National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Augustus ‘August’ Karl Frederick Koch

Augustus ‘August’ Karl Frederick Koch

Augustus Karl Frederick Koch was born in Berlin, Germany in 1834 and studied at the Royal Academy. In his teens he was engaged at the barricades in Berlin in the rising of 1848. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Berlin University and studied art under Eduard Mandel (the portrait painter and engraver) and made caricatures for Kladderadatsch.

In the interest of his health, Koch went to sea and became second officer on an East India trader. Being in Auckland when the Austrian frigate Novarra arrived (1858), he was attached to H Ferdinaud Von Hochstetter’s staff (Franz Julius Von Haast also accompanied Hochstetter), as an artist. He was involved in various expeditions around the Auckland areas and he produced the first large map of Auckland. Most of his drawings are in a museum in Vienna.

After the expeditions, he worked for the Government, surveying and mapping the greater Auckland area. He was also involved in photography and introduced the process of printing from negatives. He then moved to Napier as the first Chief Draughtsman and prepared a large number of maps of the province including the first original plan of Napier. He would later produce lithographed maps of the area and sell them commercially.

At the time he joined the Napier Rifle Volunteers and saw action at Omarunui on 12 October 1866, when the force (under Lieutenant-Colonel George Whitmore) engaged Ngati Hineuru warriors led by Te Rangihiroa. It was a spirited fight and when the Maori surrended, they had lost 21 dead to one Napier Rifle Volunteer (Private Henry Morrison). August Koch would also serve in the Armed Consabulary.

He spent some time as a mining surveyor on the Thames goldfields but finally ended up in Wellington at the Public Works Department as the Chief Draughtsman. He made the parliamentary map of Auckland – Waikato railway. He was a member of the Surveyor’s Association and he was a member (30 years) and chairman (20 years) of the Thorndon school committee. August Konch passed away on 31 December 1901.