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MIG History

NZSG Māori Interest Group
‘For many of us who have been caught in the web of genealogical research to stumble into the world of Māori whakapapa is a step into the unknown.’1
This remains true today. Very many New Zealanders do have Māori ancestry and once they discover this they often want to explore this aspect of their roots but are fearful of language difficulties and the implications of cultural sensitivities. Thus the objectives of the Group are to assist others in researching whakapapa, build up a store of Māori resources in the FRC and to inform about the records available and how to access and interpret them.
In 1993 Lynne Richards and Julie Barlow conceived the idea of a Māori Interest Group and posted a notice at the NZSG Palmerston North Conference seeking expressions of interest.  By September of that year the Group had been formed with the first newsletter being produced in November. The inaugural meeting of the Group was held at the Hamilton Conference in 1994 the inaugural Co-ordinators being Lynne and Julie. In the same year the Māori Interest Group was officially affiliated to NZSG
By 1995 Terry Hollis had been elected as the Chairperson, Secretary Julie Barlow, Treasurer Susan Haughey, Editor Lynne Richards. Sadly, on the 10th October 1995 Julie Barlow passed away. Thereafter the Group was in recess between February 1996 to March 1997.
1999 Colleen Petricevich was elected Convenor with a committee of Harete Phillips as editor of the newsletter and Brenda Joyce as Secretary and Treasurer and Margaret Hurst the research advisor. On Colleen’s resignation Harete Phillips was elected Convenor. In the year 2000 the Group’s website ( was created by Bruce Mathers who joined the committee as webmaster.  From this date onwards the Group participated at Conference providing a display table of resources staffed by Group members who could offer research advice. Viv Birch joined the Committee 2003 as Secretary and also took on the task of assembling the Group’s archives. These are now accessible at the FRC. By 2005 Peter Allen was Convenor, Brenda Joyce Treasurer and Secretary with Bruce Mathers as Editor and webmaster.
Over the years, the group’s logo has gone through four stages of evolution, the second (a derivative of the first) logo was replaced in 1999 with the tiki, a symbol more instantly recognisable as Māori representative of the First Man or fertility. In 2006 the AGM agreed to change the Group’s logo from the tiki to the poutama showing the staircase to learning which can also be seen to represent generations on a whakapapa. We thank Owen Ormsby for the graphics work for the new logo.
Te Reo
The original newsletter was a simple A4 photocopied publication. In 2001 Bruce Mathers became editor and at his own expense created Te Reo, an A5 quarterly booklet with historical articles, news and pertinent issues, members’ name interests and requests for information and research advice.
* Subscriptions
Initially a subscription of $5 plus four SSAE was charged but now NZSG members do not pay a subscription to join the Group2. Koha are always gratefully received. Libraries’ subscriptions of $15.00 pa for Te Reo provide a steady income. NZSG members can read Te Reo on the website but ifthey prefer hard copies they provide stamped, self addressed envelopes.
 * The 2011 AGM ratified a slight change to our membership structure in that a small membership fee of $5.00 has been reinstated for non institutional members. This will take effect immediately for new members joining the Interest Group, while existing members will have their first membership fee fall due on the 1st April 2012. 
Research advice requests
These were frequent from the inception of the Group but with the increased availability of email communication and the development of the Group’s website these have steadily increased, especially from members of the public who are not necessarily NZSG members. All requests are answered and the advantages of joining the NZSG pointed out.  
Honouring of members
Many people have worked for the Group over the years. Certificates of Appreciation have been awarded to Colleen Petricevich, Eduard Cowell (Brisbane) and Ron & Patty Mathers. Bruce Mathers received a Service Award 2006 for his work as Editor and Webmaster.
Māori Interest Group 10th Birthday
This was celebrated during a Council Meeting at the FRC November2005 and engendered significant interest from the local population of Panmure and nearby Auckland suburbs. 
Bruce Mathers’ parents generously donated a decorated cake for the occasion.
November 2005 Māori Interest Group 10th birthday. Left to right: Viv Birch, Harete Phillips, Brenda Joyce, Graeme Constable and Colleen Petricevich. Local visitors are at the door waiting to enter.
Bruce Mathers wrote a How To… article for The New Zealand Genealogist in which he gave guidance in whakapapa research. This material was expanded and further document examples included to produce a booklet entitled An Introduction to Māori Family History Research  It was launched at Conference 2006 in Hamilton. This concise booklet explained how whakapapa is different and gave examples of relevant records and how to access and interpret them. Sales have gone well, particularly to public libraries, book shops and New Zealand Universities.  By October 2006 we were into our 4th print. 
In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of Māori who have lost contact with their roots and come to us for advice. It is our privilege to be able to assist. No longer are we only helping non-Māori who wish to research their possible Māori ancestry but are gradually becoming accepted by the tangata whenua as a source of whakapapa research.
Written for 2007 NZSG Conference, Wellington.
By Brenda Joyce and Bruce Mathers.
1 From a statement by Julie Barlow and Lynne Richards when they proposed setting up a Māori Interest Group in 1993.
2As from the 1st November 2001 Membership of the New Zealand Society of Genealogist Māori Interest Group is free to all financial members of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists – Ratified 2001 MIG AGM.
 * The 2011 AGM ratified a slight change to our membership structure in that a small membership fee of $5.00 has been reinstated for non institutional members. This will take effect immediately for new members joining the Interest Group, while existing members will have their first membership fee fall due on the 1st April 2012.


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Kia mau koe ki nga kupu o ou tupuna (hold fast to the words of your ancestors)

NZSG YouTube Clip

Whakapapa Research Guide

WHAKAPAPA: An introduction to researching Māori and Pākehā-Māori families, their history, heritage, and culture



Important: All information contained in this Website is provided in absolute good faith as a general reference source only and is given for 'genealogical' purposes as possible finding aids.  The Webmaster & Editor welcome contributions for publication, but reserve the right to edit as necessary.  The views expressed are not necessarily those of the NZSG, MIG, Editor, Webmaster and/or the MIG Committee and we therefore do not accept any responsibility for information or opinions expressed herein.  The Society, MIG and their executives cannot vouch for the accuracy of any reference material and it is the sole responsibility of the user to confirm all data and material which may be provided through this website.

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Site prepared by Eduard Cowell  - 24th November 2009

Website Editor - Bruce Mathers