a family story

John Roxborogh


Cathie Matthews and Bill Roxborogh

My parents, Cathie Matthews and Bill Roxborogh, were married in January 1944. Cathie was a teacher from Morrinsville and Bill a storeman from Devonport recently repatriated home from the NZ Army. I was born in 1945 and Bill left home not long after, something I would one day discover that his own father had also done. My grandparents, Ernest and Mary, and my uncle Doug were important parts of my early life and I discovered Bill's story somewhat later.

This photo, taken in Hamilton, dates from around the time of the wedding in the registry office, in Te Aroha. Doug is in his uniform as an Aircraft Technician, my grandfather in a suit and one of the ties of which he seemed to have a large collection for a dairy farmer. My mother Cathie, my grandmother Mary and my father, Bill.

For many years Cathie worked on her own family history, the stories of her father from Devon whose real name was German, and her mother from the Highlands who was a Robertson descended from a group of Mckenzie crofters from north of Ullapool in Western Scotland who migrated to New Zealand in the 1870s. The Auchindrean McKenzies became a major project culminating in a large family reunion in Feilding in 1990. For my sake, and also for her own curiosity, she also tried, sometimes in correspondence with her ex-husband which I only discovered years later, to get to the bottom of the mystery of Bill's family name with its strange spelling.

A substantial section of this website is "the book" the story of the Mckenzies and Robertsons that Cathie kept working on after the reunion. To this I have added an account of the mystery of Bill Roxborogh's father and where his name came from, and outlined a little of the Chapman and Woolley connections. As I continue to process the piles of family papers, there will also be more of Cathie's own story and that of her parents, Ernest and Mary, and of her brother, my uncle Doug, and some of my own.

John Roxborogh
January 2019.