James Cook statue

Situated in Victoria Square, the statue of Captain James Cook was carved by William Trethewey and unveiled in 1932.

Captain Cook statue
Captain Cook statue. © Christchurch Star

In 1929, Matthew Frank Burnett, a retired bootmaker, donated money for the erection of a statue in honour of Captain James Cook (1728-1779). Following this, a design competition was held, with the award going to Christchurch sculptor, William Trethewey (1892-1956).  The statue was based on a plaster model and carved from marble using a pointing machine.

The statue was originally situated in the south eastern corner of Victoria Square, near Colombo Street. The unveiling ceremony, held on 10 August 1932, was attended by school children and men from the Royal Naval Reserve and was carried out by Governor General Lord Bledisloe. A time capsule was also placed in the plinth.

A plaque on the plinth reads:

James Cook
Captain Royal Navy
Circumnavigator who first hoisted the British flag in New Zealand and explored her seas and coasts
1769-70 1773-4 1777
Oceani Investigator Acerrimus.

The statue and its plinth were earthquake strengthened and relocated to the centre of Victoria Square during the square’s redevelopment in 1989.