Theodorus Christiaan came to Natal from Java in 1854 with an associate, Wilhelm van Prehn. They tried growing and manufacturing indigo at Pinetown in partnership with Archibald Keir Murray, but without success. Van Prehn left the Colony, but Theodorus remained. He acted on behalf of an emigration company named the Nederlandsche Landbouw Emigratie Maatschappij established in Holland by his brother reverend Herman Colenbrander and his two sons Johannes Arnoldus and Adriaan together with the Amsterdam ship-owner M.C. Lapidoth. They gained the approval of the Natal Executive Council to introduce young mechanics, farmers and labourers, who had been educated by a benevolent society. The aim of this emigration was to place these young people in other parts of the world, and thus to remove them from what was described as, ‘the contamination of European poverty’. The first batch arrived in May 1857, and from then until July 1860, at least six ships landed at Durban, introducing to the Colony surnames such as Wassink, Theunissen, Ente and Gielink, as well as more Colenbranders.
He was the founder of New Guelderland Natal (RSA) where he owned a farm and the New Guelderland Sugar Factory.