Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island’s east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. It is home to approximately 400,000 residents, making it New Zealand’s third largest city behind Auckland and Wellington, and the largest in the South Island.
The city suffered a damaging series of earthquakes between September 2010 and early 2012, with the most significant damage being caused after midday on 22 February 2011, in which 185 people were killed and hundreds of buildings collapsed or suffered critical damage. By late 2013 1500 buildings in the city had been demolished, leading to an ongoing recovery and rebuilding project. Large areas of the CBD had to be demolished, as well as entire suburbs in the coastal areas. Noticeable aftershocks continued for months leaving residents very stressed after the pain and loss of February 2011.
Evidence found in a cave at Redcliffs has indicated that the Christchurch area was first settled by moa-hunting tribes about 1250 CE. These first inhabitants were followed by various tribal groups who were in turn enveloped by the Ngāi Tahu tribe, who remained in the area until the arrival of European settlers. The Deans brothers acquired land owned by early whaling settlers in 1843. The First Four Ships brought the first 792 of the Canterbury Pilgrims to Lyttelton Harbour. The first arrived on 16 December 1850. The Canterbury settlers had the goal to build a city around a cathedral and college, on the model of Christ Church in Oxford. The name “Christ Church” was chosen before the ships’ arrival.