The Hidden Multicultural History of Christchurch

Image of Cashmere, Christchurch

Discussion with respected academic, Dorothy McMenamin has led to an interesting historical gem about one of Christchurch’s most upmarket suburbs, Cashmere. Cashmere was named after Kashmir in India and is closely linked to Christchurch’s Indian community.  13 Indians and 4 Anglo Indians (plus an Arabian stallion) travelled with John Croft a former judge in British India, to Christchurch in 1854.  The Judge built the Old Stone House in Cashmere in 1870. The remains of the house were demolished post-quake but repairs are due for completion later this year and will be marked by a remembrance plaque and documentary if funds can be found.

Dorothy is from Pakistan and is of Anglo Indian Heritage.  She is an expert on this small New Zealand community and author of “Raj Days to Down Under, Voices from Anglo Indians to New Zealand”. She is presently working on a PhD which focusses on Christian Anglo Indians living amongst Hindus in India as compared to those living amongst Muslims in Pakistan. Her research also looks at how communities lived and adapted across cultural and religious lines. Dorothy notes that the multicultural origins of the south island are a fertile ground for historical research and she is pleased to support the local efforts to see the old Stone House in Cashmere remembered as one of the few surviving heritage landmarks of multicultural significance in Christchurch.

Mervin Singham, former Director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, acknowledged the significant contribution of such oral histories by being one of two who wrote a forward for this publication.