Louis Henry de Brabandere came out from Belgium with his family and farmed part of what was earlier the Brimmer property at the head of Little Muddy Creek.
His house was right near the road bridge across the creek- it’s still there today, across the road from Tangiwai Reserve at 200 Huia Rd.
In Titirangi Fringe of Heaven, Essie Hodge (daughter of Chappie Bishop) remembers:
Adjoining us, down the valley, bordering Little Muddy Creek, was de Brabandere’s farm. These folk came from Belgium and spoke Flemish…by sheer hard work they established a good sheep and dairy herd, mostly Jersey cattle.
One of the earliest records of their arrival was from 1892, one of many newspaper ads listing wandering stock for collection – a very common thing in those days.
The Waitemata Dristrict Council dated the house as being from the early 1870s so it is likely it predates the De Brabanderes.
The Brabanderes became known for their stock raising abilities, winning prizes in shows. Later his son Robert carried on this tradition.
In his later years he became chairman of the board of Titirangi School – then directly up the hill from them in South Titirangi Rd.
Louis (Henry) died in 1901, leaving his wife and children to run the farm.
Within the year Louis’ son Robert was winning awards at shows and placing more notices about wandering stock.
A 1913 notice he placed in the Auckland Star banning digging for Kauri Gum on his land is a reminder of the earlier history of the land.
Louis’ wife, Zelie Eliza Brabandere died in 1927, closely followed by their son Eugene.
Robert de Brabandere continued farming the same land for many years after this, but as a 1915 NZ Herald article shows, he didn’t always have the best relationship with the school – being fined 5 pounds for writing an ‘indecent letter’ in response to a letter the school had written him requesting the child in his care attended more regularly.
When the Nihotupu filter station opened, the Brabendere’s complained that the outflow into Little Muddy Creek was affecting their milk production.
Later, when the Huia Water Treatment plant was first built, the sediment dam overflowed and flooded their land at the bottom of the valley.