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During the latter half of the 1880s and early 1900s, Dunedin was recognised as the wealthiest city in New Zealand.
The discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully in 1861 dramatically changed the 'Free Church' settlement into an influential and flourishing centre of commerce.Dunedin was designated as suitable land for the settlers of the Free Church of Scotland.
They had joined the 'New Edinburgh' colonisation scheme after breaking away from the Church of Scotland in 1843.
The new town was to be called 'New Edinburgh' but Dunedin - Dun Edin meaning Edin on the Hill, the original celtic name for Edinburgh - was decided upon at the suggestion of Sir William Chambers.
In March and April of 1848, the first 344 passengers arrived on the "John Wickliffe" and the "Phillip Laing"
The unexpected Otago gold strikes of the 1860s significantly impacted the plans of the church settlement.
A cosmopolitan influx increased the town's population from 2,000 to 10,000 people by 1865 and led to the rapid development of industry.
The city flourished rapidly over the next few decades into a bustling commercial centre.
Dunedin also led the way in the educational sector with the university of Otago being the first New Zealand university to open it's doors. In 1871, 81 foundation pupils enrolled in degrees offered in the arts, medicine, law and music.
The skyline of the city still boasts some fine historic architecture; a legacy of the early wealth of the city, while the church steeples remind us of those early Scottish immigrants who were brave enough to embark on a new life.
The harbour entrance was not charted until 1826 when Captain Herd marked anchorages.
One contemporary observer of New Zealand life wrote that "You feel that the day you crossed from Canterbury to Otago, you moved from England to Scotland politically...that life is very real in Dunedin, and very earnest, and that getting on is one of its goals".
The influence of its Scottish founders is a strong one and the climate too encourages work.
Good sheep country in the interior gave a solid basis for prosperity and the gold rushes of the sixties drew to Otago.
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