Library Names: the Stories of the Bilingual Names for Christchurch City Libraries
By 1840 Waitikiri swamplands and nearby Bottle Lake were well recognised as food gathering areas for the local Māori people of Ngāi Tahu in this area. Research suggests several different interpretations of Waitikiri and they are 'muddy water', 'water springs back', and 'a lagoon'. The gathering of eels and other fish had been well established by Māori when Europeans started to arrive in the country. This area was also home to a large selection of native plants that provided a constant supply of different medicines, and also various materials for building, making traps, baskets, weaving, footwear, and even weapons.
Later with the arrival of Europeans in increasing numbers during the nineteenth century there was an urgent need to purchase land. These land sales eventually extinguished any right Ngāi Tahu had in terms of kai-tiakitanga or guardianship and access to these valuable mahika kai.
One of the runs surveyed encompassed Bottle Lake and the Waitikiri swamplands. It extended from the Waimakariri River to the Southshore Spit and was named the Sandhills Run.
John McLean was the first European to own the land where the lake was situated, having bought it from the New Zealand Company in 1860. Edward Reece was the next owner and he purchased the land from McLean only two years later. Reece was a Shropshire farmer's son, and arrived in New Zealand in 1854. He became an astute businessman with a successful ironmongers business, and an interest in local affairs. Reece became a councillor, sitting on the first council meeting that took place on 3 March 1862.
It was also Reece who first introduced pinus seedlings into the Bottle Lake area. He built his house over-looking the bottle-shaped lake, and brought in labour to trim the lakes banks and to landscape around the homestead. Cattle were bought with a view to fattening, but this was hampered due to heavy losses with stock being stuck in the bogs. Mr Reece died in 1885 and left his property to his sons William and Charles.