The story of the iconic family known for their great hospitality, who hosted High-Chiefs and Queens.
The Kronfelds were a Samoan-German family who lived in Auckland from 1890. They were known for their warm hospitality and the home away from home that they provided. Old stories of the past recall how they offered a safe, family-focused centre of hospitality for people passing through from the islands when there were very few Samoans living in New Zealand. Nowadays you couldn't find an island household in New Zealand that didn't have family and friends from the islands passing through at a point in time, but back then it was only the Kronfelds and they started a legacy of island hospitality in Aotearoa that continues today.
Their large home in Eden Crescent, Central Auckland saw lots of visitors and was chronicled to never have a dull moment. ‘Oli-Ula’ was the name of their lively home, named after a sweet perfumed flower in Samoa. This sweet perfumed flower brought in many guests. Multiple guests stayed at Oli-Ula during their years at school in New Zealand. Guests included the then future Queen Salote Tupou of Tonga, and children of Samoa’s High-Chief Tuimaleali’ifano Si’u, one of the four Tama-a-aiga.
With great visitors came even greater gifts. The Kronfeld Family housed many precious gems from across the Pacific ocean, given as tokens of appreciation for their hospitality. Queen Salote gifted the family an intricate ie toga (finely woven mat) to give thanks for hosting her in Auckland between 1910-1913. While Ali’i Sili (High Chief), Tupua Malietoa To'oa Mata'afa Iosefo gifted the family a large bronzed kava bowl. These items were amongst countless other treasures and taonga gifted to the Kronfelds.
The Matriarch of this family was Mrs. Louisa Kronfeld. Her father was Portuguese sailor Augustine Silveira (also da Silva/Silva) and her mother Mele Fiame of Lotofaga, Falealili, Upolu. Louisa’s husband was German trader Gustav Kronfeld. They spent some years in Tonga before bringing their family to Auckland and establishing their own highly successful company of Pacific import-export.
The Kronfelds were a successful family thanks to Gustav’s lucrative business. This financial security gave the family freedom to host generously and rub-shoulders with Auckland's elite. They were the original island socialites in Auckland. Business, life, and society were smooth sailing for the family until Mr. Kronfeld crossed an uncontrollable rocky road. Despite being a naturalised British subject, Gustav was confined as a prisoner for political reasons during the First World War in response to anti-German hysteria which swept New Zealand. He was held captive on Motuihe Island Internment Camp. His several years of captivity, accompanied by the breaking up of his trading relationships after he was interned, ruined his business.
Although their trade business ended, their legacy continued. Many of the children and grandchildren continued to stay and work in Aotearoa. With each generation adding more branches to the Kronfeld family tree. The Kronfelds are still present around Auckland today. Great-great-granddaughter Emily Parr being one amongst the family still here. She said her ancestors' warm and familial hospitality helped countless travelers, and established Pacific Island roots in Auckland, at a time when very few Samoans were in New Zealand. Emily recently spoke to the public about her ancestors' house Oli-Ula saying “It was a beautiful big villa in Eden Crescent that he had built himself, and it had a full concert grand piano in the lounge, beautiful furniture and lots of treasures and taonga,”. Memories of Oli-Ula, the guests, the parties, the gifts, and much more are still being kept alive by descendants of the Kronfeld line.
Louisa and Gustav Kronfelds descendants have continued to make a significant contribution to New Zealand in every facet of life, from sports to academia, clergy, art, education, and the military. They still remain a large part of Auckland’s fabric today, almost 150 years after Gustav and Louisa arrived. The Kronfeld family are currently a part of the Tāmaki Herenga Waka: Stories of Auckland exhibit at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Parnell. The exhibit displays deeper details on the Kronfeld family and items that were gifted to the family, including the bronze kava bowl and Queen Salotes ie toga. The display is open to the public and you can go discover more about this iconic family there.