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SURNAMES & THEIR ORIGINS
BARA (Ger) Bär. Meaning: bear.
DE(E)RING (Eng) deor Meaning: dear, by name meaning: beloved; The son of Deora.
MAAŚ/MAASH (Dut) (Bel) Maas. Meaning: dweller at, or near, the Meuse River in Western Europe. One who made chain nail used as defensive armour.
Piotr Albrecht Bara, a coachman (b. 1827—d. 1904) was born at Malenin on 11 July 1827, the son of Augustin Bara (b. 1794—d. 1847) and Justyna Apolonia Dering (b. 1792—d. 1863). Peter married on 7 February 1858 at the Church of the Holy Cross in Tczew to Eleanora (Helena) Wilhelmina Maaś (b. abt. 1828 at Elbląg—d. 1909). Very fond of horses, Peter was a driver for the Premier of Poland and Helena was a governess in Poland, being fairly well educated. The family born at at Gniszewo were: Franciszek Jozef (b. 1858—d. 1932), August Karol (b. 1860—d. 1865), Maryanna Rozalia (b. 1861—d. 1873), Teresia Augusta (b. 1863—d. 1939), Robert Jakob (b. 1865—d. 1865), Maria Louisa (b. 1866—d. 1965) and Wilhelmine (Minnie) Auguste (b. 1867—d. 1946). The family had moved when they had their youngest child, Bernhard (b. 1870—d. 1951). A baptism has never been located for Bernhard but his New Zealand naturalisation states he was born in Garsau – Gardschau (Godziszewo). The family are located at the village of Czarnocin where their daughter Maryanna Rosalia died in 1873 at twelve years of age. They left the village of Czarnocin for Hamburg, where they set aboard the Reichstag on 10 May 1874, arriving at Port Nicholson in Wellington on 6 August 1874. The family had been nominated by family and friends in Waihola to settle there in New Zealand.
Listed aboard were: Peter Bahra age 45, Helena 45, Franz 16, Rosa 12, Maria 7, Minna 6 and Bernhardt 4. They were sent to Soames Island for isolation before being sent to Dunedin where they were sent to the western compartment of the Caversham Immigration Barracks. From here they travelled south to Waihola where Peter settled and worked on the railway. He purchased property in block 22 at Waihola on 15 December 1874 where he built the family a sod cottage of which a wooden room was later added. The cottage was surrounded by beautiful gardens and was enclosed with a white picket fence.
A brother-in-law, writes to Peter Barra of Waihoa replying that they had received his letter and the twenty pounds they needed to help them get to New Zealand. Unfortunately the ships were no longer going to New Zealand but diverted to Queensland in Australia instead. The journey that used to be 11 Thalers per person had just inflated to 111 Thalers per person. At the time, 20 pounds was equivalent to 133 Thaler and ten silver groszy.
Dirschau (Tczew) 20th of June, 1876.
Dearest Brother-in-Law, We received your dear letter together with the money and we thank you for it several times. May Dear God give you a lot of luck and blessings in the foreign country and keep your children in good health,
Dear Brother-in-Law, with the twenty-pound sterling I went to the English bank in Danzig (Gdańsk) and I had to leave the cheque there for which I was given a receipt. We had to wait for the money for six weeks but we did not pay anything for the exchange transaction. Local agents wanted to charge us twenty gulden for arranging the exchange. We received your letter on the 10th of May. The cheque for 20 pounds was first forwarded to London where it was verified. However, the delay did not matter, as we received for it the full equivalent amount of 133 thaler and ten silver groszy. From the above amount I kept for myself 50 thaler and gave the remaining 83 thaler and ten silver groszy to Dusienski.
