Mataroa and my family

Mataroa is a tiny settlement just north of Taihape, about 5km off State Highway 1. I called in there today, just to have a look, because my grandfather grew up there in the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th.

I thought that I might be able to find traces of my family in the cemetery, and as I was making my way towards it, I met a local farmer, Dave Coogan. I asked Dave if there were any Murphy headstones in the cemetery, but he said there were none. But he advised me to go and call on Barry Cleaver, just down the road, who knew a lot of local history.

So I did. And what a good thing that turned out to be.

Mr Cleaver has assembled photos of all the families who were part of the district. He made me a cup of tea, and found his album, and let me look through it. And there I found my grandfather.

The Murphy family.  My granddad is Bill, at the front on the right.

The Murphy family. My granddad is Bill, at the front on the right.

The family home was just down the road from where Mr Cleaver lives. It’s not there now, but I was able to find the site.

The house at Mataroa where my grandfather's family lived

The house at Mataroa where my grandfather’s family lived

And where the house stood.

And where the house stood.

I didn’t think that my grandfather had served in World War I, but there was a photo of him in uniform, with his brothers Gus and Gerald.

Bill, Gus and Gerald in uniform

Bill, Gus and Gerald in uniform

And there was a photo of my great-grandmother, as a very elderly lady.

My great-grandmother, Mrs Margaret Murphy

My great-grandmother, Mrs Margaret Murphy

I was astounded to see all these photos, and to get a sense of my grandfather as a boy, and the district where he grew up. After the war he moved away, and with his brother Gus, settled land at Aotuhia, about 100km away as the tui flies, but more than 300km by road, thanks to the narrow valleys and high hills of the dissected hill country between coastal Taranaki and the central plateau. Later on they moved to Whangamomona, where my mother was born, and so was I.

It was a great pleasure to find this old connection with Mataroa, in the heart of the Rangitīkei electorate. I’m very grateful to Mr Cleaver for being so hospitable and so generous with his knowledge, and for allowing me to take quick snapshots of the photos.

(If any of my Murphy cousins are reading this, e-mail me and I can send copies of the snapshots to you.)

This entry was posted in Family, Rangitikei 2014 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mataroa and my family

  1. Karen Doyle says:

    Kia Ora Deb really delighted you are standing for Labour and NOBODY COULD HAPPIER THAN I …………. For me it is voting Labour or the furtherest left I can go. I just heard your name on National Radio NZ being mentioned in connection with preventing / decreasing / stopping Family Violence. Would love to know the details, hear the programme or read the article. I also saw jobs first and jobs last statement. Yes it is all about jobs for everybody and will read that article next. I have very strong views about NZ’s spiralling down into a low wage economy and violence against children increasing disgustingly (definitely related) just means the gap between rich and poor becomes greater and then all the other social ills increase exponentially. I really want to hear a lot more from Labour as a Party about what the plans are to change this ludicrous situation in our once much happier nation where all shared in prosperity.
    It is not about the wealthy excusing themselves by saying those others have made poor choices!
    A child born into poverty and violence did not choose that!
    I am currently out of work, need paid work, but if you need typing done for free in the meantime talk into your cell phone – send me a voice file and I am sure I could turn it into accurate copy for you very happily………….. and quickly………….. just a thought……………..

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