Painting of Mayoral Chain

Circa 1901
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Sarah Ann Rhodes was sister to the fifth Mayor of Wellington, William Moorehouse who served in 1875, and wife of William Barnard Rhodes who was quite possibly (in inflation adjusted terms) the wealthiest person in NZ history. Sarah Ann Rhodes commissioned this watercolour painting of the Mayoral chains, a bell for the Central Post Office and donated £10,000 to Victoria University for the higher education of women. Sar Street in Khandallah was named with Rhodes’ initials and is one of the few streets in Wellington named for a woman. Rhodes also provided Mayoral robes and the central pendant for the Mayoral chains. Past Mayors were contacted and asked if they would like to contribute links with either their coat of arms or insignia at a cost of £10 to represent their political term. Some, but not all of the past Mayors contacted wished to contribute. Initially only four links were added with a number more added in the late 1920s.

Cities adopted coats of arms to give themselves a unique sense of identity. Each comprised traditional heraldic elements: arms (inside the shield), crest (above the shield), supporters (beside the shield), and motto. In New Zealand, the imagery often combined British and local elements. The central pendant of the Mayoral chains portrays Wellington City’s coat of arms which was adopted in 1878. The shield combines the arms of the Duke of Wellington (the gold cross and five silver discs) and local elements: the fleece and sheaf representing regional agriculture, and the lymphad (ship) symbolising the first colonising ships. The dolphin in the crest symbolises Wellington’s status as a maritime city. The supporters are a British lion and a native moa. The motto – ‘Suprema a situ’ – means supreme by position.
Frame: hxwxd; 553 x 620 x 30mm
Breadth 60mm
Registration number



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