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Hoffman Family

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CZERWONKA (Pol) czerw. Meaning: grub or maggot; also czerwień. Meaning: red

HOFFMANN/HOFFMAN (Ger) Hof. Meaning: estate steward – the German root hoff means hope.

ONASZ from the Biblical name Yonah. Meaning: dove.


Jan Hoffman (b. abt. 1841–d. 1898) was born within the boundaries of the Parish of Niedamowo, the son of Albrecht Hoffman (b. 1807) and Katarzyna Maryanna Czerwonka (b. 1805–d. 1863). Jan married on 8 October 1865 at St. Mikolej in Niedamowo to Anna Onasz (b. 06 December 1846 at Lubań–d. 1929), the daughter of Ferdinand Onasz (b. 1825) and Katarzyna Minchaus (b. 1822–d. 1896). Jan worked as a tailor with a background in weaving and was also an officer in the Prussian Army.  Anna’s father, Ferdinand/Friedrich Onasz, was French being one of Napoleon’s soldiers left behind in the retreat from Moscow. Her mothers’ family found him by the wayside and nursed him back to health later to marry their daughter. It is said that both Jan and Katarzyna’s parents also came from a background of weaving. The family born at Lubań were: Max (b. 1865–d. 1936), at Stary Wiec; Michal (b. 1867–d. 1946), at Małżewko; Franciszek (b. 1869–d. 1954) and Maria Berta (b. 1872–d. 1953). The family decided to leave Poland to avoid their sons being forced into the German army.  From the village of Małżewko they left for Hamburg where they set sail aboard the Palmerston on 29 July 1872 arriving at Port Chalmers near Dunedin, on 6 December 1872.


Listed aboard were: Johann Hoffmann age 31, Anna 24, Max 7, Michael 5, Franz 2 and Maria 3 months. When they arrived in New Zealand John threw his war medals into the Port of Otago saying “This is my country now”. The family was sent south to Scroggs Creek on contract work with Brogden and Sons to lay the southern railway through the Taieri. Here Anna gave birth to John (b. 1874–d. 1874) and August (b. 1875–d. 1929). They followed the railway south and settled for a short time at Waihola where they resided under canvas for nearly a year before John could build a cottage.

“WASTE LANDS BOARD. Mr Charles Hilgendorf, on behalf of the undermentioned persons, applied that they should be allowed to purchase the respective areas held by them at Waihola under license from the late Provincial Government, under section 29 of the Land Act, 1872: —Johann Hoffman, sections 20 and 21, block XXI. It was explained that the applicants were Polish immigrants. It was resolved to recommend the Government to allow applicants to purchase at £3 per acre.” Bruce Herald, 9 August 1878, p 6


John and Annie Hoffman (nee Onasz), courtesy of Darcy Hoffman


The family then moved south to the settlement of Germantown, where they joined other Poles working on the railway. The family born at Germantown were: Joseph (b. 1876–d. 1937), John (b. 1878–d. 1953), Thomas (b. 1880–d. 1949), James Luke ((b. 1882–d. 1948), Adam (b. 1884–d. 1919), Alexander Paul (b. 1887–d. 1945) and George Frederick (b. 1890–d. 1957).

Near the property lay a coal reserve which contained some 40 acres, and it was open to the general public to apply to the Land Board for a prospecting license. If successful in locating a seam deemed to be profitable to work, the prospector could peg off two acres, which was the maximum for one man. The rental for each claim taken up was one pound a year. John Hoffman had one such pit delivering coal to Gore and also sold it to settlers who came to the pit. The coal delivered to Gore was charged from 8s to 12s a load, which represented about a ton. While working their claims, the first generation of Hoffman’s did some shearing, and John was also successful as a road contractor. While carrying out the latter, they formed and graveled the road from the Pinnacle Road crossroad to the front of Mr. A Middlemass’ property in Gore. John found plenty of demand for his skills as a contractor with the buildings, roads and bridges required for a young colony which was slowly growing and developing. According to the 1882’ Return of Freeholders, John owned land to the value of £90 at Gore.

With a wife and twelve children to provide for, it seems unlikely that John had much time for sport or relaxation, but his sons excelled individually at cycling, wrestling, athletics, music and dancing, and collectively at tug-of-war. The tradition to excel as sportsmen and sportswoman has continued through successive generations to the present day.  The Pinnacle School Roll records August, Joseph and John Hoffman started there on 10 June 1886. On 3 April 1889, James, John and Joseph were enrolled into the new school at Chatton.  The Hoffman brothers got on very well together, and there was a great bond between them. They would meet regularly and play cards.

