iwiKiwi

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

Family History Month 2019

August is Family History Month in New Zealand and Australia, and there’s quite a bit going on for both hardened researchers and those just starting out. Here are a few events happening in the Wellington region and a couple further afield.

City and Harbour, Wellington NZ

City and Harbour, Wellington NZ 4073, from family collection, date unknown

Getting more out of your DNA results
> Saturday 27th July: 10am – 4pm
> Kapiti Community Centre, 15 Ngahina St, Paraparamumu
Just sneaking in at the end of July, a sort of pre-launch for Family History Month, is Kapiti DNA Interest Group’s event with Michelle Patient and Lorna Henderson. All welcome. $15, book by emailing DNADay@KapitiGen.org.

NZSG: Kilbirnie
Talk: Bolton Cemetery and the Motorway with Gabor Toth (Local & NZ History Specialist)
> Thursday 1st August: 10am
> Matairangi Room, ASB Sports Centre, 72 Kemp Street, Kilbirnie, Wellington
All welcome (visitors $2).

Finding Families in New Zealand – Legacy Family Tree Webinar
> Wednesday 7th August: 2pm NZST / 12pm AEST
Too cold to go out? Stay wrapped up warm at home and learn how to use electoral rolls and school records to discover more of your family history, from Kiwi genealogist Fiona Brooker. Free. Register for the webinar

Auckland Family History Expo
> Friday 9th August: 5pm – 8.30pm
> Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th August: 8.30am – 6pm
> Fickling Convention Centre , 546 Mt Albert Rd, Three Kings.
Presenters Nick Barratt (UK) and Cyndi Ingle (USA) are joined by some great speakers from around NZ and Australia, plus there’s also an exhibition with genealogy-related companies and groups. There is a welcome reception and two presentations on the Friday evening ($15 charge). Entry on Saturday and Sunday is free.

NZSG: Porirua
Talk: Using Porirua Library genealogy resources
> Wednesday 14th August: 7.30pm
> Genealogy Section, Porirua Library, entry opposite Harvey Norman Carpark, Wi Neera Drive, Porirua
Bring your laptop and research enquiries. All welcome (visitors $2).

DNA Down Under
> Wednesday 14th – Saturday 31st August
> Brisbane (14th), Perth (17th), Adelaide (20th), Melbourne (23rd), Canberra (26th), Sydney (29th – 31st)
One day events in five cities, plus a three day event in Sydney, featuring genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger (USA) along with 11 other renowned speakers, with presentations suitable for DNA newbies and gurus alike. $A155 for one day, $A335 for three days, plus discount for combining Sydney with another city. See the DNA Down Under website for venue and programme information. I’m excited to be a DNA Down Under Ambassador and will be attending the Sydney three day event!

NZSG: Hutt Valley
Talk: Sharing her own family history research with Tui Lewis (Hutt City Councillor)
> Thursday 15th August: 7:30pm
> Petone Public Library, 7-11 Britannia Street, Petone
All welcome (visitors gold coin).

Wellington Family History Open Day [PDF, 1.2MB]
> Saturday 24th August: 9.30am – 4pm
> The Hutt Bowling Club, Myrtle St, Lower Hutt
NZSG Combined Wellington Branches event hosted by the Hutt Valley Branch, with  speakers from NZ Society of Genealogists, Wellington City Archives, Digital NZ, Papers Past, Hutt City Libraries, Hutt City Archives, and Archives NZ. Help desks available. $5 entry.

NZSG: Wellington
Talk: Wellington City Archives with Adrian Humphris (Wellington City Archivist)
> Wednesday 28th August: 6pm
> Connolly Hall, Guildford Terrace, Wellington
All welcome (visitors $3).

For other regions in NZ, check out the NZ Society of Genealogists events page for Family History Month activities near you.

 

The Travelling Genie

It’s been over a month since we arrived back from a family trip to the UK, where I managed to squeeze in a few genealogy-related activities.

