Holly Lea – a Rich Man’s Folly?

An elderly man, dressed in a plum coloured suit and bow tie, stands gazing at his nearly completed home. It is September 1900, and this is no ordinary home, it is reputed to be the largest wooden residence in Australasia. This 23,000 square foot, fifty three room Jacobean inspired mansion stands on five acres bordering…

Mrs Merritt’s Boarding House

Drunkeness was a serious problem in Christchurch by the late 1870s.  It didn’t help that for a city of its size, there were 47 hotels and breweries as opposed to just 10 dentists and chemist shops. Several small churches organised abstinence societies but it wasn’t until the 1880s and ’90s that the temperance movement ramped up its fight against…

From Thames to a New Life in Christchurch

In early October 1889, my 2 x great aunt, Clara Wright leaves her family home in Thames and travels on the steamer, ‘Tarawera’ to start a new life with her estranged father in Christchurch. The passengers constantly battle seasickness as the steamer travels south down the coast via Gisborne, Napier and Wellington.  At day break…