Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Put out old welcome mat

Early settlers' descendant says we should all remember our migratory roots.

The reunion took Gray Jamieson two years to plan.  Photo / Brett Phibbs
The reunion took Gray Jamieson two years to plan. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The descendant of one of the first European settlers to arrive in Auckland said new migrants should be welcomed in "the same spirit" as the Maori showed with his ancestors nearly 170 years ago.

Gray Desmond Jamieson's ancestors Barr and Ann Jamieson arrived in Auckland from Scotland on board the Duchess of Argyll in 1842.

He said history books revealed that they did not have enough food when they first set foot here, and survived only because Maori fed them.

"I don't think I'd be around today had it not been for what the Maori had done for my folks back then," said Mr Jamieson, 84.

"I think we're all migrants at some point, and new migrants should be welcomed in the same spirit as the Maori welcomed my ancestors."

He said Auckland had been transformed into a multicultural city, and migrants had made it "far more exciting and interesting" than the city his ancestors first came to.

Barr and Ann Jamieson settled in Auckland with six of their seven children. One of their sons, William, moved to the Thames coast where he married Susan Lord and had 14 children.

Mr Jamieson is on an organising committee that is planning a Jamieson family reunion to mark the 170th anniversary of the New Zealand landing on October 9, 1842.

More than 300 extended family members, including those from Scotland and Australia, are expected to attend the three-day gathering at Thames High School starting on Friday.

Mr Jamieson, a retired businessman, said it had taken nearly two years to plan the reunion.

He is a descendent of William's brother Govan, who settled in the Mahurangi area.

"Govan was great friends with the Maori chief Te Hemara where the pa was at the mouth of the Puhoi River," Mr Jamieson said.

"He was also good friends with the chief's sister, who sold him the Te Korotangi block, which is now Jamieson Bay."

Mr Jamieson and his wife, Ngaire, 82, are Mormons and have four children, 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

The reunion will start on Friday with a wine and cheese evening, and the next two days will see a pioneer costume and family recipe cake-baking competitions.

Dinner and ceilidh (Scottish dance) will be the highlight for Saturday night, and on Sunday families will visit cemeteries where Jamiesons are buried.

Mr Jamieson said the reunion would mark a "historic event" celebrating the beginning of organised immigration to New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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