ASHBURTON DISTRICT FAMILY HISTORY GROUP INCORPORATED
MID – CANTERBURY NEW ZEALAND
Valued Sponsors and Supporters of our Group
Clock tower on Baring Square East Ashburton Domain William and Francis Turton
Courtesy of Ashburton Museum
East coast of the South Island of New Zealand with a population of 27,372 (2006 est). It is the third largest centre in
Canterbury, after Christchurch and Timaru. The area around Ashburton is frequently referred to as Mid Canterbury,
which is the name used by theDistrict’s representative sports teams. It covers from the Southern Alps in the west to
the Pacific Ocean, Rakaia River in the north, to the Rangitata River in the south, including the towns of Methven, Mt.
Somers and Rakaia.
The Mâori name for the town is Hakatere. While there was pre-European settlement of the area by Mâori, they mainly
used the coastal area to journey along the Canterbury Bight between Taumoto by Lake Ellesmere in the north and
Arowhenua south of the Rangitata River in the south or they travelled along the foothills.
Ashburton was named by surveyor, Captain Joseph Thomas of the New Zealand Canterbury Association, after the 3rd
Baron of Ashburton, later Lord Ashburton. It was originally a treeless plain, covered in tussock, except for a few cabbage
trees and matagouri and swept periodically by gales from the north-west. The wide snow fed braided rivers meant fords
constantly changed and crossing could be difficult.
The first building was an accommodation house built on a ferry reserve on the northern bank of the Ashburton River in
William Turton also ran a ferry service and was the Postmaster.
The town, surveyed by Robert Parks in 1863-64 served local farms. The town is laid out around two central squares either
Side of the railway line and main highway, Baring Square East and Baring Square West.
One of the more prominent rural runholders was John Grigg. Originally from Cornwall, John Grigg purchased land of over
Estate is still held by Grigg descendants.
By 1864 the coaches of Cobb & Co. were using the route through Ashburton in a two-day service between Christchurch and
Timaru and maintained it until the completion of the railway in 1874 when the rail/road bridge was built over the Ashburton
Early European settlement was based on sheep farming, with the district originally divided into large runs. Cropping began in
1866 and very quickly developed into a large industry. Grain stores and stock and station agencies lined the main road and
railway which runs through the centre of the town. Dairying is now a large industry in the town.
Methven, in earlier days called the ‘Highland Village’ because of the number of Scottish Farmers and Workingmen, was named
After the farm of Robert Patton who came from Methven, Perthshire, Scotland. It is now is the centre for the Mt. Hutt ski area.
John Grigg in Baring Square East