Laura Kent Reserve
Welcome to one of the few places in Christchurch named after a woman.
Laura Kent, aged two, arrived in Christchurch with her parents Rhoda and Edward in 1851. Edward was promised a position at the College proposed to be built by the Canterbury Association but before this was established he took up farming. However, he died in 1855 aged 35. His wife, Rhoda, remarried Henry Peel and agitated for the building of Radley Bridge.
Two daughters from the first marriage are remembered in the area. Annie married a Mr Tavender and is remembered in a nearby street name. Laura did not marry but lived on in the farmhouse located nearby until her death in 1925.
Laura’s obituary states: “Miss Kent possessed two very marked tastes- for music and for flowers. In her youth she was a member of the Mendelssohn Musical Society, and was also a member of the choir of St Mark’s Opawa, for over 50 years. She took a deep interest in the parishes of Opawa and Woolston with both of which there were strong family associations. Her love of flowers was intense, and the grounds of “Radley” were always a joy to the beholder.”
This reserve, originally part of the Radley Farm, would have been well known to Laura, and no doubt she enjoyed the birdsong and peace of the area.
Since 2017, the reserve has been adopted by a group of volunteers who continue to work as kaitiaki or trustees/guardians of the reserve. A range of native plants that may have been found historically in the area have been planted to encourage the natural flora and fauna. Views to the river and a safer environment have been created. Take a moment to stop here and listen and let nature speak to you. It is a place of peace, te wahi rangimarie.