William Rolleston Memorial Lamp

59 King Street And Domain Avenue, Temuka

  • William Rolleston Memorial Lamp, Temuka.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Milly Woods. Date: 7/02/2018.
  • William Rolleston Memorial Lamp, Temuka.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Milly Woods. Date: 7/02/2018.
  • William Rolleston Memorial Lamp, Temuka. Inscription on Memorial.
    Copyright: Timaru District Council. Date: 10/03/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 2039 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

The registration includes part of the land known as Legal Road, Canterbury Land District, and the structure known as William Rolleston Memorial Lamp thereon, with a buffer zone of one metre.

City/District Council

Timaru District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Legal Road, Canterbury Land District

Location description

On corner of 59 King Street and Domain Avenue, Temuka, located outside the Post Office (Former) (Register no. 2036).


Located in central Temuka on the corner of 59 King Street and Domain Avenue, the William Rolleston Memorial Lamp was erected in 1904 both as a functional light to assist citizens during the hours of darkness and, symbolically, as a guiding light in recognition of the late statesman’s work. The lamp has historical and social significance as well as aesthetic value.

English-born William Rolleston (1831-1903), an early pioneer who arrived in New Zealand in 1858, was involved in many aspects of political and community life. In Canterbury he served as secretary to the Provincial Government (from 1863) before becoming the fourth and last Superintendent of the province of Canterbury from 1868 to 1876. Subsequently, as a Minister of the Crown, he was especially known for his administration of the Crown Lands and advocacy of a national system of free education. Rolleston died at his home at Kapunatiki, north-east of Temuka, on 8 February 1903. A committee of local men formed soon after to coordinate, through community subscriptions, the erection a suitable memorial to Rolleston in Temuka. Although efforts were already being made in Christchurch for a national monument to memorialise Rolleston, local citizens felt that something should also be done in Temuka, as this was his residence and former parliamentary electorate. It was eventually decided that a memorial lamp outside the town’s post office ‘would be seen by everyone on either business or pleasure bent, and would stand to the memory of one who had done his duty in the district’. In May 1904, W F Massey, leader of the opposition, unveiled the memorial lamp, illuminated by an acetylene generator and burner, in front of a large crowd.

Standing on the corner of the footpath outside the former Post Office building the memorial takes the form of a lamp post. It has a bluestone base, with pedestal and shaft of polished red granite surmounted by a globe lightbulb. An inscription on the outer facing (east) side of the pedestal reads ‘THIS LAMP WAS ERECTED IN MEMORY OF WILLIAM ROLLESTON BY HIS FRIENDS IN THIS DISTRICT, TO RECORD THEIR APPRECIATION OF HIS HIGH CHARACTER AND THE SINGLENESS OF PURPOSE WITH WHICH HE DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO THE SERVICE OF HIS ADOPTED COUNTRY’. On the north side is the briefer inscription, ‘AT EVENING TIDE IT SHALL BE LIGHT’. On the west (post-office facing) side of the pedestal is an inscription, ‘TO COMMEMORATE THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE TEMUKA TOWN CENTRE ENHANCEMENT PROJECT UNVEILED BY HER EXCELLENCY DAME CATHERINE TIZARD G.C.M.G. D.B.E. GOVERNOR GENERAL OF NEW ZEALAND 4TH NOVEMBER 1993’.

Minor modifications were made to the lamp within a few years of its unveiling. In 1906 piped gas was introduced, which required some modification of the lamp structure and resulted in brighter illumination. In 1909 the structure was repaired following damage caused by a motor car. In 1925 electric lighting was introduced to the borough and the gas fitting was removed from the column. It may have been at this time that the globe shaped bulb on an extended stand replaced the earlier lantern. In 1993 an inscription was added on the west side of the pedestal to acknowledge a town centre enhancement project.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1904 -

1906 -
gas installation

1909 -
car crash damage repairs

1925 -
gas removed, lamp electrified

1993 -
inscription added on west side of pedestal

Completion Date

23rd February 2018

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

W. J. Gardner. 'Rolleston, William', Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1990.

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1r17/rolleston-william (accessed 22 February 2018)

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand