Margaret Stoddart was for over half a century a leader of the Christchurch
art community, and her name is well-known to many New Zealanders,
Fewer people know the story of her father, Mark Stoddart whose life is
interesting in itself and who was a strong influence in the development of
his daughter's artistic interests.
M O Stoddart, ca 1910
Photo Source H H Clifford Photograph
Mark Stoddart was descended from an old Scottish border family, the
Stout-hearts or Stoddarts, and was born and educated in Edinburgh. He
arrived in Lyttelton Harbour in January, 1851, while the first four ships
of the Canterbury settlement were still at anchor.
After leaving Scotland to go to sea at the age of eighteen, Stoddart had
many adventures in the East before buying Lamplough Station in the Glen
Nona district of the Victorian Pyrenees, Australia. A book kept during
these years, a Memorandum of the cost of Lamplough Station including
all expenses connected therewith has been preserved by Mark Stoddart's
In 1850, after noting the effects of the Australian drought, Stoddart
decided to sell out and join his friend E, M Templer who had already
chartered a ship The Australasia and was ready with 2000 sheep to sail for
New Zealand. Stoddart also took sheep on board the German-manned vessel.
The McDonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies, Canterbury Museum
library, states that their sheep were landed without loss, and that
Stoddart made a shrewd observation in describing the scene at Lyttelton:
M P Stoddart
Photo Source Canterbury Museum
"A picnic sensation softened the hard realities to people entirely new to
the colonial life."
Stoddart was a naturalist and able to give a good account later of the bird
life and flora in New Zealand before settlers and fire had done their work.
Fishing and the importing of sporting fish such as salmon and trout were a
great interest to him all his life.
Farming in Canterbury
Stoddart first settled on the Terrace Station on the Rakaia River in
Canterbury where the homestead sited below the top of the terrace was said
to be one of the windiest places in Canterbury. Stoddart did not stay
there long. He sold out to Sir John Hall in 1853. Negotiations to farm in
a partnership on land in the area he named Glenmark did not work out
successfully and he finally bought land and settled on Banks Peninsula in a
bay on the Lyttelton Harbour first known as Stoddart's Bay and later
renamed by Stoddart as Diamond Harbour.
Stoddart became engaged to Anna Schjott, the daughter of a Norwegain
clergyman. He imported their house from Australia in sections made of
Australian hardwood, and later the walls were filled with cob made from
local mud. The front of the roof was made of slate. Trees, mostly
Australian gums, were planted to shelter it from the winds.
Mark and Anna were married in 1862 at Okains Bay, one of the eastern
ocean-facing bays on Banks Peninsula, and spent their honeymoon in the
cottage at Diamond Harbour.
The Stoddarts had a family of six children, four girls and two boys. In
1871 Dr A. C. Barker, the well-known early Canterbury photographer took a
photograph in the Diamond Harbour Garden of Mark and Anna Stoddart with
their three oldest children, Frances, Margaret and James.
Cottage at Diamond Harbour today
Photo source Maurice Agar
Mark Stoddart and family,
Diamond Harbour, Canterbury, NZ, March 10, 1871
Photo Source A C Barker photograph
Their second daughter, Margaret, born in 1865, became well known as a
painter. She had inherited her father's ability in observing and
The family travelled to Britain on two occasions - the first in 1866 to
explore Mark's roots in Scotland and Anna's in Norway, and the second in
1882 to improve Mark's failing health. On the second trip Margaret was
sent to The Merchant Maiden School where her studies included art lessons.
On the family's return to New Zealand she and her sisters were enrolled in
1882 at the new Canterbury College School of Art.
Some of the Stoddarts' land at Diamond Harbour was sold to Harvey Hawkins,
a Lyttelton ships' chandler. He built a large house for his family on the
land and the Stoddart family went on a trip to Britain. On their return
they settled in Christchurch and lived in Fendalton Road in a house called
Death of Mark Stoddart and return of the family to Diamond Harbour
In 1885 Mark Stoddart died. Some time later Harvey Hawkins experienced
hard times and was forced to sell some of his land. In 1892 what was
left, including the house built by Hawkins, reverted to the Stoddart
family. Mrs Stoddart and three of her daughters moved back to Diamond
Harbour and until 1913 lived in the large house built by Hawkins.
In 1913 the Lyttelton Borough Council bought the property, including the
big house and the original cottage to develop the area into a residential
suburb for Lyttelton.
Fory acres of the land was turned into a reserve. The big house became an
accommodation house and named Godley House, after Robert Godley,
who was leader of the original Canterbury settlement. It advertises
facilities and catering for conferences, seminars and special events as
well as individual holiday bookings. It offers a house bar, a licensed
cafe, a restaurant and accommodation.
Photo source Alister Hunt
The cottage stands as a reminder of the early Banks Peninsula days and the
pioneer, Mark Stoddart, who found that settling at Diamond Harbour was a
fulfilment suggested in the family motto, "After darkness, light".