In contrast to the centrality of whakapapa/genealogy in Māori culture, very little is known about the content of family memory among New Zealanders of European descent.This constitutes a missing link to our past.
All families are storehouses of information, and their memories, written records, photographs and objects have the collective potential to expand our knowledge about family life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In this research project we asked sixty multigenerational New Zealand families throughout the country, approached through a random sample of the general electoral rolls, to share their knowledge and memories of earlier generations.
The oral history interviews with participating families all around the country were recorded between August 2016 and March 2018. In total, we have 150 individual interviews.
We asked our interviewees to tell us about themselves, their family history, and any stories that had been passed down orally. They also chose two or three photographs and/or objects that were particularly significant in terms of their family past. Those who have contributed to this research have chosen whether or not to remain anonymous.
Everyone participating in the project has received an audio copy of their interview, which we hope will become a valued family resource for future generations. The research will culminate in a book about family memory and history in New Zealand.
Photograph: Unidentified family group. Crown Studios Ltd: Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/4-108662-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.