Woolston / Heathcote Cemetery Tour - Christchurch City Libraries


Woolston / Heathcote Cemetery Tour - Christchurch City Libraries

member of the first General Assembly which met in Auckland, he achieved fame and

power in the local arena.

In 1857 Ollivier came forth ‘buoyant, in the full pride of manhood, with beaming face

and cheerful voice’, ‘trusty henchman’ to and ‘kingmaker’ in the election of

Canterbury Superintendent, William Sefton Moorhouse; Ollivier’s ‘persuasive

tongue’ was of the best assets of W. S. Moorhouse. Not surprisingly, Ollivier ‘and

Sefton hitched together for a long time’. While Moorhouse held office, Ollivier was

either Provincial Secretary - the manager of day-to-day government business - or

President of the Executive Council.

In the Provincial Council Ollivier, ‘prime minister of Canterbury’, led battles ‘where,

at times, there was fierce, exciting work, there being some very able men amongst the

… provincial politicians …’ Ollivier was ‘great as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and

manipulated surpluses with financial dexterity’.

It was Ollivier who argued that the government should endeavour to raise money on

the English loan market so that it could afford to bore a railway tunnel through the

Port Hills and make it easy for farm produce to be transported to ships at Lyttelton.

He fought, in a most determined manner, against his foes, often genteel land-owners

with links to the Canterbury Association. Such people thought raising loans for

development as bad as popular government in Australia or ‘the still lower hell of

Yankee democracy’. Ollivier described James Edward FitzGerald’s attacks on the

Moorhouse government as the result of a ‘bitter hatred of the 30, 000 pound loan and

of the tunnel through the hill’.

Ollivier’s pugnacious nature comes through in the following speech:

Perhaps our government thought (presumptuous impertinence) that Canterbury

no longer stood in need of leading strings, that the time had come when it

could walk by itself as well as under the tutelage of its old rulers and lawgivers

and dictators under the Canterbury Association …Gratitude is at all

times a pleasing trait in the character of man but it ceases to be a duty … when

the parties who once rendered the service become exacting. It is odious to be

continually reminded of any obligation and provokes a rejoinder and, not

infrequently, a severance of interest. Nor is it to be forgotten that, while the

original settlers … were bound to the originators of the association by ties of

friendly action, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, here now who know

nothing of these ties ….

In 1863 Ollivier was the author of an ordinance which took discretion about the

granting of liquor licences away from magistrates and made it easy for people to gain

a licence to sell liquor without providing food, lodgings and stabling for customers’

horses. The newspapers complained of how people no longer consumed alcohol in a

quiet, orderly manner. Rather there could be heard ‘the howlings of frantic

bacchanals’. It became necessary to modify the ordinance.

Woolston / Heathcote Cemetery



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