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Protecting our precious places

Our French Connection

Among the whalers who landed at Akaroa Harbour in the late 1830s was French captain, Jean Francois Langlois. Believing he had purchased all of Banks Peninsula with a land deed signed by some local Maori, he instigated a decision back in France to found a settlement there. Close to 60 French and a small number of German immigrants arrived in 1840. By that time, though, New Zealand was already a British colony. Despite this setback the settlers remained, giving Akaroa township its special appeal and the distinction of being the only town in New Zealand founded by French settlers.

The Brocherie covenant encircles the remains of the oldest French building site in Akaroa Harbour. Features like early drains, the sites of other buildings, track lines, fragments of a stone terrace and old plough lines alongside the main building (built c. 1843) provide a valuable insight into one of the earliest European settlements in New Zealand. The covenant contains the only building remaining from the early period of French presence in Akaroa Harbour outside the township of Akaroa. The building is registered with the Historic Places Trust with Category I status. The Trust’s interest lies with the archaeological, cultural and historic context of the historic house (in accordance with the definition of “open space” set out in the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Act 1977), with other authorities  - in particular the Historic Places Trust and the Akaroa Civic Trust - dealing with the physical and legal protection of the building itself.

Article published in Open Space magazine, Issue 82 March 2012

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