Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Act Two: Who do You (I) think You Are (I am)? Taranaki & Wellington

So, I stayed with Cheryl for a couple of nights in Waitara. The first day I went and caught up with a distant relation, who also happened to be the convener of the local Genealogical Society in Waitara and compared notes and photos. She was also a descendant of my Great-Great Grandparents John Reardon and Sarah Ann Bruntlett (pictured - you may recognise them from an earlier post).

Following that I mucked around for a bit, and then nipped down to New Plymouth, to check out where Puke Ariki was (the local museum, which also has a great archive). Admittedly it ended up mostly being a recon & use the free Wi-Fi mission. That night I had a small walk down to the beach (in pretty much stark darkness) and then watched a bit of TV and slept after a call to one of my mother's cousins who knew a bit about my mother's mother's (Nana) side of the family, the Melvilles of Kaponga.

The next day I went to New Plymouth and did my research - looking up all my Taranaki ancestors (of which are the majority). Unfortunately, I only found good information on the Melville ancestors, however that was better than nothing.

I had intended to do a bit of a drive around Southern Taranaki once I had finished there, to see some of the places my ancestors had come from, unfortunately it had decided to rain quite heavily, so I cut my losses and headed straight to another set of distant relations - Alan & Annette Reardon - who are related to me as John Reardon (pictured above) my Great Great Grandfather, was the brother of Alan's Grandfather William.

Alan & Annette had recently come back from a big trip around the British Isles - including spending some time investigating our ancestors and exploring where they came from - they managed to find Ballyriordan (The Valley of the Reardons) and met some O'Riordans, so they had some good stories and some extra information, including a map if I ever make it over there. We also had a fantastic feed of corned beef that night, which topped it all off nicely.

The next day I did most of the looking around Taranaki that I had intended to do the day before, first starting with Kaponga (Melvilles), then making my way to Hawera and then around the coast through Patea (Bartz), stopped in Maxwell (Reardons), and then spent some time at the Aramoho cemetery in Wanganui (various - Reardon, Bruntlett, and especially as apparently my elusive ancestor Edwin Valentine Westerby is buried there, but in the row where he is supposed to be, there is no headstone - probably not surprising when you desert your wife and kids, even if they do find out when and where you die, they might not be so keen to fork out for one.)

From there I hightailed it to Wellington, checked into my hostel, and caught up with Campbell - my mate that I worked with at the CPS in London.

The next day was Friday, and I had several things I needed to do on a week day - unfortunately the hostel didn't have it's own parking, so every morning I had to go and move my car before doing anything else. Anyhow, I wanted to visit the consulate offices of Spain, France, and the U.K. and go to Archives New Zealand. The Spanish consulate was very helpful, the French ignored me, and the British were closed by the time I got there.

At Archives New Zealand I mucked around a bit as I figured they wouldn't be so useful, being a bit cynical and jaded from other institutions I had visited so far, however, once I got into the swing of it I found they had a whole lot of my ancestor's wills - which I got them to photocopy for me, and have made very interesting reading.

Admittedly the rest of my time in Wellington was fairly low key, Friday night I did my washing, Saturday night I went out, but otherwise the only thing of great interest was on the way out I visited some more distant (again second cousin, twice removed) relations (Clemoes side) and chatted and shared information with them for several hours, which was great.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Whakapapa Hikoi - Act One - Rotorua

So finally I made it to my holiday without dying of exhaustion, or insanity. I haven't had any time off bar a week between assignments in July, since March last year.

Thursday night once I escaped work and had packed my car I got the hell out of Hamilton and headed for Rotorua.

On the way into Rotorua I noticed they had Wendy's restaurant, so the first thing I did the next day was go there for breakfast - which was awesome. While I was there I got a text from a family tree contact (who we have worked out is the partner of my second cousin twice removed) saying come over when your free - I texted back and said 'I'm free now - coming over'

The rest of the weekend involved a bit of family tree work, but mostly getting to know them through food and a road trip to Ohope (in which I managed to get my first ever speeding fine)

I had booked two nights in the hostel in Rotorua, and ended up being able to stay in two different houses the other two nights as my 'new-found' relations owned a business renting out holiday rentals. One of these houses was especially flash - spa pool on the back deck - and both of these houses backed onto Lake Rotorua. On my last night I went to church, and then found a place where you shoot an airgun (slug gun) at targets for prizes. For example I had to shoot an aluminum can until in fell in half to win a can of drink (which I did). It was fun.

The next day after a cooked breakfast, I headed off - I was heading first to Piopio, to meet and catch up with a Scottish girl I met in December in Hamilton. I got there eventually despite technology failing me - my SatNav was being a dick and not finding satellites, and then my iPhone had no reception until I turned it off and back on again.

From Piopio I carried on down to Waitara - to stay with Cheryl - who I stayed with back in May last year - and was the Director of the plays I was in 2007 & 2008 in Kaitaia.