While our main reason for visiting was to see family and friends, the timing of our visit was so I could attend the award ceremony for my Advanced Diploma in Local History at the beautiful Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education, 2019 Award Ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre

University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education, 2019 Award Ceremony at the Sheldonian Theatre

I would absolutely recommend the course – just be prepared to give up your life while you’re doing it!  There was a lot of reading. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. You’d start off on one book or article and then disappear down a rabbit hole of footnotes and references until your eyes weeped from tiredness. The assignments were evenly spaced throughout the year, though there was also the unit homework to complete as well (did anyone ever finish it all?), and the weekly online tutorial chats to attend. These were relatively informal, but just like with the online course forum, I suffered a little from imposter syndrome and was reticent about posting much.  Which was all very daft, as the students and tutors were welcoming and generous. It was often a struggle fitting in studying with holding down a day job combined with family responsibilities, but oh, the joy in learning and having my eyes opened! And the opportunity to combine my love of history with a love of data wrangling and analysis. It was definitely the most intense and challenging course I have ever undertaken.


After Oxford, it was on to Leicester – where the Guild of One-Name Studies was celebrating its 40th birthday as part of its annual conference, and happily the dates coincided with our travels. The conference organisers had arranged an optional tour of the Richard III visitors’ centre and nearby cathedral, and it was a great chance to peer down into the spot where Richard’s body had been discovered, and also to see his impressive final resting place.

The tomb of Richard III, Leicester Cathedral

The tomb of Richard III, Leicester Cathedral

The conference itself was a combination of socialising and learning, with some fantastic presentations, including one from Simon Wills on ancestral travels by sea, Voyages from the Past. I’ve now since bought his book of the same name. (A fuller review of the conference appears in July’s Guild Journal.)


Before my trip, I had decided I would focus my research on my 3 x great grandfather, John Clark(e), and I spent a couple of days at The National Archives at Kew and three days in Belfast, chasing him up in muster rolls, pension payment records, and parish registers.  Which John Clark was he – Thing 1 or Thing 2??

John Clark (1) and (2) in the muster rolls for 74th Regiment of Foot

John Clark (1) and (2), 74th Regiment of Foot muster roll, 1 Jul – 30 Sep 1846, WO 12/8099, National Archives (UK)

I had been to Belfast several times before, but never visited the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). On my first morning in the city I stopped in at the Ulster Historical Foundation to see about booking a research consultation. Fortunately there was a researcher available right then and there, and Gillian Hunt was a huge help in reviewing what I’d already found and suggesting ways forward in my research, as well as finding a baptism I hadn’t come across.  I’d really recommend doing this, especially if it’s your first time in Belfast, though at busier times you’d need to book an appointment in advance.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Belfast

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Belfast

The facilities at PRONI are fabulous and the staff incredibly helpful.  It’s located in the Titanic Quarter, not far from the Titanic museum, and I opted to stay in the city centre, about a 30 minute walk away. The Hop-on Hop-off City Sightseeing bus travels through the area regularly, and on my last afternoon I hopped on and took a tour around the city before heading to the airport.


The last genealogical event I attended was Family Tree LIVE at Alexandra Palace in London at the end of April.  After a dearth of similar events last year due to the closure of WDYTYA? Live, suddenly there’s a whole heap of genie treats this year, and I was thrilled to sneak this in to our trip.

Queuing up to get in to Family Tree Live, Alexandra Palace, London

Family Tree LIVE, Alexandra Palace, London

The venue was fantastic, and although there were few nearby eating and sleeping options, there was parking available plus shuttle buses from Wood Green underground station.  I thought the atmosphere was wonderful, and it was lovely to catch up with many genie friends and put faces to Twitter handles. The range of talks was excellent – highlights for me were Pam Smith’s presentation on her one-place study of Rillington, and Jonny Perl’s chromosome mapping with his DNA Painter tool.


