Given names: 
Given address: 
Sheet No: 219

Biography contributed by Wendy Cockburn (great-great granddaughter) and Robyn Cockburn (great-great-great-granddaughter)

Maria Magdalena Sophia Schroeder nee LANGE was baptised in Welzin, Mecklenberg, North East Germany on the 3 February 1833.

She was aged around 10 when she came to New Zealand on the Skiold which was the second German ship to arrive in Nelson on 1 September 1844. She came to New Zealand with her father, Johan Heinrich Christian (Christopher) Lange, stepmother Katherine Marie nee Bibow and four brothers. Her mother, Katharine Dorothea (AHRENS) and two sisters had died before the family came to New Zealand. The family settled along with seven other German families at Ranzau, Waimea East. Low German (Mecklenberg dialect) was spoken and only a few were able to speak English.

Maria married Johann (John) Heinrich Carl Gottlieb SCHRÖDER, one of her neighbours, on the 2 June 1854 at the Lutheran Chapel of Ranzau, Waimea East. Maria signed her name with a cross on the marriage certificate. The Schröder surname was originally written with an umlaut over the ‘ö’ but was subsequently anglicised to Schroder or Schroeder.

JHCG Schroeder purchased what was to become ‘Trefoil Farm’, Kaikoura in 1864. He is described as ‘an experienced manager from the Wairau sheep run…[who] established … Trefoil Farm on the south side of the Kowhai … in the Kaikoura Swamp.’

They farmed in the Nelson area until 1866, when they left behind not only their families but also the close knit community of Waimea East and travelled to Kaikoura on the Ruby. They took up Trefoil Estate which was then in its native state.

By this time they had eight children and four more were born in Kaikoura. Her twelve children all survived to be adults:

  • Christine Louise Friederike
  • Anna Wilhelmine Christine
  • Johann Heinrich Joachim
  • Heinrich Friedrich Christian
  • Theodor(e) Heinrich Joachim
  • Maria Sophie Christine
  • Clara Elizabeth Emily
  • Carl Daniel Heinrich
  • George Daniel
  • Emma Elizabeth
  • Catherine (Kate)
  • Alice.

John Schroeder died in May 1875, and Maria continued living on the farm with her children, the eldest aged 20 and her youngest just five-years-old.

The Return of Freeholders NZ (Oct 1882) lists Maria Schroeder as a Farmer, Kaikoura, Hokitika Borough, owning 1008 acres valued at 2,977 pounds. Maria lived at Trefoil until the 1890s when she shifted to 198b Beach Road in Kaikoura.

Maria Schroeder died in Kaikoura on the 7 July 1917. Two obituaries give descriptions of Maria, Mrs Schroeder.

Schroeder On July 7th 1917, at her residence Beach Road, Kaikoura, Maria Magdalena Sophia, widow of the late JHCG Schroeder – aged 84 years

On July 7th there passed away one of Kaikoura’s oldest residents, in the person of Mrs. M M S Schroeder, at the age of 84 years. The deceased Lady was born in Meckelenberg, Germany and came to New Zealand with her parents when quite a young girl, in one of the first four German emigrant ships landing at Nelson, (later marrying the late J H C G Schroeder) where they followed farming pursuits for a number of years. 

Having decided to change their residence, they came to this district in the schooner Ruby in the year 1866, taking up Trefoil estate which was then in its native state. After continuing their former avocation for 9 years, her husband predeceased her in the year 1875.  Deceased leaves a grown up family of three sons and seven daughters (two sons having pre-deceased her), forty six grandchildren and twenty two great grandchildren.

The late Mrs Schroeder (Contributed)

By the death of Mrs. Schroeder Kaikoura has lost one of her earliest settlers. She was one who took an active part in all that made for the development and well being of the place, and was a very power for good in those early days. Wherever there was sickness or trouble of any kind Mrs. Schroeder was ever ready to help and many of the early settlers turned to her in time of trouble as to a kind and faithful helper and no one was ever turned away from her hospitable home without the help they needed and a cheerful word. She took a deep interest in Christian work and was one of the faithful and earnest workers in St. Paul’s Church, ever ready and willing to help in all good works and a great strength and encouragement to Minister and office bearers. She was a woman of a clear, strong mind, and a kind and loving heart which made her a tower of strength to her family, to the church, and in a sickroom Mrs. Schroeder was a woman who had little to say, never boasted about what she had done, and was one of those Christians that showed her faith by her works, and if ‘Inasmuch as ye did it to one of these my brethren ye did it unto me’ be the test at the bar of the final judge then Mrs. Schroeder will stand that test as well as any who have gone from Kaikoura.

Maria’s Will, dated 4 December 1912, appointed George Daniel Schroeder and Alice Schroeder her son and daughter as executors and trustees of the will.  ‘I give devise and bequeath unto my trustees all my property both real and personal ... upon trust for my said daughter Alice Schroeder for her sole use and benefit absolutely. Maria Schroeder signed with a cross – ‘her mark’.

Maria Schroeder has a signature on the 1893 petition for the Women’s Suffrage Petition for the vote for women. Did someone else sign on her behalf, or had she forgotten how to sign her name 19 years later?


Information researched by Barry Brown on file

The Mecklenberg Colony of Waimea, New Zealand. Account written by Herr Felix Krull in Auckland 7.2.1862 WIS 128 A.4077 Tasman Bays Heritage Trust, Nelson Provincial Museum

Copy of marriage certificate on file. The original marriage certificate was seen at Lower Hutt. Witnesses to the marriage were Heinrich Schroder and Fried Schroder. JM Heine was the Lutheran Pastor.

Kaikoura. A history of the district. JM Sherrard

Obituary of Maria Schroeder. Unknown source. Copy on file


Head and shoulders photograph of Maria Schroder wearing glasses

Maria Schroeder

Photograph of house and garden with six people standing in the foreground

Schroder house, 189b Beach Road. This photo shows Maria Schroder with two of her daughters, Alice Schroder and Clara Sandos, and granddaughters – Ivy and Eva Sandos (Kaikoura Museum, 1990-98)

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

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