Whanau, Whanau, Whanau

My family is really rather small, only about 10 people who are close enough to give Christmas presents to. Seven on the other hand, has an enormous family: a mother, nine siblings, numerous sisters- and brothers-in-law, and at least 25 nieces and nephews, I have no idea how many aunties, uncles, and cousins, never mind all the people who stretch out laterally and have the status of nanas, aunties, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews,  and so on. So you may imagine what his familial obligations are in New Zealand, not to mention the fact that he hasn’t been back in 12 years.

It’s a little like one of those fairy tales in which the princess is supposed to separate a mountain of barley from a mountain of wheat in the course of a single night. But I have to say that Seven certainly gave it his all. As soon as we reached the Bay of Islands, he left the rest of us and shot off to see his mother — who turned out not to be home (this was before we’d gotten the telephone working). Still, there were all these other people to catch up with: his cousin Rata, his sister Grace, Auntie Luana, her son Bronson, Milton, Fred, Auntie Mae, etc., etc.

Here’s a picture of Seven’s cousin Rata, whom I was really sorry not to have seen, as we spent a bit of time together in Australia back in the day.


The reason I never managed to catch up with Rata is that when Seven went back with the kids the next day, I was curled up in front of the gas fire with a case of food poisoning. After our first wonderful meal in New Zealand, we had a second, pretty ordinary one at a place in Paihia that looked like it should have been ok but wasn’t. I’m thinking it was probably the shrimp, but in any case I was, fortunately, the only one who got really sick.

I was especially glad that it was just me because I really wanted the boys to see where Seven had grown up; and of course, everyone there wanted to get a look at them. Here are some pictures of a few of the things they saw:

The landscape on the drive out there:

near Paihia

Bronson, one of their cousins:


the view from Bronson’s mother’s house:

view from bill's house

And an extremely beautiful and interesting beach on the opposite side of the peninsula with these great basalt (?) columns and even a cave!

columnar rocks


Here is what Abraham was doing while the other two were clambering up and down the rocks:

abraham with camera

and here are a few of his pix:




Hey, you Kiwis, remember this plant???

Clearing up a Couple of Points

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Editor of Harvard Review and author of "Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia" and "Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All."

9 thoughts on “Whanau, Whanau, Whanau”

      1. I don’t know if Seven is interested in this, but I have been collecting the names of Maori airmen from WWII. A lot of people, including a lot of Maori I have talked to don’t know that there were Maori pilots during WWII. One of the more famous was John Pohe, who flew with Bomber Command, was shot down over Germany, captured, and then was part of the Great Escape. He was later captured again and shot by the Gestapo. One from Ngpuhie is: Clifford-Jones, Bruce Innes: Ngapuhi tribe, Bay of Islands. RAF No. 9 Squadron (2nd pilot) flying Wellington bombers. Pilot’s name, Rosofsky. Died 8 September 1939.

  1. Kia ora Christina

    Fantastic for you all to meet up in a beautiful part of NZ. Seven’s whanau will have you counting family numbers to the horizon. Enjoy their company, aroha and manaakitanga. Precious time to be together.

    Ka kite


  2. Ah yes, the Gorse. Right up there with the rat and the possum as the worst of invasive species. Whose bright idea was that !

  3. Those meat pies have things in them you wouldn’t want to describe in a blog post..Are you sure they weren’t the poison culprit?!

    Enjoy the Whanau and we hope Seven and the boys want to come “home”….

  4. Dear C,

    The basalt columns are wonderful. That photo in your last post of the bay in NZ looked so lovely. Glad Seven is seeing all his NZ family and you are reliving your earlier years and your handsome, talented sons experiencing roots and ancestry. Now please be well and be rested. I’ve learned from your other friend who responded to your flower photos (on Tahiti?) a few posts ago that bougainvillea does indeed have tiny flowers inside its blossoms!

  5. I’m tempted to go all epidemiologist on you and figure out what caused the food poisoning, but as long as you’re ok I’ll let it go. 🙂

    1. I’m also struck by how familiar the concept of the whanau is to me. Both the Jewish and Portuguese sides of my family have a notion of kinship that extends through aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on, with relatively little concern for the difference between, say, a first cousin and a third cousin.

      A lot of people in the US find it strange when I refer to my grandfather’s first cousin as “my cousin” or when I call my mother’s best friend’s brother, whom I haven’t seen in 25 years, to ask a favor because he’s family. (And he is glad to hear from me and grants the favor.) Your description of Seven’s family is essentially my definition of family.

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