100 years of Franich Family in Henderson (1913 - 2013)

Celebrating the Legacy of Kathleen and Joseph Franich

Based on the writing of Kate Franich  r.s.m.


Franich Logo Boyana 2


From Croatia to New Zealand

Joseph Franich was born in Vrgorac, Croatia in 1868, the eldest son of Tomina (nee Marusich) and Mate Franich.  He had two brothers, named Jure and Toma.

Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire at that time.  Joseph Franich was a colonel in the Austro-Hungarian army and although he was required to return to Croatia for military training, he never did. 

Instead, Joseph came to New Zealand in 1893 and worked in the gumfields in the north.

Memories of 'Boyana'

After about three and half years working in the gumfields in the north, Joseph Franich owned sevFranich House - 'Boyana'eral boarding houses in Auckland city.

One boarding house was situated in Hobson Street and Joseph called this property 'Boyana'. Boyana (Bojana) is the name of a very small place in Croatia

Bojana is a very beautiful place and over the years, the name has grown in significance for the New Zealand branch of the Franich family.

Later, Joseph Franich owned a gum broking business, which he established beside the 'Boyana' boarding house.

Generous, Sociable & Influencial

A generous, sociable, popular man with considerable influence with the authorities, Joseph Franich met the Croatians arriving on ships in the harbour and provided them with accommodation. 

Joseph also helped these new arrivals to set themselves up with whatever they needed before going to gumfields in the north. He also bought kauri gum from the diggers and resold it. 

With a strong connection to his church, Joseph Franich helped to collect money for the statuary of the Crucifixion (which can still be seen at the right transept of St. Patricks Cathedral in Auckland city).  

Irish Heritage: Humour, Beauty & Warmth

Franich Wedding: Joseph & KathleenJoseph Franich also owned property at Pukekohe, where he met Kathleen Keane at the Catholic dances. 

A beautiful person (inside and out), Kathleen was the daughter of Denis and Bridget Keane who had emigrated from Ireland.

The Very Rev. Dean O’Reilly married Kathleen and Joseph in St. Patricks Cathedral in 1899. Their wedding was an important, lavish occasion. 

Joseph was the first Croatian to be married in the Cathedral (and the Sinkovichs were the first Croatian couple). 


'Boyana' in Henderson

Franich Family - Auckland

Joseph and Kathleen settled in Henderson in 1913 and called their house Boyana. 

The couple had six children . . .

 . . . Matthew, Thomas, John, Josephine, Joseph jnr. and Phyllis. 

Joseph and Kathleen owned a large property in Swanson Road, Henderson.

The property extended from Rathgar Road down to the next curve in Swanson Road.    

The Franich family grew grapes, fruit and tobacco. 


Innovation & Optimism

Joseph encourageFranich Agribusinessd the Government to develop a new strain of tobacco, which he believed would be a viable, economic option for New Zealand. 

One of the pioneer wine makers in New Zealand, Joseph Franich received letters from the then Prime Minister, Hon. William Massey.

The Major of the Military Base Hospital also wrote to Joseph Franich thanking him for cases of wine that he had sent for the soldiers wounded in World War I. 

The 'Boyana' logo for the Franich wine label (shown at top) features the Croatian and New Zealand flags, reflecting Joseph's affection for both countries. The design was very distinctive as Joseph was the only wine maker to show both the Croatian and New Zealand flags on his wine label.  

Joseph embraced technology and owned the first motorcar in Henderson, a Ford Model T.  Family legend has it that the local policeman made good use of the first telephone in the area, owned by the Franichs.

Lasting Friendships & Memories

However, ill health cut short Joseph's efforts.Franich Wedding Party: Joseph & Kathleen

Joseph Franich died from cancer in 1921 at 54 years. He is buried in Waikumete cemetery. 

Prior to his death, Joseph’s son Matt drove him to say farewell to his many friends in west Auckland.

In Joseph’s memory, Kathleen erected a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the old Holy Cross Church in Henderson.  It is now erected in St. Pauls Church Massey.

Kathleen Franich continued to sell fruit from the original ‘Boyana’ house.

From Gum to Gold

Franich Jewellers - Family Gathering

Kathleen and Joseph's eldest grandson Joseph (who now lives in Warkworth) has named his house 'Boyana'.

So, although the original family home has been demolished, the family tradition of 'Boyana' lives on.

John Franich (another grandson) and his wife Jenni own a jewellery shop in Henderson WestCity Shopping Mall.

In this image, Jenni and John Franich are joined by John's sister, Kate Franich RSM.

Cecelia Franich (nee Duncan) married Matthew (Mate), the eldest son of Joseph and Kathleen Franich. Cecelia is the beautiful bride in the image below and the mother of John and Kate Franich.

Cecelia Franich Wedding Photo

That is just one branch of the Franich family, and today there are108 direct descendants of Joseph and Kathleen Franich; many of whom still reside in west Auckland.

Historic Family Event

With an event theme 'From Gum to Gold', Franich Jewellers will be central to the centenary celebrations.

The family plans to gather on December 1st, 2013 and events are listed on the “From Gum to Gold” flyer as follows:

  • 10:30 a.m.  Commemorative Mass at St. Anne’s Croatian Church, Cole Place, Te Atatu South
  • 12:00 noon Meeting of descendants at John Franich Jewellers in West City.
  •  2:00 p.m.   Family Barbeque 

The Franich decendants will gather together to celebrate 100 years of Gum to Gold. At the same time, they will raise funds for the renovation of the family plot at Waikumete Cemetery. 

For more information, contact John Franich at Franich Jewellers.



Many thanks are expressed to Stephen Jelicich, author of From Distant Villages and to granddaughters Phyllis Erceg and Mary Franich-Bell for photographs used to commemorate the occasion.