James Arthur Flesher

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James Flesher
Photo showing upper half of Flesher in his mayoral robes
James Arthur Flesher
33rd Mayor of Christchurch
In office
Preceded by Henry Thacker
Succeeded by John Archer
Personal details
Born 13 August 1865
Died 18 August 1930
Resting place Avonside Anglican Cemetery
43°31′36″S 172°39′31″E / 43.5266°S 172.6586°E / -43.5266; 172.6586
Nationality New Zealand
Spouse(s) Margaret Lucy Flesher (nee England)
Children Herbert de R Flesher (b. 1901)
Mrs F M L Sheppard
Residence Avebury House
Occupation solicitor & barrister

James Arthur Flesher OBE (13 August 1865 – 18 August 1930) was a politician in Christchurch, New Zealand. He held many public offices and was Mayor of Christchurch from 1923 to 1925.[1]

Early life[edit]

Flesher was born on 13 August 1865 in Christchurch. His parents were William Flesher (a land agent) and Dorothy Flesher (née Johnson). He attended Christ's College.[2]

After school, he started a legal career, first at the Christchurch and Ashburton offices of Messrs Wilding and Lewis. Four years later, he joined the offices of Messrs Thomas Joynt and Acton Adams. When that firm was dissolved, he joined the offices of Messrs Acton-Adams and Kippenberger. In 1898, he was admitted as a solicitor. In 1899, he was admitted as a barrister and started his own legal practice at 9 Cathedral Square, Christchurch.[2][3]

He married Margaret Lucy England on 18 January 1900 at the Weslyan Church in St Albans. At the time, his wife was 32 years old and working as a teacher. She was born in Adelaide to Robert Deakin and Ellen Taylor England (née Grant). Their relatives E.M. Deakin (Ashburton) and Harold Edmund Flesher were the witnesses to the marriage ceremony.[4]

Political life[edit]

Flesher's political career began in either 1891[5] or 1893,[2] when he was elected onto the Richmond Ward of Christchurch City Council. He was the mayor of the New Brighton Borough from 1915 to 1917. From 1918 to 1920, he represented Christchurch City Council as a councillor. During that time, he chaired the By-laws and Finance Committee. From 1923 to 1925, Flesher was the elected Mayor of Christchurch. He was once again elected councillor for Christchurch City Council in 1928 and held that post until his death.[2] He stood in the 1928 election in the Kaiapoi electorate for the Reform Party and was narrowly beaten by Richard Hawke of the United Party.[6][7]

Community involvement[edit]

Flesher was involved in a great number of organisations, and held important roles with many of those:[2][3]

Avebury House[edit]

Avebury House in May 2011

In 1871, James Flesher’s father William (born 1837) bought a 25 acres (100,000 m2) site of the Avebury farm from Dr John Seager Gundry for £500. Flesher senior commissioned Avebury House from architect James Glanville. The 4,289 m2 dwelling was completed in 1885, replacing an earlier house from 1873. William Flesher died suddenly on the steamship SS Tarawera on a passage from Melbourne to Lyttelton, and James Flesher inherited Avebury house.[2][8]

After James Flesher’s death, the house was in turn passed to his son Hubert de Rie Flesher, who sold the building and 8 acres (32,000 m2) of land to the Crown in 1945, and it was on-sold to Christchurch City Council. The house became the Cora Wilding Youth Hostel in 1965 and the land became a public reserve (Avebury Park). After a threat of demolition in 1997, the house was renovated. It was opened in 2002 by Prime Minister Helen Clark and serves as the Avebury House Community Centre.[2][8][9]

Avebury House and Avebury Park are located in Eveleyn Couzins Avenue in Richmond, Christchurch.[10] Flesher Avenue, off Eveleyn Couzins Avenue, is named after the Flesher family. Both roads occupy land that was previously part of the Avebury House property.[11][12]


Flesher died on 18 August 1930 at Avebury House following a long illness.[13] He was buried at the Anglican cemetery of Holy Trinity Avonside.[14] He was survived by his wife and his two children.[2]


  1. ^ "Chairmen and mayors". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "James Arthur Flesher". Christchurch: Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Canterbury Provincial District) Barristers and Solicitors". Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Ltd. 1903. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Christchurch City Library – Church register index – surname – FLESHER". Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Canterbury Provincial District) Ex-Councillors". Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company Ltd. 1903. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "The Battle Eve". Auckland Star. LIX (269). 13 November 1928. p. 13. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  7. ^ The General Election, 1928. Government Printer. 1929. p. 3. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "James Glanville, Architect". Canterbury Heritage. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  9. ^ Ebborn, Lynnette (25 October 2002). "Avebury House Update" (PDF). Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  10. ^ "Avebury Park". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  11. ^ Harper, Margaret. "Christchurch Street Names F to K" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. p. 30. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  12. ^ Harper, Margaret. "Christchurch Street Names C to E" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. p. 265. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  13. ^ Evans, Beverley. "Christchurch Press – August 1930 – BMD -". Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  14. ^ Evans, Beverley. "Christchurch Press August 1930 – Snippets". Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Thacker
Mayor of Christchurch
Succeeded by
John Archer