Michael Brennan Hart (1843-1908) was six when he migrated to Canterbury with his parents, Michael Brennan (1814-1878), a plumber, and Mary Ann (34), and brother George (1841-1911).
Upon arrival, Mary Ann, who was a matron on the Cressy, received her £5 gratuity. Because living in their V-hut at Lyttelton was expensive for the Harts, they moved to a Christchurch section. Not far from Lichfield Street, the Harts put up a tent and Michael set up what would become the White Hart Hotel on the south side of the Sumner Road (now High Street), close to the present City Mall. By November 1851, Hart had built a wooden building with stables. The White Hart was to become a popular drinking establishment.
Michael Hart Jun. was Mayor of Christchurch in 1874. Hart Street (formerly Ashbourne Place and later Henley Street) is named after Michael Hart Sen. According to records, Michael Jun. was a solicitor’s clerk articled to T. S. Duncan. In 1900 he was living in Christchurch.
According to a family member, along with building the White Hart Hotel, Michael Hart Sen. also established Christchurch’s first pub. He also provided the land for the first Town Hall in Christchurch, and the family thinks he thus “bought’’ himself into office.
One of Michael’s sons, George Robert Hart, was a reporter, then editor and chief-of-staff on The Press. His other son, Frank Herbert Hart, was a journalist for the Eketahuna Gazette, an editor of the Mataura Ensign, and a sub-editor and senior reporter for The Press.1