iwiKiwi

A Kiwi in search of her Irish, English & Scottish tribes

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Census Day ~ 6 March 2018

Today is Census Day in New Zealand! It’s run every five years by Stats NZ, and counts the number of people and dwellings in the country on a particular day. The last census was held in 2013 and you can view the type of information gathered and the resulting reports from the Stats NZ website.

Four of the family are here to be enumerated at home, but my daughter is away on a school camp in the South Island. Unlike most of the country who are filling out the forms online, she and her classmates will be filling out paper forms (with some help from the teachers, no doubt!). The days of census collectors going door-to-door are fast disappearing.

Census collector on horsebak

Census enumerator travelling by horseback near Ruatāhuna in 1996. Credit: NZ Official Yearbook1

I wasn’t here in New Zealand for the last census, though we did make it into the UK one on 27 March 2011. It was the first UK census which could be completed online (though I also filled out and kept a paper copy for posterity).

Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to the Census from 1986, courtesy of NZ On Screen:


  1. ‘Census collecting by horse’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/collecting-census-by-horse, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 23-Mar-2015. Licensed by Manatū Taonga for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

RootsTech 2018 ~ livestreaming from Salt Lake City, Utah

RootsTech is the annual genealogy-meets-technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and this year is being held Wednesday 28th February to Saturday 3rd March. Not all of us can make it over there in person, but we can watch some of the presentations at home. Inspired by Sylvia Valentine who has “translated” the timetable from MST (Mountain Standard Time) into GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for UK and Ireland folks, below is the timetable in NZDT (New Zealand Daylight Time). New Zealand is 20 hours ahead of Salt Lake City, so don’t get confused by the “Wednesday General Session” happening on a Thursday, etc!

There’s an excellent line-up of speakers, and if you have British Isles ancestry I can definitely recommend Myko Clelland and Brian Donovan – I’ve heard them both speak in person and they’re bound to give engaging and informative presentations.

For more details on the presentations and the live stream, visit the RootsTech website.

Alarm clocks at the ready!

Thursday, 1st March
4:30am Family History in 5 Minutes a Day Deborah Gamble
7:00am DNA—One Family, One World David Nicholson
9:30am Organizing and Preserving Photograph Collections Ari Wilkins
11:00am Finding the Answers: The Basics of WWII Research Jennifer Holik
12:30pm Wednesday General Session and Innovation Showcase Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International
Friday, 2nd March
4:30am Thursday General Session Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York
7:00am MyHeritage DNA 101: From Test to Results Yaniv Erlich
9:30am Google Photos: Collect, Organize, Preserve, and Share Michelle Goodrum
11:00am Unlocking Roman Catholic Records Brian Donovan
12:30pm A Gift of Life: Who’s Writing Your Story? Deborah Abbott
Saturday, 3rd March
4:30am Friday General Session Scott Hamilton
7:00am findmypast’s British and Irish Hidden Gems Myko Clelland
9:30am Finding the Right DNA Test for You Jim Brewster
11:00am How Not to Leave Your Genealogy Behind Amy Johnson Crow and Curt Witcher
12:30pm Finding Elusive Records at FamilySearch Robert Kehrer
Sunday, 4th March
4:30am Saturday General Session Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Natalia Lafourcade
7:00am Civil Registration Indexes of England and Wales Audrey Collins
9:30am Advancing Your Genealogy Research with DNA Anna Swayne
11:00am Pain in the Access: More Web for Your Genealogy Curt Witcher

Accentuate the Positive ~ 2017

My first full year back in New Zealand and we still haven’t fully unpacked! I did manage to squeeze in some study, a bit of research, and a few genealogy events.

A great newspaper article I found was about the visit my great great grandfather made back to England in 1907. In fact, there were two articles, and they provided a huge amount of detail (and some considerable hyperbole).

A geneajourney I took was to Auckland for the NZ Society of Genealogists’ annual conference, where the society was celebrating its 50th year in existence. A wonderfully run event with a great range of speakers. I’m looking forward to this year’s conference, Echoes of our Past, being held in Christchurch.

