Hagley Park still holds a few surprises. Muddy puddles obliged us to take a different path today, and we came across this memorial stone we hadn’t seen before.
Erected on 16 December 1908 by the Canterbury Old Colonists’ Association, the brass plaque marks the spot where in 1850 some of the first Pakeha settlers, the Bowen and Williams families, erected the temporary huts they lived in until more permanent homes could be built. When they arrived the area was a wilderness of fern, tussocks, and tutu (a poisonous shrub), with nothing to distinguish it from the rest of the Canterbury Plain. The Bowen residence comprised a whare built of reeds by some Kaiapoi Maori, a kitchen, and a small wooden house and lean-to, with a surrounding ditch to keep them dry.
Today the plaque stands under a large oak tree.
“Some early settlers lived right here
their quarters must have been austere.”