Woolston is a light industrial and residential suburb of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. It is situated three kilometres southeast of the city centre, close to major arterial routes including State Highways 73 and 74 to Banks Peninsula. The Heathcote River flows through the suburb.
In pre-European times the local Maori people gathered food from the mudflats nearby. This area was known to Maori as "Ohika-paruparu" (meaning] women gathering shellfish often sank to their thighs in the mud). Some early European records name the area between Woolston, Opawa and Linwood as Roimata, meaning teardrop in Maori. To this day some land titles in this area of Woolston West reference Roimata as their location. More recently the name has been revived by the Roimata Community Incorporated Society (Roimata Community Inc.) which is a geographically and community-based organisation working in Roimata - the Christchurch neigbourhood bounded by Ensors Rd, Brougham St, Ferry Rd and Richardson Tce.
One of the first signs of a growing European community in the Woolston area was the establishment of a Christian church, the Anglican Parish of St John the Evangelist Woolston. The origins of the Parish date back to 1857 when the first Cob Church was built on the current site. In 1882 a new timber church was built. In 1960 the existing concrete Church building was built and dedicated (consecrated 1963). These church buildings are used daily for worship and many other religious and community activities. It is open to the public on Sundays. It is situated on Ferry Rd at the eastern end of Woolston Village. The Parish was officially recognised one year after Christchurch was officially recognised as a City in 1856, the same year that the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch was established. St Johns is one of the oldest Churches in New Zealand.
Up until early 1870 the area was commonly referred to as Lower Heathcote. At a meeting about the Heathcote Road drain a local store owner, Joseph Harry Hopkins, named the area Woolston after his birthplace in England. On 16 June 1870, in response to a petition to the postmaster objecting to the post office being named Ferry Road, the name Woolston was gazetted. Woolston was a self-governing borough until 1921.
Joseph Harry Hopkins (1837-1910) was a shopkeeper in Woolston. His name is commemorated in Hopkins Street. In 1863 he established, the Woolston Emporium which had six departments: drapery, clothing, boots, grocery, crockery, ironmongery, and a corn store.
The Heathcote River provided Woolston much needed water for industries like wool scouring, which needed plentiful water. In the 1850s wharves along the Heathcote River were used by small ships to service the area. At that time, Ferry road was the main thoroughfare for goods entering Christchurch. The road went from the wharf in Lower Heathcote to what is now the corner of High and Madras Streets. Ferry Road later carried the tramlines to Sumner.
In later years Woolston's close proximity to the Lyttelton rail line continued to sustain Woolston as a prime location for industry. Over the 20th century the area grew to become the centre of the New Zealand rubber industry. Other industries grew here and included a nugget factory and a gelatine and glue works. Many of these businesses are still present in one form or another.
In 1966 the Woolston industrial sewer was built, up until that time the river had become increasingly polluted. Flooding had also become a problem and in the 1980s the Woolston Cut began to allow floodwaters to bypass a long loop of the river.
Residential growth from the city gradually moved out through the Woolston area and it is now well merged with Christchurch City.
Te Ara, On-Line Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, says that “Factory workers living nearby gave Woolston a strong working-class identity”. The area struggles to live up to this positive idea in the present day as there is a significant short term, transient, population.
Christchurch's main sports venue, AMI Stadium (formerly Jade Stadium, and Lancaster Pa