1 of 5 Important Historic Sites – The Britomart Monument once known as the finish line in the ‘Race for Akaroa’ now it is recognised as a site “as important as Waitangi”.
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The Britomart Monument was erected in 1898 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria then Queen of the British Empire which included New Zealand.
Residents of Akaroa and Banks Peninsula erected the monument and one of the original French settlers Etienne Francois Lelievre was the Vice Chairman and 88 years old when the Britomart Memorial was unveiled. He was also my Great-great-great Grandad, which creates a very personal connection to this historic site. His name is engraved on the monument.
But why is the Britomart Monument So Important?
This was the site where the First Demonstration of British Sovereignty occurred in the South Island in 1840. The first offical policing in the South Island.
What was the Race for Akaroa?
When the new Governor Hobson found out that the French Settler ship was on-it’s-way to Akaroa, he immediately sent out the Man of War Ship the Britomart to Akaroa to reenforce the British claim to the South Island before the French could demonstrate their own rights through the French treaty of purchase over Banks Peninsula.
The French still settled Akaroa and it became a French town, eventually selling their land to the Canterbury Association.
Why Beating the French was Important
The British had long had a colony in Australia, and they did not want the French to establish a Naval Base at Port Louis Philippe, (their planned name for Akaroa).
Margaret Cameron-Ash has written a brilliant book ‘Beating the French to Botany Bay’ about Australia’s own race, which sheds incredible insights upon the colonial superpowers and their mindsets and power struggles. Watch her introduce it here.
Treaty of Waitangi – Akaroa
Akaroa is said to have ’a narrative as important as Waitangi’ Harry Evison. And John Wilson states that the Britomart Monument is one of the best places to learn about The Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tirity o Waitangi was first signed at Onuku in the South Island, but it was the treat of French colonisation and other private land sales that pushed the British into action.
Britomart Monument – Important for Many People
The Britomart Monument is important for many of the first European settler families to New Zealand, as it established the right of British subjects to immigrants AND…
Greens Point Monument
Greens Point is the name of the point that the Britomart Monument stands upon. It is so named for the first farmer to settle on the site under the Rhodes Brothers Land Purchase, Mr and Mrs Green arrived and together they milked the FIRST cattle landed to the South Island in 1839. It is said that they knew that the Treaty of Waitangi was underway and had confidence in being such early settlers,
How to Get to the Britomart Monument
Directions to the Britomart Monument are pretty simple, follow Beach Road from Akaroa through the beautiful seaside area of The Glen, then look for a little wooden sign ’The Monument’ and follow unkept steeps up up up to the monument. It’s about a 20 minute walk from downtown Akaroa. Absolutely beautiful, but when you get there to really appreciate the stories you need a local expert guide, who will take you the secret way without the steps.
Not to confuse the Britomart Monument with the Britomart Reserve, which is next to the main wharf in Akaroa and has a rich and amazing history all of it’s own and is the 5th of our 5 important historic sites.
Akaroa History Tours – The BEST
Unfortunately if you visit the Britomart Monument you might see an impressive view and some plaques BUT you WILL NOT understand the story.
To make the most of your trip to Akaroa learn about Akaroa History with ’The Best – Akaroa History Tour’, this includes nearby Takapuneke Reserve, Onuku where Te Tirity o Waitangi was first signed in the South Island, the Britomart Monument, the French landing, first churches and much much more. You will honestly be blown away.
OR if you really want the ULTIMATE day out take ‘The Ultimate – Akaroa Nature and History Tour’ for the discerning guest. This is the complete tour that includes Maori History, Culture, New Zealand European History and Settlement, Stunning scenery, Nature Conservation Projects, Biodiversity, Natural Quiet, Climate Change and leaves you with a very Clear Vision for the Future, that will fill you with HOPE.
Aotearoa NZ Histories Curriculum Schools Trips
Learn about your local, nationally important history from a local character who knows this history inside-out.
New Zealand History for Schools trips will give your students the very best understanding of the important historic places in Akaroa, Field-based education has been proven to be the best way to connect what students learn in class with a real lived learning experience that will make it come alive.
School reviews by teachers clearly show how important these trips are for students learning.
Thank you so much for your expertise with our students on the recent trip, it very much added value (and the weather sent us a little extra adventure). I was able to see the light bulbs go on as our students started to connect what they had heard in class with what you were saying, and the places they were in.Fiona Clayton, Marion College
Akaroa is the best place in New Zealand for a History Tour
Akaroa has five of the most important historic sites that together tell the complete settlement story of New Zealand, the 5 key sites are:
- Tuhiraki – The very first demonstration of sovereignty, by the earliest Maori settlers.
- Takapūneke – was the first time that a European was directly involved with Maori inter-tribal conflict and directly resulted in the First British Resident to be sent to New Zealand. Leading to the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand and ultimately the Tirirty o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi.
- Ōnuku – The first place the Tirity o Waitangi was signed in the South Island.
- Britomart Monument – Where the British first demonstrated sovereignty over the South Island, Driven by imperial rivalry and the race for the British to beat the French settlers to claiming Akaroa.
- Britomart Reserve – Where Ngāi Tahu were bullied into selling 8.1 million hectares of their ancestral lands for a puny 2000 pounds, that being a large part of the South Island.