Thanks to a grant from the Rodney Local Board, the Puhoi Historical Society can complete its project of compiling folders on each of the families who contributed to Puhoi’s development – the 50 Bohemian families; Te Hemara Tauhia; the Irish Kennedys, Meaneys, Clarkes, Ryans and Nolans, who were probably attracted by the Catholicity of the Bohemians; the English Titfords, Barkers and Billings, who were a great help to the struggling emigrants; the seamen Noakes, Lennan and Erickson; and soldiers Dennis and Lambert who married Bohemian women; Andersons, Logans, Sandersons and McCathies; and other names that have come to be a part of Puhoi’s heritage.
Here is an overview of this project which we began last year and intend to complete this year:
For the Bohemian families, we start with their ancestors in Bohemia. In some cases, dates and places go back to the 16th century. It is probable that all the families brought baptismal and marriage certificates with them, but not all have been preserved. Baptismal records are extremely valuable as they give the birth and baptismal date – usually the same – and the names and residences of both the parents and the grandparents. The certificates are handwritten copies in the script of the 1860s, taken from the church records. Recently, we have been receiving documents directly from the church records which are now online. Some of these are beautifully written and others virtually illegible.
When the relatives of the Bohemians, who immigrated to New Zealand, were expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1945, they compiled a book detailing the history including a map of each village they left behind. We add the appropriate information to each family record. Most of the ships that brought settlers to Puhoi are well documented with newspaper reports, passenger lists, captain and doctor reports as well and, in some cases, diaries and photos. Some passports for the head of the family, with dependents added on the reverse, have survived and a ticket for the War Spirit, Liverpool and Ida Zeigler. It cost £64 for a family of three adults and two children to travel from England to New Zealand.
We have maps showing the land allotted to settlers under the Waste Lands Act, the Homestead Act, the deferred payment scheme, some naturalisation papers, wills, school rolls, minute books, cemetery records and war records. We have searched the Birth, Death and Marriage Register and National Society of Genealogists records to have an extensive Personal Ancestry File and also quite a number of certificates.
And then there is paperspast.natlib.govt.nz
, a veritable treasure trove of clippings from most of New Zealand’s newspapers. Details of weddings, balls, and other social events, Roads Board and Rodney County Council meetings, court cases, school, hall, A&P show committees, obituaries and personal columns are added to the folders and will make the families live again for the generations to come.