Rolleston Statue

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Rolleston Statue outside the Canterbury Museum in November 2010

The Rolleston Statue is a white marble statue situated outside Canterbury Museum on Rolleston Avenue in Christchurch, New Zealand. It commemorates William Rolleston, who was Superintendent of the Canterbury Province from 1868 until 1877. The statue fell off its plinth in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and is yet to be put back.


Toppled statue with the head broken off

Rolleston was the fourth and last Canterbury Superintendent. He was also a Member of Parliament, from 1868 to 1899 with two breaks in the later years.[1]

Rolleston was the politician who was instrumental in the establishment of the Canterbury Museum and the Canterbury College, which now houses the Arts Centre. It was thus seen as appropriate to place the statue outside the museum, with Rolleston looking across Antigua Street (with this section since renamed to Rolleston Avenue[2]) at the Canterbury College.[3]

"My head is at Christ College"

The statue, by English sculptor Herbert Hampton, was unveiled in 1906, where it stood on a stone plinth.[4] The plinth reads: "William Rolleston Superintendent of Canterbury 1866–1876."[5]

At the time of its unveiling, the sculpture was regarded as a good likeness of Rolleston though has been criticised in more recent times as being "rigid" and "lacking surface interest" when compared to the other Christchurch statues sculpted by Thomas Woolner and George Lawson.[6] The statue toppled off its plinth during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and the head broke off.[7]

Heritage listing[edit]

On 26 November 1981, the statue was registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category II historic place, with the registration number being 1946.[4] It is one of the three statues that commemorate superintendents of Canterbury (the other statues commemorate James FitzGerald and William Sefton Moorhouse) and they are all placed on Rolleston Avenue (Moorhouse's statue is some distance inside the Botanic Gardens). The three statues thus form an important historical setting.[4]


  1. ^ Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. 
  2. ^ Harper, Margaret. "Christchurch Street Names R to S" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. pp. 51, 85, 171. Retrieved 17 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Statues". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "William Rolleston Statue". The Register. New Zealand Historic PlacesTrust. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Rolleston Statue". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  6. ^ Dunn, Michael (2002). New Zealand Sculpture: a history. Auckland University Press. p. 2 0. ISBN 1-86940-277-4. 
  7. ^ Saunders, Kate (28 February 2011). "Broken City". Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Rolleston Statue at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 43°31′51″S 172°37′39″E / 43.5309°S 172.6275°E / -43.5309; 172.6275