As early as 1839 the New Zealand Company had resolved to "take steps to procure German emigrants" and appointed a Mr Bockelman as agent of the Company in Bremen. In September 1841 the Company made an agreement in principle to sell the Chatham Islands to the Hamburg-based Deutsche Colonisation-Gesellschaft, but the British Government thwarted this move. However, Lord Stanley, then the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, did agree to make the German colonists instant British subjects upon arrival in Nelson after being vetted in Hamburg first.
Most of the 140 German immigrants who arrived on the ship Sankt Pauli in 1843 and formed the nucleus of the villages of Sarau (now known as Upper Moutere) and Neudorf were Lutheran Protestants with a small number of Bavarian Catholics. The trip had lasted 176 days, during which time four young children had perished, seven couples had been joined in Holy Matrimony, one baby had been born and two passengers had jumped ship at a re-provisioning harbour.
After a brief initial period of prosperity the inherent problems of lack of land and capital caught up with the Nelson settlements and they entered a prolonged period of relative depression. Organised immigration ceased until the 1850s and labourers had to accept a cut in their wages by one third. By the end of 1843 artisans and labourers began leaving Nelson and by 1846 a quarter of the immigrants had moved away.
Charles Kelling was in charge of the second German immigration ship to the Nelson region, the Skjold, which arrived in 1844. He moved to Sarau after first having established the village of Ranzau with his brother Fedor. Charles Kelling became a community leader in Sarau. He represented the Moutere (1862–1869) and then the Waimea West (1869–1873) electorates on the Nelson Provincial Council.
- "Place Name Detail: Upper Moutere". New Zealand Geographic Placenames Database. Land Information New Zealand. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
- Bade, James N. (2012-07-13). [URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/germans/page-3 "Germans - Early settlements"]. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2013-04-02. "The first group of Germans arrived on the St Pauli in 1843, and founded the village of St Paulidorf in the Moutere valley, near Nelson. Bad flooding forced the abandonment of the village scarcely a year after it began, and now nothing remains but farmland. [...] Around 1850, some Germans returned to Moutere, this time settling further up the valley. Over the next 20 years, joined by a number of their compatriots, they established settlements at Sarau (now called Upper Moutere), Rosental (Rosedale) and Neudorf."
- Lash, Max D. "Carl Friederich Christian Kelling". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
- Scholefield, Guy (1950) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1949 (3rd ed.). Wellington: Govt. Printer. p. 213.