Count Felix von Luckner was a colourful, charismatic and enigmatic character, who left an indelible mark upon New Zealand society. He came to New Zealand as a prisoner of war after his ship SMS Seeadler was wrecked in the Society Islands and made a daring but unsuccessful escape from Motuihe Island.In 1938 he visited New Zealand, being acclaimed as an honourable foe.
On Motuihe Kircheiss made a sextant and as ‘props’ for a Christmas Concert two German naval ensigns were made, one out of a bed-sheet and another from a flour sack.
Felix Von Luckner was born into an aristocratic German military family in Dresden on 9 June 1881. His family expectations were for him to become a cavalry officer, but instead he wanted to go to sea. He joined a Russian sailing ship in 1894 for Australia where he left it and spending the next seven years in a wide variety of occupations. At the age of 20 he returned to Germany and entered the Lubeck Navigation College from which he gained his Mate’s Certificate and joined the Hamburg Line and also the German Naval Reserve. In 1907 he qualified for his Master’s Certificate at the Papenburg Nautical College. In February 1910 he entered the Imperial German Navy and in 1913 joined the gunboat SMS Panther on the West African Station. In 1914 he joined the new battleship SMS Kronprinz in which he served in the Battle of Jutland.