Big family meant 'never a dull moment'

SONIA BEAL
Last updated 07:41 17/01/2014

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Try picturing a family with 21 siblings. The image you would most likely get is one of complete chaos.

But not so, according to former Blenheim woman Kahu Gordon.

The 68-year-old was the 12th of 21 sons and daughters fathered by Manny Macdonald, of Blenheim. Mrs Gordon is among whanau attending the Macdonald family reunion, one of Marlborough's largest families.

"I had seven brothers and 13 sisters," Mrs Gordon said.

The remarkable number of siblings came about after her father, Manny Macdonald, married Horina and had four children. Horina died when the eldest, Cappy Macdonald, was just 8-years-old.

Manny Macdonald then married Horina's sister, Tauru, and had 17 children. But Tauru also died, when Mrs Gordon was 10.

Manny had to get used to being a solo dad, but being such a large family everyone helped look after the younger family members, Mrs Gordon said. Growing up with so many siblings was a joy.

"There was never a dull moment," she said.

"We were brought up on a farm and we all worked the land."

The Macdonalds are known for their diligence, an attribute which has been passed to the younger generations, Mrs Gordon said.

"Our children say that work is a hobby."

Manny Macdonald had instilled Christian values in his children and told them to be kind to each other, Mrs Gordon said.

"We weren't allowed to scrap with one another, because our father told us we couldn't," she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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