John Ollivier

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John Ollivier
John Ollivier.jpg
Portrait of John Ollivier
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Christchurch Country
In office
Preceded byDingley Askham Brittin
Succeeded byIsaac Cookson
Canterbury Provincial Council
In office
2nd Chairman of the Christchurch Town Council
In office
Preceded byJohn Hall
Succeeded byIsaac Luck
Personal details
Born25 March 1812
Isle of Wight, England
Died31 July 1893(1893-07-31) (aged 81)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Ollivier
RelationsArthur Ollivier (son)
ResidenceBolton House, Ferry Road, Christchurch

John Ollivier (25 March 1812 – 31 July 1893) was a Member of Parliament in New Zealand, but was better known for his membership of the Canterbury Provincial Council. He was the second chairman of the Christchurch Town Council.

Early life[edit]

Ollivier was born in 1812 on the Isle of Wight in England.[1] His parents were Claude Nicholas Ollivier (c.1780–c.1855)[2] and Ann Wilby (c.1782–c.1820).[3] Ollivier was educated in France.[4] He worked as a publisher in London for about 20 years. The most popular work that he published was Eothen; or Traces of travel brought home from the East by Alexander William Kinglake.[5]

He married Elizabeth Morton in 1839.[5] They had a large family, with 10 children born before they emigrated, and one more son born in Christchurch.[1] Their 8th son, Arthur Morton, was born in 1851 and achieved some prominence as a cricketer, mountaineer and businessman.[6] The family came to New Zealand on the John Taylor; the ship left London on 10 July 1853 and arrived in Lyttelton on 18 October.[7][8] He took up farming next to what is now known as Halswell Road, opposite the suburb of Aidanfield. After a few years, he moved into town and built a house on Ferry Road, where he lived for the rest of his life.[5]

In Christchurch, he established himself as an auctioneer with premises in High Street.[6] He also worked as an accountant and became known as a humorist.[4]

Political career[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1856–1860 2nd Christchurch Country Independent
Town Council

Ollivier was elected onto the Christchurch Town Council for the period from 1863 to 1865, and was selected by his fellow councillors as their chairman for the 1863–1864 council year. He was the second chairman, and the role is the forerunner to the position of Mayor of Christchurch.[9][10][11]

Provincial Council

Ollivier was first elected onto the Canterbury Provincial Council in 1855 for the Christchurch Country electorate. He served until the dissolution of the 1st Provincial Council in July 1857. He then stood in the Heathcote electorate and was elected onto the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Provincial Council (1857–1863). During the term of the 4th Provincial Council in early 1863, he stood in the City of Christchurch electorate, and he represented that electorate until the dissolution of the 4th Council in May 1866.[12]

When the Superintendency of James FitzGerald came to an end in 1857, it was generally expected that Joseph Brittan would succeed him. Brittan published his political views in a long letter[13][14] that appeared in the Lyttelton Times for several months.[15] William Sefton Moorhouse announced his candidacy months later, was less experienced and the worse public speaker of the two candidates. It was Ollivier's support as a skilled orator that gained Moorhouse the Superintendency at the election on 30 October 1857 and Ollivier was regarded as the 'kingmaker'.[15] Ollivier had a reputation as 'perhaps the best after-dinner speaker'.[6][16]

Ollivier served on the Executive Council from 8 December 1857 to 8 November 1859, and again from 21 November 1859 to 2 January 1860.[17] He was Speaker of the Council from 30 May 1865 to 7 May 1866.[18]


Ollivier contested the seat of Christchurch Country against Crosbie Ward, following the resignation of Dingley Askham Brittin. At the 14 October 1856 by-election,[19] Ollivier was returned with 191 votes, a majority of 71 over Ward.[20] Ollivier resigned on 20 January 1860,[19] and Isaac Cookson was returned to represent the electorate.[21][22][23]

