The graveyard at St Peter's is the final resting place for many notable Canterbury personalities. When the church was consecrated in 1858, the graveyard was also consecrated for burial according to Christian traditions.
In 1960 the graveyard was tidied and reorganised with the consent of the relatives of those buried there. The graves were planted over with grass to give the impression of a lawn, and the ornate iron railings surrounding some of the graves were removed. Early photos show what the graveyard would have looked like before this time.
Some of the people who came to rest in the graveyard at St Peter’s include:
Sibylla Emily Maude “Nurse Maude” is remembered for major achievements in the development of health care for New Zealanders and for her compassion, courage and vision. Along with setting up the District Nursing Programme in New Zealand, she was instrumental in treating tuberculosis and influenza. She also made great efforts in trying to improve conditions for those affected by the Depression by setting up soup kitchens and providing clothing and food. Her legacy lives on in the very active organisation that bears her name.
John Ballantyne moved to New Zealand in 1872 and set up J. Ballantyne & Co, an iconic Christchurch business that is still thriving almost 150 years later. Leaving the business under the capable direction of his three sons, he returned to his first love, farming. The esteem with which he was held in the community was evidenced at his funeral, with many prominent citizens and employees of J. Ballantyne & Co in
Sir Charles Bowen was a vestryman, church warden and synodsman at St Peter’s for 29 years, as well as being credited for being the originator of the idea of installing the first electric telegraph in New Zealand. He was the MP for Kaiapoi, and the Minister of Justice. He promoted the Education Act of 1877, which gave New Zealand free, compulsory and secular education.
William Moorhouse was a lawyer and politician who left an indelible mark on the landscape of Canterbury. In 1861 he turned the first sod of the first steam railway in New Zealand, the Christchurch-Ferrymead railway. He relentlessly championed a railway tunnel linking Christchurch and Lyttelton, and is remembered for the development of Canterbury Museum, the Botanic Gardens, and the Christchurch Hospital.
Archbishop West-Watson was the third Bishop of Christchurch, being appointed in 1926. His work fostering genuine relationships between Māori and Pākehā resulted in the establishment of the Bishopric of Aotearoa and the appointment of the first Māori Bishop.
Shands Track, Shand Crescent and Shands Emporium all take their name from John Shand. As a trainer and breeder of horses, he was connected with the Canterbury Jockey Club. He also served as a member of the Provincial Council, the Riccarton Road Board and the Canterbury Agricultural & Pastoral Association Committee.
Edward Seager was the catalyst behind the establishment of the Sunnyside Asylum in 1863 as until this point people with mental conditions were jailed. He worked as the Keeper of the Asylum and his wife, Esther, was the Matron. He also introduced the concept of “occupational therapy” in his work with his patients. Following his work at Sunnyside he was the usher at the Supreme Court and the librarian to the Canterbury Law Society.
Sir Henry & Lady Wigram were loyal parishioners of St Peter’s, with Sir Henry serving on vestry and the property committee. As well as being a noted businessman Sir Henry served as Mayor of Christchurch from 1902 -1903. During WWI he formed the Canterbury Aviation Co. which became the basis of the New Zealand Air Force. Lady Wigram was a member of the Red Cross Society for over forty years, becoming President of the North Canterbury Centre from 1931-1954.
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