Woolston / Heathcote Cemetery Tour - Christchurch City Libraries


Woolston / Heathcote Cemetery Tour - Christchurch City Libraries

In 1863 Moorhouse went bankrupt and was forced to resign as Superintendent.

Ollivier summoned the meeting which anointed Samuel Bealey as his successor.

Ollivier’s closet critic, Charles Christopher Bowen, wrote to H. S. Selfe:

Bealey is to be Superintendent. Ollivier has said so, so it must be. You may

fancy what we have come to when a mild, platitude-grinding nobody is to be

ruler, set up and crowned by a frothing chattering bookseller. Ichabod.

The last word is a Biblical reference. In Samuel 4:21 the Phillistines capture the Ark

of God and the sons of the Israelite leader, Eli, are killed. On hearing the news, Eli

falls back, breaks his neck and dies. His daughter-in-law goes into premature labour

gives birth and, before she dies, names her son Ichabod, meaning that the glory has

departed from Israel. Bowen saw Canterbury under Moorhouse or an associate as

akin to Israel after its great military and spiritual defeat. Georgina Bowen commented

about how George Ross and John Ollivier were seeking office. Mr. Ross was

… a gentleman and a very fit person for the office and Mr. Ollivier a very

bumptious auctioneer … Canterbury has always been so highly respectable

that it would be a pity to see it fall lower in the colonial scale.

H. S. Selfe, who shared the Bowens’ views, wrote on one occasion: ‘I groan to think

of Canterbury passing once again under the management of Moorhouse, Ollivier and


Viewing Bealey as no more than a seat-warmer, Ollivier eventually tried to oust him

and bring back the former Superintendent. There was much criticism of Ollivier and

other ‘self-appointed and irresponsible arbiters of the public destiny’. The worm

turned. Bealey sought a new executive, which included the heavyweights William

Rolleston and John (later Sir John) Hall, and was able to serve out his term.

In 1865-66 Ollivier was Speaker of the Provincial Council. This position, where he

had to show tact and impartiality, must have been ‘most irksome to one who had

always been accustomed to speak frequently and lengthily on all occasions’. Later

still he was Provincial Auditor and auditor to infant local authorities in Christchurch.

His final position was Resident Magistrate in Lyttelton.

It was at Ollivier’s offices, on 27 January 1864, that the Heathcote Road Board,

predecessor of the Heathcote County Council, first met. An original board member,

Ollivier held an official position for but a short time. Nevertheless he long exercised

influence in the election of members and appointment of clerks. No meeting of

Heathcote ratepayers seemed complete unless Ollivier held the floor for a substantial


The Heathcote bridge lay within the road board boundaries. It was built so that it

could be raised and let through small freight-bearing and toll-paying vessels. Alas,

business interests did not make much use of the river or bridge and the bulk of the toll

money came from local people such as the poor fishermen who worked at Sumner.

Woolston / Heathcote Cemetery



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