"The Albertlanders" was the name was given to a group of colonists who settled at Port Albert, on the Kaipara Harbour, north of Auckland during 1862/1863. At the time the provincial government in Auckland was offering Special Settlement Schemes to encourage development in the north. This particular proposed settlement was named "Albertland" in honour of Queen Victoria's consort who had died the previous year.
On 29 May 1862 1,000 emigrants left London on two ships, "Matilda Wattenbach" and "Hanover" bound for New Zealand. Two members of the newly formed Settlement Committee travelled to New Zealand to inspect the various blocks of land being proposed, and subsequently reported back. They recommended a 30,000 acre block on the Oruawharo River, on the upper reaches of the Kaipara Harbour.
Under the terms of the settlement grant, every man would be allotted a 40-acre block by ballot. After working the land for five years he would be granted freehold title to the land. If the applicant had a wife and child, the allotment was increased to 100 acres.
After more than three months at sea, the settlers arrived in Auckland. The journey to the proposed settlement site was very difficult as there were inadequate roads and no river fords along the way. Many decided to stay in Auckland after hearing of the adverse conditions. Jobs were plentiful at this stage and housing readily available. However, about half of the original thousand decided to make the journey north.
On arriving at the "township" of Port Albert the settlers found that the promised allotments had not been surveyed, and because of the wet bush it was impossible to build any sort of permanent dwelling during the spring. Many made the trip back to Auckland.
In October, the first land sales were held. The land was slowly cleared of bush and gardens and orchards were planted. The settlers grew maize, wheat and potatoes. Wild pigs and cattle supplied the occasional meal.
The settlers were very isolated in these early days and as there was no common meeting-place, hall or church sometimes neighbours did not see each other for months at a time. From the very early days a Sunday church service was held in one of the settler's homes, but owing to limited space and the condition of the newly made roads, usually only one or two families attended at one time.
During the 1870s there was a marked improvement for the settlers and work was more plentiful - mainly bush-felling and fencing. Six more ships eventually bought more settlers to the district and prosperity replaced the earlier hardships faced by the first settlers.
Today the only reminder of the settlement of Albertland is the Albertland Museum and the Minniesdale Chapel which was built in 1867. The land surrounding Port Albert consists of farmland, some orchards, saw-milling and a lime-works.
FAMILY MEMBERS INFORMATION :
I believe James was born around 1830 in England. He married Mary Sybil BRAITHWAITE.
James and Mary came to New Zealand with son George and daughter Ellen in the early 1860s. Mary, George and Ellen are confirmed as arriving on the "Matilda Wattenbach" on 8 September 1862. James may have arrived earlier in the year and helped with the building of roads and bridges in the district.
The family later settled in Thames.
William Thomas Walker
William was the brother of James. He was born on 29 May 1832 and also came to New Zealand in the early 1860s with the Albertland group. He is not listed as a passenger on the "Matilda Wattenbach" but may have arrived earlier in the year with his brother James.
William and his family settled in Albertland during the 1870s. Prior to this they had lived in Te Arai. William made an application to the Lands & Deeds Office Thames on 25 November 1878 to purchase land in the Thames area.
William died on 28 May 1882 in the Kauearanga Valley, Thames and was buried at Shortland Cemetery in Thames.
Joseph was born on 5 April 1837 in Lincolnshire England. He married Betsy Logan SANDS on 7 May 1862 in England and they came to New Zealand on the "Hanover" later that year. Joseph and Betsy settled in Albertland but by 1870, when their sixth child was born, the family had settled in Thames.
Children included Clara born 31 October 1875 and Kate born 21 November 1877. Kate married George McPIKE on 21 August 1902 in Thames.
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