Tuesday's Tip: NEW Family History video presentation available online

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We've had a sudden release of family history videos published to our website - packed full of loads of tips for this Tuesday!

New online:

Colleen Fitzpatrick: The "Unknown Child" of the Titanic - identified?

20 April 2015
Of the 328 bodies recovered by the salvage operation of the SS Titanic, just one was that of a child. His identity was unknown for nearly a century until 2002, when Dr. Alan Ruffman and Dr. Ryan Parr announced that they had identified the remains of the “Unknown Child”. But was this identification correct? Hear how we resolved the controversy so that the Unknown Child of the Titanic was unknown no longer.

Exploring Online Cenotaph with Victoria Passau

15 April 2015
New Zealanders have served this country in many international conflicts. Online Cenotaph, created by Auckland War Memorial Museum, aims to commemorate the stories of these veterans. This session showcases the new Online Cenotaph and discusses how family members and private researchers can contribute.

'The three uncles' The Cole brothers in the Great War with Tina Blackman

15 April 2015
An in-depth look at how the First World War affected one family where four brothers went to the Western Front and only one survived. In Tina Blackman's book, The three uncles: the Cole brothers in the Great War, readers will discover an extraordinary story that will resonate with many whose families were touched by the First World War.

Still to come: Colleen Fitzpatrick’s other two talks from 20 April:- CSI Roots and Adoption searches.

This will bring us to the end of our pilot programme of recording family history talks at this stage.

Family History Talks Online

See Auckland Libraries website for family history events, including the Auckland Family History Expo and other happenings during New Zealand Family History Month in August.

Amanuensis Monday:- Māori Land Court Minute Books - Part 1: Background

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The Māori Land Court minute books are a very important resource for whakapapa research. They are also valuable for local history, early Māori history, and Waitangi Tribunal research.

“Whakapapa literally means the ‘laying down of generations’ layer upon layer. Whakapapa is about people, it is a link to tūpuna, to heritage, to identity. For Māori it is a taonga, and for many it is also tapu. Traditionally whakapapa was handed down orally to a member of the whānau deemed appropriate to look after the whānau whakapapa.” (Paewai, 2015, p2).

The Native Land Court (renamed Māori Land Court in 1947) was established in 1865 with the purpose of translating customary Māori land ownership into legal land titles recognisable under English Law.
Traditional Māori land rights involved communal ownership of land. The hapū (sub tribe) or iwi (tribe) had to prove their traditional rights to land on the basis of occupation, conquest, or ancestry. The gifting of land was also taken into account. Occupation was symbolized by the term "ahi kaa" meaning "to keep the home fires burning". This meant that the hapū had to establish their genealogical connections as well as their physical and emotional ties to a piece of land… When an owner of Māori land dies it is necessary for the person or persons succeeding to that land, to prove their entitlement or right of succession. To do this they must present their whakapapa to the Māori Land Court. (Paewai, 2015, p6).
The Māori Land Court is still in operation, and is organised by seven districts: Taitokerau, Waikato-Maniapoto, Tairāwhiti, Waiariki, Aotea, Tākitimu, and Waipounamu. View maps and details of district offices. Current ownership of Māori land can be searched through Māori Land Online.
As Māori were brought before the court to determine native land entitlements and ownerships, the oral traditions of Māori citing their relationship to the land and the ancestors of it were recorded in the historical minute books. These recitals provide a profound insight into the heritage of the land and the people referred to. (Clement, 2012)
Page from Kaipara Minute Books (Taitokerau Court) Volume 2
3 Sept 1866 - 9 March 1871

The original minute books are held by the Māori Land Court. Photocopied or microfilmed versions are held elsewhere, including some large public and tertiary libraries and branch National Archives offices.

In recognition of their value as a unique archival resource and taonga Māori, in 2012 the minute books were listed in UNESCO’s New Zealand Memory of the World documentary heritage register.

It should be noted that there are four types of minute books:
  • District minute books
  • Judges / Commissioners minute books
  • Appellate minute books (appeals were held by a special Native Appellate Court from 1894 onwards)
  • Papatipu / Papatupu minute books – these are held in district offices only. District offices also hold additional records (block order files, application files, correspondence files, whakapapa files and nominal indexes for owners of land)

Auckland Libraries holds the following minute books:
  • Auckland Central Research Centre – all districts on microfilm, hardcopies of the following minute books: Northern, Auckland, Hauraki, Ōrākei, Kaipara, Mahurangi, Taitokerau, Waikato 
  • South Auckland Research Centre – all districts on microfilm
  • West Auckland Research Centre – all districts on microfilm, all districts in hardcopy
  • North Auckland Research Centre – hard copies of the following minute books: Auckland, Kaipara, Mahurangi and Ōrākei

None of these collections are totally complete, some books were missed in the digitisation process, and some of the original Māori Land Court minute books are missing.

It is important to acknowledge that the processes around applying for Native Land Court title were complex and problematic, and some of the content in the minute books is controversial and subject to dispute. The rush from the Crown to individualise title resulted in errors, and representations were sometimes received from those without a genuine mandate. See Te ture – Maori and legislation and Background to the Māori Land Court minute books for further information.

Part 2 of this post will cover searching the Māori Land Court minute books.

Clement, Christine (2012). ‘Discovering Māori links. Inside History, Jan/Feb, p42-44.
Paewai, Raewyn (2015) ‘Whakapapa for Beginners’. [Handout produced for Auckland Libraries’ workshops and customer use.]

Rachel Evans, Reference Librarian - Heritage

With assistance kindly provided by:
Robert Eruera, Senior Librarian Pou Ārahi Taonga
Raewyn Paewai, Senior Librarian Māori Research
Linda Hogan, Librarian – Research
I would also like to acknowledge the talk on this subject given by Margaret Ngaropo, former Pou Kohinga Matua

Motivation Monday: little gems on Scotland & the Panama Canal

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The June 2015 issue of The Scottish Genealogist was delivered to my desk recently and I came across a couple of articles that may be of interest to some of you.

The first is about the Edinburgh Sweating Club; I kid you not.  First appearing in 1750, this was apparently a band of young rogues who would go out drinking in the local hostelries and at midnight would sally forth and terrorise the local populace by snatching wigs off passers-by, chasing and jostling others. It is an interesting and amusing article.

A couple of pages further on in the same issue is a list of the members of the New Associate Congregation, Edinburgh (1785).  Have a look as you may find your ancestor listed; it gives names and place of residence.

Ever wondered where your ancestor went to school?  Another article in the same magazine is titled Scottish Charity Schools in the early 18th century.  This is a list of the charity schools run by the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SPCK) dated May 1724.  It gives the date of opening, place, parish, name of School-master, number of pupils divided into boys and girls.

The July/August 2015 issue of Your Genealogy Today has an article about records of those who worked on the Panama Canal titled – Finding Grandad at the Canal!  If you have lost one of your male ancestors then perhaps this may be something to consider.  The article mentions a several records that are of help with such a search.

Marie Hickey