Thursday, December 23, 2010

20 years of change in the social sector of NZ

Most of us have witnessed the changes in the Public Service Sector of Government over the past 20 years or more.  But we can be forgiven for forgetting the details. Instead it comes down to 'a feeling'. We might remember some highlights or phrases that struck a cord (or discord), at the time the newspapers reported them. For me one of them was Turiana Turia's "browning of New Zealand", in regard to her views on immigration.

But the biggest discordance for me was the 'tick the ethnic box' on Government forms. I rebelled at the time in my mind, thinking it was a backward step in racial harmony and I still believe this to be so. I hate filling in that box to this day and resent the implied sorting like I'm in a packet of M & M's.

The changes have affected each and every one of us and today the Ministry of Social Development is now the largest government department, with almost 10,000 staff. What effect are they having on NZ history and future genealogists?  They have overseen and advised on the dismantling and redefining of families in New Zealand. Instead of a child having a mother and a father, cousins and easily identifiable descendants, we now have families constructed and deconstructed according to their new ideas and all shrouded in privacy laws. It could be a rare and beautiful tree which can identify with any certainty, the members within, in future. 

A report is here on the changes wrought and following is a list of some of the changes by Judy Whitcombe.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Melbourne HeraldSun search obituaries

This search could be useful for those elusive family members from Victoria, Australia. The search returns only part of the death notice and then invites you to pay for the rest. But still, every little bit helps us across the ditch.

http://tributes.heraldsun.com.au/obituaries/heraldsun-au/

I don't mind paying for information sometimes, but the banks really sock it to ya with their cut when sending payment to another country, so I'm really careful about decisions.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Destruction in Symonds St cemetery




I visited this today accompanied by hubby as body guard and saw for myself the wanton destruction of Auckland's history by Who Knows.

Trying to keep the xmas spirit, I pondered the idea that these long dead people would probably not be unhappy over their remains being uncared for. They were more in touch with reality than modern people, had often had their children die in their arms and had waved goodbye to family and friends and never seen them again, to cross the oceans and lie in broken graves.

Which brings me to another thought. Auckland's track record for it's history is well, missing. Auckland is more a city which has grown like topsy, has accommodated all sorts of people comfortably and is not self-aware or introspective. Maybe its a good thing. Maybe New Zealand needs such a city, maybe history is best left to Dunedin and Christchurch or even Wellington.

So pull down the old and lets build the new, but lets be honest about it.

Westfield Freezing Co. Ltd. Staff photo

Lord Vestey attended a function at the Lantau Lounge, Otahuhu on the 23rd February 1978. The function was also attended by some of the retired staff. Their total service to the company amounted to 1330 years or a little over 33 years per member.

I know two of the men in this photograph which is why I have a copy. Perhaps you might know someone as well.

Back Row Standing ; Doug Clarke, Arthur Knight, Tom Jones, Harvey Forder, Ken Lyons, Laurie Hallett, Doug Gallaher, Jack Turnbull, Ben Fuller, Arthur Tofield, Jack Edmonds, Alf Frost, Jim Wayby, Harold Mann, George Ross, Cyril French, Bert Todd, Bob Saul, Bill Bull, Frank Long, Norman Hall.

Middle Row Seated ; Charlie Gilbert, Jack Dryland, Ernie Bowen, Lord Vestey, Edna Thorburn, Bob McCullough, Ray Andrews, Jack Parry, Ted Finn, Arthur Todd, Hughie McGregor.

Front Row Kneeling and Sitting ; Allen Foster, George Clark, Fred Kemplay, Alex Ayton, Bill Gray, Walter Dear, Dave Wallace, Gordon Cameron, Mervyn King.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Assisted Passengers to Australia

There are a few very good links if you suspect your people came to New Zealand via Australia and were assisted passengers or their parents were.

The NSW search page.

The VIC search portal. (Prov guide).

Then today Shauna Hicks, Australian genealogist and family historian, archivist, researcher, speaker, writer, and traveller, tweeted that there was an online reel of assisted passenger lists for us to see. Wow! The power of the internet. If you are lucky and have passengers on one of these ships, you can get some useful information.

