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Significant site . . . Milmine family members (from left) Judith Burnett, Janice Smaill, Allison Rush, Joan Robb, Allan Milmine, and Bruce Milmine gather at the memorial tree at Kia Ora to plan their bus tour. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

A North Otago family is organising a bus tour to show younger members their history in the district.

Judith Burnett has masterminded the initiative, in the hope the Milmine clan will not lose its connections with many local sites.

She has enlisted the help of various Milmine cousins, some of whom have drawn up a family tree and studied their forebears’ contribution to farming life in the early days of European settlement.

Mrs Burnett feared relatives in their teens and 20s had little idea of such matters and wanted them to gain an appreciation and continue family records.

She wondered if other families would be interested in doing something similar.

The Milmines came out to New Zealand from Fort Patrick in Scotland, where they had been shipbuilders. Her aunt was born at Cape Horn during the voyage.

The Milmines became engineers and chaff cutters in their adopted country.

The bus trip, tentatively scheduled for April, would likely start at Waitaki Bridge, where Milmines farmed in the days before irrigation transformed paddocks from dust and stones into lush pasture.

Airedale was next on the itinerary, followed by Enfield and Kia Ora, then on to Windsor and Five Forks.

Kia Ora is of special interest, since Ernest Milmine gave the settlement its name. The family arrived there in 1908, but it had no name. The young farmers were asked to come up with one.

At a meeting where the issue was under discussion, “Uncle Ernie”, known for his dapper dress sense, was wearing a tie pin with the words Kia Ora on it. That was adopted as the area’s name.

A memorial tree was planted at the crossroads decades ago and a plaque added at a previous family reunion.

Mrs Burnett said the original oak did not survive, so local gardening expert Ray Lawrence was asked for advice. The silver birch he recommended has thrived there ever since and Mrs Burnett’s daughter, Angela, now mows the roadside grass in front of it.

Mrs Burnett has pinned family history information and photographs on the wall inside the Kia Ora Hall, also located at the crossroads.