In Pre - European times Papanui was the name for the Bishopdale and Papanui area. This area was forest land dominated by trees and in particular tall and strong trees.These were Totara, Matai, Kahikatea and Kanuka. The trees are represented in the naming of our house groups and the concept of strength is reflected through the adoption of our school values in particular Participation (to be tall and present) and Integrity (to be tall and strong).
The suburb is named after the three Bishop brothers, James (1826 – 1910), Robert (1827–1909) and William (1829–1903), who bought land in the area in 1858 or 1859 and established pipfruit orchards. Initially, the area was called Bishopsdale, but the second 's' was dropped from the name. Part of Greers Road (the section between Harewood Road and Sawyers Arms Road) was formerly called Bishop's Road.It was renamed in 1948 to avoid confusion with Bishops Road in Papanui and Bishop Street in St Albans.
The Maori called the area ‘Papa Kohatu’ – (place of rocks) as it was an overflow of the old Waimairi Riverwhich in turn, left the land covered in rocks and pebbles. When the last tree of Papanui Bush was felled in 1857, the little timber-based village of Papanui was forced to re-invent itself and fast!
The year 1858 was not only big for Robert Bishop but also for Papa Kohatu. The land began to be drained and Robert was joined by one of his brothers, James (1826 – 1910) who brought with him his wife Rebecca and their four sons James, Robert, William and Fredrick . Tragically Arthur also died at this time, just aged one year. The brothers brought some of the newly drained land and began to set up their future in the deeply fertile soil.
In 1859, the third Bishop brother arrived in Lyttelton; William with his wife Meddy and their two sons, Walter and Arthur. Tragically Arthur also died at this time, just aged one year. In 1860, James and Robert Bishop appeared in the newspaper for jury service, their address listed at lower Lincoln Road and their jobs were as gardeners. The family was also recorded living at Mt Pleasant at some point, date unknown.
When the brothers finally moved onto their land, they built a homestead where Bishopdale School is now sited. There, they opened a successful pip-fruit orchard and the area became known as Bishopsdale. The second ‘s’ has since been dropped. The section of Greers Road between Sawyer’s Arms Road and Harewood was known as Bishops Road but the name was dropped in 1948 as it was confused with Bishops Road in Papanui and St Albans.Robert and William are buried at St James Anglican Church in Harewood Road, whereas James is buried at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Papanui.