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James Robertson Munro

EDITOR : This story was sent to me by one of our members who was born in New Zealand but now lives in Queensland

As far as I know, it was in the late fifties that some very keen and dedicated members of the "family" formed a committee and subsequently organised a big reunion to celebrate the centenary of J.R. Munro's arrival in New Zealand. This reunion was held on the 28th December 1962, at Anderson Park just north of Invercargill, where approximately 300 people gathered.

This committee kept the clan spirit alive for a number of years with social gatherings of some sort and at the same time they produced a Family Tree booklet. Activity then lapsed until 1997, when a new committee was formed to evaluate support and organise, if possible, another reunion.

A very successful event eventuated and this was held in January 1998 at Invercargill, coinciding with the Southland and Otago 150 year celebrations. An update of the "Family Tree" was also carried out at this time and booklets reprinted.

James Robertson Munro.

James was born on September 5 1841, recorded at Paisley Abbey, Renfrew, Scotland and was the third youngest from a family of 3 girls and 4 boys. (Later information suggests there were two elder children, maybe they died at a very young age.) His parents were William Munro and Christian Leitch, who were married on June 15, 1829 at Gorbals, Lanark, Scotland.

James Munro, together with his youngest brother, Richard, travelled out to New Zealand on the ship "Lady Egidia" landing in Dunedin on May 7, 1862. He made his way to Central Otago to make his fortune in the Gold Diggings, but having no worthwhile luck, decided to come south and work on the land of which he knew something about.

In 1867 he married Margaret Grant Leith, eldest daughter of Mr & Mrs Alexander Leith, one of the first settlers in the Oteramika district, approximately 20km south east of Invercargill. After their marriage, Mr & Mrs James Munro took up residence at "New Field", a 337 acre farm in the same area.

This was all a wilderness of native tussock, flax and bush. Both he and his wife worked very hard, often toiling far into the night cutting chaff on a hand machine, flailing corn, or some such necessary task, all after a long days work in the fields. Not only did they carve out a splendid farm from the native state, but also reared a healthy family of seven sons and six daughters, all of whom were present at their parents Golden Wedding in 1917. James Munro passed away a few years later, aged 79, with his wife following in 1927.

As one can imagine, with a family of thirteen, twelve of whom married, there are now a very great number of descendants of James and Margaret Munro. These Munro's, like many pioneering families, have now moved all over New Zealand and in fact, all over the world.

© Donald Munro Mount Nasura Western Australia adapted from a communication by a member in Queensland