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John Robert Godley statue

The John Robert Godley statue, carved by Thomas Woolner, is situated in Cathedral Square, and was unveiled in 1867.

Statue of John Robert Godley
Statue of John Robert Godley. © Christchurch Star

The statue of John Robert Godley (1814-1861), who served as the Resident Chief Agent for the Canterbury Association, is situated in Cathedral Square. Following his death, the Canterbury Provincial Council used public funds to commemorate him with a statue carved by English Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner (1825-1892). The statue, the first portrait statue in New Zealand, was unveiled by the Provincial Superintendent, William Sefton Moorhouse, on 6 August 1867.

The Christchurch Cathedral Square Act 1873 gave formal protection to the statue and its site, which became known as the Godley Plot under the Christchurch Reserves Act 1873. Despite the passing of these acts, in 1918 the statue was moved to the northern side of the Cathedral (the current location of the Citizens’ War Memorial). The statue was finally returned to its original location in 1933 and the Godley Plot was given its own land title.

The statue was damaged in the 22 February 2011 earthquake when it fell from its plinth, flattening the top of its head. During the restoration, a moulding hammer was found inside the statue. Two time capsules, dating from 1918 and 1933, were also found in the plinth of the statue.

The statue was returned to its plinth in February 2015. A new time capsule, to be opened in 2067, was placed underneath the statue.