Dear Brother-in-Law, quite a lot has changed with our plans to emigrate to New Zealand. Ships with emigrants are not departing to New Zealand any more, they are now sailing to Queensland in Australia, but we do not wish to go there. We wrote to the agent and he replied that he can arrange the passage to New Zealand but this will cost us 111 thaler for each person and we do not have so much money to pay. Should we wish to travel to New Zealand at the old price of eleven thaler per person then the English Government will post us to work in the forest and we will be unable to live with you in the same place. Should we be able to pay the full costs of the passage, only then we will be able to join you. Johan Behrend wrote to his family and they could travel to him. Those people who left in October and November all wrote that they work in the forest and that they are not together with their relatives. Both brothers Drozdowski from Liebschau (Lubsizewo Tczewskie) departed in November for New Zealand and now work also in the forest. The wife of the younger Drozdowski died after six weeks in New Zealand. This news made us very sad. Growski from Dirschau (Tczew) also departed to New Zealand. I have given him your address as he wanted to be with you, has he arrived?
Dear Brother-in-Law, we are very sad that at present we are unable to travel to New Zealand, especially as I have sold all my belongings. What shall I do now, when no more immigrant ships sail with the low passage fare Dusienski has not sold his belongings. I had to leave my room, because it was discovered that I had plans to emigrate to New Zealand. Now I have to share a room with two other persons.
Dear Brother-in-Law, we do not wish that you work yourself to death and be left without any money. This will happen should you post money to us all the time. However, should you be able in a year or two to pay for us fully paid passage tickets, then we will be sure that we will be able to join you as we wish to do.
This letter was translated by Mr. George Jaworowski, with the following comments; Written in German possibly as given sentence by sentence by a Pole. The phraseology is very Polish and the writer probably had a limited knowledge of German. Letter is courtesy of Alan Halba originally held by Jim Barra.
According to the 1882’ Return of Freeholders, the property covered two acres of land to the value of £200.
“MAGISTERIAL. R.M. COURT, MILTON. (Before J. N. Wood, Esq., R.M.) Tuesday, February 26, 1884, CATTLE TRESPASS. Peter Barrow was fined 2s, and 7s costs, John Helligan, 1s, and 7s costs, C. Hankey, 1s, and 7s costs, and M. Winchley, 2s, and 7s costs, for cattle trespass at Waihola.” Bruce Herald, 29 February 1884, p 3
Peter was tall in stature bearing a long beard and was regarded a well-spoken gentleman while Emma was known as a superb cook. Peter and Leonore were both naturalised as New Zealand citizens on 9 December 1899
“Milton Magistrates Court. OLD AGE PENSIONS. …Two other applications from Leanora Barra and Franciso Welnoski, of Waihola, were also dealt with and refused. The first mentioned not being sufficiently long enough naturalised, and the second was not naturalised at all.” Bruce Herald, 20 March 1900, p 5
Peter died at his home in Waihola after a sudden illness on 23 August 1904. “An old resident of Waihola, Peter Barra, aged 77 years, was found dead at his residence on Tuesday, 23rd inst. He occupied a room by himself, and on Monday night returned to rest as usual, but on being called next morning by his wife he made no response. As the door was snibbed inside, Mrs Barra went to a window, and not seeing her husband in bed she became alarmed, and, with the aid of some neighbours, the door was burst open, and deceased was discovered lying on the floor. At an inquest held on the body the following day before Mr A. S. Paterson, acting–coroner, Dr J. Sutherland, of Milton, who examined the body, said he was of opinion that the cause of death was sudden failure of the heart through senile decay, and a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony was returned.” Otago Witness, 31 August 1904
“Sudden Death at Waihola. Peter Barra, aged 77 years, an old resident of Waihola, was found dead in his room on Tuesday. The deceased had always been a healthy person, and had never been under medical treatment. Deceased retired to rest on Monday night, apparently in his usual state of health, but when his wife went to call him in the morning, she could receive no response, and called in some neighbors who burst in the door, and discovered deceased lying on the floor. INOUEST. An inquest was held on the body at the residence on Wednesday, before Mr Alex. S. Paterson, acting-coroner. The following comprised the jury: – Messrs Jas. Sinclair (foreman), Jas. Phillips, Thos. Wilnoski, Anton Wisneski, F. Hanke, Michael Wisneski. Leonore Barra, identified deceased as her husband. Deceased was 77 years of age, and had never complained of being ill at any time. Was sometimes subject to a slight cold and cough, but had never been laid up with it. Deceased was about all day on Monday 22nd inst, and