Macdonalds join to celebrate heritage

18:23, Jan 14 2014
Family elders: Isobel Macdonald Smith, 81, and Cappy Macdonald, 86, are the eldest Macdonald family members, and are looking forward to their family reunion at Omaka this week

One of Marlborough's biggest families will celebrate their heritage at a reunion at Omaka Marae in Blenheim this week.

Just over 500 Macdonald family members will come together from as far as Utah in the United States.

Head organiser of the reunion, Wendy Hynes, said she couldn't wait to see so many of her family members together.

"It has been a very long time since we've been together, the first reunion at Omaka was in 1968 and many of the people attending this family reunion weren't even born back then," she said.

The 1968 reunion was the last one held in Marlborough. It followed the funeral for Lena Macdonald and Ngati Kuia Patuaka/Wehipeihana (nee Macdonald).

Ms Hynes said the family wanted to come together in happier circumstances this time round.


"[But] we find ourselves in a similar situation this time after the passing of my uncle Haua Detoma (Mugwi) Macdonald on December 20.

"He was our second oldest family member and his death was unexpected - we thought we would all be celebrating together, he will be missed," she said.

The last Macdonald reunion was in 1984 in Hastings. Nearly 30 years later, the family wanted to bring their whanau together again at home in Wairau, Ms Hynes said.

She hoped the family would use the five days together to reconnect, empower and build a future together for their whanau.

The oldest member of the family, Cappy Macdonald, 86, will unveil the flag at the reunion opening ceremony tomorrow.

"I'm beginning to look forward to the event, but think it will get more exciting for me as people arrive on the day - it seems almost unreal to think so many of us will be here," he said.

He is also looking forward to the family golf tournament during their sports day on Friday.

Ms Hynes said the family was grateful for the backing of their iwi, Rangitane o Wairau, Ngati Apa Ki te Ra To and Ngati Kuia.

The reunion will be held from tomorrow to Sunday.

The Marlborough Express