Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A weekend to explore

All these discoveries I have been making, to help build a better picture of my forebears lives have also made me get myself organised to take a flying trip to the area where some of them they had lived. 

So last Friday with the weather playing along, we caught the Interislander to Picton after I finished work. It was a lovely sailing, cruising across the strait and through the Queen Charlotte Sounds enjoying the twilight and sunset vistas.

Early next morning, after a quick stop at Macca's for breakfast, we set off on our drive southwards through Marlborough and to North Canterbury. Destination - KAIKOURA .

Back in the 1800's there were two big industries in Kaikoura - whaling and farming. Actually these days they are both still pretty big, but the focus has changed a little. Now we go whale watching instead of hunting, and farming has diversified; grapes, lavender, as well as sheep and dairy. There is some great information about early Kaikoura and old photographs in the Cyclopedia of New Zealand which is part of the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection digitised by Victoria University of Wellington. None of my family is mentioned, though I believe William Cooke could be the cousin of Thomas Cooke VC's father Tom.

My 2x great grandparents relocated from Wellington to Kaikoura in the 1860's. John Cooper was a tailor and for the early part of their time in the district was employed at Kekerengu one of the large sheep stations. Other members of his wife's family also worked here and at other neighbouring stations. Last night on www.ancestry.com.au I found some newly added electoral rolls where I found the family at Kekerengu, Cottage No4. 

Kaikoura has grown somewhat, especially since the whale watch business has taken off, but it still retains some of the sleepy beachside village atmosphere of days gone by. As we drove about, relishing the stunning views and wildlife I couldnt help but wonder what John and Mary and their contemporaries must have felt as settlers. Coming to New Zealand for a better life for themselves and their families, what a different childhood their children will have experienced to that of their parents. Mary was nine when she emigrated, so would have had some memory of life in Camberwell, Surrey. Even early Wellington would have been a real difference - but Kaikoura would have been a whole different kettle of fish. John emigrated as a twenty year old with his parents and younger siblings. His family was from Montacute in Somerset, so a little more rural than 1830-40 Surrey but still a contrast I'm sure.

And on the way back to the ferry home, we paid a visit to this cute wee church. St John in the Wilderness. My great grandmother was baptised there in 1875. I will have to spend some time working on my notes about her family a bit more so that I can record it here. 

Watch this space.

So, not really a #TroveTuesday post this week, but without Trove and Ancestry I wouldnt have found out so much about  Thomas Cooke VC or my runaway great great grandmother . I cant wait to go back and spend a bit more time there.

This post forms part of Trove Tuesday as suggested by Amy, from Branches, Leaves & Pollen.