In 1884, John got into difficulties with his creditors and declared bankrupt; “IN BANKRUPTCY. Estate of John Hoffman, Contractor, Gore. In the District Court of Western Otago, being a local Court of Bankruptcy, holden at Invercargill, In the Matter of the Bankruptcy Act, 1883 Notice is hereby given that John Hoffman, Contractor, Gore, in the County of Southland, in New Zealand, was adjudged a Bankrupt on the 27th day of September, 1884, and that the first meeting of creditors will be held at the Court House, Gore, on Tuesday, October 7th, at 12 noon. RODERICK MACLEOD, Deputy -Assignee. Invercargill, 29th September, 1884.” Southland Times, 29 September 1884, p 3

“IN BANKRUPTCY. The following unopposed applications for orders of discharge were granted :— Ross Robertson (Mr Reade) ; Charles Dean (Mr Finn) ; Henry Beer (Mr Finn) : John Hoffman (Mr Fletcher).” Southland Times, 28 May 1885, p 2

“MAGISTERIAL. GORE. Friday, January 25. (Before R. S. Hawkins Esq., S. M.) AN EJECTMENT CASE. The Scottish and N.Z. Investment C v John Hoffman.— This was an action to recover possession of section 10, blook Waikaka district, containing about 18 acres. Mr Harvey appeared for tee plaintiff company, and Mr Bowler for defendant. Mr Harvey in his opening statement said the property had been originally; leased to the defendant for a term of years with a purchasing clause. On 2nd December, 1893, defendant wrote to the Company that he was getting behind and he might have to file, and he asked the Company to save the property for his wife if possible, but the reply was that the Company could not interfere between him and his creditors. On the 18th November, 1894 he did file, and he returned the farm as being held under mortgage. A small part of the purchase money had been paid off and the amount reduced to L600. It had been proposed to him to take a transfer and give a mortgage, but the answer was that he could not afford the expense, so he still held the lease, but when he filed he returned the section as being held under mortgage. The Official Assignee ascertained the balance of the purchase money and the amount of rent due, and after inspecting the property he wrote to the Company relinquishing the equity oi redemption and declining to take it up. Next day it was found that the only title was the lease, and on the 7th December he gave a formal disclaimer. On l0th December an order was obtained from the District Court vesting the bankrupt’s interest in the Company, and it was registered on 12th December. On December 17 notice to quit, under the Company’s seal, was served on Hoffman, and next day he and his son Frank interviewed the secretary of the Company and made an offer to get the place back, but he was told that no arrangement could be made with him as he was an undischarged bankrupt. He then asked that his wife and his son might get it, and the result of the interview was that a letter was written for them on 19th December requesting that they be allowed to take up the section with a purchasing clause at L600. The Company replied that if the J. Q. Ward Farmers’ Association would guarantee the principal and interest they could have it, but that Association wrote agreeing to guarantee the interest but not the principal, and the plaintiff Company declined to deal, any further with the wife and son. Hoffman afterwards, when interviewed, defied them, and declined to clear out until the crop was off. When he filed, his interest vested in the Assignee, who had disclaimed, and the title again vested in the plaintiff Company, and the defendant could have no interest in the property. Mr Bowler said that before entering. into his defence, which was a somewhat peculiar one, he would like to examine the secretary of the Company on some points. W. V. Siddall, secretary to the N.Z. Advising Board of the Company, said the original amount of the purchase money of the section was L820, but it had been reduced to L600. In 1891 Hoffman was in difficulties with his creditors, amongst whom was Mr MacGibbon, who was financing him on road contracts. MacGibbon came to Invercargill and proposed to the Company to pay a certain sum in cash and take over the Company’s position. Witness thought MacGibbon offered L600 in cash, but this the Company would not accept, and a visit was made to the property by two of the Board, who recommended, and it was agreed to by Hoffman, that the Company should take L750 at the end of the lease if he would keep down the gorse, put the property in good order, and pay interest regularly—a thing he had not been doing. One of the buildings had been burnt down about that time, and the terms mentioned were embodied in a letter dated 6th November, 1891. His Worship asked what was the use of going, into this when everything vested in the Assignee and he had disclaimed P Mr Bowler said his Worship might think the defence a peculiar one, but be claimed that the disclaimer by the Assignee did not operate as a disclaimer of the interest held by the bankrupt. Witness, continuing, said the terms of the last letter were not carried out, though Hoffman accepted them. At the expiration of the lease (produced) on 18th August, 1892, there was a sum of L73 5s 9d, due. On 10th August Mr Henderson wrote asking for three months’ time to pay this, and witness replied on the 12th insisting on the terms being carried out. On the 18th Hoffman telegraphed he was sending a cheque for the L 73 5s 9d, but as he did not receive it he wrote on the 19th. On the 25th he again wrote Hoffman, giving him six months to pay the L73 5s 9d, provided rent and interest (L37 0s 6d) were paid at once, but without prejudice to the Company’s claim under the lease. On 30th August Henderson wrote enclosing L24, and promising the balance in a few days, and the L24. was received as part payment. Witness wrote Hoffman again on 25th October reminding him that the balance of Ll3 0s 6d was still owing, and if it were not paid by the 31st the Company would probably insist on the whole terms being carried out. Henderson wrote that Hoffman was up country and would not be back for some time. Witness wrote Hoffman on 7th February, 1893, that as no principal or interest had been paid the Company would at their next meeting consider what steps should be taken, and on 25th March that the Company proposed to take immediate action. On 15th April he received L36 0s 6d from Hoffman, made up of balance of rent L13 0s 6d, interest L11 16s, and on account of principal L11 9s 6d. He forwarded a receipt and demanded payment of the balance of principal L61 17s 3d to reduce the amount to L600, without prejudice to the Company’s rights under the lease. That sum was not paid until after a fire. The next letter to Hoffman was on 28th April asking him to pay overdue rates. Shortly after the house was burnt, Hoffman came to see him about his account and about the insurance. Witness wrote him on 12th May agreeing to deduct the balance L61 17s 3d from