Life never dull with 21 siblings

23:38, Jan 16 2014
Leslie MacDonald and Taane Macdonald hongi
Leslie MacDonald and Taane Macdonald hongi
Photographs of members of the family who have passed away lie on a mat out side the wharenui.
Mahinaahrangi Reihana-Kopa
Head chef for the event Mahinaahrangi Reihana-Kopa
Anna Clark
Anna Clark, an elder of the MacDonald family.
A wee dram to toast the haggis
Doug Macdonald
Piper Doug Macdonald pours drams of whiskey for family representatives to toast the hagas.
Luana McDonald
Luana McDonald and Isobel Macdonald Smith
Ruma MacLeod
Ruma MacLeod and Isobel Macdonald Smith
Haere mai, haere mai
Jeremy MacDonald
Jeremy MacDonald speaks last for the Manuhiri.
James MacDonald and Tuiti Meihana hongi.
James MacDonald and Tuiti Meihana hongi.
Tipi Wehipeihana
Tipi Wehipeihana
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.
Tuiti Makitanara Meihana
Tuiti Makitanara Meihana plants a tree at the Maori Island urupa
MacDonald family took a trip to the Maori Island urupa
Anaru Rangiheuea
Anaru Rangiheuea speaks to the Macdonald family members
Yvonne Grant
Yvonne Grant reads an inscription on one of the graves.
Learning about their tupuna (ancestors)
A gathering of generations of the Macdonald family
Lynette Meihana
Lynette Meihana from Whakatane
Teaching the mokopuna about their ancestors
Summer Rose Malietoa
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
Hineraukatauri Walker, 4, with her cousin Summer Rose Malietoa
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.
Macdonald family
Macdonald family

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. Gordon is among whanau attending the Macdonald family reunion, one of Marlborough's largest families.

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

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

The Marlborough Express