Principal town of the Ellesmere area, a large tract of farmland 43 km south-east of Christchurch between the main south road and Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere). The town has been a centre of local government since 1864.

Meaning of place name
After Edward J. Lee, the early runholder and one-time partner of Edward Jollie of Mount Parnassus station.

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