The following announcement was written by Ancestry.co.uk:
Ancestry.co.uk, the UK’s favourite family history website , has launched online the largest online collection of more than 20 million records, which document both the early European settlers to New Zealand as well as many of the country’s indigenous Māori tribes.
The new records will be especially useful to the two million Brits with ancestors who immigrated to New Zealand and who can now uncover their 'kiwi' roots.
Yet despite our close ancestral links to the country, new research reveals that we know virtually nothing about the history and culture of our Antipodean cousins. Half of Brits (51 per cent) have no idea if New Zealand has a queen – unaware that the British queen Elizabeth II is actually also the reigning monarch of New Zealand.
Moreover, a quarter of respondents (25 per cent) are unsure whether Britain fought for or against New Zealand in the World Wars, despite the fact the two countries were in fact allies in both conflicts.
And when it comes to culture, sheep (54 per cent), 'kiwis' (53 per cent) and the setting for the Lord of the Rings films (31 per cent) are among the things Brits most closely associate with the country.
Surprisingly, more than one in ten (11 per cent) even associate Aborigines with New Zealand, rather than their actual homeland - Australia.
But from today, the two million Brits with ancestors linked to New Zealand and the 4.2 million of us with living New Zealand relatives can uncover our 'kiwi' roots in more than 20 million historical records documenting early British settlers and Māori tribes in New Zealand, published online for the first time.
The ‘Anne Bromell Collection’, named after the woman who collated the original records, spans almost 140 years from 1842 to 1981 and includes electoral rolls, immigration records, directories and land records for New Zealand, providing a comprehensive history of early settlement in the colony – essential for anyone tracing an ancestor from the era.
From the records, Ancestry.co.uk has uncovered the diverse roots of actor Russell Crowe, who can name among his antecedents Maori tribeswoman Putiputi Heihi, a member of the Ngati Porou tribe from New Zealand’s North Island. The Ngati Porou was best known for producing ferocious warriors throughout history, much like the bellicose Gladiator star.
Putiputi married Crowe’s great-grandfather, Athol Stanley Wemyss, the son of Scottish immigrants who settled in Wellington. Through his paternal line, Crowe can also claim English and Welsh roots, with his welsh-born grandfather the son of a Shropshire family who emigrated in the 1920s.
Ancestry.co.uk International Content Director Dan Jones comments: “This collection is a fantastic resource for anyone with links to the southern hemisphere and will allow thousands of Brits to explore their New Zealand roots for the first time.
“Many of us aren’t aware of the close historical links between Britain and New Zealand and may be surprised to learn that they have ‘kiwi' cousins – like Russell Crowe, who despite being known as an Australian actor, is actually a New Zealander with British heritage.”