Items with clear link to German Consul during WWI on offer

Three items of 19th century German furniture with links to one of the darker periods of New Zealand’s early social history are being offered to a museum or other appropriate heritage organisation.

Water jug
The two pieces of the extraordinary Westerwald jug and standexpand/collapse
The items belong to a Taipa family in Northland and were inherited from the family of Eberhard Focke – the German Consul in Wellington from 1888 through to the outbreak of World War I.  

The items consist of an 1870s upright grand piano in good working condition, a bedroom dresser and a remarkable Westerwald jug and stand that is over 1.7m in height. All have very clear provenance back to Eberhard Focke. 

Following Eberhard’s move to Te Awamutu at the end of World War I the items passed to his son Herman who was a dairy farmer at Hairini. Following Herman’s death in 1968 the items were acquired by his cousin who then took them north where they have since remained in the hands of the same family. 

The Focke family were subject to shameful persecution and prejudice during the years of World War I through to the 1920s, with Eberhard being imprisoned with other German nationals at Somes Island.  

As a former German Consul, Eberhard was also subjected to xenophobic rhetoric from unscrupulous politicians whose public comments and actions all but financially ruined the Focke family.  

The furniture has close connections to Dransfield House in Wellington – formerly the Focke family home – and also by extension to Te Awamutu where Eberhard and his family attempted to rebuild their lives after mistreatment during the war years.  

The donors also have a kauri secretariat desk and bookcase which is Edwardian, and has provenance to a Northland pioneer family – both of which are also offered as a gift for the right heritage organisation. 

- John O’Hare 

For more information contact Bill Edwards on 09-407-0471.