George William Von Zedlitz

During the First World War people of German descent living in New Zealand were sometimes harassed and abused. George von Zedlitz, a resident of Lower Hutt, was probably New Zealand’s most prominent victim.

His mother was English and his father German. His parents separated when he was young and he grew up in England. In 1902 he arrived in New Zealand to take up the position of professor of modern languages at Victoria University College. In 1905 he married Alice Fitzherbert, daughter of Lower Hutt mayor, William Fitzherbert. The couple resided at Norbury (now the Hutt Minoh House).

During the First World War, von Zedlitz was considered an alien enemy and forced to resign from the University. The Alien Enemy Teachers Act (1915) was passed to ensure his dismissal after the College Council refused to act.

After the war, he became well known as an adult education lecturer and as a broadcaster. In 1936, Victoria University College made him professor emeritus and he was elected to the senate of the University of New Zealand. He died in Lower Hutt in 1949.

Norbury, Jubilee Park. Once the home of Professor Von Zedlitz. Occupied by Youth for Christ, who moved out soon after this photo was taken. (Hutt City Libraries)
Dominion, 22 September 1915 (Papers Past)
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Portrait of Professor George William von Zedlitz. First Professor of Modern Languages 1902-1915 (Ref: VUW.1933.1. Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection.)



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