Christchurch Country was a parliamentary electorate in the Canterbury region of New Zealand from 1853 to 1860. It was thus one of the original 24 electorates used for the 1st New Zealand Parliament.


The area covered by the Christchurch Country electorate was synonymous with the original area of Canterbury Province, i.e. covering all land from the east coast to the west coast of the South Island that lay north of Otago Province (covered by the Dunedin Country electorate) and south of Nelson Province (covered by the Wairau electorate on the east coast; the west coast was virtually uninhibited by Europeans and initially not covered by an electorate). Thus, the Christchurch Country electorate extended from Awarua Point to the Grey River on the West Coast, and from the Waitaki River to the Hurunui River.[1] Three settlements within Canterbury Province were covered by their own electorates, namely Town of Christchurch (covering an area now to be considered the central city), Town of Lyttelton, and Akaroa (which covered the eastern half of Banks Peninsula).[1]


The electorate was created for the first Parliament as a two-member electorate.[2]

The nomination meeting for the first election was held on 16 August 1853 at the Christchurch Land Office, together with the nomination meeting for the Town of Christchurch electorate. The first election was held on Saturday, 27 August between 9 am and 4 pm at the Resident Magistrate's Office in Christchurch, with Charles Simeon acting as the returning officer.[3] James Stuart-Wortley and Jerningham Wakefield were the first two representatives.[4] Wakefield served until the end of the parliamentary term. Stuart-Wortley resigned on 18 July 1855. As Parliament was dissolved on 15 September 1855, no by-election was held to fill the vacancy.[5]

For the 1855 election, the nomination meeting for both the Christchurch Country and the Town of Christchurch electorates was held in the Market Place on Tuesday, 18 December. Charles Bowen acted as returning officer. Four candidates were proposed for the Christchurch Country electorate, and the election date was set for Thursday, 20 December. Henry Sewell was the only candidate for the Town of Christchurch electorate, and he was declared elected.[6] Two days later, polling booths were in Christchurch, Lyttelton, and Kaiapoi, and the successful candidates were John Hall and Dingley Askham Brittin, who defeated John Ollivier and Crosbie Ward.[7] Hall later became New Zealand's 12th Premier (1879–82).[8]

Members of ParliamentEdit

The electorate was represented by seven Members of Parliament.[2]



Election Winners
1853 election Jerningham Wakefield James Stuart-Wortley
1855 election Dingley Askham Brittin John Hall
1856 by-election John Ollivier[9]
1860 first by-election Isaac Cookson
1860 second by-election Charles Hunter Brown

Election resultsEdit

1856 by-electionEdit

1856 Christchurch Country by-election[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent John Ollivier 191 61.4
Independent Crosbie Ward 120 38.6
Turnout 311
Majority 71

1855 electionEdit

1855 general election: Christchurch Country[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent John Hall 241 64.87
Independent Dingley Askham Brittin 208 55.99
Independent John Ollivier 177 47.64
Independent Crosbie Ward 117 31.49
Majority 31[nb 1] 8.34
Turnout 372[nb 2]
Registered electors

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Majority is difference between lowest winning poll (Brittin – 208) and highest losing poll (Ollivier – 177).
  2. ^ As electors had two votes each, turnout is assumed to be the sum of votes divided by two.

1853 electionEdit

1853 general election: Christchurch Country[4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent James Stuart-Wortley 131 41.32
Independent Jerningham Wakefield 123 38.80
Independent Guise Brittan 63 19.87
Majority 60[mb 1] 37.85
Turnout 159[mb 2] 73.38
Registered electors 216

Table footnotes:

  1. ^ Majority is difference between lowest winning poll (Wakefield – 123) and highest losing poll (Brittan – 63).
  2. ^ As electors had two votes each, turnout is assumed to be the sum of votes divided by two.


  1. ^ a b McRobie 1989, p. 31.
  2. ^ a b Wilson 1985, p. 261.
  3. ^ "Public Notice". Lyttelton Times. Vol. III, no. 134. 30 July 1853. p. 1. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Christchurch Elections". Lyttelton Times. Vol. III, no. 139. 3 September 1853. p. 6. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  5. ^ Scholefield 1950, pp. 141, 145.
  6. ^ "The Lyttelton Times". Lyttelton Times. Vol. V, no. 327. 19 December 1855. p. 6. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  7. ^ a b "The Lyttelton Times". Lyttelton Times. Vol. V, no. 328. 22 December 1855. p. 6. Retrieved 16 March 2016.
  8. ^ King 2003, p. 534.
  9. ^ "Canterbury". Vol. XIII, no. 978. Daily Southern Cross. 11 November 1856. p. 3. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  10. ^ "Local Intelligence". Lyttelton Times. Vol. VI, no. 412. 15 October 1856. p. 7. Retrieved 29 May 2013.


  • King, Michael (2003). The Penguin History of New Zealand. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-301867-1.
  • McRobie, Alan (1989). Electoral Atlas of New Zealand. Wellington: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01384-8.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.