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Qualtrough Family Reunion at Hamilton, New Zealand

12th October 2002

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Co-operating Parish of St Clare's, Tuhikaramea Road, Hamilton where the gathering was held.

The previous few days had been cold but beautiful and sunny and it augured well for the Qualtrough Gathering which had been organised to be held at the Co-operating Parish of St Clare's in Tuikaramea Road, Hamilton on 12 October 2002.

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Myra Caldwell of Te Aroha at the registration table.

Dorothy Anderton had answered the call for a co-ordinator back in June and had utilised her wonderful organising skills over the previous months to gather together about 100 family members from almost all over New Zealand with two intrepid Qualtrough family members visiting from overseas.

The day itself dawned a little cloudy and rain threatened however the spirits were not dampened and Dorothy and I arrived at the complex about an hour ahead of expected arrivals in order to do things that early birds for such occasions do…put the urns on, set out the family tree, and generally make it a welcoming atmosphere for our wonderful family who were expecting to enjoy the day.

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Elizabeth Feisst (left) of Bundaberg, Australia and Dorothy Anderton of Hamilton at "speech time".

The first ones began arriving… Warwick and Noeline McGhie; Qualtroughs, Bells, Haddock descendants, Schwarzs, more McGhies, Gavins, Caldwells, Cowan descendants and many others. They were all there and so super to see them too, it was.

Considering it was 23 years since the last Reunion in Pakuranga, Auckland, many who were present at that gathering, were again present at this one. Most had aged a shade, but that didn't deter the wonderful memories shared.

A portion of the family present listening to speeches at the "formal" part of the day.

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The day began with a short formal session introduced by Dorothy who gave out the obligatory how to, where to and why to messages then I shared some memory patter of my current work in Qualtrough research, as well as acknowledged a few special people such as Dorothy, as well as Joy McDougall, co-author of the book A QUOTA OF QUALTROUGHS, published after the last gathering. And also to the appreciation of those present and a surprise for the person concerned…. Sonia Peters, now 23 years old, was introduced as the person who was the youngest present in 1979 at the age of 3 weeks. I am sure Sonia saw the Qualtrough family from a far different perspective this time!!!

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Joy McDougall of Auckland, co-author with Elizabeth Barlow, now Feisst, of A QUOTA OF QUALTROUGHS acknowledging the crowd's appreciation for her past efforts..

The rest of the day took on the air of a meet, greet, eat, and browse as all mixed and introduced themselves and rattled their brains in an attempt to sort out family relationships. Many spent time in the display room where the Qualtrough family tree had been prepared in hard copy and placed on a long table in many folders. Family were encouraged to find themselves and their families and forms were provided so notations of corrections and additions could be jotted down so I could make these updates on my return home to Australia. Other memorabilia was displayed on walls, tables and notice boards and these provided a great talking point, especially old photographs some had brought with them. All this provided a great stimulation of memories and one would wander past groups hearing… "I remember when.." or "I wonder who this or that was.." or "What year was it that…" and so on.

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Checking family memorabilia are foreground - John Gavin of Auckland (l), and Madeline Rogers of Motueka, South Island, background - l to r, Chris Schwarz of Tauranga, Irene Gavin of Auckland, Jim Schwarz of Tauranga.

It was soon lunchtime (it was a BYO) and any organisation Dorothy had made with chairs in various groupings was soon put into total disarray as people moved around from this grouping to that, taking their chairs with them. The babble of voices as stories were shared, the scratching of heads as memories were tested, the laughter engendered from the many anecdotes, and the flashing of cameras as photos were taken to record the occasion - all this and more was a pleasure to observe.

It was wonderful to see so many of the family seniors there…. Ida Feisst at 92, was the oldest present, however there was Edie Schwarz, Laurie Schwarz, Marg and Jim Duff, Barry Sinnott, Cyril Shaw, Bill Schwarz, just to name a few..

Following lunch, it was back once again to more talking and checking the family tree. At 2pm our wonderful family singing group, The David Qualtrough Singers 
primarily from Te Aroha, entertained us all in the Church area. The Group, uniformly dressed in black and cream, sang for us 7 or so Manx songs and ballads including the song written for the 1979 reunion by Joy McDougall…. "Arbory to Auckland" Others included "Ellan Vannin" and "Old Ramsey Town". Everyone appreciated this wonderful presentation.

While everyone was in the Church, the Group photo was arranged after much tooing and froing, and again another record for posterity was retained on several cameras. A record was also made of those 80 years and over. Earlier in the day, Ida Feisst (92) and Hannah Greenville (20 months) were recorded together as the oldest and youngest present, just as Sonia Peters and the late Amy Hardley had been recorded in 1979.

Afternoon tea was then consumed and more talking continued as people began to prepare to leave for home. One last look at the family tree and memorabilia and then it was home time.

Farewells were long and genuine as many knew that they may not meet again for a long time and in some cases perhaps never again. Many connections had been made during the occasion and changes of addresses (email and snail mail) had occurred. Smiles and words of appreciation for Dorothy's work and the realisation many had of the sheer enormity of the Qualtrough family world wide left with many finished off a wonderful time together.

Such gatherings occasion the desire within each of us to belong and when we see the elements of the wonderful Qualtrough family in action, the benefits of belonging are endless. Reunions and Gatherings such as this day cement these feelings of togetherness.

So another New Zealand Qualtrough Gathering was over… how long until the next one is anyone's guess, but memories of this one and the rekindled memories of the last one in 1979 will be lived and relived for many a day.

Elizabeth Feisst
Queensland, Australia
December 2002

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