William Sefton Moorhouse

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William Sefton Moorhouse
William Sefton Moorhouse1.jpg
William Sefton Moorhouse
2nd Superintendent of Canterbury Province
In office
24 Oct 1857 – Feb 1863
In office
30 May 1866 – May 1868
3rd Mayor of Wellington
Preceded byCharles Borlase
Succeeded byWilliam Hutchison
Personal details
Born18 December 1825
Yorkshire, England
Died15 September 1881
Wellington, New Zealand
Spouse(s)Jane Ann(e) Collins
RelationsWilliam Barnard Rhodes (brother-in-law)
John Studholme (brother-in-law)

William Sefton Moorhouse (c.1825 – 15 September 1881) was a British-born New Zealand politician. He was the second Superintendent of Canterbury Province.

Early life[edit]

Moorhouse was born in Yorkshire, England, and baptised on 18 December 1825; the oldest son of William Moorhouse, a magistrate, and his wife, Ann Carter.[1] He trained as a lawyer, entering as a student at the Middle Temple in November 1847, and was called to the Bar in November 1860.[2] After working for a time in London, he moved to Lyttelton, New Zealand, with his two brothers (Benjamin and Thomas) in 1851. Soon afterwards, he moved to Wellington, where he resumed his law practice.

He married Jane Ann(e) Collins on 15 December 1853 in Old St. Paul's, Wellington. He then briefly travelled to Australia, leaving with his wife on the barque Tory on 16 December for Melbourne.[3]

He subsequently returned to Lyttelton, and then moved to Christchurch, where he acted as a lawyer, magistrate, newspaper editor, and ship owner.[4] One of his sisters, Sarah Ann Moorhouse, married William Barnard Rhodes. Another, Lucy Ellen Sykes Moorhouse, married John Studholme.

Political career[edit]

Moorhouse was active both in national and provincial politics, and later was a Mayor of Wellington.

House of Representatives[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate Party
1853–1855 1st Akaroa Independent
1858–1860 2nd Akaroa Independent
1862–1863 3rd Heathcote Independent
1866–1867 4th Westland Independent
1867–1868 4th Westland Boroughs Independent
1870 4th Christchurch Independent
1875–1879 6th Christchurch Independent
1879–1881 7th Ashley Independent

Moorhouse was elected to represent Akaroa in the 1st New Zealand Parliament, and remained an MP until his death. In his parliamentary career, he represented the Akaroa, Heathcote (a notice of election was gazetted on 12 July 1862,[5] and the member sworn in on 14 July[6]), Westland, Westland Boroughs, Christchurch and Ashley (elected 1879)[7] electorates. In the 1866 election, he had won both the Mount Herbert and Westland electorates, and chose to represent the latter. At the 21 December 1875 election, he stood in the City of Christchurch electorate for the 6th New Zealand Parliament. He was returned in third position in this three-member electorate; the other members returned in the election were Edward Richardson and Edward Cephas John Stevens.[8]

The Westland Representation Act 1867 introduced changes to the Waimea and Westland electorates. Their areas were reassigned and four electorates formed. As a result, Westland was abolished in 1867, a new electorate (Westland Boroughs) was established, and the Act stipulated that the sitting member (Moorhouse) was transferred to it. Other new electorates, for which by-elections were to be held, were Westland North and Westland South.[9][10] Moorhouse resigned from Westland Boroughs on 20 February 1868,[10] and William Henry Harrison won the resulting by-election.[11]

Statue of Moorhouse in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Moorhouse represented Christchurch from the 1870 by-election to the 1871 election. He stood unsuccessfully for Egmont in the 1872 by-election, then successfully for Ashley from the 1879 election to 1881.

Canterbury Provincial Council[edit]

In 1855, Moorhouse was first elected to the Canterbury Provincial Council. From March to July 1855, he represented the Akaroa electorate on the first Council.[12] He later served as the Province's Superintendent after James FitzGerald resigned from the superintendency in October 1857 due to illness. Moorhouse and Joseph Brittan contested the vacancy, and obtained 727 and 352 votes, respectively.[13][14]

During the 1857 election he supported construction of the Lyttelton Rail Tunnel although both Brittan and FitzGerald thought such a long expensive tunnel too risky for a small colony and favoured a longer rail connection via Sumner with a short tunnel or a horse tramway over Gollans Pass.[15]