the insurance money in liquidation of the balance over L600, the balance of the insurance money to be paid over to him as the completion of a new building to the value of Ll50. On 19th August he wrote Hoffman requiring him to get his title completed. Henderson replied that Hoffman could not do this yet on account of the heavy costs, and on the 1st September witness wrote requiring an agreement at a cost of L2 2s if he could not complete the title as one or the other must be done, but nothing was done about an agreement either. In December Henderson wrote that since the fire Hoffman had been falling behind with his creditors, who were suing him, and asked the Company to secure the property for Mrs Hoffman if possible. Mr  Harvey here formally put in various documents referred to by him in his opening, viz., two disclaimers, vesting order, power of attorney, lease, certificate of title and correspondence. Mr Bowler put in receipts for rent and interest, and demand for interest in arrear. Witness replied to Henderson’s letter that the Company could do nothing between Hoffman and his creditors. He had accepted interest on the L600 in accordance with his letter of November, 1891. Mr Harvey said if the defence was peculiar, his friend’s examination was more peculiar. Mr Bowler said the position was that Hoffman filed on 15th November, and— His Worship understood that Mr Bowler was setting up a new agreement, but that was conditional, and the conditions bad not been performed. Mr Bowler said there was a new agreement contained in the letter of November, 1891, and payments were accepted under that, whilst the letters put in shewed that time had been allowed, and the disclaimer of the lease was no disclaimer of the agreement. There was a novation of title in Hoffman, and the disclaimer should be under the new agreement. The vesting order was under the lease only. His Worship said the Company had carefully kept alive the terms of the lease in their correspondence in the event of Hoffman not carrying out the suggested arrangements. Mr Bowler replied that they had accepted payment of the L73 5s 9d, and contended they were then not under the lease but under the agreement of 1891. Mr Harvey said there was a further condition— to give a mortgage or sign an agreement. As to continuing to hold under the lease after expiry, it had been decided in several cases that the Assignee could disclaim even though the lease contained an agreement tor purchase. The lease continued and the liability remained under it, and it did not matter whether the payments were called interest or rent. Mr Bowler said it might seem a strange defence to set up, but the facts were that defendant filed on 15th November, 1894, and the meeting of creditors was held in Gore. There was no quorum in time, but the principal creditors were present, and it was arranged then that the Assignee should sell the estate for L30, but the offer was held over until one creditor, Leen, had been arranged with by the Assignee. The next thing heard of the matter was when Hoffman got notice to quit from the plaintiff Company, though he understood all along that he was to pay the L30, and was making arrangements accordingly. The Assignee never consulted anyone, neither the creditors the, bankrupt or himself as his solicitor. It was only on a par with his actions in other estates. His Worship said in that case he was acting to the prejudice of the creditors. Surely the Company would have taken the L640 if offered?  Mr Harvey offered to let them have the property yet if they would pay up the L640. Mr Bowler thought if the interest were paid the Company would not call up the principal. The Assignee had made an arrangement with the bankrupt which could not now be carried out. He knew the object of the Company was to get possession of the crop, which was held by a sub-lessee. The defendant’s holding was not under the lease, but under an agreement which the Assignee had not disclaimed and there was no vesting order of the defendant’s interests under that agreement. His Worship asked why have a vesting order? Mr Bowler replied that if there was a disclaimer there must also be a vesting order, and quoted section 84 of the Bankruptcy Act. Mr Harvey thought his friend was cutting away the ground from under his own feet. There was no agreement and no mortgage, and the only document was the lease, which had been carefully guarded in every letter. His Worship asked Mr Harvey if the postscript to the letter of the 19th August, 1893, did not constitute a new agreement? Mr Harvey: Provided he carries out the new arrangement by completing the title. His Worship said that Hoffman was under the impression that he had another year to run before being asked to go to the expense of a title, and refers to the heavy expense. That letter was put in, and you, Mr Harvey, forego the mortgage but require an agreement. Mr Harvey said that Hoffman had given neither. If a proper agreement had been made it would have contained a proviso in case of default of any payment. His Worship agreed that part of the acceptance of the agreement no doubt was that a proper mortgage or agreement should be prepared. Mr Bowler: But he has held for 18 months, and no agreement was forwarded. His Worship said that until August, 1893, there was no question as to his holding under the lease. Mr Harvey said the expiry of the lease did not waive the covenant to purchase, and until a new agreement was made the lease held good. Mr Bowler submitted that all through it was intended that on payment of the L73 5s 9d defendant was to hold the property for L600 at a low rate of interest. The Company had the fee simple, and did not care whether they had an agreement or not. His Worship said the covenant in the lease was the basis of the whole matter. Defendant must rely on it, though it had been modified by arrangement. Mr Bowler argued that the covenant was got rid of by the payment of the L73 5s 9d. Mr Harvey replied that a letter could not vary or alter a covenant by deed, and that was the reason for asking for new deeds. His Worship to Mr Bowler: You can’t evade the disclaimer by the Assignee. Mr Bowler said it was not sufficient to vest all the bankrupt’s interests in the Company. His Worship thought the only question was whether defendant was entitled to hold over against the Company under the conditions attached in the letters. He had bad notice to quit and deliver up possession. Mr Bowler urged that the company must prove an absolute title. His Worship, after some consideration and reference to the correspondence and the Bankruptcy Act, said he was satisfied an order must for immediate possession and entered up judgment accordingly; costs of Court 16s, and solicitor’s fee L 2 2s. Mr Bowler asked for time to remove, but this was at first refused, but eventually defendant was allowed four days on condition he paid certain costs. The Court then rose. Mataura Ensign, 29 January 1895, p 3