was in his usual health. He retired to bed at 8 p.m., sleeping in a room by himself. On Tuesday morning witness cooked the breakfast, and then called out to her husband, but received no answer. Called again, and then tried the door, but could not open it, as it was snibbed on the inside. Looked through the window, but could not see her husband lying on the bed. Then went to a neighbor (Michael Wisneski), and informed him that she could not wake her husband, and that she thought something was wrong with him. Mr Wisneski came and called out to deceased, but received no answer. A message was sent to some of the neighbors, who came and forced the door open, discovering deceased lying on the floor, life being extinct. Frank Barra, farmer, residing at Louden’s Gully, Milton, stated that deceased was his father. Last saw him alive about two months ago, when he was in his usual state of health. Deceased was always a healthy man. James Sinclair, farmer, Waihola, deposed to being called to deceased’s house on Tuesday morning. Other neighbors were present, and, the door being snibbed from the inside, witness and others forced it open. Found deceased lying on his back on the floor close to the bed. He was undressed, and the bedclothes were disarranged. The body was stiff and cold, and deceased appeared to have been dead some hours. Dr James Sutherland, medical practitioner Milton, said he examined the body on Tuesday, and found no scars or wounds or marks of violence. The body was cold, and decomposition was setting in. Had heard the evidence of previous witnesses, and was of opinion that the cause of death was sudden failure of the heart through senile decay. A. verdict in accordance with the medical testimony was returned.” Bruce Herald, 26 August 1904, p 5
“Funeral Notice. THE Friends of the late PETER BARRA (and family) are respectfully invited to attend his Funeral, which will leave the Milton Railway Station, for the place of interment, Fairfax Cemetery, TO-MORROW (SATURDAY), the 27th inst., at 2 o’clock p.m. JOHN DICKSON, Undertaker.” Bruce Herald, 26 August 1904, p 4
Leonora (Helena/Emma) Wilhelmina died at the house of her son-in-law, Martin Klimeck of Milton on 11 September 1909; “Mrs Peter Barra, a native of Germany, and a resident at Waihola since 1874, died at Milton on Thursday last; aged 81. Two sons (who are farming in the Milton district) and three daughters, who are all married, with 14 grandchildren, survive.” Otago Witness, 15 September 1909
“MRS LEONORA BARRA; ÆTAT 81. On Thursday afternoon, September 9th, Mrs. Leonora Barra (nee Mass), relict of the late Peter Barra, died at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr. Martin Klimeck, Milton. Deceased was a native of Elbing, Germany, and more than fifty years ago was united to Mr. Barra by the bonds which could be severed only by Death. Eight children were born to them, but when they left the Fatherland for New Zealand in 1874 three had died. On arriving in the colony, the family settled at Waihola, where they became well-known and respected. Mr Barra died five years ago at Waihola. Those of the family who survive to mourn the loss of their mother are Frank (Louden’s Gully), Bernard (North Branch), Theresa (Mrs. Halba, Lawrence), Mary (Mrs. Henderson, Australia), and Wilhelmina (Mrs. M. Klimeck, Milton). There are 14 grandchildren. The remains of deceased were laid at rest in the Fairfax Cemetery on Saturday, Rev. Father Howard conducting the religious rites at the graveside.” Bruce Herald, 13 September 1909, p 5
“MILTON NOTES. Within the past few months more people who have passed the allotted span of life have crossed the Great Divide than can be remembered for a considerable number of years. Last Thursday another old lady departed; it was Mrs Leonora. Barra, who was aged eighty-one. She was the relict of Peter Barra, late of Waihola. Mr and Mrs Barra were natives of Germany. and came to New Zealand with a family of five in 1874. Deceased’s children still live, and three of them are residents of this district.” Evening Star, 15 September 1909, p 8
“FUNERAL NOTICE. The Friends of Mr MARTIN KLIMICK and Family) are respectfully invited to attend the Funeral of his late MOTHER-IN-LAW (ALANORY BARRA), which will leave his Residence, Johnstone street, Milton, for the place of interment, Fairfax Cemetery, TO-MORROW (SATURDAY, the 11th inst., at 2.30 p.m. JOHN DICKSON . Undertaker, Milton.” Otago Daily Times, 10 September 1909, p 6
Francis Joseph Barra was born at Gniszewo on 31 October 1858. He was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 13 June 1887. He was married on 14 October 1896 at St. Mary’s church in Milton to Paulina (Polly) Catharina Rekowska (b. 1859–d. 1942). The family born at Waihola were: James Francis (b. 1898–d. 1979) and Herbert Peter (b. 1899–d. 1993). He worked for a time on the railways then in 1899 purchased an 80-acre property for farming purposes at Louden’s Gully which lies two miles east of Milton. In 1920 he purchased a further 80 acres adjoining his farm. Frank died on 8 June 1932 aged 73 and is buried at the Fairfax Cemetery near Milton.