A geneasurprise I received was having a DNA match turn up for my mother, a descendant of her 2 x great grandfather’s half brother.

A (not so) new piece of technology I mastered was Excel. Although it’s not new to me, it’s been a long while since I’ve taken it for a proper spin, and I’m now able to generate some cool-looking charts and population pyramids.

I joined my local genealogy society and volunteered for the Wellington War Memorials project, and have met some lovely like-minded folks.

A genealogy event from which I learnt something new was the monthly series of family history talks held at the National Library of NZ in Wellington.

A blog post that taught me something new was any by John Grenham.

A great site I visited was Old Napier Cemetery, where many of my O’Rourke relatives are buried.

Old Napier cemetery


A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Kate Tiller’s English Local History: An introduction.

It was exciting to finally meet Seonaid Lewis from Auckland City Library, and many others since being back in NZ.

I am excited for 2018 because there’s Congress! A triennnial Australasian genealogy conference, this year being held in Sydney. I’m a Congress newbie, so looking forward to attending, plus I get to catch up with some cousins.

Another positive I would like to share is… I’m halfway through the Advanced Diploma in Local History, a distance course run by the University of Oxford. It has been such a huge learning adventure, and despite the incredible amount of time and work it involves, I am absolutely loving it.

Thanks go to Jill at GeniAUS again for her great Accentuate the Positive geneameme. You can read about the 2017 highlights of other geneabloggers on the GeniAUS website.

A penny for them ~ Anzac Day

I’ve written before about my relative (first cousin, thrice removed) Peter Gaffaney, who died during World War I. A couple of years ago I met some members from that side of the family, who very kindly gave me photos of Peter’s war medals and his memorial plaque (commonly referred to as a “Dead Man’s Penny”). So often these items are lost or sold on, and it was wonderful to know that Peter’s had been kept and treasured in the family.

WWI medals of Sgt Peter Michael Gaffaney

Military Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Peter Michael Gaffaney

Peter’s service record shows that his medals were issued to his brother Vincent, noted as his legatee.

Memorial plaque, Peter Michael Gaffaney, died 1918 in France.

Memorial plaque, Peter Michael Gaffaney, died 1918 in France.

Memorial plaques were issued to the next-of-kin of British and Empire servicemen and women who died as a result of the First World War. They were issued along with a commemorative scroll and letter, though sometimes these were sent separately. Peter’s scroll was sent on 13 June 1921, and his plaque on 16 Feb 1922.

Plaque and Scroll despatch, from service record of Peter Michael Gaffaney 24/431

Plaque and Scroll despatch, from service record of Peter Michael Gaffaney 24/431

Lest we forget

Anzac poppy

George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff all spruced up ~ Tombstone Tuesday

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The Tunnecliffes of Taranaki

My 3 x great grandparents George and Elizabeth Tunnicliff are buried in Grave 56 of St Mary’s Cathedral churchyard, New Plymouth (Taranaki, New Zealand). In 2014 John Pickering, graveyard manager of St Mary’s, spearheaded a project to repair all the old gravestones in the churchyard. Desecendants, where known, were contacted and asked to help fund the project. Through an earlier blog post, some money was raised towards the repair of George and Elizabeth’s gravestone, but the majority was funded by donations from local parishioners.

The churchyard is a Category 1 historical site, and as such, only registered memorial masons could carry out the repairs. As you can see, a wonderful job has been done! Heartfelt thanks must go to St Mary’s Cathedral and its generous congregation, and especially John Pickering, for looking after our heritage sites.

The inscription on the headstone reads:

In loving memory of George Tunnecliff died 13 February 1912 aged 80 years also Elizabeth Tunnecliff died 24 February 1916 aged 86 . At rest.

Further reading:

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Family outing on the Avon ~ Wordless Wednesday

My grandfather and his parents, out on the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand. A photograph from a family album.

Peter Gaffaney, Margaret (O'Rourke Gaffaney), and Dominic Gaffaney, on the Avon River, Christchurch, c.1914

Peter Gaffaney, Margaret (O’Rourke) Gaffaney, and Dominic Gaffaney, on the Avon River, Christchurch, c.1914

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Accentuate the Positive ~ 2016

The last year has been a crazy busy year full of study and work and moving countries. It’s been lovely to look back and see that I actually did manage to cram in some genealogy fun as well.

