“I’ve been doing genealogy. I’m just an amateur but fanatical. I’m a member of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and the local Canterbury Society. I’ve been doing other people’s trees for them, just for fun. I just love it. It’s so intriguing and to find these bits of history that I’m connected to is just amazing.
I went to a performance at Kate Shepherd house ‘Mary Bumby’s Hive of Story’ – the first person to bring honeybees to New Zealand. As I was driving home I thought: Oh, goodness gracious me. I’ve got some Bumbys in my family tree. And so I looked it up, and yes, sure enough, Jane Bumby, who turned out to be her auntie. So I’m related to her – I’m her first cousin five times removed. I feel that I’m a detective as a genealogist. I am constantly finding other ways of finding people. But anyway, I found out the story of Mary Anna Bumby and oh, that was so interesting.
She went to Hokianga with her brother – a place I’d never heard of – Māngungu Mission Station. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed on the sixth of February in Waitangi, but on the 12th of February it was signed at Māngungu. And they were there. So that was the largest signing of the Treaty of Waitangi outside Waitangi itself, I believe.
I’ve just been there over Christmas, I went on a journey of discovery. That’s why I’m wearing a bee. It’s just a little thing, but I bought this actually in Hokianga. My name Deborah means bee.
It makes me really excited because I’ve just finished a term on our Quaker treaty relationships group, which is educating Quakers about how important the treaty is, and how we should see it today. The treaty is very important in my life and to find out that two of my relatives were at a signing, that is really exciting to me. It makes me feel more part of this history of New Zealand.”
Well, I grew up as an Anglican. I left the Anglican church when I was about 25. Years later I was out in the wilderness and I fell down a mountain. I used to go up the mountain sometimes for my spiritual nurture when I had some problem in mind. But unfortunately, 34 years ago, I thought about a problem and I had a major accident.
I used to do theatricals. and I had asked would they please get someone to teach us how to do our makeup? Who should come along but the man who later became my husband. But the problem was I had my leg in plaster and I thought: How am I going to get to this course? I can’t drive at the moment at all. And I thought: Right girl, you asked for the course you turn up! So I turned up on my crutches. And that’s how I met my husband.
He took me along to Quakers. And I thought, Oh, I’ve come home. Because we worship in silence. We sit in silence in a circle because everybody’s equal. Somebody may give some vocal ministry but there’s always ministry going on, even though there’s the silence in the room. We believe there’s that of God in everybody.
I started training as an oral historian this year, but I actually want to video record people. We’ve been doing a project for Quakers. We were doing audio recordings but one of those people was someone who had motor-neurone disease, and I said: We need a video recording of him, because his speech was already getting slurred, so a video recording is better. I’m very interested in recording people’s stories too.”