Fabich/Dodunski Family

The family name of FABICH originated from the small town of Pomeranian, KOKOSZKI, in Poland. On arrival of migrants to New Zealand the surname was changed to FABISH

Apparently in Poland they had small farms and supplemented their incomes by working for a German called Wurtz/Wircca/Werker who owned two adjoining villages. When the Franco-Prussion War started in 1870 Wu’rtz gave all adult males from Kokoszki/Kokoschken a choice – either be drafted into the German Army or work for him to produce food for the Army. They chose to work for him the condition being they had to leave the title deeds of their land to him while the war was going on. When the war finished and they requested their deeds back he would not return the deeds and they lost their plots of land, homes, and their livelihood. There are different versions of this tale either way whatever happened several families left Kokoschken for NZ at the same time: Alfuth, Brzoska, Drzewicki (Dravitski), Fabich/Fabisz/Fabish, Jakubowski, Kowalewski, Kuklinski, Labowski, Lewandowski, Meller, Prus, Rogucki, Rzaska, Tzoska, Treder and Turczyk.

WIELKI GARC, Gremblin , West Prussia or Poland was where the Dodunski Family originated from. Ray Watembach can recall being told that the families had never eaten fresh meat before arrival in NZ. They would have had the smoked dried meat which is very delicious (as I get to watch the making as well as eat this via Bosnian refugees in Australia – sometimes in sausages, (it is extremely expensive to purchase from shops in Perth , West Australia ). Michael or Michat Dodur ski as he chose to spell his name was a farm labourer and used to move from farm to farm wherever there was work for him, as did his father Mathias Dodur ski and that is why many of the children from the families were born in different Parishes in the vicinity of Weilki Garc. They never travelled that far from this base but it is far enough to make things a bother when tracing everyone. Whether Michael’s father Mathias remarried a second time is unknown as no proof has yet been established that he did, and so one wonders why on the births of his children a different surname appears for the mother of them.

There were wars against Denmark in 1864, Austria in 1866, and France 1870-1871 until unification of the German Empire in 1871 – under Prussian Rule. During this period of the Franco/Prussian War life for Poles under the Prussian/German rule was difficult. Polish towns and were renamed and given Germanic forms. Their own Polish language was forbidden and their Polish schools closed. They disliked the Germans and may not have allowed their children to attend the schools and so most were illiterate upon arrival in New Zealand consequently first names and surnames were often spelt incorrectly both in Poland and in New Zealand . They were also forced to join the German army where they would end up fighting and killing their own people. In 1870 to 1871 the Franco-Prussian Wars occurred. Rumours were spreading throughout Europe about a new colony, New Zealand , and that there was plenty of land and work. Emigrants were needed for the settlement of this land. The Prussian Government prohibited men aged between 18 and 28 years from emigrating. Whole families could sometimes leave if the son had not enrolled for the compulsory conscription by the age of 21. Canada and USA were more generous giving small plots of land. NZ offered assisted passage to attract people to NZ around 1874 and 1876 and at this time Pomeranians, Prussians or Germans (names used to describe Poles) saw it as an opportunity to build a new life. A chance to escape the Germans but when they got to NZ they were referred to as Germans or Aliens. There were at least 10 voyages in this scheme. Most people emigrating went to the United States before 1873. After 1873 there was a major financial crisis in the USA which forced many earlier immigrants to try to return if they could afford it to their homelands. Around 1874 New Zealand established an immigration scheme to develop road, rail, telegraph and the land.

There was a sudden end to assisted immigration in 1876 (the year the *FABICH/FABISH family arrived), which was terrible for all emigrants who NZ had accepted – as they had sold their possessions and given the required three months notice to employers. *Because most were illiterate the spelling of names can vary. The Prussian Government forced the shipping companies to send these emigrants to New Zealand anyway. Some families thought they were going to America to join their relations but ended up in New Zealand .

On board the Fritz Reuter the sleeping quarters were like coffins placed one on top of the other with an open end into which the sleeper wriggled feet first with one’s head in the open space. Imagine the discomfort they endured crowded into such a small space and no such thing as sea sickness tablets. I would die after a couple of days. This voyage to NZ took 110 days with no fresh vegetables, fruit, bread, milk or meat. I am sure the resourceful Polish caught fresh fish. Over crowded and poorly ventilated living cubicles resulted in illnesses like measles, smallpox, and scarlet fever, diarrhea, etc. Children and babies often became ill and died on these voyages. There were about 516 passengers on this second voyage to NZ of the Fritz Reuter.

The Fritz Reuter sailed into Wellington on 4 August 1876. Simon FABICH, his brother, sister, niece and many other families from Kokoschken, Pomerania , Poland (now called Kokoszkowy), were on the Fritz Reuter. Augustin FISCHER and his daughter Maria Anna from Switzerland , Gabriel Mathias DODUNSKI & his family from Gremblin , Poland were also aboard. The German Empires Consul in Wellington was Frederick August Krull and he had to beg for assistance from the NZ Government, to feed and accommodate all the people. Very unwillingly the NZ Minister of Immigration allowed some people to use the immigration barracks and provided a few days rations.