An elusive ancestor I found was… not an ancestor, but a relative – a missing baby I had heard rumours of, and now have found. Ha!

An important vital record I found was the birth certificate of this missing baby, my 2 x great aunt’s illegitimate daughter.

An ancestor’s grave I found was my great grandmother’s in Taruheru cemetery, Gisborne, along with her husband, parents, and daughter, and it was very moving to visit it at last.

Gravestone of Elsie (Nunns) Wright, Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, NZ ~ December 2016

Gravestone of Elsie (Nunns) Wright, Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, NZ ~ December 2016

A geneasurprise I received was a framed collage of photos from my fellow IHGS students as a leaving present before I moved back to New Zealand.

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was Les Mitchinson‘s Report Writing course held in Petersfield, Hampshire.

I taught some members of the public how to start their family history research when I volunteered on the Ask the Experts sessions at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in Birmingham.

A genealogy book that taught me something new was Susan Moore’s Family Feuds: An Introduction to Chancery Records.

A great repository/archive/library I visited was the archives at Tralee Library in County Kerry, Ireland, where I viewed original workhouse records for the area.

A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was Manorial Records for Family Historians, written by my cousin Geoffrey Barber.

A geneadventure I enjoyed was taking the kids to Belper in Derbyshire, and following in the footsteps of my 2 x great grandfather.

Another positive I would like to share is… after six years of study, 88 assignments, and one exam, I finally completed and PASSED the Higher Certificate of Genealogy from IHGS in Canterbury. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Thanks go to Jill at GeniAUS again for her great Accentuate the Positive geneameme. You can read about the 2016 highlights of other geneabloggers on the GeniAUS website.

Five year blogiversary

What a cracking year it has been for me, but perhaps not for this sadly neglected blog!  I have been busy finding ancestors, writing IHGS assignments, as well as attending genealogy events and a family reunion.

I think my absolute favourite discovery was the gravestone of my  3 x great grandparents, Michael Burke and Bridget Flynn, in Wellshill Cemetery, Perth, Scotland.

Gravestone of Michael Burke and Bridget Flynn, Wellshill Cemetery, Perth, Scotland ~ November 2015

Gravestone of Michael Burke and Bridget Flynn, Wellshill Cemetery, Perth, Scotland ~ November 2015

Here’s to many more discoveries in 2016, and perhaps a few more blog posts!

Gallipoli 100 Years ~ Anzac Day 2015

"Deptford New Zealander", clipping from unknown publication

“Deptford New Zealander”, clipping from unknown British publication, date circa August 1915

My great grandfather, Alexander Wright, was one of the many soldiers who landed at (the now-named) Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, on 25th April 1915.  He was wounded on 8th August, and eventually invalided back to New Zealand.

At the time of enlistment, Alex was single, working as a labourer with the Public Works Department in Gisborne, and living at 53 Bright Street. In his attestation, he declared that he was a deserter from the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers. He gave his mother, Mary Jane Carroll, of 180 Evelyn Street, Deptford, England, as his next-of-kin.

His medical examination describes him being 5 foot 9 inches tall, weighing 11st 4lb and having a dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark brown hair.  He was assessed fit and joined the Wellington Infantry Battalion as a Private with the regimental number of 10/800.

His service career totalled 272 days, including 188 days in foreign service, from enlistment on 23 August 1914 until his discharge as medically unfit on 21 May 1916.

Happy 100th Birthday, Nanna!

My Nanna would have been 100 years old today.

She was born Myrtle Jean Louisa McGonnell on 4th April 1915 in Lepperton, Taranaki, daughter of George Tunnecliffe McGonnell and Naomi Myrtle Florey, and died almost 96 years later, on 2nd February 2011 in Paraparaumu.

George Wright and Jean McGonnell on their wedding day, 16th November 1940.

George Wright and Jean McGonnell on their wedding day, 16th November 1940.

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