GH to NZ

From Great Holland to New Zealand !


Several years ago an international detective story was set in motion by Fiona Kean of the Tauranga Heritage Museum, New Zealand.

Fiona had in the Museum’s possession some artifacts of great NZ significance donated by the Baker family in the early 1970’s. They included objects from the Battle of Gate Pa (the first major defeat of British Troops by Maori and the first recorded use of trench warfare). The Baker’s land was in the vicinity of the site of the Battle of Gate Pa and it is recorded that these objects were found there. 

Fiona wished to trace descendants of this Baker family but her search had been in vain.

However, she also had documents from the family that related to their roots in Great Holland. Her research showed that the Baker family bought Great Holland Hall from the well known Hicks family in 1893.

So, Fiona put an article on this Great Holland website in the hope that someone might help locating a descendant of the Bakers.


WELL, IT WORKED! An English relative saw the article, contacted Fiona and the rest is history. Mary Metcalf, a grand-daughter of that family, continues the story….


Having moved into the Hall, the Bakers thrived, producing 8 children, all born at the Hall: Eric born in 1896, Hal in 1898, Mary born in 1899, Stella in 1900, Charles in 1901, Lilian in 1903, Dick in 1908, and Rachel (my mother) in 1909.

It is clear from family writings that Great Holland Hall was a wonderful place to grow up with its large house and extensive grounds. Here is a quote from Stella’s account written in 1955: 

“Eric and Hal were eager egg collectors Hal scaling the heights of trees in pursuit of plunder. The spring flowers grew in abundance underneath, and altogether the plantation was an ideal playground for children. We picked the snowdrops and daffodils, and made leafy houses in the undergrowth. We had our own gardens in the walled garden each girl sharing with one of the boys, whose interest could only be spasmodic because of their periods of absence at school.” 

Photos of the children enjoying life in Great Holland can be seen here: 


Family Life in Great Holland 

Bakers 1909



Dig for Victory*

Baker Family*

Farm Pond


Gate 2*


Haystack 2



 *Photos not taken in Great Holland

The family left Holland Hall around 1914 moving to Boxted, and then in September 1924 Frederick and Edith Baker and four of the children (Stella, Lilian, Dick and Rachel) left England on the S.S. Arawa. Arriving in New Zealand, they settled at Gate Pa, Tauranga, calling their plot of land “East Anglia” in memory of their old home.


From the Tauranga Museum:

A copy of the original auction document is available by clicking the Page numbers below, and shows a wonderful list of live stock, machinery and associated plant available for knock down (1893) prices !

Great Holland Hall Auction

Page One

Page Two

Page Three

Page Four

Page Five

Page Six

Page Seven

Page Eight


Copy of the 1901 Census (copy available by clicking HERE).

The museum also has postcards from Eric sent during the War from France.



Post Card of Sydney Harbour (without the Opera House ! )


 We've added links to Other Post Cards from the Tauranga Heritage Collection - :

Card One Front Back :  Card Two Front / Back : Card Three Front  : Card Four Front

Card Five Front / Back : Card Six Front / Back : Card Seven Front / Back


So there we have it - mystery solved - however if you have anything to add to the story or would like to contact either of the authors, feel free to contact:

Fiona of the Tauranga heritage Musem :

Mary Metcalf (Baker family member) :


All Images published with the Kind permission of Tauranga Heritage Collection, New Zealand. 

and Mary Metcalf