Macdonald, and proud of it

00:14, Jan 20 2014
Hall of fame: Michael Poetsch, of Levin, reads up on the sporting triumphs of his tupuna in the ‘‘Macdonald Whanau’’ exhibition at Marldhborough Museum in Blenheim

Viewing the vast family history of the Macdonalds of Blenheim was both overwhelming and surprising for those who attended a Macdonald family reunion outing at the Marlborough Museum.

The "Macdonald Whanau" exhibition opened at the museum last Thursday, in time for the reunion of one of Marlborough's and possibly New Zealand's largest families.

About 300 Macdonalds saw the exhibition, which featured portrait, achievements and lineage of prominent family members.

Sports fan Michael Poetsch, of Levin, whose grandmother was Ngati Kuia Macdonald, naturally made a beeline for the section devoted to the Macdonalds' sporting achievements.

"I grew up listening to the sporting achievements of our family," Mr Poetsch said. "In New Zealand - and Marlborough - the Macdonald name is one of the more prolific family names for playing rugby union."

Mr Poetsch had honed in on the profile of John Hoani "Jack" Macdonald, who among other sporting accolades won gold in the coxed fours at the 1932 Olympics.


He was also a Maori All Black and played professional rugby league in England.

Jess Macdonald, of Blenheim, was at the exhibition with her mother, Kim, and other family members.

She said the sheer size of her family came as a surprise.

"It's sort of a bit overwhelming," she said. "We've walked past family in the street, people we've only just met here, and we haven't known who they were. But we're related."

Christine Macdonald, of Blenheim, was surprised to discover that one family member, Ti Te Maari "Keala" Joan Settle, was a Broadway actress.

The Macdonald Whanau exhibition ends on February 16.

The Marlborough Express