Back on this side of the planet now and there’s lots to look forward to!  My father is celebrating his 80th birthday and the launch of his family history book this month. August is Family History month in Australasia, and I’m heading to Auckland for the Family History Expo there, and have also booked for the DNA Down Under three day event in Sydney at the end of August.

Martin Burke (1840 – 1918) ~ Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch

Simeon Street entrance to Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

Simeon Street entrance to Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

While I was in Christchurch last June for the NZSG conference, I was determined to finally discover the resting place of my 2 x great grandfather, Martin Burke.  (There’s a picture of Martin in an earlier blog post.)  My first attempt with my aunt back in 2012 was not successful.  From Christchurch City Council’s cemetery database I knew he was buried in Sydenham Cemetery on 28th November 1918, and I had a plot number, but no map of the cemetery.  Major fail.

This time I had both!  However, it still wasn’t that easy to pinpoint his actual burial site.  While I could find the right block and row, none of the graves were numbered, so it was a case of using my phone and the online database to work out who was buried where, and narrow down his exact burial spot.

And what my aunt had thought was a walkway, was in fact our ancestor’s grave.

Burial site of Martin Burke, Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ. [Block 22B, plot 63]

Burial site of Martin Burke, Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ. [Block 22B, plot 63]

Later that weekend, I met up with a Burke cousin at the conference, and they were also going to search for Martin’s grave.  However, they had been in contact with the council and had a plan with the names and gravesite numbers marked on it.  Smart!

Plan of Block 22B of Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

Plan of Block 22B of Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ

We’re not sure why Martin doesn’t have a headstone on his grave.  Perhaps there was no money for a memorial, or some ill feeling amongst the family.  At least we now know where he rests.

Martin Burke & Ann Philp ~ Canterbury settlers

Martin Burke and Ann Philip with their daughter

This is a copy of a photograph that was shared with me by my third cousin, Margaret. The couple are our great great grandparents, Ann Philp and Martin Burke. But who is the girl with them? Ann and Martin had three children: Mary (born 1863), Anne (born 1865) and Thomas (born around 1866), so presumably the young girl is either Mary or Anne. A few years ago I had a printout of the photo dated by American photo expert Maureen Taylor at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London, who estimated it was taken in the 1870s. Given the birth years of the girls, it’s probably more likely to be Anne in the photo, though difficult to be sure.

Martin and Ann, with baby Mary, emigrated to New Zealand in 1863 aboard the Mermaid, and settled near Christchurch, Canterbury. In two weeks I’m heading down to Christchurch for the New Zealand Society of Genealogists’ conference, Echoes of our Past, getting there a day early so I have some time for researching the Burke family!

Geneabloggers unite!

One of the best things about the recent Congress in Sydney was meeting up with fellow genealogy bloggers, easily recognised by our blogger beads (kindly sponsored by GeniAus and Lonetester).  It was a wonderful way to break the ice and get chatting with lots of different folk, especially in the line for a cuppa at morning tea.

Australasian genealogy bloggers outside the International Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, Sydney, for Congress 2018.

Some of the Australasian genealogy bloggers (plus American Judy Russell) at Congress 2018 in Darling Harbour, Sydney. Thanks to Diana Hurford for the photo!

Jill Ball has collated many of the blog posts relating to Congress on her GeniAus website.

If you have a genealogy-related blog, or want to start one, check out the community at GeneabloggersTRIBE.

Next conference on the calendar for me is Echos of the Past being held in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 1-4 June.  Hopefully there will be a few of us there sporting our beads!

Congress 2018 ~ the good, the not so good, and the even better

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney

It has taken me several days to come off Sydney time and the genie high that was the 15th Australasian Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry 2018. What a glorious four days! The weather was good, the venue superb, and the craic mighty – a winning combination. Hats off to the organisers for an amazing event, and to GeniAus for making it so welcoming to newcomers.

