Big family meant 'never a dull moment'

Macdonald family
Macdonald family
There are 13 of 21 Macdonald family siblings who remain from Manny Macdonald’s family.   Six of the siblings were at the Macdonald family reunion yesterday, from left, Milly Finlay, 57, Moira Hebberd, 62, Phillip Macdonald, 65, Kahu Gordon, 68, Isobel Macdonald Smith, 81, Cappy Macdonald, 86.
There are 13 of 21 Macdonald family siblings who remain from Manny Macdonald’s family. Six of the siblings were at the Macdonald family reunion yesterday, from left, Milly Finlay, 57, Moira Hebberd, 62, Phillip Macdonald, 65, Kahu Gordon, 68, Isobel Macdonald Smith, 81, Cappy Macdonald, 86.
Peering into the past: Hineraukatauri Walker, 4, and cousin Summer Rose Malietoa look at one of their ancestor’s graves at Maori Island urupa, a Maori burial site at Grovetow
Peering into the past: Hineraukatauri Walker, 4, and cousin Summer Rose Malietoa look at one of their ancestor’s graves at Maori Island urupa, a Maori burial site at Grovetow
Teaching the mokopuna about their ancestors
Teaching the mokopuna about their ancestors
Lynette Meihana from Whakatane
Lynette Meihana from Whakatane
A gathering of generations of the Macdonald family
A gathering of generations of the Macdonald family
Learning about their tupuna (ancestors)
Learning about their tupuna (ancestors)
Hineraukatauri Walker, 4, with her cousin Summer Rose Malietoa
Hineraukatauri Walker, 4, with her cousin Summer Rose Malietoa
Yvonne Grant reads an inscription on one of the graves.
Yvonne Grant reads an inscription on one of the graves.
Anaru Rangiheuea speaks to the Macdonald family members
Anaru Rangiheuea speaks to the Macdonald family members
MacDonald family took a trip to the Maori Island urupa
MacDonald family took a trip to the Maori Island urupa
Tuiti Makitanara Meihana plants a tree at the Maori Island urupa
Tuiti Makitanara Meihana plants a tree at the Maori Island urupa
Ruma MacLeod and Isobel Macdonald Smith
Ruma MacLeod and Isobel Macdonald Smith
A wee dram to toast the haggis
A wee dram to toast the haggis
Head chef for the event Mahinaahrangi Reihana-Kopa
Head chef for the event Mahinaahrangi Reihana-Kopa
Haere mai, haere mai
Haere mai, haere mai
James MacDonald and Tuiti Meihana hongi.
James MacDonald and Tuiti Meihana hongi.
The family wait outside the Marae to be welcomed. Carol McDonald at front sings the karanga.
The family wait outside the Marae to be welcomed. Carol McDonald at front sings the karanga.
Tipi Wehipeihana
Tipi Wehipeihana
Piper Doug Macdonald pours drams of whiskey for family representatives to toast the hagas.
Piper Doug Macdonald pours drams of whiskey for family representatives to toast the hagas.
Anna Clark, an elder of the MacDonald family.
Anna Clark, an elder of the MacDonald family.
Photographs of members of the family who have passed away lie on a mat out side the wharenui.
Photographs of members of the family who have passed away lie on a mat out side the wharenui.
Jeremy MacDonald speaks last for the Manuhiri.
Jeremy MacDonald speaks last for the Manuhiri.
Leslie MacDonald and Taane Macdonald hongi
Leslie MacDonald and Taane Macdonald hongi

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.

The Marlborough Express