John and Anna Hoffman, courtesy of Darcy Hoffman


The family devised a plan to get around this: One family had a large family of mainly boys, who were contractors and who got into difficulties with their creditors. The creditors put a private bailiff in charge of all stock, implements and the house. The boys worked out a scheme to get rid of the bailiff, and a distress warrant, by filling the said bailiff with beer, which must have been doped, because it put him into a deep sleep in a small outhouse. While he was asleep, they hitched up the horses and carried the house and everything intact – cattle, horses, and implements – onto a section inside the town boundary, a mile from the poor bailiff. When he woke up the next morning, sitting in the outhouse, lord of all he surveyed, which was the coal reserve minus all fittings. The reaction of the bailiff’s employer would have made interesting reading. The law did not allow a distress warrant to be followed onto other property.

John Hoffman died due to Bright’s disease at his residence in East Gore on 4 April 1898 aged 58 years and was buried at the Gore cemetery.

By the death of Mr John Hoffman, which occurred at his residence, East Gore, on Sunday evening, the district loses one of its old identities. Mr Hoffman came to the colony from Germany 25 years ago, and has since resided in or near Gore, pursuing the avocations of farming, contracting, and lignite raising. Some eight weeks ago he had to take to his bed, suffering from Bright’s disease, and he succumbed, as stated, on Sunday evening. The late Mr Hoffman leaves a widow and twelve children-11 sons and a daughter-nearly all of whom are grown up.” Mataura Ensign, 05 April 1898

“MAGISTERIAL. GORE. Thursday, July 7. (Before R. S. Hawkins, Esq., S.M.) TRUANCY. Kenneth McLeod, Annie Hoffman, and Patrick Daly, for failing to send their children to the East Gore school, were each fined 2s 6d and 7s costs, and William Gutsell and M. O’Rourke, for a similar offence in respect to the Mataura school, were similarly dealt with, the Bench warning defendants that future offences would be severely dealt with.” Mataura Ensign, 9 July 1898, p 3

Anna was naturalised as a New Zealand Citizen on 29 May 1901 residing in Gore.  Her grandchildren recalled piling into the dray to travel to Gore to visit the Hoffman’s. It was a very exciting trip. They played cards, often crib. Anna spoke of her grandsons, Tom and Alec, as her little German kilties when they dressed in their kilts and played in the pipe band. When any one sneezed, Anna used to say “błogosławić”, which meant ‘bless’.

“A four-roomed house, occupied by Mrs Annie Hoffman, was destroyed by fire at East Gore about 2 o’clock yesterday morning. Very little was saved and Insurance is in the Liverpool, London and Globe Office for £187.” Southland Times, 20 January 1906, p 2


New Zealand Tug of War Contest in the Garrison Hall at Dunedin June 1914. The Hoffman Brothers, Runners-Up to the Hornibrooks, take out a prize of Ł225


“A large gathering assembled at the Gore railway station on Tuesday evening for the purpose of according Messrs Hoffman Bros, a welcome home from Dunedin, where they competed with much success in the recent tug-of-war championship contests. The Gore Brass Band, which was present on the railway station, rendered “See the conquering heroes come” and Hoffman Bros, were heartily cheered as they alighted on the platform. A five-horse drag was in waiting outside the station in which were seated the members of the Pipe Band. The home-comers were driven through the streets to their respective homes to the accompaniment of the strains of the pipes.” Southland Times, 13 June 1914, p 10

Anna lived with her daughter Mary in Roxburgh in her declining years. Daphne, her great-granddaughter, remembers Anna way up high in a brass bedstead with thick feather mattresses and surrounded by pillows with frilled pillowcases; all snow white. Anna died on 17 January 1929 aged 82 and is buried with her husband at the Gore Cemetery.


Leonore, Baby Mary Jane and Max Hoffman, courtesy of Darcy Hoffman


Max Hoffman was born at Lubań on 24 October 1865.  He married on 16 May 1888 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at Gore to Leonore Dowaloska (b. 1872 at Košice–d. 1939), the daughter of Johan Dovolosky (b. 1822–d. 1899) and Elizabeth Myeros (d. 1872).  The family born at Gore were: Mary Jane (b. 1889–d. 1889), Maximillian (b. 1889–d. 1889), Margaret Ann (b. 1890–d. 1961), James (b. 1892–d. 1960), Annie Ellen (b. 1894–d. 1968), Frances (b. 1898–d. 1983), Maximillian (b. 1899–d. 1899), John (b. 1900–d. 1901), Eileen (b. 1901–d. 1985), Thomas (b. 1903–d. 1976), Maxwell (b. 1905–d. 1976), Ernest William (b. 1907–d. 1976), and Frederick (b. 1911).

