In the name of family
These days large scattered families only get together for milestone events and sadly sometimes the effort is only really made for funerals. Recently I went to a gathering of my dad’s side of the family, held for no other reason than it was was long overdue.
The chief instigator was my mother who with her love of genealogy was the most motivated person to make it happen. Her efforts, plus the local coordination by a cousin and uncle, paid off as the weekend was a great success.
Dad is one of 10 kids – clearly there wasn’t much to do in the remote east cape in the 1930s and ’40s – eight of whom are still alive. Unfortunately neither of my grandparents are here anymore.
I descend from mostly English blood, with small measures of Swiss and Polish via mum’s lineage, and from dad I have Maori with droplets of Scots and Spanish. Mum prepared some charts and it’s quite fascinating to see where and who you come from. All going well I’ll be meeting mum and dad in the UK next year to visit the places of family relevance.
The weekend was hosted at my uncle’s place on the outskirts of Gisborne, ideally located and possessing that classic kiwi venue combo of garage with adjoining marquee. I’m sure the shed was admired by many of the men in attendance for it’s size and features! The adjacent paddock provided oodles of room for the keen family groups who wanted to camp.
It wasn’t smooth sailing for the campers on account of the neighbouring rooster and also the rain. The weather was a bit of a bugger, especially as we assumed the typical Gisborne sunshine would Grace us with its presence. However the rain was light and was really only an inconvenience when we came to organise the group photos, and didn’t affect the outcome of the weekend.
It was worth the effort of going just to see dad and his five brothers in action. All of the stories, joking and ribbing is a crack-up to watch – they’re not unlike a bunch of cheeky misbehaving children. I also saw cousins for the first time in years. I have about 22 first cousins on this side of the family and 13 made it along. Most of them have families of their own and so the extended family is now pretty big.
The weekend was mostly informal though there was one focal point after everyone had arrived where a speech or two got wheeled out. Then, having got everyone in one place, we corralled, coaxed and pleaded people into groups for photos. Another semi-organised feature was visits to the main cemetery, just down the road, where a few graves of relevance had been marked.
Saturday culminated in a hot dinner prepared during the afternoon in ‘kai cookers’ – stand alone portable ovens that produce the equivalent of a traditional hangi. A trailer full of cold beverages ensured that no one went thirsty… and some tended to their thirst very well indeed!
After Saturday night people gradually slipped away with the last of us departing on Monday morning. The plan is to do it all again in three years.
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