23 September 2006


My great grandmother, who is wearing traditional Maori dress. The cloak she is wearing is made from the feathers of the NZ native woodpigeon. The design on the headband denotes the subtribe she comes from - Tauhurangi a subtribe of Te Arawa, who were a very warlike lot!

My grandparents. My grandfather, although Australian, is pictured here in the NZ Army WWI uniform. He was living in NZ when WWI broke out and enlisted in that country.
I was very close to my grandmother and although she died when I was 15 years old, I still have very vivid memories of her and miss her very much.

Mum and Harold. Funnily enough, longevity runs in our family and my grandmother was fairly young when she died, aged only 59. Now Mum is coming up 87 and apart from a few glitches with her heart and gallbladder, is still relatively well.

These are my "bones" as the Maori say. Of course, way back before the white man made his appearance in New Zealand, the Maori were cannibals. Not that they ate all the body. They ate the head of their enemies, almost as a mark of respect for their bravery. The winners felt that they would take on some of that bravery if they dined on their enemies' heads. To this day, the head is sacred to the Maori and if you are dining and someone from behind you passes food over your head to either put on the table or pass to someone else, that food is "tapu" (taboo). It's a big no-no.

Anyway, my grandmother used to tell me when I was young that the best part of the pakeha (white man) to eat was the heel. When I asked her how she knew, she just laughed, so I've always had my suspicions about my grandmother!

I never knew my grandfather as he was killed when Mum (who was the eldest) was seven. But apparently he was very artistic, being a painter, a writer, a dancer and a singer. Mum says that he has passed his gifts down through the family, because they come out in various forms. Two of my brothers are very musical, as is one of my granddaughters. One of my daughters is very creative, we all seem to be able to express ourselves in words and two of my granddaughters as well as a couple of my cousins are wonderful artists.

So anyway, there you have it - a meeting with some of my ancestors, even though all bar Mum are long gone from this world.


Remiman said...

I am the family geneologist and so I appreciated your sharing some of your history. It's so imperative that we pass these memories along to keep our ancestors "alive."
And to non-family members these tales make great history lessons.
Have a great weekend.

PEA said...

Oh wow, I so enjoyed this post..I loved the pictures and learning bits and pieces about some of your ancestors!! How so very interesting!! Now when I'm in a restaurant, I'll make sure the waitress doesn't go over my head to serve the food! lol Hugs xoxo

Ky Boo Gal said...

I love "your bones" post...very beautiful stock there!
there is something in each group of peoples to be very proud of and some things we ain't so proud of...but as each generation goes forward I think they improve over all!
Great Post Robyn!!
May you surpass your Momma in age!

Granny said...

I didn't realize you were Maori. How lovely. They're a fine, handsome people.

Lee said...

Great story, Robyn. What a strong, beautiful face your grandmother had. She certainly was a very striking-looking woman. Sad she died so young.

Have you read 'The Bone People"?...It's a marvellous book. It's written by Keri Hulme. She received the Booker Prize in 1985 for this book. She was born in Christchurch of Maori (Kai Tahu), Scots and English ancestry.

If you've not come across it(I imagine you have)...I doubt that it's in print at present but any good library should have it.

Puss-in-Boots said...

Yes, I have read "The Bone People" - twice! Great writing there. I think it's the only book Keri Hulme has written because I haven't come across any more of her work.

Anyway, thank you for your generous comments. Always good to hear from you.

Janice said...

Hi Robyn,

That is absolutely a facinating family history! Your part Maori then your a true daughter of New Zealand.

When your great grandmother told your that the best part of the pakeha (white man) to eat was the heel, I think your great grandmother just wanted to keep your guessing.

My mom is the only ancester I have left too.


Nicole said...

That was awesome... thankyou. I love listening to others telling their ancestoral tales. It reveals more about us than we think. I must back up 'remiman' about how imperitive it is that our 'bones' are carried through the generations. Much love to you, Nicole xox.

Mountain Mama said...

I enjoyed reading about your ancestors. I am a genealogist, and have learned a great deal about my own. It is a fascinating hobby.

Kathleen Marie said...

What a super beautiful family!