Growing up I wasn’t all that interested in family history. I knew of my great grandparents and that’s about as far back as it went for me, and I felt pretty good about that. Lately I have come to realize just how wonderful family history can be. When I married my husband Ara, I knew that he came from a family that was well connected. They all knew of each other, knew of their ancestors, and knew of their Maori heritage. During one of our visits to New Zealand, I remember being at a family gathering, and they decided to play a game. They lined all the little kids up, and began asking them questions about their ancestors and heritage. Their little hands shot up in the air with answers to questions like, “Who was the uncle of great great gran-nanny?” I can’t even begin to tell you how stunned I was as they answered question after question with the correct answers! I loved how in-touch their family was with their ancestry.
Another time I felt completely awe-struck, was when we were looking for a name for our son. We went through Ara’s family tree on www.familysearch.org, and as we clicked name after name, more and more branches would pop up! Eventually I wasn’t even looking at the names anymore, I was looking at the dates as they went further and further back. His ancestry went all the way back to the arrival of the Maori people in Aotearoa, when they came from Hawaiiki. It was unreal and an experience that I will never forget.
These experiences have shown me just how important family history is. I think it is vital to learn about those that have come before us, the ones that have paved the path to our existence. Their lives are filled with amazing stories, adventures, and history…OUR history. By learning about them, it is also a way to show our respect and gratitude to our ancestors. It keeps their stories alive, and the culture strong, as it goes from one generation to the next. I can’t wait to teach our son, Te Kanawa, all about his family tree and where his name came from! I hope that he grows to love learning about his ancestors, and will pass it on to his future family when the time comes.
“Inā kei te mohio koe ko wai koe, I anga mai koe I hea, kei te mohio koe, kei te anga atu ki hea”.
If you know who you are and where you are from, then you will know where you are going.
P.S. If you’re a beginner with family history, you can sign up for free at www.familysearch.org
Tip: If you are making your family tree on Family Search, you will have to manually insert those that are alive. Once you come to someone that is deceased, if they are in the database, it will fill in everyone else automatically that is linked to them! (Not every single time, but usually and it is worth a shot to save some time!) Feel free to e-mail me with any questions in regards to this tip!