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Auckland Family History Expo – 11th to 13th August 2017

Auckland City Council Libraries along with the NZSG Computing Genealogy Group once again hosted this event at the Fickling Centre, Three Kings, Auckland over the past weekend.

 Friday night began with a mIx and mingle with canapés, tea and coffee followed by a welcome from Seonaid Lewis with Maata Biddle presenting a mihi whakatau to open proceedings.

The first speaker for the night was Chris Paton on the topic ‘Genealogy without Borders’. Chris went on to illustrate his talk via his own history – born in Ireland, brought up for a few years in Scotland, educated in England only to return back to Ireland in his teens. He no longer wonders where he belongs, he is IRISH. Chris’ humour and storytelling skills made a lively start to a great weekend. Following was a live talk from the UK from Living DNA, after a couple of false starts we got to listen and ask questions.

On Saturday morning there was a queue forming at 8am but the doors didn’t open until 8.30. There were some pretty keen people there. Over 25 exhibitors and help for the most inexperience beginner through to those wanting to test their DNA. For the Maori Interest Group it was a very busy day as there were about a dozen members of an Indigenous Studies course at Te Wananga o Aotearoa who wanted help with their whakapapa research, so it was heads down, bottoms up for most of the day. For those people attending, there were some really interesting presentations to sit in on – ranging from Chris Paton’s ‘Discover Scottish Church Records’ to Dirk Weissleder’s ‘Research Trip Activities in your European ancestral home village’ – there was something for everyone.

On Sunday, Helen Smith’s ‘Emigration to Australia’ started the day, she also spoke later in the day about the ‘MyHeritage’ site. Fiona Brooker covered off the ‘Whys, Wheres and Hows’ of putting your family tree online looking at Ancestry.com, Findmypast, FamilySearch and more. Later in the day Chris Paton looked at ‘Irish Family History Resources Online’ and Helen Smith spoke on ‘Researching Criminals in England’ – wish I had managed to get to that.

At the MIG table we had a lot less visitors and the highlight for me was a visit from Susan Hamp who told us ‘I don’t think I’ve got any Maori connections’ then went on to explain that her great grandmother’s brother’s granddaughter had married a Mr Lee who was a writer’. Susan’s great grandmother was Charlotte Adelaide Schmidt, whose brother was George Edward Schmidt who married Phoebe Brown (daughter of Isaac Brown and Eliza Cook). Eliza Cook was a daughter of William and Tiraha Cook and sister to my great great grandmother Jane. The granddaughter who married Jack Lee was Merle Schmidt and without Jack’s book ‘I have called it the Bay of Islands’ it is unlikely that I would have found my own Ngapuhi connections twenty odd years ago.

So much for Susan’s lack of Maori connections. In the past week Susan has sent me two emails with further information and a large envelope in the mail with copies of certificates and wills. I am enjoying reading this treasure trove and have been busy gathering the information on Phoebe’s family that Susan would like to have.

If Auckland City Council and the GCG put on another of these weekends next year, it will probably be during August which is now well intrenched as Family History Month throughout NZ. The event is FREE except for the Friday night function which was a reasonable $15 so keep your eye out for the advertising, mark the dates on your calendar and look forward to enjoying a great weekend.

By Lorraine RICE