Piotr Albrecht Bara, a coachman (b. 1827—d. 1904) was born at Malenin, 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. 1829 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.
Listed aboard were—Peter Bahra age 45, Helena 45, Franz 16, Rosa 12, Maria 7, Minna 6 and Bernhardt 4. 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. According to the 1882’ Return of Freeholders, the property covered two acres of land to the value of £200. Peter was tall in stature bearing a long beard and was regarded a well spoken gentleman while Emma was known as a superb cook. They were both naturalised as New Zealand citizens on 9 December 1899
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.” 31 August 1904 Otago Witness.
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.” 15 Sep 1909 Otago Witness. “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 year age 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. 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.” 13 Sep 1909 Bruce Herald. Both Peter and Emma are buried at the Fairfax Cemetery near Milton.
Franz (Frank) Joseph Barra 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. 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 Loudens 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.
Teresa Augusta Barra 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. She died in Milton on 4 December 1939 aged 76 and is buried at the Fairfax Cemetery near Milton.
Maria Louisa Barra, as a young lady, 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. Mary died on 16 September 1965 aged 99 and is buried at the Andersons Bay Cemetery in Dunedin.
Wilhelmina (Minnie) Auguste Barra married on 22 February 1887 at St. Mary’s church in Milton to Martin Klimeck. The family were Mary Louise (b. 1888–d. 1972), Wilhelmina Augusta (b. 1889–d. 1993), William Patrick (b. 1892–d. 1977), Eleanorea 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, Loudens Gully, Naseby, Georgetown and finally settling in Dunedin. After a few years of working on various railway works, Martin & 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. Patricks’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.” NZ Tablet. Minnie passed away on 25 February 1946, aged 78 and 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, 2 miles north of Milton, and was successful with his efforts. He was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 8 December 1926. Both he and his wife 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 (2021)