The memorial to the first bishop of Christchurch, Henry John Chitty Harper, was unveiled in November 1897, four years after his death. It was the work of the London sculptor F. J. Williamson, who was also responsible for the statue of Queen Victoria in Albert Park, Auckland. The sarcophagus was originally intended to be the tomb of the bishop, but the family preferred that his body remain buried at the Barbadoes Street cemetery. The monument to Harper was one of a considerable number which were put up in the last years of the 19th century, as New Zealanders desired to honour their pioneers and embellish their civic landscapes with statuary.
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