Ever since I was a young girl I have memories of my Papa (my mothers father) telling us stories of his upbringing & our heritage. He was very proud of the humble circumstances from which he was raised as he learned skills such as resilience, mental ‘toughness’ and resourcefulness which he may not have learned to so finely tune under any other circumstance. My Papa was very proud of the whakapapa which he also penned as a boy & had so keenly maintained into adulthood, and he passed that keenness on to a few of his mokopuna or grandchildren, including myself.
Being of Maori descent traditionally our culture are an oral culture, genealogy was passed down through generations through song or waiata rather than by keeping hard copy records as Western cultures have done. In fact New Zealand didn’t start keeping records of births deaths and marriages until the early 1840‘s so anything that happened before then is often only recorded privately by families. You can imagine the frustration when you gain information which changes everything, or should I say generations of your family history, especially when proof of these changes is scarce.
Meet Robert . Robert was christened in 1839 in Whitchurch England while his father (rev Charles Lucas Reay) was vicar of Swanbourne in Buckinghamshire from 1838-1841.
In 1841 the Rev then relocated to New Zealand to preach the Christian faith to the Maori people. His wife (Marianne) joined him in New Zealand a couple years later (1843) with the children Robert (2) and Jane (around 6).