The ships list for this reel.

About the project.

Thanks Shauna.

Australian Nominal Roll WW2 search

Sometimes a New Zealand family historian needs a few Australian links. Here is one I came across this evening which might prove quite useful. Australian soldiers who served in WW2.

Here is the search page. I was very happy with the amount of information provided about these soldiers.

Information about the various medals awarded and a few photographs are on the acknowledgement page.

Well done again you Aussies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Draffin's in Australia

I'm sorting though this name in Australia although its been done before and by various researchers.

I'm using GenoPro exclusively to chart the different families and using the NLA newspaper site and bdm information which I've had at home on excel for some time.



Although I've lightly used GenoPro for years to give me a visual map of the families I'm researching, this time I'm using it in depth and I've been pleasantly surprised of the depth available.


One of the problems I have is the locations which I'm able to look up on Google Maps, but what I really need is a map I can draw on to give a picture of movements and be able to follow the lives of these families as they sought new pastures.

Most of the families stayed in the Victoria, north of Melbourne and south NSW areas.  I have written to Wagga Wagga historical society and they have a method of sending out queries like mine to surrounding areas.

A lot of my time is spend pondering the evidence and thinking of sources which may be able to confirm or deny associations within the various families. They used common names like Robert, John etc., most of the time.  I've decided not to give too much strength to existing family trees without the evidence to support the decision made by past researchers. But its expensive buying certificates, although I do, especially for those who first set foot in the country or to put strong suspicions to rest.

I'd like to get the (too few) probates available at Trove VIC but am unsure how to do this. And what about intestate or poor people's estates? What about the land selector records, cemetery information (some of which is online, some on CD). What about people needing charity or support from the government? What about coroners reports.

Maybe feeling insecure about the knowledge needed to get the job done is a precursor for education but it's also frustrating.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NZ'ers who married in Victoria Australia

I just found this link, hosted at rootsweb, listing New Zealander's who married in Victoria. The pages could have been up for ages. Barbara Andrews has done the work 2002 - 2005. Well done Barbara.

I could not find the 'home page' which is recommended, but here are some, link, link, link (which I did find). Put me right, someone please. The links are numbered, so that there is a round-about way of searching.

Australian First Families 2001

This database was contributed to by genealogists who embraced the Internet in the 1990's. It was funded by the State Library of Victoria to mark the Centenary of Federation. 


The 'first family' is the earliest person in a particular family known to have lived in Australia. The database is now closed. What a wonderful idea it is. Unfortunately, the database came foul of privacy laws and so its read only but is still valuable.

Otago Nominal Index

This index came to my attention today in the New Zealand Society of Genealogists magazine. The ONI was created from documents held by the Hocken Library in Dunedin. The index is hosted by the University of Otago.

If you have ancestors in this area, this database will be 'a must look into' resource. I have only one family which lived in the South Island and they aren't mentioned but you may be lucky. The index will point you to the original documents which may contain more information.

Music in NZ history

Here is a bit of fun for those of us who remember the band and dance culture of the 50's 60's and 70's. I was looking at the  Al Paget Sextet page where they have some advertisements and photographs in particular. Does anyone have links to this band?

Music has always paid a large part of culture in New Zealand. The newspaper's are full of new communities raising funds for needed buildings and equipment by holding dances, musicals and plays. People were ready to sing and play the piano at the drop of a hat. Home entertainment often meant a song around the piano.

It seems as though every town had at least one band, often brass, much needed for parades etc.

Then there were the professional artists which sometimes toured. They must have been brave to come so far.

There was a huge childrens choir conducted by Harold Temple White at Athletic Park for when the Queen visited in 1954.  Here is a link to photographs  of the event on the 'Village on the Park' website.

Today we have all the music we could want at our fingertips any time of the day or night. It wasn't always so. But the music before music recordings became commonplace was more personal even if it was limited.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shipwreck; The Royal Charter 1859

I've always wondered if there are death certificates available for those who went down in ships. Perhaps they are included in the GRO index for 'out of England' people, I must check.

