This morning YouTube recommended a film about New Zealand genealogy, Skeletons in the Cupboard.   I watched a bit of it at morning break and was “drawn in”. Focusing upon the peoples who occupied New Zealand before the Maori arrived – yes, I understood the land to have been previously unpopulated too – a Pakeha grabbed my attention.

bestelsdonElsdon BEST (1856 – 1931) had earned the trust of a number of Maori elders and of dominion officials and, though seemingly untrained for the task, found himself employed as the colony’s first ethnologist. His story is compelling – at least I found it so. Find a brief biography at Te Ara. Elsdon was born in Tawa Flat, about 15 km north of central Wellington but he later owned a house in Tinakori Road, a short walk from where I lived for a while in the 1970s. Ah, if only I’d known then what I know now.

Naturally, I headed over to FamilySearch to see if he had a deserved place on the World Tree. Elsdon didn’t find a wife until he was 47 years old and although Mary Adelaide WYLIE was only thirty the couple didn’t have any children. His pedigree isn’t extensive but after an hour or so of research this afternoon I think I can add a few bits of information – somewhat in the manner of putting small stones on a Jewish grave.

Skeletons in the Cupboard Episode 1

Best of Both Worlds: The Story of Elsdon Best and Tutakangahau by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman

Today’s Image

Serendipity strikes again. Elsdon fell off his horse, broke his leg and was “rescued” by Mary Adelaide Wylie. A year ago I photographed the hoofprints on Muston Sands and as I reached the end of Royal Parade on my walk this morning…


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