My interest in family history began with a fourth form project in school. I remember gathering up a whole heap of notes and scraps of paper my father had, and cobbling together a family tree of sorts from all the information. It’s looking a bit battered now, but I still have parts of that hand-drawn tree.

Small section of faded and creased hand-drawn family tree

On my first big trip overseas, I visited my grandfather’s cousin in Los Angeles and recorded her talking about my great grandfather and his family. Unfortunately, I only have part of that conversation, as I didn’t realise until afterwards that the tape had run out halfway through! (Yes kids, the 1990s were dark times.)

My obsession began in earnest when I was living in Kent, England, and my mother visited from New Zealand and brought over photos and newspaper clippings that her aunt had passed on to her. We knew none of the people in the photographs, but someone with a distinctive green ink pen had inscribed on the back of some of them. Over the course of the next year, I identified almost all of the people in the photos and started building a family tree of my maternal ancestors, often ringing my mother up in the middle of the night (NZ daytime for her) with my latest discovery. And I haven’t stopped since, though there are not so many late night calls.

While living in England I completed the Higher Certificate in Genealogy with the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, and after returning to New Zealand, gained their Diploma in Genealogy, the first overseas student to do so. I’m now a member of the IHGS Tutorial team. I also hold an Advanced Diploma in Local History from the University of Oxford.

I’m an Associate of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), the UK’s main body for professional genealogists, and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and abide by the standards and codes of conduct of both associations.

Other organisations I’m a member of include the New Zealand Society of Genealogists, the Society of Genealogists (UK), the Guild of One Name Studies, the Society of One Place Studies, and I’m currently the Convenor for the Lower North Island Irish Interest Group (NZSG).

Lavinia Luxton, Blackpool 1933