The descendants of one of Whanganui's first European settlers, John "Jock" McGregor, plan to restore their ancestor's grave.

Jock McGregor died in 1882 and was buried in the old cemetery at Heads Rd.

In the weekend up to 100 of his descendants came to Whanganui from all over the country to discuss the first steps towards sprucing up his grave site.

Family spokesperson Robert Ropiha said no maintenance had been done on the headstone and grave site for a long time, and it was in poor condition.

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"You can't read the writing on the gravestone and there's pieces of the fence [around the grave] missing. We've also been told there used to be an angel at the top of the headstone, and we don't know where that's gone.

"We'd like to find those things and make sure the writing can be read again," Mr Ropiha said.

Mr McGregor was born in Scotland in 1813 and died in Whanganui in 1882. He sailed to Tasmania when he was 21, before heading to Stewart Island to work in the whaling industry. In 1840, while living in Wellington, he visited Whanganui and became the first European to sail up the Whanganui River mouth. He settled in Whanganui in 1843.

He and his partner Hinekawa had one child, a son Teone. However, Teone had 11 children meaning Mr McGregor has thousands of descendants.

Mr Ropiha, who is a direct descendant of Teone McGregor's oldest daughter, said a sub-committee was formed over the weekend to plan for the grave's restoration.

"We've been raising funds within the family and already have more than $2000."

Mr Ropiha said once the grave is restored, a family hui will be organised to share some of the many famous stories and history of their ancestor. And they already have another project planned.

"After we've finished this we'll restore Teone McGregor's grave, which is near Levin," he said.