Story: Public and street art

Statue of John Robert Godley, 1920s

Statue of John Robert Godley, 1920s

Christchurch's statue of Canterbury founder John Robert Godley, unveiled in 1867, is considered New Zealand's first piece of Pākehā public art. The statue was commissioned by the Memorial Committee of the provincial government not long after Godley died in 1863. It was sculpted by English artist Thomas Woolner and exhibited at the South Kensington Museum before arriving in New Zealand in 1867.

The statue was placed on a plinth in front of the Christchurch Cathedral but was moved to the side in 1918 (as seen here) because a new tram shelter and toilet block obscured it from view. It was moved back to its original location in 1933 after the shelter was demolished. Godley toppled off his plinth during the February 2011 earthquake and two time capsules were found underneath. 

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How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Public and street art - Public sculpture', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 April 2024)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 22 Oct 2014