Theresa Augusta Barra was born at Gniszewo on 12 October 1863. She was twelve years old when she arrived in New Zealand and recalls the trip as the highlight of her childhood, a memory which remained with her until her death. As a young lady she was engaged as a maid in the Waihola district. She married on 30 December 1891 at St. Mary’s church in Milton to Joseph Valentine Halba. The family were: John (b. 1893–d. 1893), Rosalie Theresa (b. 1895–d. 1933), John Peter (b. 1901–d. 1942), Theresa Josephine (b. 1902–d. 1977), Joseph Francis (b. 1906–d. 1966) and Leonora Bridget (b. 1907–d. 1949). For a time, they lived at Waihola, Taihape, Lawrence, Circle Hill and finally settling down in Milton. Moving around the country during her married life brought to the fore, all her best qualities. Her life was hard, and with her husband working up to twelve hours a day and sometimes being away for six days a week, Teresa had to shoulder the burden of raising the family alone. Each child had a different outlook and nature, but all held their mother in the highest esteem. During her life she always received praise for her excellent quality of baking and cooking. The fact that all her children were on the lean side believes the fact that they ate heartily on good quality food. The pantry was always full of fruits, pickles, jams, sauerkraut, beers, wines and fruit juices etc. Like her husband, she led a quiet family orientated life. She did not concern herself with outside affairs, but rather directed her energies to her own and her brothers and sisters’ families. Theresa died in Milton on 4 December 1939 aged 76. Her funeral was held at St. Mary’s church in Milton and was buried at the Fairfax Cemetery near Milton.
Marie Louisa Barra was born at Gniszewo on 02 April 1866. As a young lady, she first went to Perth in Western Australia where she married in 1896 to Ernest William Henderson (b. 1871), an English photographer. Family at Queensland; Doris Marie (b. 1907). She then remarried on 14 June 1910 at Cairns to Jim Moore and returned to New Zealand where they settled in Dunedin. Family; Alice and Margaret. Marie died at Dunedin on 16 September 1965 aged 99 and is buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.
Wilhelmina (Minnie) Auguste Barra was born at Gniszewo on 06 November 1867. Minnie married on 22 February 1887 at St. Mary’s Church in Milton to Martin Klimeck (b. 1863–d. 1932). The family were Mary Louise (b. 1888–d. 1972), Wilhelmina Augusta (b. 1889–d. 1993), William Patrick (b. 1892–d. 1977), Eleanora Annie (b. 1893–d. 1991), Martin Joseph (b. 1895–d. 1983), Rosalie Theresa (b. 1899–d. 2003) and Peter John (b. 1902–d. 1960). For a while the couple lived in Hobart (Tasmania), Riversdale, Chrystalls Beach, Louden’s Gully, Naseby, Georgetown and finally settling in Dunedin. After a few years of working on various railway works, Martin and Minnie tried their hand at farming. It was then onto hotelier work where they managed in succession various hotels around Otago before retiring to South Dunedin.
