I have in my possession, some war records belonging to Thomas Campbell. I was told my natural fathers name is Eddie Campbell and was related to Thomas Campbell. I could see Thomas has a number of children but was unsure which child would be Eddies father. There was 1 boy and another 2 adopted sons and possible others he may have had after the war what were not on his war record who would carry the Campbell name. Thomas Campbell’s address was on Opoutama ring road. A few sections down the road is a Marae.
I’ve had an urge to visit the Marae, so when a family(adoptive) reunion was planned for November 2015 in Hamilton New Zealand, I decided this would be the time. See Whakapapa.
I had written a letter to the Marae at Opoutoma in Mahia New Zealand requesting access, along with a brief introduction. The secretary contacted me asking for more information on Thomas Campbell as there are 2 large Campbell families from the area. I sent her the information I had and she kindly gave me her telephone number and told me to call her when I got to Gisborne. Gisborne is around an hours drive north of Mahia and where I planned to base myself.
MM and I arrived in Gisborne on Thursday. I called Sonia and arranged to meet her on Monday at a small garage just before you drive onto the Mahia Peninsula. We then planned to leave the Gisborne district Tuesday and head inland back to Rotorua then Hamilton in time for the family shindig Mmmm, well the urban dictionaries hilarious explanation of a shindig isn’t quite how it went down. This party started Friday and ended on Sunday. There are also quite a few Mormons amongst the mob so if anyone was smoking weed, those sneaky bastards (the Mormons) weren’t sharing it around! Actually, there aren’t that many practising Mormons in the family these days. I was baptised a Mormon when I was a kid. Remind me to script a post about the time .. anyway. Back to Whakapapa.
Gisborne is the most easterly city in New Zealand. It is near here that the waka Horouta landed in early Maori times and James Cook first sighted New Zealand a short distance to the south. (Ref)
The Gisborne district is beautiful and the east coast line is stunning. We settled into our motel room and Friday morning strolled around the town. After lunch I suggested we take a drive to Mahia and off we went. I was going on my own on Monday so I wanted to familiarise myself with the area first.
About 40 minutes along the road I caught sight of sign and small car park out of the corner of my eye as we zoomed past. “Stop” I yelled. “Go back”
We drove into the car park arriving at Morere Hot Springs. We hired a private spa which was nestled along the side of a running creek in the rainforest and soaked ourselves in the
warm hot spring water. There are lots of different spas and pools scattered around the gardens and rainforest, but you probably need to wear swimmers (togs/bathers) as these are shared areas.
15-20 minutes is about as long as you would want to boil yourself so we were back on the road in no time.
When we turned the corner and Mahia came into sight I was in total awe and I think I even had a tear in my eye. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get over there. Opoutama ring road is just before the peninsula. We slowly drove past the old houses and stopped in front of the Marae. I took a picture then told MM I wanted to go to Mahia.
We drove along the waterfront passing the small township of Mahia, stopping at a bay and then drove through the country side and farm lands. It was getting late and the sun was going down. MM wanted to turn around and head back but I had the strongest pull to keep going. I need to follow the road. I needed to get to the other side. The south-east side. I knew exactly what direction I needed to go and this road was taking me there.
The small dirt road we were on came to a pine forest and a cattle grid with a private property sign on the fence post. My disappointment was quite evident as I stomped back and forth in front of the car, muttering away to myself. So that was that. I took a photo of the scenery and we drove back to Gisborne.
Click on the galleries for larger images.
We spent the weekend enjoying the coffee shops and restaurants in Gisborne and taking day trips. On one of our exploratory trips we found ourselves at Rare Falls. Another day we spent driving through the breathtaking inland country side then to the ocean. Gorges, farmland, rainforest, mountains, black sandy beaches. It has it all.
