The area of the Akaroa waterfront that is now the peaceful Britomart Reserve was, in the 1840s, one of the busiest areas on Akaroa’s foreshore. In the same decade, when a Maori attack on Akaroa was feared, a blockhouse was erected on the land. The area was surveyed as a reserve in 1856 and vested in the Borough Council in 1887.
In 1908, the Akaroa Beautifying Association improved the reserve, planting lawn and trees and building a post and chain fence. In the same year, a cannon was placed on the reserve.
From the start it was described as a cannon from the Britomart, the British naval vessel that came south from the Bay of Islands in August 1840 to make a demonstration of British sovereignty over the South Island prior to the arrival of the French settlers. The 1808 Kinman cannon had been sent out by the British Admiralty for display at the 1906-07 International Exhibition held in Christchurch. It was the sort of cannon that would have been on the Britomart (which had been built in 1819) but was not from the Britomart itelf. The cannon had been sent out to the Exhibition at the instigation of Etienne Le Lievre, the mayor of Akaroa, and when the Exhibition closed, the cannon was sent over to Akaroa to be displayed.