GeniAus about to interview John at Friday night's get-together

GeniAus about to interview John at Friday night’s get-together

Among the presentations I attended were those given by speakers I’d heard and enjoyed before – Judy Russell, Paul Milner, Paul Blake, and Lisa Louise Cooke. Always good value! Kiwi Fiona Brooker gave a great talk on families who travelled back and forwards “across the ditch” (the Tasman Sea), and GeniAus Jill Ball shared some useful tips for family history bloggers. Kerry Farmer’s two presentations on DNA were excellent – one was on solving family puzzles using DNA (illustrated with case studies), and the other on chromosome mapping (which I want to tackle but haven’t got round to).

I also attended talks on the National Archives of Australia and Trove, but unfortunately my attention was elsewhere at the time as my daughter’s school camp in the South Island had been hit by a gastro bug and lots of messaging ensued between myself and the husband back in NZ trying to find a way to get her home. (She was one of the lucky ones who didn’t get ill!)

Ruth Graham’s presentation on Digital Humanities and Pauleen Cass’s on Uncovering your Irish roots both provided some food for thought, and Carole Riley gave us the low-down on Evernote and OneNote (though I still don’t know which I prefer). I loved Thom Reed’s tips on utilising the unindexed records on FamilySearch – there’s treasure to be discovered!

The only presentation that was disappointing was on How to be a professional genealogist, where I had hoped to learn a bit about the genealogy industry in Australasia. Most of the talk was taken up with audience members’ comments on the various (good) educational options available locally and little on other practicalities. However, I am comparing with a couple of day-long events that I attended in England, so perhaps unfair. And (as an audience member) Judy Russell’s advocacy for the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) was marvellous!

Me with genealogy heroes, Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Jan Gow (right)

Me with genealogy heroes, Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Jan Gow (right)

Saturday night was the Congress dinner and obviously the genealogy gods were smiling as my table included both renowned NZ genealogist Jan Gow and American speaker Lisa Louise Cooke, as well as my two new Aussie genie-mates Janelle and Hillary. The food was good and the company even better. On Sunday night I had dinner with fellow members of the Guild of One Name Studies (thanks to Karen Rogers for organising).

The highlight of Congress was the wonderful conviviality and generosity shown by everyone. I had expected it to be similar to my first couple of genealogy events in England where (while I learnt a lot) I spent most of the time on my own. No chance of that with Congress!

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, at night

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, at night

Congress 2018 is here!

Getting up at dark o’clock (3am) is not much fun, but heading to Congress in Sydney was worth the bleary-eyed start. It’s a three hour flight “across the ditch” (aka the Tasman Sea) and after arriving just after 8am it was good to dump my suitcase at the hotel and then head to pre-register.

The Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) had opened up their HQ for pre-registration and a ‘meet and greet’ opportunity. GeniAus (Jill Ball) was on hand to welcome everyone, especially first-time Congress attendees, and to hand out ‘First Time attendee’ ribbons. The tea and cakes were very welcome, as was the chance to meet other genealogists. As a geneablogger, I also got to pick up some blogger beads! These are a great way to recognise fellow bloggers at the conference (and a nice talking point when you don’t know many folks).

Pre-registration name tag, first time attendee ribbon, and geneablogger beads

Pre-registration swag!

I had booked in for an afternoon tour of Hyde Park Barracks that SAG had arranged, and what an amazing place it is. Built between 1817 and 1819 by convicts, and designed by former convict turned architect Francis Greenway, it was originally designed to house labouring convicts. Transportion to New South Wales ceased in 1840, and by 1848 the building was being used to accommodate female immigrants as well as destitute women. From 1887 it was used for law courts and government offices, right up until 1979.

Hyde Park Barracks

Hyde Park Barracks

During the time convicts lived in the barracks, they slept in these hammocks. We were allowed to try them out – I almost fell asleep in one of them, they seemed so comfortable (or maybe I was just very very tired).

Hammocks for convict labourers at Hyde Park Barracks

Hammocks for convict labourers, Hyde Park Barracks

In the evening my Australian cousins took me out for dinner at Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, the Lord Nelson Brewing Hotel. A fitting end to the day!

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.

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