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Hoffman Family


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Hoffman, Jan (1841-1898) Niedamowo Parish, the son of Albrecht Hoffman & Katarzyna Czerwonka, m. (08 Oct 1865) St. Mikolej, Niedamowo, Anna Onasz (1846-1929), Lubań, the daughter of Ferdinand Onasz & Katarzyna Minchaus. Jan was a tailor with a background in weaving and was also an officer in the Prussian Army. When he arrived in New Zealand he threw his war medals into the Port of Otago saying “This is my country now”.

 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. Both Jan & Katarzyna’s parents also came from a background of weaving. Family—; Lubań; Max (1865-1936), Stary Wiec; Michal (1867-1946), Małżewko; Franciszek (1869-1954) & Maria Berta (1872-1953). From Małżewko they left for Hamburg where they set aboard the “Palmerston” 29 Jul 1872 arriving at Port Chalmers, Dunedin, 6 Dec 1872. Listed aboard were—Johann Hoffmann 31, Anna 24, Max 7, Michael 5, Franz 2 & Maria 3mths. The family was sent south to Scroggs Creek on contract work with Brodgen & Sons to lay the southern railway through the Taieri. Soon they moved to Waihola where they had two more children—John (1874-1874) & August (1875-1929). Here Johann purchased sections 20 & 21 of block 11 in Nore Street. The family then moved south to the settlement of Germantown, where they joined other Poles working on the railway. Here Johann & Anna had a further seven sons—Joseph (1876-1937), John (1878-1953), Thomas (1880-1949), James Luke ((1882-1948), Adam (1884-1919), Alexander Paul (1887-1945) & George Frederick (1890-1957). The reserve contained some 40 acres, and it was open to the general public to apply to the Land Board for a prospecting licence. 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 Hoffmans did some shearing, and Johan was also successful as a road contractor. While carrying out the latter, they formed and gravelled 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 as the young colony grew and developed. The 82’ Freeholders lists John as owning land to the value of £90 at Gore. With a wife and 12 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 Hoffman brothers got on very well together, and there was a great bond between them. Around Sep 1884, John got into difficulties with his creditors, so 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 her 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. Annie Hoffman was naturalised as a New Zealand Citizen 29 May 1901 residing in Gore. Her Grandchildren recalled piling into the dray to travel to Gore to visit the Hoffmans. 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. 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. John Hoffman died 4 Apr 1898 aged 58 years. 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. 05 Apr 1898 ME. Annie died 19 Jan 1929 aged 82. Both are buried at the Gore Cemetery.
Max Hoffman m. (16 May 1888) Gore, Leonore Dowaloska (1872-1939) Košice. Family—Gore; Mary Jane, Maximillian & John. Max, a labourer & constractor, was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen 8 Nov 1922. He died 10 Sep 1936 aged 71 and is buried at the Gore Cemetery.
Michael Hoffman m. (12 Feb 1890) Gore, Margaret Annie Boyle. Michael was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen 17 Nov 1923 and worked at times as a miner, railway employee & blacksmith. Margaret died Jul 1945 at Invercargill and Michael died 1 Mar 1946 aged 79. Both are buried at the Invercargill Eastern Cemetery.
Franz Hoffman m. (16 May 1900) Church of the Blessed Sacrement, Gore, Georgina Richardson (1881-1964). Franz, a labourer, was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen 31 Oct 1922. Family—Francis, Georgina, Lylia & Myrtle. Franz died 16 Oct 1954 aged 84 and Georgina died 18 Oct 1964. Both are buried at the Gore Cemetery.
Maria Bertha (Mary) Hoffman, as the only girl in a family of boys, 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 m. (22 Aug 1894) Gore, James Lamb (1864-1945) Scotland. Family—Jim, Mary Anna (Mame), Jack, George, Tom, Alec & Dennis. 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 5 Aug 1945 and Mary died Jan 1953 aged 80. They are both buried at the Roxburgh Cemetery.


Photo & Information kindly provided by Darcy Hoffman.


The Polish Government is offering financial assistance, by way of a ‘one-off payment’ grant, to Poles repressed or deported to Siberia or living in the Eastern regions of Poland during the period of 1936 – 1956. 

In order to qualify for this grant, one must be a Polish citizen, holding a Polish passport and, must be a retired serviceman/woman.

For further information kindly contact:

Professor Krzysztof Pawlikowski:   Mobile: 022 044 6075         Email: kryspawli@gmail.com


Marian Ceregra:   Land Line: (04) 972 4545

Email: mariopol4545@gmail.com


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Poles in New Zealand

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“Poles Down South” jest stroną internetową organizacji polonijnej w Nowej Zelandii działającej w rejonie Otago i Southland na Wyspie Południowej. Siedzibą organizacji jest Dunedin.