Right down to the sideburns, Sid Going reckons his great-grandfather - who landed in New Zealand 150 years ago - had style.

The former All Black and family yesterday re-enacted Captain John Going's 1859 Auckland arrival from England. More than 200 descendants gathered in Waitangi to celebrate that anniversary.

Arriving on a dinghy with another relation who played the captain's wife, Eliza, Mr Going, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his forebear, joked that there were few others in the family qualified to play the part.

"There was no one else that good looking. My great-grandfather's lucky to look a little bit like me."

With five children in tow - one son died on the voyage over - the family moved to Northland. More children followed and their descendants spread right throughout the north. That is where the family's heart still beats, says the former halfback.

"It always has been and always will be."

Jan Haraldson, 48, who stepped in for great-great-grandmother Eliza, hails from a branch of the family which lives around Whangarei's coast from Ruakaka to Tutukaka. Her side has kept up the connection with the water that their seafaring ancestor started. Her father, John, and others are involved in deep sea, line and game fishing.

It was lovely catching up with relations, and many of the youngest Goings always received a few surprises at the reunions, she said.

"For the local children they often don't realise they're related to some of the children they go to school with. It's great."

Six generations have come from Africa, Australia and Ireland for the event, which is presided over by Mr Going's 101-year-old mother, Mary.