This headstone for 8 year old Hildegard Kroner is the only evidence of three generations of the Kroner family in New Zealand.
Her grandfather Heinrich Wilhelm Kroner [sometimes Kroener] came to New Zealand from Germany about 1863 and settled at Kumara on the West Coast. He ran his own bakery, dabbled in mining and was on the committee of the German Society. In 1881 he married Maria Mathilda Louise Wankel at Hokitika. She was also born in Germany. Their son George Frederich Wilhem was born at Kumara in 1883.
In 1886, Heinrich sold up his business and with his wife and son returned to Germany, without plans to return. A second son Josef Emil Albert was born in Hesse in 1887. In 1896 the family did return but settled at Petone. He took over the grocery store of Mr Jones who had been murdered just a few weeks earlier.
George entered service in the post office, firstly as a letter carrier and then after taking the Civil Service exam, as a clerk. In 1908 George returned to Germany and married Johanna Magdalena Borger in Dresden. Their first child Hildegard Edith was born in Wellington in 1909, followed by Gertrud Ingeburg in 1913 and Adolf Wilhelm in 1916.
In May 1914, on the eve of WWI, George’s parents Heinrich & Maria and brother Josef departed for London and then went on to Germany. Heinrich died there in November 1914 and Maria in May 1918. We can find no further trace of Josef.
In 1916, George was detained on Somes Island which was under the charge of Major Matheson. He was one of a number of prisoners who later charged the Major with ill treatment. Of George the Defence Committee wrote ‘This is a case that natural excites sympathy. The man is a natural born British subject, born in New Zealand of naturalised parents’. They acknowledged the situation was particularly hard for George, with a wife and young family unsupported.
In spite of the claims of being badly treated, George was permitted leave from Somes Island to Wellington to see Hildegard. To the Committee he later said: ‘I don’t deny that you said you don’t care a fig for regulations if the child was in danger, I acknowledge my debt to you there’. Hildegard died on 20th April 1917 and was buried at Karori Cemetery. George was interned for two years in total.
In July 1922 George and his family left New Zealand for Southampton. Beyond this, records become harder to trace.
Their son Adolf died in March 1944 between Tschaussy (Belarus) and Dnieper in Russia. His rank was a junior officer. Prior to that he was a student. He was not married. We don’t know what happened to the rest of the family. There is a Getrud Kroner who died in Dusseldorf on FindaGrave 1912-2001 but we have no further details to confirm her identity.
But we have their Hildegard here at Karori Cemetery.