The 'Royal Charter' out of Melbourne, foundered on the 26th of October 1859 in Red Wharf Bay, Wales on its way to Liverpool. Of the 480 people on board, only 41 were saved.

Quite often, New Zealand residents went to and fro to England and other European ports via Australia, so Australian passenger lists are important to New Zealand family studies. Shipwrecks of vessels to and from Australia are important as well.

The Argus newspaper has the passenger list for the Royal Charter posted on the 9th of January 1860 and I have transcribed it and put it here. But you can also search for it at the NLA Trove site.

Campbell Percy McMeekan

This chap was quite famous in some circles in New Zealand. This site says 'he is probably the most influential agricultural leader this country has produced'.

He married into my family so comes under my research sphere. When I was in Wellington recently, a family member shared a photo of him with me. Today I'm sharing it with you all because, not only was he a very bright fellow and a nice chap to boot, the photograph is pretty good. It was taken at Mt Ruapehu.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Open Calais search

This online facility appears to search across various databases nation wide. I think it has potential to be a great tool. It's simple face belies the power beneath. Try searching on surnames or places for text or photos.

The New Zealand Graphic and Ladies' Journal

I don't know much about this publication sorry. I came across it by accident when searching 19th Century Periodicals on the Gale Database today. Perhaps it needs a closer look since it's the only place I've found mention of Grandad Draffin's sporting pursuits.

I know he was a keen boxer and yachtsman as well, just an all-round sport maniac really.

You might get lucky as well, so have a look.

The Gale newspapers are online and if you are member of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists, you can access it from their website. Otherwise, I'm not sure, maybe you need a subscription.

The inaugural meeting of the Onehunga Cycling Club Carnival reported on Saturday, April 07, 1900.
The copy of this article is too small to read sorry even when clicking the image.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

'Thanks Alex' competition

This competition run by the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington closed on the 2nd of December. The winner will be announced on the 20th of this month.

I wrote a piece using a real life situation my mother told me she experienced in the 1930's in Christchurch. Although I don't expect to win, I found the experience of writing a very short story very enlightening. You see, I failed the English exam back in the 1960's although I received top marks in other subjects like history. Even now I have trouble stringing a correct sentence together.

But after failing that English exam I concluded that I was terrible at writing and so put the whole experience behind me by not writing for the next 35 years apart from the odd letter or two. Yes, it is possible to be semi-illiterate in our society and still have a full life thank goodness. I've always read books though.

Along came the Internet and I found I had a passion about our community and country which led to joining political newsgroups. To express myself was very difficult at this stage, the thoughts which I had didn't appear on the page like I hoped. Persistence paid off and today I can string a few sentences together in a more readable fashion.

I told others about this competition and was not surprised by people's remarks such as ' I can't write', I'm not very good at English', 'what would I write about?'.  But some of them did put in an entry. Well done Alexander Library, may there be more competitions like it.

Cross-matching data with Internal Affairs

Today's notice in the newspaper about the Ministry of Social Development matching dead people's data with that in its own database gave me a bit of a chuckle.

Knowing how many errors there are in the Internal Affairs database of births, deaths, and marriages, I would imagine that it's still a probability that fraud is possible.

Some very interesting conversations on other news groups about indexing errors found, the name of one family was found spelled about four or more different ways (all now corrected), makes me realise that finding what we want is a happy coincidence.

Back in July, I posted about these errors, I was told by a person at BDM that they were considering a 'fuzzy search' facility. I say - come on BDM - roll it out and put us dead people detectives out of our misery.

How to search for laws

Sometimes we genealogists are perplexed regarding the laws enacted in our country around probates, deaths and other subjects, such as how does an estate needing probate but without a body or death certificate manage to  move on through the legal channels.

Although the following link may not give the historic laws and regulations we might be interested in, at least it lets us browse and search what we have now. A search of Legislation.

For instance: A coroner is empowered to provide a 'Notification of death' to Births, Deaths and Marriages.

And here is the 'Administration Act 1969' which deals with probates.