Helensville hosts family reunion

A large family reunion has been held in Helensville War Memorial Hall to bring together descendants of tailor John Shepherd, who emigrated to New Plymouth, New Zealand from Holsworthy, England in 1841, and seamstress Martha Vercoe, also a British immigrant. While over the years many descendants have had connections with South Kaipara this was the first Shepherd gathering of its kind.
With many hours of organisation put into the event, the 100 plus descendants who came to Helensville for the reunion, some of whom travelled from as far away as France, Australia and England for the event, had the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones, enjoy the memorabilia displays, browse family histories and listen to speakers talking about the fruits of their research. People were quick to snap up historical accounts, including Robin L Shepherd’s novel of the early days of John and Martha, “Footprints in The Sand”.
South Head farmer Dennis, the only Shepherd descendant who lives locally, said Helensville was chosen for the venue because of its excellent facilities and to avoid the prohibitive hire costs of halls closer to the city, a choice that gave our local economy a boost and one which will hopefully be repeated with other reunion events in the future.

Fifth generation New Zealanders descended from John and Martha Shepherd model beautiful period gowns designed and made by great-great-granddaughter Vivienne. L-R: sisters Robyn (France), Dawn (Tauranga), Catherine (Cambridge), Bronwen (Katikati), cousin Vivienne (Whangarei).

Fifth generation New Zealanders descended from John and Martha Shepherd model beautiful period gowns designed and made by great-great-granddaughter Vivienne. L-R: sisters Robyn (France), Dawn (Tauranga), Catherine (Cambridge), Bronwen (Katikati), cousin Vivienne (Whangarei).

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