John Olliver Terrace in Halswell

Ollivier stood for parliament again late in his life. On the first occasion, the resignation of Arthur O'Callaghan from the Lincoln electorate on 9 November 1888[24] caused the 16 January 1889 by-election between Ollivier and Alfred Saunders. Saunders congratulated Ollivier for the humorous and witty campaign and remarked that "he had not heard a more amusing speech at a nomination than that of Mr Ollivier".[25][26] Saunders won the election with 676 votes to 332.[27][28]

The resignation of Sir Julius Vogel caused the 19 June 1889 by-election in the Christchurch North electorate, contested by three candidates. Edward Humphreys beat Ollivier by a small margin, with Eden George (a later mayor of Christchurch) coming a distant third.[29]

Death and commemoration[edit]

Ollivier died on 31 July 1893.[5] He was buried at Woolston Cemetery.[30]

John Olliver Terrace in Halswell is named after him (this is the area where he first farmed), but his surname is misspelt. The street is in a recent subdivision and the name was approved in 1999.[31] Olliviers Road in Linwood was named after him and is located near his Ferry Road residence. The road name first appeared in a report to the Heathcote Road Board in 1877.[10]


  1. ^ a b Frost, Tony. "John Ollivier". Frost Family. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Claude Nicholas OLLIVIER". ?. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Ann WILBY". ?. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b McIntyre 1980, p. 196.
  5. ^ a b c d "Obituary" (4711). The Star. 1 August 1893. p. 1. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Greenaway, Richard L. N. (June 2007). "Woolston / Heathcote Cemetery Tour" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. pp. 15–19. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Shipping News". Lyttelton Times. III (146). 22 October 1853. p. 6. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  8. ^ Bastin, Kay. "John Taylor". Rootsweb. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Mr. John Ollivier". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand – Canterbury Provincial District. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1903. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  10. ^ a b Harper, Margaret (March 2010). "Christchurch Street Names N to O" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. p. 53. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Councillors of the City of Christchurch". Christchurch: Christchurch City Council. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  12. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 195.
  13. ^ "To the Electors of the Province of Canterbury". Lyttelton Times. VII (479). 6 June 1857. p. 3. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  14. ^ "To the Electors of the Province of Canterbury". Lyttelton Times. VII (479). 6 June 1857. p. 4. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  15. ^ a b Hight 1957, p. 79.
  16. ^ Miller, Graham M. "Moorhouse, William Sefton – Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  17. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 191.
  18. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 189.
  19. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 130.
  20. ^ "Canterbury". XIII (978). Daily Southern Cross. 11 November 1856. p. 3. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  21. ^ "Canterbury". XV (1402). Wellington Independent. 31 January 1860. p. 5. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  22. ^ "New Zealand Provinces". XIX (34). Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle. 28 April 1860. p. 3. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  23. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 101.
  24. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 224.
  25. ^ "Lincoln Election". Star (6441). 10 January 1889. p. 4. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  26. ^ "The Lincoln Seat". The Press. XLVI (7251). 10 January 1889. p. 6. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  27. ^ "Lincoln Election". The Press. XLVI (7258). 18 January 1889. p. 5. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  28. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 233.
  29. ^ "Christchurch North Election" (6577). The Star. 20 June 1889. p. 3. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  30. ^ "Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  31. ^ Harper, Margaret (March 2010). "Christchurch Street Names I to K" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. p. 35. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  • Hight, James; C. R. Straubel (1957). A History of Canterbury. Volume I : to 1854. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd.
  • Sewell, Henry (1980). W. David McIntyre (ed.). The Journal of Henry Sewell 1853–7 : Volume II. Christchurch: Whitcoulls Publishers. ISBN 0-7233-0625-7.
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Dingley Askham Brittin
Member of Parliament for Christchurch Country
Served alongside: John Hall
Succeeded by
Isaac Cookson
Political offices
Preceded by
John Hall
Chairman of the Christchurch Town Council
Succeeded by
Isaac Luck