Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ancestral Ghosts


When my family arrived in New Zealand from the other side of the world about six or so generations ago, one lot arrived at the bottom of the country and the other lot (I had previously thought) had pitched up in Gisborne (beach pictures before Posh's shoes).

I do feel sorry for the lot who arrived at the bottom end of the country, they left a bleak cold climate under the illusion that they were heading for tropical climes and, after more than three grim months at sea, they rocked at a place that was host to, pretty much, a bleak old climate (apart from summer that lasts for four days in February).

I am sure many of them would have thought, 'shag this' and then suppressed overwhelming desires to leap back aboard the ship as it made its return journey. My (insert-'many') great grandfather thought 'jeez I'd love a beer' and then went about brewing some - and they, more or less, stayed living around the bottom of the South Island.

I had been under the illusion that the other side of the family had rocked up at Gisborne and thought, 'I'd kill a roast meal' and then set about farming many many many roast meals in the making.

Is there a point to this story, you ask? Kind of, I am getting to it, just taking the scenic route.

With my work, I tend to travel all over the place. And I reckon you always get a sense of a place. Some places you feel real attachments to, and I have always put it down to the fact that it is because of the memories associated with them. I grew up in the North Island but I have a real connection with parts of the lower half of the South Island as lots of holidays were spent there and there are many stories associated with the ancestors all over the place. I have always had a connection with Gisborne as I spent a lot of time there with friends, over the years and ditto re: stories about those who went before us.

But there is a little settlement about an hour and a half from where I live and every time I go through it I have always felt a connection with it. And it's weird, cause there is absolutely no reason for me to feel anything apart from indifference about this place. I have never spent any time there and have not one memory to attach with it. Every time I have gone through it I have always said to whomever I have been travelling with, 'Don't know what it is about this place, but I have always felt strangely comfortable here.'

When my father was staying the other week I was quizzing him about the family history and I was remarking what a great place Gisborne would have been to sail on in to. Apart from the fact that it's a pig of a place to get to from any major city (not that that would have been a major concern over a hundred years ago - everywhere was a pig a of place to get to, then) it's got a great climate, great beaches, great... well, pass me the farm.

And then my father told me that his family hadn't started out in Gisborne at all, they had actually moved to Gisborne.

I asked where they first lived, on arrival in the country.

I don't need to tell you what he said, do I?

Yup, my strangely comfortable place.

And fair-suck-of-the-sav, I had not heard of that piece of information until it came out of his mouth.

Kind of spooky, in a strangely reassuring way.

Either that, or a complete coincidence.

2 comments:

tinman18 said...

I'm rooting for reassuringly spooky, coz it's more fun than coincidence.

I have no idea what fair-suck-of-the-sav means, by the way. Do I want to?

laughykate said...

IN my world it's the same as 'fair dinkum'.