1853: G.J. Leech of Rangiora
February 6, 2019
George John Leech, 1821-1902, Patriarch and founder of Rangiora in North Canterbury. Practically the first to move to that town back in 1853 and was very involved in the community (eg Rangiora High, Anglican Church,..).
Unlike other ‘Rangoons’ founders there seems very little to commemorate the man. Contemporaries such as Ivory, Blackett, Cone, and Torlesse all have bitumen paved in their honour.
Leech was formerly a bank manager in Penrith (Sydney) according to Hawkins (1957) before making the move to the Canterbury Association project in New Zealand to be a farmer. This reminds me of the real life ‘Mr Banks’ who became fictionalised in Mary Poppins and dramatised more recently in ‘Saving Mr Banks’ (2013.) There was a hopeless dreamer (played by Colin Farrell) whose banking and farming came to impressionable ruins for his daughter in Australia (who grew up and expressed it all as the story of Mary Poppins.)
It seems likely to me that Leech resembled the Disney version of his fellow Australian bank manager. He probably ran his flax mill, farm, family, and community affairs like a British Bank.
“The children must be moulded, shaped and taught that life’s a looming battle to be faced and fought”.
If so, his family certainly could have used the Mary Poppins Revelation Chill Pill. Perhaps that’s why old Leech has a scant obituary and memorialisation today?