Kreft, Jan Marcin (1847-1899) Szczerbęcin, the son of Jan Kreft (1816-1865) & Barbara Kowalska (1821-1907), married 15 November 1868 at St. Jan Nepomuncen, Godziszewo to Rozalia Chełkowska (1848-1911) Turze, the daughter of Albrecht Chełkowski (1810-1875) & Katarzyna Stolc (1810-1881). Family—Szczerbęcin; Franciszek (1869-1869) & Jan (1870-1925), Stanisławie; Jozef August (1873-1952). Rozalia had sisters, Weronika & Franciszka who had settled at Waihola in New Zealand in the previous year, so they left Stanisławie and joined with local families Czablewski, Kruger, Max & Rosanowski, for Hamburg, where they set aboard the Lammershagen on 1 April 1875, arriving at Port Nicholson, Wellington on 11 July 1875.
Listed aboard were—J. M. Kreft 27, Rosalia 26, Johann 4 & Joseph 1. After a two week’s stay at Wellington, the family was advised that there was an opportunity to go to the special settlement of Jacksons Bay on the West Coast of the South Island, along with about 300 new immigrants. Families were given assurance that this locality was near the Polish settlers who had previously settled at Waihola and that visits could be made to these family and friends at the settlement. On this good news they took passage in a small ship bound for Hokitika. Two days were spent at Hokitika waiting for the Waitara to take them one hundred and fifty miles south to their destination. “Families of Kruger, Kreft, Chablewski, Rosanowski and of brothers Max were requested by friends in Waihola, but shipped to Hokitika to go from there to Jackson Bay, having been made to believe that they were being sent into the immediate neighbourhood of their friends. Such prianks are not likely to forward the interests of immigration.” 8 Feb 1876, West Coast Times.
The settlement at Jackson Bay had been quoted as nothing more than a “miserable, unfortunate and very sad fiasco”. Some 26,000 hectares of land was set aside for a Special Settlement in Jackson Bay where the first party of settlers from Hokitika landed on 19 Jan 1875. Eventually about 120 Poles resided in Jackson Bay at various times during the life of the settlement. Hindered by the wet climate and lack of drainage accounting to crop failure, the isolation and a growing shortage of remunerative work provoked the general abandonment of the Special Settlement. An exodus to other more promising districts was inevitable. One such incident occurred at the Beach, the only place of entry or exit to the settlement. A school squabble between children blew up into an outrage when returning home and tales being blown to all proportions got mothers embroiled in the quarrel. Italian mothers, screeching-pulling hair, pushing, belabouring, and punching their opponents, raucously able German or Polish Women. The Men after work came running to support their wives of an afternoon of no abating in the free-for-all. It was quoted “All combatants were supplementing their blows with scurrilous shouts in their own language, ignoring the hopeful pacifiers who spoke only in English”. The settlement soon ceased to exist around 1878.
“Do not come to JACKSON BAY-more especially if you are a sober, steady striving men, losing your time and working entirely upon your own resources, without any aid from Government whatsoever. If you should get stone-broke and on the shelf in this jungle, any settler will give you a few meals or a shake-down. Though poor, there is benevolence, generosity, and hospitality existing amongst them to as great an extent as I have ever seen existing in any colonial community. They are mostly the true grit. But the case is quite the reverse with Mr. D. MacFarlane, the Resident Agent, or any of his satellites that revolve around him in their own circle. Mr. Editor, this place is dead and a total failure, and never can be a success.” JACKSON BAY, 8th March 1876. A ROAR from the Jungle-Prospector, letter to Editor of the Evening Star-HOKITIKA
It is unclear when the family finally moved across the South Island to Waihola but the Milton Parish baptism records lists the following children—Maria (1876-1911), Rosalie (1879-1965), Albert (1881-1948), Martin (1884-1950), Barbara (1887-1935) & Catharina (1889-1954). There stay at Waihola was said to be brief and in 1879, John & family settled on a block at Akarore on the coast, south of Taieri Mouth. Rosalia Kreft purchased sections 40 & 42 on block 8 at Akatore on 24 July 1886. They remained in Akatore where John worked as a farmer and later died on 22 September 1899 aged 51. “It is with regret that we have to record the death of Mr. John Kreft, an esteemed and highly respected resident of Akatore. The news of his death, which occurred suddenly, came as a heavy shock to his friends, as he was known to be a strong healthy man; he had been ailing for only two days previous to his decease. The funeral took place on Sunday and was largely attended, the very Rev. Father O’Neill officiating at the grave.” 26 Sep 1899, Bruce Herald. “J A. DUTHIE AND CO. haven been instructed by Mrs. Kreft to sell by auction at their Rooms, Milton, her property at Akatore, being sections 40 and 42, Block VIII, containing about 250 acres, with substantial 5 – roomed dwelling, good stable, barn and cowshed. About 80 acres are sown down and in good grass, 10 acres in oats, and 8 acres ready for turnips. 30 acres surface sown, and 50 acres good bus, and all well fenced and sub-divided. The whole of the above land was originally under bush, and now grows exceptionally good crops of grain and grass.” 06 Nov 1900, Bruce Herald. Rosalia later purchased sections 7 to 31 on block 17, Tokomairiro on 5 June 1902. She died at Milton 31 July 1911 aged 63. Both are buried at the Fairfax Cemetery, Milton.
Johann Jnr. Kreft, a bachelor, died at Milton on 22 January 1925 aged 54 and is buried at the Fairfax Cemetery, Milton.
Joseph August Kreft married on 13 October 1909 at St. Patrick’s, Lawrence, Catherine Crowley (1873-1967). Family—Leo, George Albert, Margaret Doreen, Verdon, Desmond Sylvester, Albert & Katheen Mary. Joseph, a labourer, was naturalised as a New Zealand citizen on 13 August 1925. He died on 16 May 1952 aged 78 and is buried at the Fairfax Cemetery. Catherine died at Dunedin on 10 Februrary 1967.
Notable People of Milton: Anthony John Kreft (born 27 March 1945)
Pobόg-Jaworowski, J. W, History of the Polish Settlers in New Zealand, ed. Warsaw; Chz “Ars Polonia.” 1990, pages 29, 75 & 169.
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.
Godziszewo & Lubiszewo Tczewskie Parish Records, Pelplin Diocese, Poland.
Goodsir George & Pat, Nelson, supplied family genealogy, photos & family information (2007).
Kreft Terry, Nelson, supplied family photos, documents & information.
New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs Naturalisations, Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Compiled by Paul Klemick (2021)