About The Hans Eggers Family
This family history began in Germany during the year 1837 when a son was born to Hans Eggers and his wife Maria (nee Lent). The baby was named Hans after his father who was a soldier in the German army. At that time all young men had to do compulsory army training for about six years. He was killed during his military training when baby Hans was only six months old.
Hans therefore grew up in extreme poverty and learned the meaning of hard physical work at a very early age. As young as eight years old, his working day began at 3am when he had to feed and groom his master’s oxen. The cattle were better cared for than the servants. By 4am he was expected to be out in the fields with his team of oxen.
Other tales such as these, told down the years mean we can safely say that this family came from a background of poverty where courage and endurance were a way of life. The families were mostly large and strong. They had a physical can emotional strength and a fortitude drawn from centuries of survival of the fittest. Most importantly, they had a wonderfully strong spiritual faith.
The reasons for emigration to America (both North and South), Australia and New Zealand during the 19th century are clearly seen. The social conditions of the wage earners who were without property, without money and living in small, substandard houses known as ‘Katen’, were grim. There were large families from six to twelve children living in two small rooms, often cold, hungry and poorly clothed. They worked 12-16 hours a day. For the smallest offence of for low productivity they were punished with a riding whip or expelled from the village. Emigration was an opportunity to escape their inhuman existence.
Hans and Dorothea’s Journey
At the age of 21 years Hans married Dorothea Margaretha Magdalena Schutt and their first child was born in Germany on 19th April 1858. Why did this young couple choose Nelson New Zealand when many others at that time were leaving their homeland for other distant countries?
It is almost certain because they had friends and relatives already here at Upper Moutere or settled at Waimea East. Dora’s (Dorothea) sister Maria and husband Henry Ewers had arrived here on the ‘Maori’ sailing ship in 1855. Hans and Dora travelled out together with Henry’s brother Frederich Ewers and his wife Dorothea Christina Johanna (nee Platt). We can assume then, they were persuaded there were opportunities too good to miss in this newly colonized country.
The 683 ton sailing ship “Mariner” left Gravesend with passengers for the settlements of Nelson and Otago on 1st January 1859 – the dawn of the New Year, and they hoped, a new beginning.
Hans and Dora arrived onto New Zealand soil April 25th 1859 (Nelson). There first settlement was on the Waimea Plains.