Moritz Heiner (Mouritz Heinor) was an early German settler who lived in Separation Street in Northcote. Heiner had arrived in the colony of Victoria in March 1849, having left Hamburg, Germany in October 1848.
After spending time on the goldfields Heiner established himself on 25 acres on Separation Street, probably owning land on both sides of the street. In 1865 he was living on the south side of Separation Street, just down from the Northcote Cemetery. His close neighbours were fellow Germans, Fritsch, Meyer, Schusaneck, Hellwich and Scaebish (Schwaebesch). It was little wonder that Separation Street was known as little German Lane.
Heiner made his living as a gardener and oral history traditions have it that at least twice he pushed his barrow of garden produce to the goldfields for sale. At some stage in the late 1880s or early 1890s the Heiner family moved to the north side of Separation Street, probably close to the intersection of Separation Street and Victoria Road.
In November 1887 Heiner attended a meeting of property owners along Separation Street with regards to the development of Fairfield Park. These property owners all had land along a route connecting Separation Street to Heidelberg Road. At first Heiner opposed the sale of his land as it would split his property and subsequently lower its value but after a discussion with Councillor Abbott of Clifton Hill, agreed to sell the land in question to Abbott for a tidy sum of £150.
Moritz Heiner died on 13th June 1912 and was buried at Northcote Cemetery. His wife Johanna Christiana Heiner died on 27 August 1920 and was buried alongside him.
In many ways Heiner was lucky to die before the First World War. Most of Northcote and Preston’s citizens of German background found themselves the victims of persecution and before the war was over many Germans had left the area including Councillor Auguste Schwaebesh, a long time neighbour of the Heiners and one of Northcote’s earliest settlers.
Nevertheless the Heiner family persevered and was able to maintain a link with Northcote which would last for another fifty years.
Bill Heiner, a grandson of Moritz, later established public tennis courts on part of their property (now the site of the Northcote Bowl). The last of the Heiner family left Northcote in the 1970s.
Argus newspaper, 14 November 1887
Northcote Leader, 17 April 1979