Book details family history

William Gilbert

William Gilbert

After more than six years of researching and piecing together family history, Virginia (Ginnie) Mayo  (Ngāi Tahu), of Little Akaloa, has produced her book “William ‘The Carpenter’ from Wiltshire.’

Virginia, who is the great-great-granddaughter of William Gilbert and Heni Te Marino, has written to dozens of contacts over the last six years, many of whom have supplied her with photographs, stories or contact addresses to help with her research.

“It just grew like Topsy,” she says. “I discovered relatives I didn’t even know about.”

The book tells the fascinating story of William Gilbert, who was a carpenter aboard the American whaling ship, Ajax, when it arrived in New Zealand in 1835. On that first voyage they made their base at Akaroa Harbour for almost two years, before returning home with a ship load of whale oil and bone. William was shore-based for much of that time, building boats and whare.

Heni Te Marino

Heni Te Marino

 

When the Ajax arrived back in New Zealand in 1838, William remained ashore. He found his way to Puketeraki Pā and lived with the Māori for several months. It was there that he met and married the chieftainess from Onawe Pā, Heni Te Marino. They then moved back to Banks Peninsula soon after.

Virginia’s book covers the family story over the next seven generations. She says that although the story is far from complete – “many names are still missing from the family tree” – it still contains around 4,500 names in the index and includes over 350 photographs, clippings and maps.  The book was produced with the assistance of the Ngāi Tahu Fund and anyone interested in ordering a copy can contact Virginia at [email protected]

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