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Fast Forward - The Past & The Present

Timaru, New Zealand

Well, you're probably wondering what's going on with our travel blog. Understandable given that entries have been very few since we arrived in NZ. Our apologies...we've been on the go, go, go and without internet connections for most of the time. Okay, enough excuses...let's share our most recent experiences with all of you!

We're currently in Timaru, which is about three hours south of Christchurch. We spent the past two weeks meeting the NZ Muldrew clan. What an experience! I have met so many second cousins and their families - almost 50 so far. In fact, there are hundreds of Muldrews and descendents in NZ that all have a common connection to my great-great grandfather and grandmother, James and Ruth Muldrew, who came here from Ireland via the sailing ship Auckland in 1874.

We arrived in Dunedin May 10 and met the first of the cousins, Ann Padman, and her family: husband, Wayne, and daughters, Alison, Jackie & Bronwyn. We all have so much in common and we hit it off right away...rugby, hunting, fishing, camping, cold beers and rums & coke just to name a few things!

We stayed with Jackie and her partner, Tups, for three nights; their home is strategically placed one block over from the 'House of Pain', Carisbrook Stadium! Sadly no games were on but the stadium staff allowed me inside to see the grounds. All Blacks will play the French there June 13, and Dunedin is awash with banner advertising the match.

We then stayed with another cousin, Helen Brathwaite, and her partner, David, for several nights. Helen received the Member of NZ Order of Merit in recognition of her 40 years as a special needs teacher and the amazing things she accomplished with her students. David and Helen toured us all over the local area, including a trip to Taiaroa Head to see the royal albatross flying.

Ann organized a family gathering for the May 16/17 weekend at the Girl Guides Lodge in Waikouaiti, a short drive north of Dunedin. Family came from near and far, including Lindsay Brinsdon from Tasmania and Neville Mattingly from Perth. Thirty-six descendents sat to a home-cooked dinner Saturday night and shared stories from the past and present. We continued over breakfast Sunday and then slowly trickled away home. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the weekend that Ann and Wayne put together for the family.

Norma and I moved on to Oamaru Tuesday May 19 to spend time with two of my dad's first cousins: Hugh Muldrew and his wife, Trixie, and Mary Rapson.

All are in their eighties and full of life! Hugh put me behind the wheel Wednesday and Thursday to travel about meeting more cousins and seeing sights important to the family. We met the oldest family member, Ruby Orlowsky, who is 94 years old and living in her home across from Waitaki Girls' School.

We were fortunate to see the Maheno cemetary, north of Oamaru, under clear skies Thursday. We saw the resting places of my great-great and great grandparents, as well as great aunts and uncles. It was a very powerful experience.

We also saw several sights such as the Moreaki Boulders and rescued penguins at a nearby lighthouse. The highlight for me was seeing the original land that my great-great grandparents homesteaded and Muldrews Road that marks the area. Hugh regaled us wih family history and stories everywhere we went.

We ended our time in Oamaru with an overnight stay with Mary who showed us her scrapbooks and shared her recollections of the family long ago. It was a wonderful evening.

It was hard leaving Oamaru yesterday afternoon and moving on with our journey through NZ. After all, my visit had only reunited us for a short time. It had been 117 years since Ruth Muldrew sailed from Ireland with her brothers and sisters,save my grandfather who was too young to make the journey and remained behind with his maternal grandparents. He never saw his family again...I guess that explains my tears at the bus depot.

I met my third cousin, Max Muldrew, today and we spent a large part of the afternoon discussing the family tree. Max has done considerable research and he provided me a copy of the family tree from my great-great grandparents to present that he compiled. It fills 74 pages! A true labour of love!

We leave Timaru for Christchurch tomorrow morning...I have some reading to do on the way and it will be fascinating to say the least! The past forms the present...

permalink written by  Shane & Norma on May 24, 2009 from Timaru, New Zealand
from the travel blog: "Not Just Another Rugby Tour" - New Zealand, Samoa and Australia
tagged Family and Muldrews

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