First Albertland settlers arrive in Auckland

8 September 1862

Sign on the foreshore at Port Albert (Jock Phillips - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

The Matilda Wattenbach brought 352 Nonconformist (non-Anglican Protestant) immigrants from England. Another 315 arrived on the Hanover a week later, and six more immigrant ships had arrived by 1865.

The newcomers were the nucleus of a model community planned by the Albertland Special Settlement Association, set up in Birmingham in 1861 and named for Queen Victoria’s recently deceased husband. These idealists even brought a printing press with them. Like many of the immigrants, this stayed in Auckland for some time.

Only a few hundred of the 3000 who had signed up for the scheme eventually made a go of it on the 40 acres that had been surveyed for each adult (plus 20 acres for each school-age child) around the Arapāoa, Ōtamatea and Ōruawharo ‘rivers’ – shallow inlets on the eastern side of Kaipara Harbour.

Access via the ‘Great North Road’ was impossible and the bar at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour was dangerous to cross. Worse still, the soil was generally infertile. Most sections in the planned town of Port Albert were land-banked by speculators and it never prospered.

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