The city was named by the Canterbury Association, which settled the surrounding province of Canterbury. The name of Christchurch was agreed on at the first meeting of the association on 27 March 1848. It was suggested by John Robert Godley, who had attended Christ Church, Oxford. Some early writers called the town Christ Church, but it was recorded as Christchurch in the minutes of the management committee of the association.
The river which flows through the centre of the city (its banks now largely forming an urban park) was named Avon at the request of the pioneering Deans brothers to commemorate the Scottish Avon, which rises in the Ayrshire hills near what was their grandfathers' farm and flows into the Clyde.
The usual MÄori name for Christchurch is ÅŒtautahi ("the place of Tautahi"). This was originally the name of a specific site by the Avon River near present-day Kilmore Street and the Christchurch Central Fire Station. The site was a seasonal dwelling of NgÄi Tahu chief Te Potiki Tautahi, whose main home was Port Levy on Banks Peninsula. The ÅŒtautahi name was adopted in the 1930s. Prior to that the NgÄi Tahu generally referred to the Christchurch area as Karaitiana.