“On February 25 there passed away at her residence, 20 Market Street, St. Kilda. Mrs Minnie Klimeck, widow of Mr Martin Klimeck and a highly esteemed parishioner of St. Patrick’s, South Dunedin. Born in Poland, 78 years ago, the late Mrs Klimeck came to New Zealand when about six years of age. After her marriage to Mr Martin Klimeck, who was also of Polish birth, Mr and Mrs Klimeck lived in the Milton Parish, where Mr Klimeck had a farm, and where their family of seven children were born. Towards the end of the First World War Mr and Mrs Klimeck moved to Dunedin, where for several years they were engaged in the hotel business. Of a quiet and retiring disposition, the late Mrs Klimeck did not enter into public affairs. Her life centred around hearth and altar, and exemplified that burning faith which is characteristic of the Polish people. Her priest son, Father E. L. Klimeck, O.P., of the English Dominican Congregation and formerly a professor at the Provincial Seminary at Mosgiel and afterwards Administrator of St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Dunedin, arrived in New Zealand after an absence of ten years just a few weeks before the short illness that preceded her death, at which his presence was without doubt an answer to a mother’s prayer. Requiem Mass was celebrated on February 27 in St. Patrick’s Basilica, South Dunedin, by Father Klimeck, O.P. His Lordship Bishop O’Neill was present in the sanctuary, as also were present in the sanctuary, as also were Right. Rev. Mgr. Delany, V.G., and Fathers Gavin (Adm. Cathedral), Ardagh (P.P., Forbury), Marlow (Cathedral), Phillips, C.M. (Holy Cross College), Walls (South Dunedin), and Toomey (Forbury). Father Klimeck officiated at the graveside, at which were present also Most Rev. Dr O’Neill and the clergy—R.I.P.” New Zealand Tablet.
Minnie passed away on 25 February 1946, aged 78. A Requiem Mass was held at St. Patrick’s Basilica and she was buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.
Bernard Barra, as a young man, worked as a farm labourer in mid-Canterbury. He married on 7 May 1908 at Loudon’s Gully to Rose Rekowski and after a while went to take up farming in Australia. However, severe droughts and harsh climatic conditions forced them to return to New Zealand financially broken. Bernard took up farming once again, this time at North Branch, two miles north of Milton, and was successful with his efforts.
“DISSOLUTION OF PARTNERSHIP. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the partnership which has for some time past been carried on by Martin Klimick and Bernard Barra, under the firm of “Klimick and Barra,” at Akatore, as farmer–, was this day dissolved by mutual consent. As witness our hands this 11th June, 1901, MARTIN KLIMICK, BERNARD BARRA. D. Reid, Solicitor, Milton.” Bruce Herald, 18 June 1901, p 4
“FARM LABOUR. CONCILIATION B0ARD PROCEEDINGS AT TIMARU. The Conciliation Board resumed its sittings at Timaru. Bernard Barra, ploughman at Temuka, said that it was quite possible for a ploughman to do his work between the hours of 6 and 8. Witness was paid 22s 6d a week, with a £5 bonus for harvest. He very seldom worked longer than from 7 to 7 in harvest time. Witness worked a 4 and a 6-horse team, and considered that the work was worth more than 22s 6d a week. Witness did his washing on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and would prefer to do it all on Saturday. He liked to go to church on Sunday morning, and if a Saturday half-holiday were given, he would be able to do his washing all on Saturday. He did not get many holidays. It would be quite possible for ploughmen to get a fortnight’s holiday during the year at a slack time. To Mr Jones: If the demands of the Union were given effect to, it would not hurt his master. A man who could save £1000 from wages on a farm at 35 years of age would require to be pretty mean. Witness denied that he had saved more than £1000 from wages on a farm. Mr Acland: Supposing a non Union man was worth 2s 6d a day more than a Union man, and an employer preferred the non-Unionist at 7s 6d, what would be his position? — He would have to take the Unionist. Witness said he had saved some money, having made it out of public works at Is an hour. A discussion here took place as to whether farm labourers were exempt from the ordinary statutory holidays, Mr Evans contending that they were. Mr Sheat said it was customary to give them, but it was not compulsory. Witness to Mr Kennedy: Ploughmen worked set hours now — 8 to 5. Mr Jones, for the employers, called; Donald Grant, farmer, Winchester, who said he employed four men constantly, and no dissatisfaction existed among them. None of them had joined the Union, and they had all told witness that they were satisfied. Witness had 900 acres, all heavy, wheat-growing