Richard Packer (politician)

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Richard Packer
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Town of Christchurch
In office
1856 – 1859
Preceded by Henry Sewell
Succeeded by Henry Sewell
Canterbury Provincial Council
In office
Preceded by new office
Personal details
Born 1794
Died 27 July 1872
Spouse(s) Hannah
Residence Somerfield[1]
Religion Anglo-Catholic

Richard Packer (1794 – 27 July 1872) was a New Zealand politician and Member of Parliament from 1856–1859 representing the Town of Christchurch electorate. He was also a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council, including its treasurer.[2]

Early life[edit]

Packer lived in Claverton near Bath in the County of Somerset, England, when he decided to emigrate to New Zealand, which he did in 1851.[3] He took up employment as church steward. His family arrived in Lyttelton on 31 May 1851 on the ship Travancore.[4]

Political career[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1856–1859 2nd Town of Christchurch Independent

Packer was elected to the first Canterbury Provincial Council in 1853, together with Samuel Bealey and Thomas Cass.[5] He was a member of the 1st and 2nd council, from 1853 until 1860.[6] During a day of low attendance in October 1854, he secured a suspension of the standing orders, which allowed him to pass the first two readings of a bill to enlarge the council's membership by 12 additional members. Whilst there was justification for such a measure due to the long session lengths, the Executive Council consisting of Henry Tancred, Henry Godfrey Gouland, Charles Simeon, and William John Warburton Hamilton regarded the matter as a vote of no confidence and resigned.[7] Packer was part of the Executive Council in 1855 and again in 1857.[8] For a time, he was Provincial Treasurer and Provincial Secretary.[2][9]

Henry Sewell vacated his seat for the Town of Christchurch electorate on 21 October 1856 to commence overseas travel.[10] Packer was elected on 18 November in the 1856 Town of Christchurch by-election to fill this vacancy.[11][12]

On 28 December 1859, Packer resigned his seat at parliament.[11][13] The 18 January 1860 by-election was won by Sewell, who had returned from overseas.[14]

He served on the Waste Lands Board until his death.[15]

Later life[edit]

Packer had an early shop in Cashel Street on the site that was later occupied by the Bank of Australasia.[15]

Packer owned 42 acres (170,000 m2) of land at the southern end of Colombo Street. The property was previously owned by the brothers Edward and Frederick Augustus Bishop, and they had called it Somerfield based on their birthplace (Somerfield House in Maidstone, Kent). Packer's son, Henry William Packer (1831–1890), increased the family’s land holding to 132 acres (0.53 km2). Somerfield has since been adopted for the name of the suburb in that part of Christchurch.[1]

Packer was active in the Anglo-Catholic movement in the Anglican church. He was on the building committee for the Saint Michael and All Angels Church, which these days forms part of the St Michael's Church School in the Christchurch Central City. His name is written on parchment stored in a glass cylinder underneath the cornerstone in the foundation.[16]

Packer died in Christchurch on 27 July 1872.[2] Packer's wife Hannah died on 7 December 1879 in the Christchurch suburb of Somerfield, aged 85.[17]


  1. ^ a b Harper, Margaret. "Christchurch Place Names: N-Z" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. pp. 59–61. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Mr. Richard Packer". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand - Canterbury Provincial District. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia Company Limited. 1903. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Sewell 1980, p. 345.
  4. ^ "H. W. Packer" (6989). The Star. 18 October 1890. p. 3. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "Obituary" (9552). The Star. 26 May 1909. p. 2. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  6. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 195.
  7. ^ Hight & Straubel 1957, pp. 220–221.
  8. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 191.
  9. ^ "Canterbury". XIV (1021). Daily Southern Cross. 10 April 1857. p. 3. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  10. ^ McIntyre, W. David (22 June 2007). "Sewell, Henry 1807 - 1879". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 131.
  12. ^ "Canterbury". XV (79). Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle. 31 December 1856. p. 3. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  13. ^ "Canterbury". XIX (2). Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle. 7 January 1860. p. 3. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  14. ^ "Mr. Sewell's Policy". XV (1402). Wellington Independent. 31 January 1860. p. 3. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  15. ^ a b "News of the Day". The Press. XX (2884). 30 July 1872. p. 2. 
  16. ^ "The new church of St Michael and All Angels" (735). The Star. 30 September 1870. p. 2. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 
  17. ^ "Death" (3639). The Star. 9 December 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 26 March 2010. 


  • Hight, James; Straubel, C. R. (1957). A History of Canterbury. I : to 1854. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd. 
  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. 
  • Sewell, Henry (1980). W. David McIntyre, ed. The Journal of Henry Sewell 1853–7 : Volume I. Christchurch: Whitcoulls Publishers. ISBN 0 7233 0624 9. 
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Henry Sewell
Member of Parliament for Christchurch
Succeeded by
Henry Sewell