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Descendants of Colin Munro and Isabella Ross

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Murdoch Munro
Early years 1861-1884
Marriage 1885-1897
Widowhood 1898-1908

His parents
Colin & Isabella
His first wife
Emily Key 1868-1897
Their children
Alberta 1884-1974
Colin 1885-1961
Isabel 1887-1976
Millicent 1890-1948
Edith 1892-1963
Alan 1893-1968
Might Murdoch 1895-1962
His second wife
Waikaraka Tahana ?-1919
Their son
Haretana 1917-1993


Murdoch Munro
Te Hapua 1909-1922

Murdoch's final move, at the age of 48, was to a remote, largely Maori settlement on the far north coast of New Zealand. According to daughter Edie, he said he chose land at Waiheuheu (between Te Hapua and the north coast) because he liked to feel he was on the 'fringe of civilization'. It was here his children felt he was most at home, and where he became a loved and respected member of the community. And it was here he was buried, the first Pakeha in the Maori cemetary, overlooking the beautiful Parengarenga Harbour. (The photo of the harbour above is taken from the cemetary)

Murdoch's lease appears to have covered land from Tom Bowling Bay in the north to the northern shores of the Parengarenga Harbour. We are not sure how far east or west it spread, but it did include some land up towards Spirits Bay. He held the lease from 1909 until his death in 1922, when it was taken over by his son Alan until the late 1920s.

Our knowledge of his time here comes from two sources, the writings of his daughter Edie, and the stories passed down by his second "wife", Waikaraka Tahana, and their son Haretana.

Edie's unpublished Memories of the Far North are fascinating impressions of a 17 year old Pakeha girl arriving in this Maori settlement. They consist of only a few short accounts of aspects of life in the settlement. But Edie was a talented writer (as well as poet and artist), and she brings the time and place to life for us 100 years later.

The links on the right will take you to excerpts from her Memories, as well as to her short story The Peaceful Warrior. This is set around Te Hapua and obviously draws on local Maori stories. In 1957, Edie published a small book of poems entitled "The Lonely Pioneer and other poems". We have selected four of the poems which are inspired by Te Hapua. We have also transcribed a letter she wrote from Te Hapua, which provides descriptions of domestic life.

The descendants of Waikaraka Tahana and Murdoch give us the Maori perspective on their relationship and Murdoch's place in the community.

We also include Murdoch's own account of the wreck of the Wimmera, sunk by a German mine in 1918, when he took care of the survivors.

Edie's writings
The Journey North
Rapata Shows Me the Way
Sowing Grass Seed at Pakohu
The Peaceful Warrior
Letter from Te Hapua

Waikaraka's stories

Wreck of the Wimmera