He served as Superintendent until February 1863, and another term from May 1866 to May 1868.[16] After his first superintendency, he represented the Kaiapoi electorate as a provincial councillor from March to October 1863, and then represented the Heathcote electorate from February 1864 to May 1866.[12] From 27 October to 17 November 1863, he was a member of the Canterbury Executive Council.[17]

Later years[edit]

He was Mayor of Wellington in 1875, and died in Wellington on 15 September 1881. He had diabetes, and had had an operation for an abscess. After a funeral in Wellington[18] his body was returned to Christchurch for a funeral and then burial at Riccarton.[19] The Legislative Council adjourned as a mark of respect.[20] A statue to him in Christchurch was proposed.[21]

He was survived by his wife Jane and five children.[1] The children (born from 1859 to 1867) were a son William Harold Sefton, three daughters Alice Jane, Hilda and Jessie, and a child born in 1865 whose name was not recorded on the birth entry.


In 1904, the South Belt or South Town Belt in Christchurch was renamed Moorhouse Avenue in honour of the former Superintendent. Each Christchurch Avenue around the central city is named for one of the former Superintendents, and it was thought appropriate to rename the South Belt for Moorhouse, as it was parallel to the railway line and continued via Ferry Road towards the railway tunnel, two projects that were closely linked to Moorhouse. The eastern continuation of the South Belt was called Junction Street or Junction Road, until its intersection with Ferry Road. In 1909, this section was incorporated into Moorhouse Avenue.[22] Julius von Haast named the Moorhouse Range and Sefton Peak in the Southern Alps after Moorhouse. Moorhouse and Sefton Streets in the Wellington suburb of Wadestown are also named for him.[1] A statue of Moorhouse, made by George Anderson Lawson in London in 1885, is located in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.[23]


  1. ^ a b c Miller, Graham M. "Moorhouse, William Sefton". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  2. ^ Mennell, Philip (1892). "Moorhouse, William Sefton" . The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co – via Wikisource.
  3. ^ "Shipping Intelligence". New Zealand Spectator. 28 December 1853.
  4. ^ McLintock, A. H. "Moorhouse, William Sefton". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Local Intelligence". XVII (1746). Wellington Independent. 29 July 1862. p. 2. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  6. ^ "General Assembly". XVII (1740). Wellington Independent. 15 July 1862. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  7. ^ "The General Assembly Elections". XXIII (3454). Grey River Argus. 13 September 1879. Retrieved 24 March 2010.
  8. ^ "Polling for Christchurch City". The Press. XIV (3217). 22 December 1875. p. 2. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Westland Representation Act 1867 (31 Victoriae 1867 No 48)". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  10. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 127.
  11. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 167.
  12. ^ a b Scholefield 1950, p. 195.
  13. ^ "Lyttelton". VI (278). Taranaki Herald. 28 November 1857. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  14. ^ "Canterbury Election of Superintendent". XIV (1089). Daily Southern Cross. 4 December 1857. p. 4. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  15. ^ "Lyttelton Tunnel". Lyttelton Times. 16 March 1859.
  16. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 188.
  17. ^ Scholefield 1950, p. 191.
  18. ^ "Removal etc". West Coast Times. 17 September 1881.
  19. ^ "Death". Grey River Argus. 16 September 1881.
  20. ^ "Death". Marlborough Express. 16 September 1881.
  21. ^ "Statue". The Press. 26 September 1881.
  22. ^ Harper, Margaret. "Christchurch Street Names M" (PDF). Christchurch City Libraries. pp. 51–52. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  23. ^ "Statues". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 20 September 2012.


  • Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer.
New Zealand Parliament
New constituency Member of Parliament for Akaroa
Succeeded by
John Cuff
Preceded by
John Cuff
Succeeded by
Augustus White
New constituency Member of Parliament for Mount Herbert
Succeeded by
Thomas Potts
Member of Parliament for Westland
Constituency abolished, recreated in 1890
Title next held by
Richard Seddon
Preceded by
William Travers
Member of Parliament for Christchurch
alongside: Edward Richardson, Edward Stevens
In abeyance
Title next held by
In abeyance
Title last held by
Succeeded by
Samuel Paull Andrews
Preceded by
John Evans Brown
Member of Parliament for Ashley
Succeeded by
William Fisher Pearson
Political offices
Preceded by
James FitzGerald
Superintendent of Canterbury Province
Succeeded by
Samuel Bealey
Preceded by
Samuel Bealey
Succeeded by
William Rolleston
Preceded by
Charles Borlase
Mayor of Wellington
Succeeded by
William Hutchison