Following the Sumner Road: An exploration of its past and present

On 1 April 1869 a court notice appeared in the Christchurch Star, describing an unusual disturbance of the peace. Ten boys aged between seven and thirteen years old were charged with stealing a quantity of explosives fuse from a magazine on Evans Pass, presumably held there for the purpose of road construction. The boys were further (and rather alarmingly) then charged with “firing a cannon on the public highway”!

Fortunately injuries to the youngsters involved were minor, though apparently there was a close call with one boy’s eyesight. His Worship sentenced the boys to some lashes with the cane and one hour’s imprisonment – and the parents were to be censured for allowing their children to roam at night.

Dual exhibitions

This is just one of the interesting stories we’ve unearthed while researching our dual exhibitions marking the reopening of the vital (and very scenic) Sumner Road. You can learn more about this essential link between the communities of Lyttelton and Sumner by visiting the two exhibitions - one at Lyttelton Library - Te Kete Wānanga o Whakaraupo, and the other at Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre.

You’ll also learn why and when the road was first built, the history that has shaped it (and unusual things that have travelled it), as well as the impact of the 2011 earthquakes and the rebuild project to restore and reopen this historic route.

Make sure you visit both libraries and get our specially-designed “passport” stamps at each library’s exhibition. We'll also be hosting activities relating to the opening - come and decorate some bunting!

The dual exhibitions run from Saturday 16 March to Saturday 4 May (Lyttelton) and to Sunday 5 May (Matuku Takotako:Sumner Centre). The road itself reopened on Friday 29 March.

Further reading:

You can also search original newspaper reports at Papers Past and in our microfilmed newspapers collection, held at Tūranga.

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