Page 1: Biography
Iversen, Andreas Christian
Goldminer, orchardist, irrigator
This biography, written by T. J. Hearn, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993.
Andreas Christian Iversen was born in Janderup, near Varde, Denmark, on 25 February 1834, the son of Iver Christensen, a small farmer and blacksmith, and his wife, Gertrud Jensdatter. A mariner and riverboat pilot during his teenage years, Iversen joined the rush to the goldfields in Victoria, Australia, in the early 1850s. He returned briefly to Janderup, where he opened a store; but in 1857, this time with his brother Christian, he journeyed back to Victoria to resume mining.
In 1864 Iversen and his brother were on the Otago diggings in New Zealand, mining on the Tuapeka, Mt Ida and Dunstan fields. Having acquired a sound knowledge of mining law, Iversen was involved in a number of early mining controversies and emerged as a keen advocate of the interests of his fellow miners. After settling in Conroys Gully, Iversen and five partners secured a prospecting claim on Conroys Gully Reef (also known as Iversen's Reef) on the eastern slopes of the Old Man Range in 1869. In 1871 they erected a small crushing machine on the reef and put through several successful crushings, but by 1873 had abandoned their mine.
In conjunction with his mining activities, Iversen established an orchard and market garden in Conroys Gully. His early experiments with irrigation later led his contemporaries to describe him as the 'father of irrigation'. Iversen was actively involved in the campaign to have Earnscleugh Flat subdivided and opened for closer settlement. He secured 184 acres on deferred payment licence, adding an additional 310 acres in 1890. Here he established a thriving and productive orchard, including walnut trees, which became an attraction for visitors to the district. Christian Iversen secured an adjacent block of 96 acres.
Throughout his nearly 50 years in Central Otago, Iversen was involved in many campaigns to advance the interests of the district. He joined Vincent Pyke's Otago Central Land League, and campaigned to promote closer land settlement, railways and irrigation. For many years he served as the chairman of the Earnscleugh school committee, and also served as chairman of the Central Otago Fruitgrowers' Association. As a member of the Otago Acclimatisation Society he secured the introduction of the German owl ( Athene noctua ) in an effort to control the small-bird nuisance in the orchards of Central Otago, much to the later concern of the New Zealand Native Bird Protection Society.
On 31 October 1871, at Alexandra, Andreas Iversen married Mary Ellen Oliver; they were to have eight children. Mary Iversen died in 1891 of a haemorrhage following childbirth. Andreas Iversen died at Earnscleugh on 6 September 1911; he was survived by five daughters and two sons. Jovial, kind, patient, honest and industrious, giving freely of his time and energy, Iversen's whole life was that of 'a true public-spirited man, valiantly lived and admirably performed.'