invercargill

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Biography

Often seen out in his blue bonnet and tartan plaid in early colonial Dunedin, Captain William Cargill was the first leader of the Free Church of Scotland’s settlement in Dunedin.

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Invercargill is New Zealand’s southernmost city. Mostly flat, Invercargill stretches over an open plain beside the Waihopai River estuary. John Turnbull Thomson, chief surveyor for the Otago province, selected the site for the new town, and laid out the streets in 1856. After Southland briefly separated from Otago province in 1861, Invercargill became the centre of the new province. The gold rush in Otago’s Wakatipu district, closer to Invercargill than to Dunedin, boosted the town in 1863 but was not repeated. Immigration, promoted by the government during the 1870s, saw the population increase. Invercargill was marked by its Presbyterianism. Its churches were substantial constructions. Presbyterians were a strong force in voting the town ‘dry’ in 1905; it stayed that way until 1943. Between the world wars (1918–39), Invercargill rivalled Whanganui for the rank of largest town after the four main centres. It acquired city status in 1930.

Meaning of place name
At a banquet in Dunedin on 17 January 1856, Governor Gore Browne announced that it had been decided to establish a town 'at the Bluff and suggested that it should be called Invercargill in honour of Captain William Cargill, the superintendent of the province'. The prefix 'inver' is a term for an estuary, particularly a meeting of waters.