“AGRICULTURAL AND PASTORAL NEWS. We often hear of sheep-shearing records being broken in the district, but we venture to think that Max Hoffman’s record of 203 crossbred hoggets at Knapdale, on Wednesday last, will require some beating. The Wolesley shearing machine was used by Hoffman. — Southern Standard.” Otago Witness, 21 December 1893, p 34

“IN RE MAX HOFFMAN, OF GORE, LABORER. Only two creditors put in an appearance at yesterday’s meeting. Mr Henderson appeared for debtor, who filed the following statement: —Debtor said he had not been in steady employment during the past three years, but had been shearing, rabbiting, thrashing, and gold-digging off and on till about a fortnight ago. At the gold-digging he had averaged perhaps 15s per week for the last two months; at the thrashing lately finished made £18 4s for nine or ten weeks’ work, and at the shearing from 1st November to 28th January had made £14 or £15. Had made as much as 30s per week, and as little as 3s 6d, at the gold-digging. Was a married man, and had three children. Did not think he had averaged more than 30s per week for the past three years. Kept no books. Got into difficulties because he was not earning much more than a living, and several creditors pressed him. Paid the filing fee with money he had over from the thrashing. Some of the amounts in the list had been owing for eight years; hardly anything had been contracted recently, as he had been paying cash for what he got. Had no proposal to make. The hut mentioned was on his father-in-law’s ground; the furniture in it belonged to his wife and was of little value. She bought it with money which came out from home. The bicycle he bought in January for £1. To Mr Henderson: The amount due to Dr Dutton was for attending a child who had a bad eye, and his wife and child had had to go to Dunedin for medical advice, and were away for a fortnight; and he had also been laid up himself. For the past two years he had paid cash for everything. The Deputy-Assignee invited questions from creditors. Mr Dolamore said he was surprised more creditors were not present. He in company with another creditor had interviewed debtor and Mr Henderson before the former filed. Debtor then had £10 in cash, which with the £10 for the hut would have just about given the creditors 10s in the £, as some of the claims were barred by time. Debtor was one of the smartest workmen in the district and made big cheques. The Deputy-Assignee asked what had become of the £10. Debtor said he had paid £8 to Mr Henderson to “put him through.” Mr Henderson said he should contend that the hut was included in the £25 allowed to debtor. The Deputy-Assignee said it did not come under the heading of “personal effects.” It belonged to the creditors certainly, and must he sold, and, as Mr Dolamore said, some, of the claims were barred by the Statute of Limitations, and debtor should certainly have made an effort to pay the rest. Mr Henderson said one creditor (Mr Cox) refused to take less than £2 for his claim of £2 16s. Mr Dolamore said he had heard Mr Cox offer to accept 10s in the £. After some further discussion, proceedings: closed. UNSECURED CREDITORS. J. Mac Gibbon and Sons- £10 0 0, Alex. Brown . . 16 14 0, John Cox . .  2 14 0, Dolamore and Co.,..  4 9 0 0, Petterson . . 5 9 0, Jos. Heherr . .1 10 0, Dr Low . .4 4 0, Dr Warren . . . 110 0, J. W. Dim .. 5 0 0, D.I.C. . .2 10 0, ‘N.Z. Farmer’ . . 2 10 0, John Harvey.. 110 0, John Smaill . .3 0 0, Dr Dutton (deceased) . . 3 3 0, Accounts under £1 . . 2 4 2 = £G6 18 2. ASSETS. Hut . .£10 0 0, Bicycle ..10 0. Deficiency ..55 18 2  = £60 18 2. “ Mataura Ensign, 29 May 1897, p 3

“OMNIUM GATHERUM. Some good records were put up at Clifton station, Waiwera, last week with the Wolseley shearing machines. On Tuesday Max Hoffman was the “ringer” with 239, and his brother Frank came next, having shorn 230, while George Brown placed 204 to his credit. The average of the shed for the day was 191, the lowest “tally” being 171. The shed “cut out” on Friday morning, and the previous evening was made the occasion of a pleasing little function among the shearers.” Otago Daily Times, 15 January 1902, p 8

“Max Hoffman, of Gore, has put up some very smart work in the shearing shed at Clifton this season. He shore a large 6-tooth whether, in the record time, we believe, of 1min. 15secs.; another sheep that struggled somewhat, took 1 min. 30 sees. Hoffman is easily “ringer” in the shed.” Clutha Leader, 13 January 1903, p 5

“THE WEATHER. UNUSUALLY HEAVY RAIN. RIVERS IN FLOOD. The almost continuous heavy rain for a period of 24 hours caused considerable anxiety at Gore last night, and there were many people who feared a repetition of the disaster of last March, but fortunately the rain practically ceased in the early hours of this morning and residents felt more secure. Many of the smaller streams overflowed, the Waikaka River above the township being in high flood yesterday afternoon, and in some low-lying places it also overflowed its bank’s, portions of the adjoining paddocks and road being submerged. The Waimea and Waimumu Streams wore also in flood, but traffic was not impeded. The greatest damage reported so far is near McNab Siding, where the overflow of the Waikaka caused the railway line to be submerged for some distance, the ballast being washed out and the line otherwise damaged…Mr Max Hoffman, who lives on the bank of the Waikaka River, had io leave his residence early this morning, the water entering his house and rising to a height of several feet. The fellmongery was flooded and all the flat in the vicinity of the river is a sheet of water. , Mr James O’Neill is reported to have lost a number of ewes and lambs which; were grazing on the East Gore Domain. Notification was received from Mandiville this morning that after 27 hours rain the Waimea and Mataura Rivers were high and were still rising…” Mataura Ensign, 30 October 1913, p 4

