The Scandinavian settlers of the Manawatu

In 1870, Colonial Treasurer Julius Vogel introduced a public works and immigration scheme, under which suitable immigrants would be settled along the projected lines of the road and railway. The idea was that the construction work for this infrastructure would support the settlers until they could develop farms on the blocks of land allotted to them.

At this time, the Manawatu and western Hawkes Bay was still largely undeveloped, in most part covered in dense impenetrable forest. For these areas, Vogel was keen to recruit settlers from Scandinavia, who were reputed for their skill as foresters and axemen. It also appears that he may have also been influenced by an early, and rather illustrious settler in the Manawatu – Ditlev Gothard Monrad, former premier of Denmark. Monrad had immigrated to New Zealand, along with his family, in 1866, in a kind of self-imposed exile. Clearly not afraid of hard work, he found a small clearing on the banks of the Manawatu River, in Karere (near Longburn) and, using timber from the surrounding thick forest, built a home and then went on to develop a farm. Continue reading

The opening up of the Manawatu – the “waste land of the Colony”

As Lois Hall outlines in her history of the Pohangina Valley, large areas of open grassland such as those found in Canterbury and eastern Hawkes Bay had been quickly settled in the 1840s and 1850s, mainly by more wealthy settlers. But by the latter part of the nineteenth century, the government turned its focus to the provision of land for the settlement of those of lesser means and the descendants of the original settlers who sought to own their own farms. Attention turned to regions that were still forested and undeveloped, such as the Manawatu and western Hawkes Bay. Continue reading