On Monday morning I met Sonia at the garage. She told me she had contacted some people who she thought I may be related to and they were going to meet us at the Marae. If I felt comfortable, they wanted to speak with me. 2 women and a man were waiting at the Marae and introduced themselves to me. They were lovely and I was more than happy to go back to their place with them to have a cup of tea and work out exactly where I fitted in to the Campbell clan. They did not recognise my father’s name, but they were descendent of Thomas Campbell.
As I didn’t know Eddie’s fathers name, putting the jigsaw together without all the pieces was quite a challenge. We worked out my father’s age based on the fact he was 18 when I was conceived. This then led to a conclusion I could be the daughter of Dordie’s (the man who met me at the Marae) brother and he must have given my mother a false name. This scenario was quite a joke and there was a lot of laughing going on.
I went online and found an old email my natural mother sent me some time ago. In it she said there was an EK Campbell living in Napier. One of the women said we needed to call him to see who he was and if he was related to them. She got out the phone book and made the call under the guise she was researching her Whakapapa. I had told them I understood my father had not told his wife about me and I didn’t want to cause any problems.
She spoke with him for a few minutes establishing his family ties. He was known to the family but she thought he was not a direct descendent of Thomas Campbell. She asked him to wait a minute and put her hand over the receiver. She ask me if I wanted him to know I was there. I agreed. I figured if it was a problem then he could simply say he didn’t want contact. She said to me, “I’ll put this diplomatically”, took her hand off the receiver and asked him. “Eddie, did you have a relationship with a young pakeha (white New Zealander) girl when you were 18 and did that girl have a baby?” “Well” she said. “I have a young lady here with me now would you like to talk to her?”
I was handed the phone, my voice broke as I said hello. We spoke briefly. He explained why he had not told his wife about me, told me he was happy I had made contact and he would be telling his wife, how long I was in the area for and if he could write to me. I told him I was leaving Gisborne in the morning and gave him my address. He also said I had 7 brothers and sisters and that some of them live in Australia. 1 Brother lives in Brisbane and he planned to come to Australia to visit them. I gave him my mobile phone number and told him to call me if he wanted.
I drove back to Gisborne but can’t even remember the drive. I was not expecting this turn of events and was not sure exactly how I felt. Relief, apprehension, concern, happy are just some of the emotions spinning around in my head.
As I was packing my bags before going to bed that night my phone rang. Eddie asked if we could go to Napier to visit him and his wife.
We drove to Napier the next day and booked ourselves into a motel before going to Eddie’s place. I gave Eddie a huge hug and we spent the evening with him and his lovely wife. One of my sisters came to meet us. She was the only sibling who knew about me at this point and was told she could let the others know. I didn’t see the Facebook post but I think she posted a photo of me and a reference about her sister. The first person to see the post was my Brother who has now just been knocked off his 1st born perch. Eddies phone rang. Sister number 2 sees the post. Eddies phone rang.
We spent the next day with Eddie and his wife. Eddie told me he grew up in Morere near the hot springs. The family have land in the area and their Marae is also there. I don’t understand the family structure yet so I am unsure why the Marae at Mahia is not their Marae. I have a great deal of research ahead of me.
I learnt that there is a small island on the South Eastern side of Mahia Peninsula. My great-grandfather was the lighthouse keeper on the island and lived there. The property at the end of the road we travelled along on Friday is also family land.
I told Eddie about a recurring dream I have always had about a rocky beach, a drop off, dolphins, whales and particularly orca. He knew exactly where I was talking about and told me this is their families fishing grounds. The family still dive in this area collecting crayfish and paua (abalone). Eddie has a photo of the island on his wall. I took a photo of it and ask him to take me there one day. He also said he would love to take me to the Marae. As my wanting to visiting the Marae found me on this current journey I will definitely be taking him up on that offer. I can’t wait to meet all my half siblings. If they are anything like me, we will be having one heck of a “shindig” in the coming future.
Napier is the main ‘port’ city of the Hawke’s Bay region. Razed by earthquake and fire in 1931, Napier has one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the world. (Ref) I would loved to have stayed longer. There was so much to see and I have so many questions for my father.