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Haftka Family

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HAFTKA (Pol) hafciarz. Meaning: embroiderer or (Ger.) haftclasp / ka – occupational name for a maker and seller of various sorts of clamps & fastenings.

JABŁOŃSKI (Pol) jabłon/jabłonka. Meaning: apple tree.

MICHAŁOWSKI (Pol) Michał. Meaning: “who is like God”.


Jan Michal Haftka, a labourer, (b. abt. 1849–d. 1914) of Waćmierz, was the son of Jakob Haftka (b. 1823–d. 1852) and Maryanna Kasper (b. 1824). Jan married on 17 November 1872 at Church of the Holy Trinity in Lubiszewo-Tczewskie to Franciszka Jabłońska (b. 18 September 1850 at Swarożyn–d. 1937), the daughter of Filip Jakob Jabłoński (b. 1818–d. 1878) and Maryanna Michalowska (b. 1823–d. 1866). The family born at Swarożyn were: Maryanna Rozalia (b. 1872–d. 1873) and at Gorzędziej; Rozalia (b. 1873–d. 1952). They left Gorzędziej for Hamburg where they set sail aboard the Terpsichore on 15 November 1875, arriving at Port Nicholson in Wellington on 18 March 1876.


Listed aboard were: Johann Haftka age 25, Frederika (Francisca) 25 and Rosalie 2. During the journey out, Joseph was born on 25 January 1876. Also on-board ship was the family of Pawel Haftka from Gniszewo who settled in the Carterton region in the North Island. Johann and Paul were most probably cousins as Pawel (b. 1831 at Brzuśce) was the son of Katarzyna Haftka. Johann and family travelled south to the settlement of Germantown where a number of fellow countrymen were working on various railway works. The family were: Catherine (b. 1878–d. 1936), Agnes (b. 1881–d. 1945), John (b. 1883–d. 1954), Anna (b. 1885–d. 1982), Martha Elizabeth (b. 1888–d. 1941), Nelly (b. 1890) and Barbara (b. 1892). John purchased section five of Block XXIV at East Gore in 1882 under deferred-payment. He was hired as a contractor to work on the Waikaka Valley road subject to the Inspector’s approval in 1892.

“An accident happened at Waikaka Valley on Saturday afternoon, to a young man named Halfka, son of a well -known resident. He was driving a reaper and binder, and, something going amiss with the fanners, got off his seat to adjust them. The horses took fright and bolted. Halfka was thrown down amongst the knives, and before the team was stopped he had sustained very severe wounds on one of his legs, between the knee and ankle, the cut penetrating to the bone. He was brought into Gore, where his injuries were attended to by Dr Warren. The young fellow will be laid aside for some time— unfortunately for him at the busy season.” Mataura Ensign, 19 February 1895, p 2


L-R: John Snr, Barbara, Frances (nee Jablonska), Nellie, Martha, Annie & Agnes Halfka at Maitland, c. 1890s


In 1896 the children were first day pupils at the Maitland school, previously attending Gordon School at East Gore. John in New Zealand, worked for a time as a farmer, worked on the Star dredge and carted coal. He was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 13 May 1902, a farmer in the Waikaka Valley. In 1914 the family sold their property on Newman Road to Elizabeth Olsen and purchased a neighbouring property on the south side of what was later named Olsen Road. The property remained in the Halfka family until their son, Joseph Halfka, sold to Mr. L. Symons in 1952.

“SALE AT MAITLAND. The Southland Farmers’ Co-operative Association, Ltd., report having held a successful clearing sale on account of Mr John Halfka. on Wednesday at Maitland. Mr Halfka having disposed of his property, everything was for unreserved sale, and although weather conditions were somewhat unfavorable there was a very fair attendance. The sale was got through quickly, the following being the Particulars: Cows, £8 10s, £8 5s, £6 10s, £5 15s. £5 10s, £5 2s 6d; heifers, £7, £6 2s 6d, £5 12s 6d, £5 10s; 7 calves at £2 10s each; 1 gelding (4yrs.) £28, 1 gelding £l3, 1 gelding (aged) £5 10s; oaten sheaf stack £l9. Implements: Dray £l2, M.H. binder £l0 10s, drill £ll. disc harrows £5 10s, digger plough £5, s.f. plough £4, harrows £4. A quantity of harness and sundry lots were also disposed of at highly satisfactory prices. A good luncheon was provided by Mrs Halfka and her many assistants, and was much appreciated by those present” . Mataura Ensign, 8 August 1914, p 8

John died on 1 October 1914 at Maitland aged 64 and Frances died on 23 July 1937 at Maitland aged 86. They are buried together at the Gore Cemetery.


John and Frances Halfka, courtesy of History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand


Rosalie Halfka was born at Gorzędziej on 07 December 1873.  She married on 2 June 1896 at Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Gore to Thomas Augustin Bielicki (b. 1873 at Waćmierz–d. 1939), the son of Jan Jakub Bielicki and Katarzyna Franciszka Jabłońska. The family were: Thomas August (b. 1897–d. 1957), Frank (b. 1899–d. 1969), Joseph (b. 1901–d. 1947), Martin (b. 1903–d. 1965), Eveline Annie (b. 1907)) and James (b. 1915). Rosalie died on 13 August 1952 aged 78 and is buried at the Eastern Cemetery in Invercargill.

During the first world war, anti German sentiment in New Zealand was on the rise and many German residents were targeted and treated unfairly to the point of being incarcerated.  Many Poles who were targeted were forced to prove their identity.

“Waikouaiti County Council. Mr J. Halfka wrote that he desired it denied through the council that he was of German origin. He produced his birth certificate, showing that he was born at Gore, and his parents were born in Swarrache, Russia.—Cr Orbell said it was gratifying to know that the council had no Germans in its employ, as had been reported.—Cr McLeod said it had been common talk that this man was a German, and he had intended asking a question concerning this matter. It was pleasing to know that this report was unfounded.— The letter was received.”  Otago Daily Times, 01 December 1917, p 8

“From Mr J. Halfka, denying a report that he was a German, stating that his was a Polish name, and enclosing documentary proof of parentage.—Councilors said the rumor referred to had caused some feeling, but the letter showed that the council had not been employing a German.” Evening Star, 01 December 1917, p 2


John & Frances Halfka, Catholic Block 48 Plot 11 at Gore Cemetery


Evans Allister, Waikaka Saga: the history of Waikaka, Greenvale, Wendon Valley and the Waikaka gold field, Christchurch 2009, p 65 & 79.

Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, p 61, 168 & 196.

Research Sources

Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973, FamilySearch.

Barnett Jenny NZROHA, supplied family information.

Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, St Mary’s Church, Milton; Baptism Register.

Lubiszewo Tczewskie & Subkowy Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.

New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Naturalisations, Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Schluter Sandra, Dunedin, supplied family information & photos.

Walsh John, Masterton, supplied extensive history of Prussia, family history & family documents (1998).


Thomas Belesky & Rose (nee Haftka), Roman Catholic Block 8 Plot 120 at Eastern Cemetery in Invercargill



Gore Cemetery – Frances Halfka (1850-1937) » Gore District Council (goredc.govt.nz)

Gore Cemetery, John Halfka (1849-1914) » Gore District Council (goredc.govt.nz)

Invercargill Eastern Cemetery – Rose Belesky (1873-1952) – Invercargill City Council (icc.govt.nz)




Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)



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