A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ ~ Those Places Thursday


I finally got to visit this very special place last month.

My grandfather’s cousin was celebrating 50 years of life as a nun, having a jubilee Mass and lunch afterwards, with many family members invited.  I was pretty keen to attend, despite having to travel halfway round the world, and when I found out it was to be held in Temuka, I started booking my flights immediately.

Near Temuka, in Arowhenua,  is where my great great grandfather, Michael Gaffaney,  bought his first piece of land in New Zealand, after immigrating from England in 1858.  And it’s where he and his wife, Margaret Brosnahan, brought up their 14 children.  Their original house still stands, though it’s no longer owned by family.  The farm, however, is still in family hands, run with pride and passion by my cousin (second, once removed), who gave us a tour with marvellous commentary.  Who knew farming was so scientific nowadays?  (Not this townie, at any rate.)

Belper Farm, Arowhenua, near Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

Belper Farm, Arowhenua, near Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

The celebration was wonderful, and a great chance to meet many relatives for the first time.   Mass was celebrated at St Joseph’s church, which was built in 1879 at the instigation of Father Louis Fauvel, a French priest.  He baptised my great grandfather, Peter Dominic Gaffaney, on 16th August 1879,  before the new building was completed.  My great great grandmother, Margaret, donated  two of the many beautiful stained glass windows in the church. (The cost was apparently equivalent to a year’s wages, so the farm must have been doing pretty good!)

Blessed Virgin Mary & St Gabriel, windows donated by Mrs M Gaffney, St Joseph's church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

Blessed Virgin Mary & St Gabriel, windows donated by Mrs M Gaffney, St Joseph’s church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ

I can’t wait to visit again!

Those Places Thursday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.


St Joseph’s church, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ ~ Wordless Wednesday


The old homestead, Temuka, South Canterbury, NZ


  1. Frances Davis

    How exciting to see a photo of my Great, Great Grandmother & Grandfather, Francis & Catherine Gaffaney. My Great Grandfather was their son Thomas and my Grandmother was his daughter Kathleen Ethel Imelda Gaffaney. Thank you.

    • Maggie

      Thanks for your comment, Frances! I think I have a couple more photos of Catherine Gaffaney, will have a look and get in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Text & Images Copyright © 2011-2024 iwiKiwi

Adapted from a theme by Anders Norén