THE STORY BEHIND

Puhoi was a standalone place in New Zealand until it was inhabited by the settlers from Bohemia on June 27, 1863. They landed on the banks of Puhoi River in the midnight after a long sea journey of four months.

This journey began when eighty-three young men and women from Staab, Bohemia, which is now the part of the Czech Republic, decided to leave their home town in search of better fortune. These were the people who worked as servants and labourers and could not earn much despite a part of an economically stable village. They wanted to become landowners and hastily accepted the opportunity to travel to New Zealand in search of free land in Puhoi. They were led by Captain Martin Krippner, who was later recognised as the founder of Puhoi. 

To their utter dismay, the land was hardly flat and infertile. It was covered with bush and was bordered by thickly forested hills. Visualising a settled life with farms at that moment was difficult. It became impossible to survive as they were on the verge of starvation. 

They had no tools and no knowledge about the land. The local Maori Tribe helped them with fruits and vegetables during the first year. The first decade was full of challenges and hardships. Bohemians continued to manage cordial relations with Maori tribe. A significant obstacle was the inability to speak English which gradually led tothe opening of a school in 1872. 

Despite the existential crisis, Bohemians were people of character. Being Roman Catholics, they believed in the will of God and continued to stand with their comrades. They helped each other in converting barren lands into farms which they received from Government allocation. They built the first church in 1881. With dedicated efforts, they adopted occupations like farmers, wood-cutters, sawyers, gum-gatherers and charcoal burners. In their letters back to their homeland they kept on describing the prosperity of their lives and opportunities in the new land.

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