“At yesterday’s sitting of the Gore Magistrate’s. Court, before Mr H. A. Young. S.M., Maximilian and Frank Hoffman were charged under the Aliens’ Registration Act, 1917, with failing to register within 21 days after the passing of the Act. Sergeant Lewin prosecuted and Mr Bowler appeared for the defendants. Counsel explained that the father of defendants’ died 20 years ago and their mother was naturalised in 1901. Both defendants had left their mother’s home before that time, and had made homes for themselves. If their mother had been naturalised during the minority of those two sons, it would have been different. Maximilian Hoffman said he spoke to a former sergeant of police at Gore some years ago about registration, but he said that there was no occasion to do so. seeing that their mother was naturalised. The magistrate decided to adjourn the further hearing unlit next court day in order to obtain a statement from the sergeant. The clause in the old Act was not very clear, and it was possible that it might have been misread.” Mataura Ensign, 17 May 1918, p 4

Max was employed as a labourer and contractor and was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 8 November 1922. He died on 10 September 1936 aged 71 and is buried at the Gore Cemetery.


Michael and Margaret Annie Hoffman, Gore. 12 February 1890, courtesy of Darcy Hoffman


Michael Hoffman was born at Stary Wiec on 06 December 1867.  He married on 12 February 1890 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Gore to Margaret Annie Boyle (b. 1865 at Roslyn Bush–d. 1945), the daughter of Timothy Boyle (b. 1834–d. 1918 and Mary Ford (b. 1835–1901). The family were: James (b. 1890), Mary (b. 1891), Theresa Anna (b. 1894), Margaret Gertrude (b. 1897–d. 1984) and John Michael (b. 1901–d. 1957).

“SPORTING. ANGLING COMPETITION. There were about twenty competitors in the angling competition held on the New River, under the auspices of the Southland Anglers’ Society. The conditions were scarcely ideal for minnow fishing, with the heavy wind and a rising river, and quite a number of fishermen returned with empty creels. The lure was limited to natural and artificial minnows, and other restrictions were that the water to be fished include from Gap Road to the mouth of the river and that fishing must be between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. The rise of the river was observable particularly in the middle and upper reaches of this, and above Oporo the water became too discoloured in the afternoon to allow of successful minnow fishing. As a matter of fact there was no return made from any part above Oporo, and several anglers who went higher up reported that they had done nothing while others who fished in the lower waters had such small catches that they did not trouble to weigh in. The best bag was made (with natural minnow) at Oporo by Mr M. Hoffman who secured eleven fish, including one weighing -1 lb. 6 oz. and one of 3 lb. 6 oz. Ten of these he landed before 11.30 a.m. and the rest of the day was spent with the gain of one more trout, though he lost several very good ones in that time. Mr C. C. Moffett, fishing at Otatara, made his second best bag with four very nice fish, the heaviest of which scaled 3 lb, 10 oz. At the Ferry Bridge, also with the artificial minnow, Mr F. C. Ingram got three trout aggregating 6lb 12oz (heaviest 3lb)), and at Otatara Mr C. D. Hunter, using both natural and artificial minnow, landed four weighing 51b 2oz altogether, the best going to 21b Soz. Those were the only anglers to weigh in, and the results are: Michael Hoffman, 11 fish, weighing 131b 11oz 1st. C. C. Moffett. 4 fish, weighing 81b l0oz 2nd. F. C. Ingram, 3 fish, weighing 61b 12oz 3rd. Mr Hoffman got the heaviest fish (4lb 6ozj. but as no competitor may win more than one prize the trophy for heaviest trout will go to C. D. Hunter’s heaviest 2lb 8oz. The prizes are all trophies donated by members of the Executive and the secretary.” Southland Times, 10 November 1909, p 3

“Shortly before midnight on Saturday the Fire Brigade was summoned to an outbreak of fire which occurred in a five-roomed house in McMaster street. When the brigade reached the spot the flames had obtained a firm grip, and practically the whole of the building was gutted. The house, which had been unoccupied for the past four months, was owned by Mr Michael Hoffman, who resides in a house opposite to the one that was destroyed, and who was absent from home at the time. It is understood that the building was insured in the New Zealand office for £175.” Southland Times, 30 April 1917, p 4

