AFHS Get Together 2009 at Hamilton, New Zealand

The venue for the 2009 Antipodean Akehurst GetTogether was The Lodge at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand, and the date was the weekend of Friday/Saturday/Sunday 23/24/25 January 2009. Fourteen attended the weekend, including four Australians (from 'across the ditch') and one from the UK.  Our organiser was Ngaire Paterson and she chose the theme of "How They Came - And Why" to reflect that our Antipodean forebears chose to emigrate to the other side of the world.

Most of us came prepared for the 'show and tell' and we heard some interesting stories and got a good insight into the migration to this corner of the world. It was interesting that all of us knew the How (and the When) of our forebears' arrival, but not many of us were certain of the Why.  However, we collectively agreed that the reason was most likely 'to better ourselves and provide an opportunity for our children'.

New Zealand and Australia are nations of immigrants and we were treated to a talk by Wiremu Puke, the Ethnographic researcher at the Auckland Museum.  The Maori have a strong oral history tradition and Wiremu knew his genealogy (or Whakapapa) off by heart - better than many European (Pakeha) genealogists could manage!  Wiremu took us to the Te Parapara Maori Garden and explained the method and meaning of the way the plantings were done and the history of the enclosure and the carvings.  This was followed by a delightful, informal, dinner at the Hamilton Gardens, where we spent more time learning about the Maori culture.

There were some odd coincidences. For example, Margaret Dunkley said the first time she encountered another Akehurst was when she visited Korowa School (in Melbourne) - which was started by an Akehurst in Liz Rushton's tree. Liz was sitting beside Margaret when that discovery was made.  Margaret also mentioned she was born in China - and David realised he had been given a copy of the book her mother wrote and could now match that publication to a tree!  In another coincidence, a month before the GetTogether, Colin Ackehurst had given David a photocopy of a page from a book, source unknown, containing a photograph of three Akehurst girls in a migrant hostel. A week before the GetTogether, while in Auckland, David managed to track the source. During the 'show & tell' session, Diane Oldman told us about her solitary Akehurst ... and it is highly likely that said Akehurst is the sister of the three girls in the photograph!

The final coincidence for the weekend was when the AA man told us it would take 90 minutes for the serviceman to arrive to fix our car's ignition, and he turned up spot on 90 minutes. However, no-one told us it would take another three hours for the locksmith to arrive and make a new ignition key! So, instead of us taking Ngaire out to dinner, the six of us eventually admitted defeat and defaulted to burger and chips being brought to the motel room.   

It was an excellent weekend - well organised, an entertaining and informative program, delightful surroundings and weather, and all conducted with typical Kiwi hospitality.  The only 'down' side was that the weekend went too quickly!

Hamilton New Zealand