A Family History – an oldie but a goodie, rediscovered
This is the story of a family before and after emigrating to New Zealand in 1887, and is the answer to the question Marie and indeed her uncles and aunts often asked her grandfather (their uncle), to which the answer was an infuriating “Tell you one day.”
After his passing, Marie’s husband encouraged her to travel back to Ireland to find answers. She did so, and more. After receiving only hints of knowledge during her visit, she returned to New Zealand and began a full journey of research, aided by her grandmother’s journal, kept whilst travelling on the powered steamer Cuzco under Captain Murdoch.
Husband and wife Patrick Magill and Mary-Jane
(née Campbell) sailed with their children James (Jim), Mary, Robert (Bob) and Annie, heading to South Africa (Capetown), then east to Australia (Melbourne). There they took the Governor Arthur up the Yarrow River, to visit with Uncle Jack, who had travelled out some years before to try his luck at the gold fields. After losing his friend, he settled to the land, now a flourishing homestead.
The Magills shipped to New Zealand aboard the Arawata, arriving in the Hawke Bay Ahuriri port close to Napier.
Gray relates the events as she saw and heard them, and those of ancestors she has cleverly written as a narrative built from tales told by family members back in the old country. Her place in the genealogy of the family is included.
A delightful story, told with both regret and wit, and you may have trouble getting your hands on a copy. But if there’s any Irish in you, you’ll find it.
Published 1997, by Hodder Moa Beckett Publishers Limited, Auckland, NZ
Tuesday, 3rd February, 1931, was different. Even before it happened, the air had a hot, sticky feel to it, a sort of a gasp before a coughing fit.
“There’s something eerie going on,” mumbled Pat Scott mysteriously. “You wait! Look at the clouds coming over from Raglan Harbour.”
Jess ignored her prattle.
“There’s someone riding along the road for Te Akau. It’s not Len or Mr Magill either, Pat Scott yelled. She crossed herself devoutly.
The figure became clearer. “It’s the police from Ngaruawahia. Holy Mary Mother of God. What’s happened?”
“A message came through from Napier, Pat. Have you got the Magills staying here?” said the policeman.
Pat Scott flopped into a chair sideways, legs sprawled over the arm rests.
Jess came forward with her chin up.
“What is it Sergeant? I’m Jessie Magill.”
“Sorry to tell you, ma’am, but there’s been a mighty big earthquake in Napier. The town’s in ruins and the whole place is on fire. We got this message from Naval Headquarters. There’s no electricity or gas. They’re cut off completely. Here’s your telegram.
RETURN IMMEDIATELY. DREADFUL DISASTER. GARRATT.
“By the way, ma’am, two ships are on their way down the coast with supplies and a medical team aboard.”
“Thank you, Sergeant,” Jess said mechanically. “Are there many casualties?”
“Afraid so, ma’am, but we can’t give numbers yet. I;ll go and find the men.”
Da went white and started blowing his nose. “It sounds desperate. We’d better get going….”