Page 1: Biography
Kelling, Carl Friederich Christian
Emigration agent, farmer, community leader
Kelling, Johann Friederich August
Emigration agent, farmer, community leader
This biography, written by Max D. Lash, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1990. It was updated in October, 2017.
Carl Friederich Christian Kelling, often known in New Zealand as Charles Frederick Christian Kelling, was born at Klütz, in the grand duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, on 21 June 1818. Carl's brother, Johann Friederich August Kelling, often known in New Zealand as John Frederick August Kelling, and more commonly as Fedor Kelling, was born there on 11 February 1820. They were sons of Johann Joachim Kelling, a registrar, and his wife, Louise Catharine Margarethe Harms. About 1842 or 1843 Fedor Kelling married Johanna Lamppe, and their first son was born before the brothers emigrated to Nelson, New Zealand, in 1844.
Carl and Fedor Kelling and Johann Ferdinand Benoit, a Hamburg merchant, were appointed agents by Count Kuno zu Rantzau-Breitenburg, sponsor of the second party of German emigrants to Nelson, to manage his seven allotments in Nelson and care for the settlers. Count Rantzau hoped to combine a profitable investment with philanthropy by resettling indigent farmers from Mecklenburg as indentured labourers on his New Zealand estate. The New Zealand Company had allowed him to obtain his suburban land in one block. His agents were men of means, who paid the passages of additional labourers. On 16 April 1844 in Hamburg the heads of emigrating families signed contracts binding them to their benefactors.
The emigrant ship Skjold sailed from Hamburg on 21 April 1844. The Kellings and Benoit were cabin passengers. There were 135 emigrants in steerage, including 23 married couples and 69 children. They arrived at Nelson on 1 September 1844, the day after William Fox, the Nelson resident agent for the New Zealand Company, had cancelled all public works contracts. It was as well that the Skjold had brought considerable provisions.
Discouraged, Benoit soon decided to return to Europe, leaving the Kellings in charge at the end of January 1845. The brothers took up seven 50 acre sections in Waimea East, naming the settlement Ranzau (Hope). Only three sections were suitable for agriculture, and the Kellings were unable to employ all of the Skjold immigrants in cultivating food crops and building homes. Some of the remaining immigrants went on to South Australia, and others were placed by Fox on a leased section. The contract labour system designed by Rantzau proved unsatisfactory, and the Kellings apportioned land to heads of families, to help them to provide for themselves, before the labourers had fulfilled their contractual agreement to refund their passage money. Nevertheless, within a year 100 acres were under cultivation. A neighbouring, unoccupied section was used and another rented in 1849, bringing four sections under cultivation in field crops, fruit trees, vines, walnuts, hops and tobacco. The brothers built a substantial house with extensive outbuildings, and there was a considerable village of workers' homes. A Lutheran church was built at Ranzau, and in 1850 J. W. C. Heine arrived to be the community's pastor.
The German settlers proved to be more successful agriculturalists than their English fellow colonists. When reselection of suburban sections was allowed in 1849, three neighbouring lots were added to their original seven at Ranzau, and rural selections of 1,050 acres were made at Puramahoi, near Takaka, in Golden Bay. Sheep were grazed on land leased on the Moutere Hills, and in 1850 the Kellings applied to exchange their Takaka land for a block there. Carl Kelling moved to the German settlement of Sarau (Upper Moutere) to take up the land for which the exchange was made. On 1 April 1850 at Ranzau he had married Anna Büschl. They were to have eight sons and four daughters.
Carl Kelling became a leader in the community of Sarau. He was a member of the first committee for the Moutere educational district, which opened two schools in 1857, and he served on the Moutere Road Board. He was elected to the Nelson Provincial Council as member for Moutere from 1862 to 1869, and for Waimea West from 1869 to 1873. He was made a justice of the peace in 1867. In 1898 he sold his Moutere property and moved to Wakefield, where he died on 28 December 1898. Anna Kelling died in 1931.
Fedor Kelling continued to live at Ranzau. In 1851 he received a Crown grant of 1,167 acres on the banks of the Spray River, in the Waihopai district, Wairau, on which he ran sheep until 1873. He disposed of the Wairau land to take up more than 500 acres at Stanley Brook in the upper Motueka Valley.
Johanna Kelling had died in childbirth in July 1848, leaving Fedor with two sons and a daughter. On 10 February 1855 at Ranzau he married Rose Mary Etty. Six months later he was again a widower. He was elected a director of the Settlers Cattle Fair Association in 1853, and in 1854 helped establish the Nelson Agricultural Association, serving as secretary until 1862. He also served on the road boards in the Waimea district, and as Waimea East's representative on the Central Board of Education for Nelson. In the provincial council he represented Waimea East from 1857 to 1863, and from 1865 to 1876, and for a few months in 1860 was MHR for Waimea. In 1859 he became a justice of the peace.
In 1863 Fedor Kelling was sent to Europe as a government agent to arrange for German military settlers to emigrate to Taranaki. With the outbreak of war, the scheme fell through. He returned to Nelson with his third wife, Dorothea (Doris) Wilhelmine Kuskop, whom he had married in Germany in 1863 or 1864. She died in June 1865, soon after the birth of their only child, a son. In 1867 Fedor was appointed a German consul in New Zealand, a position he held until, at his own recommendation, the consulate was abolished in 1886. He was awarded the Order of the Crown of Prussia for his service. He died in Nelson on 24 October 1909.