land. He was now growing half as much wheat as formerly, owing to the disturbance in the labour market. It would be impossible to work the farms under the Union’s demands. Harvesting was hazardous work. Six years ago, through wet weather coming on, he had lost £100 on a 20-acre paddock of oats, and he had had other losses from the same cause. It would be impossible to give set holidays on a farm. The overtime demands for harvest were unreasonable, as it sometimes happened that a wind would spring up after the men had been out an hour or two, and they would perhaps sit on the stack for three or four hours waiting for the wind to go down, and they would be getting 1s an hour all the time. Witness paid £15 a year more now to his married couple than he paid eight years ago. To Mr Thorn: It would be a fair thing to pay men overtime who worked more than 10 hours in the harvest field. A preference clause to unionists, such as would force all workers into the Union, would not injure witness. To Mr Kennedy: Witness gave his men such holidays as Christmas and New Year days, November 9, etc., and they could have a week’s holiday at a slack time when they wanted one. A week with the other holidays should be sufficient. A fortnight’s holiday would be too much. If witness found that a man had taken a contract too low, and he asked for more pay, he would give it to him if he knew the man had been trying to make wages. To Mr Jones: The men preferred a contract system. This was witness’ experience in regard to turnip-hoeing, fencing, draining, etc. To Mr Sheat: Witness paid all his harvest hands by the hour, and knew nothing about “sweating” hour men by putting them to work alongside contract men. To Mr Rusbridge: Witness considered it was as easy for a man in the ranks of the labourers to rise to-day as ever it was. They could get financed more easily now than in the earlier days. It was difficult now to get decent, reliable farm hands. To Mr Sheat: The workers were certainly paid better now than they were eight years ago, so far, at all events, as he was concerned. At this stage the Board adjourned until Tuesday next.” Feilding Star, 10 December 1907, p 4
Bernard was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 8 December 1926.
“MAGISTRATE’S COURT. The monthly sitting of the Milton Magistrate’s Court was held to-day before Mr H. J. Dixon, S.M… For riding bicycles on footpaths, within the borough, Bernard Barra and James Henry Read did not appear.—Each was fined 10s, with court costs (10s). “ Otago Daily Times, 19 March 1929, p 6
“FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1938, 1.30 p.m. o’clock. On the Farm, North Branch, Milton. CLEARING SALE OF CATTLE, HORSES, AND SUNDRIES. THE OTAGO FARMERS’ CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION OF NEW ZEALAND, LIMITED, favoured with instructions from Mr Bernard Barra (Milton), who has sold his farm, will offer by auction, as above, his Live and Dead Stock as follows: 3 Cows (second and third calvers), 2 heifer Calves, 1 bull Calf, 1 aged draught Mare, good 1-horse mower (Bamford), dray and frame, trap and harness, swing plough, drill plough, hillside plough, drill, grubber, harness and trees for 3 horses, 3-leaf harrow, 4-leaf harrow, wooden roller, barrels, 30gal copper boiler, tarpaulin (15 x 18), sledge, hay knife, leading chains, block and tackle, horse covers, dray jack, A.L. separator (32gal), cream cart, Massey grubber; 2 hay stacks, bag covers, forks, front carriage, and sundries.” Otago Daily Times, 12 February 1938, p 19
Both Bernard and Rose Mary remained in Milton until ill health forced them to leave farming. Bernard died in Dunedin on 21 January 1951 aged 80 and is buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.
Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 36, 42, 43, 51, 155, 166, 196 & 198..
Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973, FamilySearch.
Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara O Te Kawanatanga; Land Records.
Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, St Mary’s Church, Milton; Baptism Register.
Fairfax Cemetery Records, Dunedin Public Library
Halba Alan, Timaru, provided family information, photos & genealogy (1999)
Miłobądz, Tczew, Skarszewy & Subkowy Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.
New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Naturalisations, Births, Deaths and Marriages.
New Zealand Government Property Tax Department, from the rates assessment rolls, Return of Freeholders of NZ 1882, published 1884.
Compiled by Paul Klemick (2023)
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Polski “Poles Down South” jest stroną internetową organizacji polonijnej w Nowej Zelandii działającej w rejonie Otago i Southland na Wyspie Południowej. Siedzibą organizacji jest Dunedin.