Travel Tuesday: Unlock the Past returns to Auckland

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On Saturday, 13 February, Central Research at Central Library will be hosting Unlock the Past’s Auckland Shore-based Seminars for family history and genealogy researchers.

Celebrity Solstace

Unlock the Past is the event and publishing division of Gould Genealogy & History which has served family and local historians since 1976. It is a collaborative venture involving an international team of expert speakers, writers, organisations and commercial partners to promote history and genealogy through innovative major events and authoritative publishing brand. Unlock the Past organise genealogy and family history conferences on various cruise ships operating on different worldwide routes, tapping into the growing popularity of “ancestral tourism.” High profile international speakers are chosen for these conference cruises, and the cruise ships stop at various ports en route to give seminars on shore to local researchers. An opportunity is also there for those taking part in the conference on board ship to tour the local area to where the ship is docked – often visiting the local libraries, archives and museums to research and indulge in some “ancestral tourism”.

The company last visited Auckland as part of their shore-based seminars in 2011.

This time Unlock the Past’s 10th conference cruise is on board the ship Celebrity Solstice and sails Auckland, New Zealand to Fremantle, Western Australia – stopping at Bay Of Islands, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa, Dunedin, Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in between; with on-shore seminars in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.

Judy Russell, "The Legal Genealogist"
The cruise keynote speakers are Judy Russell (US) aka The Legal Genealogist and Paul Blake (UK).

Judy Russell will be speaking in Auckland on
* The common poor: transported, indentured, enslaved - and
* No vitals? No problem! Building a family through circumstantial evidence.

Paul Blake

Paul Blake's topics will be:
* Protestant nonconformity in England and Wales and
* London genealogy: or the metropolitan nightmare.

Booking online prior to the day strongly advised, as this will be a popular event! Entry to the event is $20 to be paid at the door on the day.

There will be prize draws offered by sponsors Ancestry, Findmypast and MyHeritage; and an additional prize draw only for those people who
pre-book online prior to the day.

You can read more about the Auckland shore-based seminars here:

Treasure Chest Thursday: Tips for the early settler

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Brett’s Colonists’ Guide and Cyclopaedia of Useful Knowledge was first published in 1883. All information that could possibly be needed for the new settler to New Zealand was covered in this book. From how to keep bees, shoeing horses, making a will and treating sore nipples, to recipes for Jugged Hare and Christmas cake, the breadth of tips and tricks to living in the colonies is wide and variable.

Of the many different and fascinating chapters, one I particularly like is called Cottages for Settlers. The chapter is introduced with, “A large proportion of the country settlers of New Zealand are compelled, by the exigencies of their location, to become their own architects…” In the following pages “three designs of convenient cottages, of very simple construction, with specifications of the sizes and quantity of timber required to complete them…” are provided, with illustrations. Below is an example of one of these designs.
Henry Brett was an interesting man.  In addition to newspaper publishing (after working for the Daily Southern Cross and the New Zealand Herald, he bought into the Auckland Star) he produced a number of popular guidebooks and almanacs, introduced photo-engraving in New Zealand and, amongst others, wrote the shipping guide White Wings.
Henry Brett was an interesting man.  In addition to newspaper publishing (after working for the Daily Southern Cross and the New Zealand Herald, he bought into the Auckland Star) he produced a number of popular guidebooks and almanacs, introduced photo-engraving in New Zealand and, amongst others, wrote the shipping guide White Wings. Click on this link to see what we, at Auckland Libraries, hold of his works.


Summer Reads: The Runaway Settlers by Elsie Locke

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Our third book in the summer reads with a family history theme is a famous Kiwi classic – The Runaway Settlers by Elsie Locke. It’s a sturdy read for children - a great one to read to them before bed, a few chapters at a time. It rocks along with loads of adventure, although it is written in an older style (it was published in 1965).  Interestingly, it's based on a real family, and author Elsie Locke spoke with descendants of that family in her research. Thus this is a true "family history" (albeit fictional) story about settler New Zealanders in the mid 1800s.

The Runaway Settlers begins in 1859 New South Wales - the story of Mary Small and her children Archie, Emma, Mary Ann, Bill, Jack and Jimmy. Mary has been squirreling away money, waiting for the chance to escape her violent husband, and when he leaves home for a cattle sale, she takes the opportunity to get out.  She and the children make their way to Sydney to find a ship to take them away.  They end up in Governors Bay in the South Island and begin their new life.

Here's an excerpt from after they've arrived in New Zealand:
"A bar of sunlight woke Jack in the morning. He edged away from the sleeping Archie and stepped outside. Every piece of him ached with stiffness and his shoulder reminded him of its old bruises. He moved out into the centre of the clearing and looked around at its encircling trees, at the Sugarloaf towering above, and at Mount Bradley with its squared-off crags, like the Egyptian Sphinx he had seen in a book; and a joyful thought came surging up inside him.
Father will never find us here."

This is a story of settler life that takes place over several years, with everything that goes along with it - from farming and food production, a new community, the lure of the goldfields, not to mention the coming of age of the older children. Historic events are included, such as the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully, and the Otago goldrush.  
Gabriel's Gully during the goldrush of the 1860s.
From 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19110601-2-1 '
There are of course rough times and sadnesses - the pets! It's always the pets! - but its a story of forging a new life and leaving behind an old one. Its also the story of a plucky woman who waited for the perfect opportunity to change her life around - and succeeded.
Auckland Libraries have several copies of this classic, and you can also check out more about Elsie Locke on the NZ Book Council website.  And if you're still fascinated, take a look at a biography written about her a few years ago - Looking for Answers  - available throughout Auckland Libraries.

Happy Reading