Page 1: Biography
This biography, written by Marianne Philson, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1996.
Albert Duder was born at North Shore (Devonport), Auckland, New Zealand, on 21 April 1856, the youngest of eight children of Thomas Duder and his wife, Margaret Dunne. Thomas, from Devon, England, was a crewman aboard the Buffalo when it was wrecked in 1840 at Mercury Bay. From 1843 until his death in 1875 he was signalman on Mt Victoria, Devonport. He also owned land at Devonport and Maraetai which his sons later farmed. Margaret was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, and arrived in New Zealand from Sydney in December 1843.
Albert Duder attended Dr Kidd's Collegiate School in Karangahape Road, Auckland, for 18 months. He later went to Captain Cholmondeley Smith's Devonport Academy where he played the flute in the drum and fife band. In May 1869 he became a foundation pupil at Auckland Grammar School. He left from senior B in 1872 and would later recall that he had been 'a fair average schoolboy'.
Duder worked on the family farm at Devonport. However, he loved the sea and after a trip in the Coronet to Dunedin he pleaded with his mother for permission to go to sea. His father's friend, L. D. Nathan, obtained him a berth aboard the Hydaspes, which left for London in December 1874. This was the first of seven voyages he would make around Cape Horn.
A tall, handsome man with a full beard, Duder was warmly welcomed in Devon by his English cousins. His extensive memoirs, written a few years before his death, are full of vivid descriptions of life at sea and the men with whom he sailed. He served his apprenticeship in the Hydaspes and in other vessels sailing between Britain and New Zealand. This was followed by a period in the Mataura. During several visits to London he sat and passed Board of Trade examinations. He also enjoyed visiting the opera and art galleries.
In December 1881 Duder joined the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand as second officer on the steamer Rotomahana. He sat the examination for his master's certificate in October 1882 and was promoted to chief officer. He left the Rotomahana in 1884 after injuring a foot, returning to sea in 1885 as chief officer of the Triumph.
On 13 January 1887, at Wellington, Duder married Edith Marianne Sanderson; they were to have three sons and two daughters. Later in 1887 Duder was master of the Pukaki on the first non-stop voyage by a steamer between Britain and New Zealand. In 1888 he was second officer of the Hawea when it was wrecked off New Plymouth. The following year he was involved in another shipwreck, this time as chief officer of the Fijian when it was wrecked on the island of Tanna in the New Hebrides (Vanuatu).
From 1889 to 1893 Duder was based in Melbourne, serving in various vessels belonging to Huddart, Parker and Company. At the end of 1893 he presented excellent testimonials which resulted in his appointment as deputy harbourmaster of Auckland. The following year he became harbourmaster, living in London Street, Ponsonby, where the bedside telephone rang to call him out at all hours.
It was a time of great change on the Auckland waterfront: the tonnage of shipping trebled during Duder's term in office, reclamations were made, concrete wharves built and the ferry building completed. A highlight of his career was planning for the visit of the American naval fleet in August 1908. However, at the end of 1912 he decided to retire on account of ill health.
He had been a committee member of the Auckland Yacht Club in 1894 and president of the Auckland College and Grammar School Old Boys' Association in 1895. After retirement the family moved to Devonport where Duder sold house sections from the family farm. A member of the Devonport Yacht Club, he watched the yachts every weekend racing round Duder's buoy, named for him, in Rangitoto Channel. He died at his home on 17 March 1936. Edith Duder died in 1940. Albert Duder's position had closely identified him and his name with Auckland harbour activity, a connection that would continue.