Canterbury Anniversary Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Canterbury Anniversary Day is annually celebrated on every second Friday after the first Tuesday in New Zealand which means this year it takes place on 11th November. 

The day was first observed on December 16, 1850, to honor the arrival of the first of four ships from England. To coincide with Christchurch Show Day, the date was shifted to the second Friday after the first Tuesday in November. 

The Canterbury Region of New Zealand establishment is commemorated on this day, and activities are held all around the region; however, most of the celebrations take place in Christchurch. 

Event Canterbury Anniversary Day
Date November 11, 2022
Day Friday
Significance The day commemorates the establishment Canterbury Region of New Zealand
Observed by New Zealand


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Canterbury Anniversary Day History: 

The history of the human activity in the Waitaha/Canterbury Region of Aotearoa/New Zealand dates back to settlement by the Maori people in about the tenth century. The earliest settlers in Canterbury appear to have been the people described as the Moa-hunters, arriving about the tenth century near the time of the traditional discovery of the South Island by Rākaihautū. In the early 19th century, tribes began to trade with Europeans who brought muskets and other tools. From the 1830s onwards the presence of Europeans and other nationalities increases in the Waitaha/Canterbury region. 

The presence of Europeans and other nationalities in Canterbury increased from the 1830s onward. The Canterbury Association was created in 1848 by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, a British nobleman, and John Robert Godley, an Anglo-Irish aristocracy, to establish an Anglican colony on the South Island. In April 1850, a preliminary group led by Godley landed at Port Cooper, modern-day Lyttelton Harbour / Whakaraupō and established a port, housing and shops in preparation for the main body of settlers. In December 1850, the first wave of 750 settlers arrived at Lyttelton in a fleet of four ships. 

Following 1850, the province’s economy developed with the introduction of sheep farming. The Canterbury region’s tussock plains in particular were suitable for extensive sheep farming. Since they were highly valued by settlers for their meat and wool, there were over half a million sheep in the region by the early 1850s. By the 1860s, this figure had risen to three million. During this period, the architect Benjamin Mountfort designed many civic and ecclesiastical buildings in the Gothic Revival style. 

The Canterbury Province was formed in 1853 following the passing of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852. It was formed from part of New Munster Province and covered the middle part of the South Island, stretching from the east coast to the west coast. The province was abolished, along with other provinces of New Zealand, when the Abolition of the Provinces Act came into force on 1 Nov 1876. The modern Canterbury Region has slightly different boundaries, particularly in the north, where it includes some districts from the old Nelson Province. 


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Canterbury Anniversary Day Significance: 

The region in its current form was established in 1989 during nationwide local government reforms. The Kaikoura District joined the region in 1992 following the abolition of the Nelson-Marlborough Regional Council. Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city and the country’s second-largest urban area, is the seat of the region and home to 58 percent of the region’s population. Other major towns and cities include Timaru, Ashburton, Rangiora and Rolleston. 

The area administered by the Canterbury Regional Council consists of all the river catchments on the east coast of the South Island from that of the Waiau Toa / Clarence River, north of Kaikōura, to that of the Waitaki River, in South Canterbury. It is New Zealand’s largest region by area. Statistics New Zealand estimates the population of Canterbury is 655,000 as of June 2022 which gives a population density of 14.7 people per km2. The region is home to 12.8% of New Zealand’s population. 

The definition used by Christchurch City Council to determine the date of Canterbury Anniversary Day each year is “second Friday after the first Tuesday of November (i.e. Show Day will be two weeks after the first Tuesday in November, on a Friday, mainly so that it does not clash with the Melbourne Cup Racing Carnival)”. Northern and Central Canterbury areas also observe Christchurch Show Day. South Canterbury observes Dominion Day, the fourth Monday in September. All other regions in New Zealand have their own Anniversary Day public holidays. 

Canterbury is a historic cathedral city with a long and illustrious history. Its world-famous Cathedral is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, attracting visitors from all over the world. And this day is very important as it tells us about the rich historical background of this region. So it is a day which tells us about an important historical event which was key in shaping not just this region but the whole of modern-day New Zealand so this day celebrates the formation of the region of Canterbury. 


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Canterbury Anniversary Day Celebrations: 

In the main hub city of the region, Christchurch, “Show Day” is made to coincide with Canterbury Anniversary Day. The show is agricultural and pastoral at its base, but there are many other events that spring up with it or around it. 

You will find fairs, local food sold at food stalls, concerts, cultural exhibits, and more going on in the main towns of Christchurch and Ashburton. But you can also get outside the urban centres to enjoy such activities as hiking, trekking, mountain biking, white-water rafting, and exploring state and national parks and nature reserves. 

It will be best for you to take a trip to New Zealand during this period. Canterbury combines coastal and mountain experiences to create a destination with something for everyone. You’ll find multiple worlds in one region in Canterbury. In a bar, restaurant, café, or fast food establishment sample some of the best food and wines New Zealand has to offer.

If you cannot make time to go for Canterbury then no problem you can celebrate this day now using social media until you can plan your trip to this beautiful island. You can share photos of Canterbury’s coastal mountains and upload them on social media. Don’t forget to add the hashtag #CanterburyAnniversaryDay. 

Most Searched FAQs on Canterbury Anniversary Day: 

1. When is Canterbury Anniversary Day celebrated? 

Canterbury Anniversary Day is annually celebrated on every second Friday after first Tuesday of November in New Zealand. 

2. What is the meaning of the name Canterbury? 

Canterbury means ‘the town with fortifications.’ 

3. Is Christchurch and Canterbury the same? 

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. Christchurch lies on the South Island’s east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula on Pegasus Bay. 

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