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Christchurch

History

Though it still has the Gothic architecture and wooden villas bequeathed by its founders, Christchurch has strayed from the original urban vision. The settlement of Christchurch in 1850 was an ordered Church of England enterprise, and the fertile farming land was deliberately placed in the hands of the gentry. Christchurch was meant to be a model of class-structured England in the South Pacific, not just another scruffy colonial outpost. Churches were built rather than pubs, and wool made the elite of Christchurch wealthy. In 1862 it was incorporated as a very English city, but its character slowly changed as other migrants arrived; new industries followed, and the city forged its own aesthetic and cultural notions. Compared to Auckland, its economic and sporting rival in the north, Christchurch is still largely a bicultural society, but increasing immigration is finally alerting parochial Cantabrians to the wider world around them.