“INQUEST DEATH FROM POISONING. Last evening at the Southland Hospital the Coroner, Mr G. Cruickshank, S.M., held an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Patrick Boyle, aged 48 years, who died at the hospital on June 6. Dr Macdonald Wilson, Medical Superintendent of the Southland Hospital, said that deceased was admitted to the hospital at 8.30 a.m. on June 2. He was in a collapsed condition and was vomiting blood. He volunteered the information that he had taken poison while at work owing to a severe pain which he had recently had in his abdomen. He remained in a collapsed condition and subsequently developed symptoms of congestion of the lungs and died on June 6. His condition when admitted was in keeping with the statement that he had taken hydrochloric acid. Michael Hoffman, labourer, residing at McMaster street, said that the deceased was his brother-in-law and had been living with him for two months before his death. The deceased had been an inmate of the Seacliff Mental Hospital and left there in April, 1917. He had been despondent several times since, but on occasions he seemed to be cheerful enough. On the morning of June 1 he seemed to be brighter than usual and spoke quite rationally. He had often said that he thought there was something wrong internally, but never complained of severe pains. On June 2 he got up about 8 a.m. and went outside. Witness called him to breakfast and he said that he would be in soon. Witness had sat down at the table when deceased ran in and told him to come out He followed him into the workshop and deceased, pointing to an enamel mug, said “I have taken poison.” When asked where he got the poison, he said he had taken it from a bottle on the back of one of the shelves. The deceased was immediately taken to the hospital. About 14 years ago he received a blow on the head which seemed to have affected him mentally. The Coroner returned a verdict that the deceased committed suicide by taking poison while in a state of insanity.” Southland Times, 17 June 1919, p 7

Michael was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 17 November 1923 and worked at times as a miner, railway employee and blacksmith. Margaret died on 3 July 1945 at Invercargill and Michael died on 20 March 1946 aged 79. Both are buried at the Eastern Cemetery, Invercargill.


Frank Hoffman, courtesy of Darcy Hoffman


Frank Hoffman was born at Małżewko on 14 November 1869. He was a noted dancer and won may events in hornpipe and Irish jig competitions.

“Convent Schools Concert. The bill of fate provided for this always popular entertainment drew, as expected, a bumper house to the Town Hall on Friday evening, the seating accommodation being taxed to its utmost limits… Mr Frank Hoffman was last on the list with a step dance, which he gave in excellent time… A dance was afterwards held and was largely attended.” Mataura Ensign, 30 October 1894, p 2

“MAGISTERIAL. S.M. COURT, GORE. This Day. (Before R. S. Hawkins, Esq., S.M.) abusive language. Frank Hoffman was charged with having on the 19th September, used abusive language toward Constable Ferguson. Mr Henderson, who appeared for accused, said his client would plead guilty, and as it was a first offence he would ask that defendant be convicted and discharged. — The police would not press the charge, and his Worship inflicted a fine of 2s 6d; costs 7s.” Mataura Ensign, 8 October 1896, p 5

“Knapdale Road Board. Friday, April 22. The Board met at Chatton; present — Messrs Gilchrist (chairman) Kirk, Robertson, Key, Syme, Calder, and Peter… MISCELLANEOUS. It was resolved lo pay over £3 17s 6d due on Mitchell’s road contract to the late John Hoffman to Mrs Hoffman, 25s (for work done) to Frank Hoffman and to let the contract to Frank Hoffman.” Mataura Ensign, 26 April 1898, p 3

GORE BOROUGH COUNCIL. Monday, February 5. The Council met at the usual hour. Present -the Mayor (Mr J. Ballintine), Councillors Copland, McFarlane, Baker, Thorn. Sherborne, Pope, Day, and Latham. An’ apology was received for the absence of Councillor Hartley… John Velvin was, appointed cadet in the Town Clerk’s office and the tender of Frank Hoffman, at 1s per yard, accepted for carting boulders. The Council thereafter adjourned.” Mataura Ensign, 6 February 1900, p 2

Frank married on 16 May 1900 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Gore to Georgina Richardson (b. 1881 at Chatton–d. 1964), the daughter of Abraham Richardson (b. 1839–d. 1897) and Emily Conlan (b. 1844–d. 1894). The family born at Gore were: George (b. 1901–d. 1902), Francis (b. 1902–d. 1977), Georgina (b. 1904–d. 1990), Mary Jane (b. 1907–d. 1912), Myrtle (b. 1909–d. 1998) and Lylia (b. 1911–d. 1996). Frank was employed as a labourer and was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 31 October 1922.

“An unfortunate accident occurred to Mr Frank Hoffman senior, of East Gore, on Thursday afternoon, by which he sustained a fractured leg. It appears that Mr Hoffman left Gore yesterday afternoon for Waikaia in order to take his place on the shearing board at Mr W. Christie’s farm. Mr. Hoffman was riding a motor cycle, and when about a mile on the north side of the Wendon Church he was turning a bend in the road when the rear wheel skidded a little, throwing the rider to the ground and breaking his leg just above the ankle. Mr Hoffman was picked up about an hour later and was subsequently conveyed to the Gore Hospital by Mr Cody, of Wendon.” Southland Times, 12 December 1925, p 6

Frank died on 16 October 1954 aged 84 and Georgina died on 18 October 1964. Both are buried at the Gore Cemetery.


Mary Hoffman and James Lamb, Gore. 22 August 1894, courtesy of Darcy Hoffman


Maria Bertha (Mary) Hoffman was born at Małżewko on 23 April 1872. As the only girl in a family of boys, she did a lot to help her mother. She was an excellent cook and a first-class seamstress. She fell in to the Taieri River as a little four-year-old but never lost her fear of water. She married on 22 August 1894 at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Gore to James Lamb (b. 1863 at Dufftown, Scotland–d, 1945), the son of James Lamb (b. 1832–d. 1904) and Jane Mackay (b. 1834–d. 1921).

