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Statue's note revealed in 1918 newspaper article

Tuesday 1 Mar 2011 9:55 p.m.

The words were recorded in the 18 March, 1918 issue of the Nelson-based Colonist newspaper

The words were recorded in the 18 March, 1918 issue of the Nelson-based Colonist newspaper

The contractors who discovered two time capsules among pieces of an earthquake-toppled Christchurch statue may not have been able to read the bottled note, but its words were recorded in a 1918 newspaper article and simply mark the moving of the statue.

The capsules - a broken glass bottle containing a handwritten note and a tightly-sealed metal canister - were found early today in Cathedral Square under the plinth of the 144-year-old statue of John Robert Godley, known as the founder of Canterbury.

Two contractors who discovered the capsules, Sean Hegarty and Steve Proud, said what appeared to be a note fell from the glass bottle.

"We didn't dare touch it just in case it disintegrated," Mr Hegarty said.

"There was writing on it, very nice handwriting. You can't read it but there is writing on it."

However, the words on the parchment were recorded in the 18 March, 1918 issue of the Nelson-based Colonist newspaper.

The article, which was not headlined, noted Godley's statue was moved to a northern grass plot of the cathedral grounds after spending 50 years in the centre of Cathedral Square.

"There was a small gathering to witness the ceremony of cementing the statue on its base. Before the statue was lowered into its bed of cement, a bottle was inserted in a small hollow under the statue," the article said.

"The bottle contained a parchment bearing the following statement in Indian ink - 'This statue of John Robert Godley, executed by Thomas Woolner, R.A., was erected in the west side of Cathedral Square by the Provincial Government of Canterbury, and unveiled by the late Sir Charles Christopher Bowen, K.C.M.G. on August 6, 1867. It was moved to this site in March, 1918.'"

The statement was signed by the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch, the Mayor (Mr H Holland); the Town Clerk, and the City Surveyor.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said the "wonderful artefacts" would be preserved at the city's museum and he hoped that one of the capsules might contain the vision of the city's forbearers.

"We think that when we open these we will gain an extra understanding of why they came here, what was their hope, what was their vision, what was their goal."

That glimpse might now lie with the other time capsule, a metal canister, blank and sealed at both ends. It may have been placed there when the statue was moved to its current, and original, position in 1933.

Mr Parker also said Godley's statue would be repaired "with due regard to heritage".

"The first thing that we will do in this city is put back up on that plinth the man whose vision it was."

NZPA

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