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Norsewood, Wairarapa, New Zealand

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Surname/tag: New_Zealand, Nordic
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Norsewood, Wairarapa, New Zealand

Norsewood is a small rural town in Northern Wairarapa, situated among the lower eastern hills of the Ruahines, in the Manawatū-Wanganui Region of New Zealand's North Island. Norsewood lies at the northern edge of what was once a great tract of dense forest, the Seventy-Mile Bush, heavily forested country that created a barrier between Wellington the capital city, and the young settlements growing up around the port of Napier. All communication was by sea.[1]

In 1869, The New Zealand Government began a deliberate policy of co-ordinating public works and immigration; Julius Vogel, the Colonial Treasurer introduced a comprehensive plan to recruit and assist especially qualified immigrant families willing and able to clear and develop their own farmland, the payment for which would be subsidised by wages earned in the construction of public works; railways, roads and bridges, port facilities, telegraph lines and post offices. Government Agents began negotiating with local Maori for the purchase of blocks of land suitable for settlement. The Tua Tua Block would eventually become Norsewood. [2]

Bror Erik Friberg, a Norwegian settler in Hawke's Bay was commissioned to travel to Scandinavia and assist in the selection of suitable immigrants. Winge & Co. became the NZ Govt. Agents in Christiania. [3]

The Høvding, a three masted clipper ship with a full compliment of immigrants, arrived in Napier, Hawkes Bay on the 12th September 1872. The families were at first accommodated in the Immigration Barracks in Napier, while the men went on ahead to secure their 40 acre sections and build a slab hut or put up a canvas tent. [4] [5]

it was reported by the Daily Southern Cross of 21 October 1872 that - [6]
A correspondent sends the Hawke's Bay Herald the following with reference to the arrival of the Scandinavian settlers' at the Forty-mile Bush: — The women and children, about 250 souls in all, having left Napier on Wednesday, October 2nd, arrived on the following Friday afternoon at a spot within a mile of the camp in the bush. This last mile had to be walked. All the men turned out to meet their families, and had a pretty busy time of it, carrying babies and luggage. From Saturday to Tuesday it was raining almost continually, and the weather was very cold. There was much snow on the Ruahine. This was rather an unpleasant situation for the new-comers. However, there was no complaining. All tried to make the best of it. Many families have already left the common camp for the picturesque huts on their own sections. Sixtythree 40-acre sections will be occupied by the Norwegians; they are grouped around an intended township, to be called Norsewood, in the laying out of which Messrs. Ross and Mitchell have lately been engaged. You find in Norsewood — at least on the plan — Odin Street, Thor Street, Carl Street, Eric Street, Viking Street, Hovding Street, and so on. One store as yet represents the township. Some casualties have occurred; the most serious was a broken leg, the others were of a trifling character. The people are contented and full of gratitude for the kindness they have received from all, both in town and country.

Six weeks later at least four miles of Road had been constructed, lined on both sides with neatly built homes, gardens had been planted, and all around them, the trees were falling. [7] By April 1873, only six months after arrival in New Zealand, applications were being made by Norsewood residents to be placed on the roll for the Clive and Napier Electoral Districts. [8]

Timber mills were first established throughout the district

They cleared much of the bushland for farming and the road they built through Seventy Mile Bush, is now State Highway No:2.


  1. Daily Southern Cross, Volume XIV, Issue 1009, 27 February 1857, Page 4
  2. Tua Tua land block sections surveyed for sale c. 1874.the Tua Tua Block)
  3. Te Ara : The Encyclopedia of New Zealand - Friberg Bror Erik
  4. Wellington Independent, Volume XXVIII, Issue 3615, 28 September 1872, Page 2
  5. Norsewood Cemetery and Settlers' Genealogies Project : 1872 Høvding Passenger List
  6. Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVIII, Issue 4729, 21 October 1872, Page 2
  7. Hawke's Bay Times, Volume 19, Issue 1501, 9 December 1872, Page 2
  8. Wanganui Herald, Volume V, Issue 1759, 5 April 1873, Page 2
  • Visit the Norsewood Pioneer Museum, housed in the old Lutheran parsonage, built in 1888 for Pastor Ries.

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