“MARRIAGE AT GORDON. (From a Correspondent.) Owing to the non-elasticity of these columns only a brief notice of the matter embraced in the above heading appeared last issue. The following is supplementary thereto: — Wednesday of last week was certainly one of the most disagreeable days experienced for some time—weather which did not in any way harmonise with the stereotyped saying of “Happy is the bride that the sun shines on.” Apparently, however, bridegrooms like others, are no great weather prophets. The contracting parties to the marriage in question wore Mr James Lamb, jun., of East Chatton, and Miss Hoffman, of Waikaka; the Rev. Father O’Donnell performing the marriage ceremony in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament. The bride was dressed in lavender cashmere, trimmed with shot silk, and the bridegroom’s present was a beautiful gold brooch. Miss Lamb was bridesmaid, who appeared in a costume of shot serge, trimmed with shot silk, and Mr Frank Hoffman was groomsman. The ceremony finished, the party drove to the residence of the bride’s parents (Mr and Mrs John Hoffman), where a sumptuous breakfast had been prepared. As its conclusion congratulatory speeches were made, and replied to in a happy style by the bridegroom. In the evening an adjournment was made to the loft, where a social gathering took place. Dancing was indulged in merrily by those present, and at various intervals songs, recitations, and step-dances were given by Messrs Knight, Henderson, F, Hoffman, B. Day, A. Archibald, and others. Music was supplied by the Messrs Dickson, assisted by various others. The following amongst numerous others are some of the presents presented to the bride:— Sewing machine, Mr John Hoffman; lamp, Miss Lamb; knives and spoons Mr F. Hoffman; ½ doz knives and forks, Mr J. Lamb; afternoon teaspoons, Mr J, McKenzie (Waikaka); vases, Mrs Key; toilet set, Miss Jessie Lamb; vases and pickle Jar, Miss Flanagan; clock, Miss James Geddes; silver butter cooler, etc., Miss Mahalskie (Mosgiel), silver cruet, Mrs Heherr; vases, Mr D. Corcoran; carving knife and fork, Mr Malachi Hanley; silver cruet, Mrs Ford; curtains, Mrs McDonald; ½ doz towels, etc., Mrs Knight; mats, Mr and Mrs Ryan; silver dish, Mr Baker; afternoon tea set. Mrs M. Hoffman; cups and saucers, etc, Mrs Sandford (Lumsden); lamp, Miss O’Neill; teapot, butter cooler, etc., Misses N. and D. Boyle; quilt. Mrs Hanke; tablecover, Mrs Dauman; ½ doz, knives, Mrs Richardson; clock, Mr Leitz; flower stand, Mr Syme; two jam dishes, etc., Miss Ford; tea cosey, Mr Kroning; vases and photo frames. Messrs P and T. Boyle; teapot, Mrs Sparkes; toilet set, Mrs Heinke; cruet, etc, Mrs Robins; shawl, Mr W. Dauman; basket and bracket, Mrs R. Day; tea cosey, Miss Finch; vases, Miss Richardson; half-dozen spoons, Mr E Day; butter cooler, Mrs Robertson; teaspoons, Miss Hanan; teapot, etc, Mr A, Archibald.” Mataura Ensign, 28 August 1894, p 5

The family were: James (b. 1895–d. 1982), Mary Anna (Mame) (b. 1898–d. 1977), John (b. 1902–d. 1935), George (b. 1905–d. 1933), Thomas (b. 1906–d. 1980), Alexander (b. 1908–d. 1942) and Dennis Joseph (b. 1910). James drove a horse and cart around the Gore region and later had the Goldfields Hotel in Roxburgh but bad debts forced them to leave. He then worked on John Ewing’s claim near Dumbarton till he retired. Mary took in washing and sewing to help supplement their income. James died on 5 August 1945 and Mary died on 29 January 1953 aged 80. They are both buried at the Roxburgh Cemetery.


John and Annie Hoffman, Catholic Block 47 Plot 8 at Gore Cemetery


Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, p 22 & 196.

Research Sources

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.

Hoffman Darcy, Dunedin, Hoffman – A brief family history for second reunion, Gore (1991), supplied history, photos & documents.

Maximillian and Ellen Hoffman, Catholic Block 68 Plot 7 at Gore Cemetery

Lubiszewo Tczewskie, Niedamowo, & Wysin 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 New Zealand 1882, published 1884.



Gore Cemetery – Annie Onasz Hoffman (1846-1929) – Find A Grave Memorial

Gore Cemetery – Francis Hoffman (1869-1954) – Find A Grave Memorial

Michael and Margaret Hoffman, Roman Catholic Block 8 Plot 191 at Eastern Cemetery in Invercargill

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Francis and Georgina Hoffman, Catholic Block 47 Plot 17 at Gore Cemetery

Gore Cemetery – Johann “John” Hoffman (1841-1898) – Find A Grave Memorial

Gore Cemetery – Maximillian Johann “Max” Hoffman (1865-1936) – Find A Grave Memorial

Invercargill Eastern Cemetery – Michael Hoffman (1867-1946) – Find A Grave Memorial

Papers Past (natlib.govt.nz)

Roxburgh Cemetery – Mary Martha Hoffman Lamb (1872-1953) – Find A Grave Memorial




Compiled by Paul Klemick (2022)



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