydenham Borough Council was dissolved and replaced with four seats for the area in the new combined City Council.


The population of Christchurch was recorded as 57,041 making Christchurch the second largest city in New Zealand.

1903 25 May Statue of Queen Victoria unveiled in Market Square (later renamed Victoria Square).
1903 25 July Christchurch City Council generates Christchurch’s first public electricity from a generator driven by the Municipal Refuse Destructor. This eventually led to the formation of the Municipal Electricity Department which was derived from the City Engineer’s Department in 1925.
1904 11November

Christchurch Anglican Cathedral(external link) is completed. Designed by architect George Gilbert Scott, this building is located within the Central City of Christchurch.  Unfortunately, this building suffered extensive damage in the February 2011 earthquakes.

Charles Matthew Gray (1904-1905) is re-elected Mayor of Christchurch (had previously sat in office in 1891).

1905 12 February

The Cathedral of The Blessed Sacrament(external link), more commonly referred to as The Catholic Basilica, opens. Designed by Francis William Petre and regarded as one of the finest examples of church architecture in Australasia. Unfortunately due to the February 2011 earthquakes, extensive structural damage has all but demolished this beautiful structure. 

Did you know?
Francis William Petre also designed and built the Dux De Lux (corner of Hereford and Montreal Streets). This house was originally built in 1883 for Mr John Lewis who was a Christchurch Merchant.

1905 6 June First electric trams in operation in Christchurch.
1906 May Honourable Sir John Hall (1906-1907) is elected as 26th Mayor of Christchurch.  Sir John Hall was the first Council Chairman of the Christchurch City Council and former Premier of New Zealand.
1906 26 May Statue of William Rolleston(external link) unveiled outside Canterbury Museum.
1906 1 November New Zealand International Exhibition(external link), which was the biggest in the country at the time, opens in Hagley Park from 1 November 1906 to 15 April 1907.  It had been a dream of Richard Seddon, Premier of New Zealand from 1893 until his death on 10 June 1906, just a few months before the Exhibition opened and despite the substantial financial loss incurred by the Exhibition, two million visitors attended which exceeded expectations.  New Zealand's total population at the time was less than one million.  
1907 1 April Beckenham and Fisherton join Christchurch City. Due to the death of the Honourable Sir John Hall, George Payling (1907-1908) is elected as 27th Mayor of Christchurch. McCormacks Bay causeway is built. At this time it was only for trams but it was later widened for motor traffic.
1908 28 November

Work begins on the Summit Road, the first part of Harry Ell’s dream. Harry George Ell(external link) worked tirelessly for the promotion of the Summit Hills preservation as well as many other social and environmental reforms.

Charles Allison (1908-1911) is elected as 28th Mayor of Christchurch

1909 21 June

High-pressure city-wide water supply installed. As Christchurch was situated on a swamp, drainage was a priority(external link)


Government roading incentive (£10,000 per county) causes the dismemberment of Selwyn County from the Waimakariri to Rakaia Rivers, and the formation of 10 new counties - Waimairi, Paparua, Heathcote, Ellesmere, Malvern, Springs, Wairewa, Akaroa, Mt Herbert and Halswell.  Many of these records have survived since amalgamation with Christchurch City Council and are now part of the Christchurch City Council Archives.

1911 1 April

North Linwood is added to Christchurch City Council. Spreydon Borough Council is formed.

1911 July

Thomas E Taylor (1911) is elected as 29th Mayor of Christchurch. Thomas Taylor (also known as Tommy Taylor) became one of New Zealand’s leading prohibitionists and entered Parliament in 1896. He was one of the best public speakers of his day, deeply committed to social reform. Unexpectedly, not long into his Mayoralty Thomas Taylor died suddenly. Approximately 50,000 people braved the cold, wet weather to attend the funeral of the man whose six week period in office as Mayor is the shortest on record.

John Joseph Dougall (1911-1912) is elected 30th Mayor of Christchurch.


Henry Holland (1912-1919) is elected as 31st Mayor of Christchurch.

1913 1 January

Riccarton Borough Council is formed.

1914 3 April

North Richmond joins Christchurch City Council.

1914 2 November

Riccarton (Deans) Bush is presented to the City by the Dean’s family.

1915 May

First Electric Street lights in operation.

1916 2 October

Opawa joins Christchurch City Council.

1917 9 February

Statue of Robert Falcon Scott is unveiled opposite the Municipal Council Chambers in Oxford Terrace.  It was sculpted by Scott’s widow, Kathleen Scott and purchased from her by the Christchurch City Council.

1917 20 March

Avonside and St Martins join Christchurch City Council

1917 May

Mrs Ada Wells(external link) stands as a Labour candidate and becomes the first woman to be elected to the Christchurch City Council.  The following Christchurch City Libraries webpage features brief political biographies of Women in the Christchurch City Council: Women in the Council Chamber(external link).

1917 9 June

The Sign of the Kiwi(external link) opens. In 1909 the Summit Road Scenic Reserves Board was formed to promote Harry Ell’s vision(external link) of a road to provide public access to all parts of the Port Hills.  The two most significant buildings were The Sign of the Kiwi and The Sign of the Takahe but also included The Sign of the Bellbird and The Packhorse Hut.

1918 6 November

Influenza epidemic(external link), which eventually claimed the lives of 466 people in Christchurch.


Henry Thomas Joynt Thacker (1919-1923) is elected as 32nd Mayor of Christchurch. According to Rice (1999:86) “He was a noted footballer and first president of the Canterbury Rugby Football League, and helped train Richard Arnst, who became world champion sculler in 1910.Henry Thacker was MP for Christchurch East (1914-1922) and one of Christchurch’s most colourful Mayors, leading the Port Christchurch campaign.”

1920 13-15 May

Visit of Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII).