Keynote Speakers

Janet Braund Few

From the 17th century to the 21st century,  Janet is an experienced family, social and community historian who will be sharing her passion for history and heritage with us.  

A published author,  Janet has also worked with BBC television's Who Do You Think You Are? programme.    More information can be found on her website The History Interpreter


Maurice Gleeson

As a Professional Genetic Genealogist,  Maurice specialises in interpreting DNA results for people researching their ancestry (including adoptees).  He runs several Surname DNA Projects and has organised the "Genetic Genealogy Ireland" conference.   Further information can be found on his blog DNA and Family Tree Research



Lynne Blake

Lynne started her family research in the early 1980s and joined the NZSG at this time. Since then she has been a volunteer for the society in many roles – as an Education Officer where she developed the FRC education programme; as a regular FRC speaker; a presenter to local branches around the country and at various conferences and family history fairs; and also as an elected council member of the NZSG from 2008 to 2012, where her portfolios were Projects and Education. She has also been a speaker on an Unlock the Past cruise and at an AFFHO Congress.

Julia Bradshaw

Julia is Curator of Human History at the Canterbury Museum.  She has been working in museums for 20 years and has a special interest in research and interpretation. She has curated exhibitions on topics as varied as sawmilling, crime, dredges, whitebaiting, and Chinese miners. She has published several local history books, including a very popular biography of legendary cattle-man and tourist pioneer, Davey Gunn, called “The Land of Doing Without”. Her most recent project has been editing a new annotated and illustrated edition of the 1914 classic account of the West Coast gold-rushes, “The Diggers’ Story.”  Julia has been collecting stories about women on the New Zealand goldfields for more years than she cares to count and hopes to eventually publish this work.

Fiona Brooker

When I tell people that I am a genealogist, one of the first questions is how far back have you got? For me it’s not so much, how far back I have got, but what I have discovered about my family and the connections; like the moment of touching the document at National Archives that my five x great grandparents had signed in the early 1800’s.

I have served as both President and Treasurer of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) and worked with local branches, including convening the 2008 and 2018 national conferences. I hold a Higher Certificate in Genealogy from the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.

Memories in Time ( grew from my desire to help others trace their family history. As a professional genealogist I have helped others get started; get through road blocks; get organised and find heirs to estates. I love to teach family history and digital scrapbooking. There is nothing better than getting someone else addicted to the hunt for their ancestors.

Margaret Copland

Margaret is Canterbury born and bred with ancestors who arrived on one of the First Four Ships, the Randolph, in 1850 and on the first of the Vogel immigrant ships, the Friedeburg, in 1872. As a fully professional storyteller, she has been writing and telling genealogical stories on the national and international stage for a quarter century. Her stories, presented as the first-hand experience of an ordinary (but well-researched) woman living in historic times, have high entertainment value but the careful research is always evident. She began with her own ancestors’ English and Polish roots in Canterbury and, as she became more widely known, was commissioned to create stories for other communities, such as Masterton, Carterton, and Lower Hutt. When the Christchurch earthquake occurred she was busy presenting a series of Lyttelton stories through the lifetime of Eliza Reston, the gaoler’s wife.

Marie Hickey

Marie has worked at the Central Research Centre at the Auckland Central Library for 12 years and, prior to her return to NZ, worked at the Society of Genealogists in London for 11 years. She has been researching her family history for more than 35 years and was able to visit many of the places her ancestors lived when she herself lived in London, as well as researching in the many different Record Offices there. She has a passion for family history and is pleased to be able to work in an environment where she can pass this on to others.

Eileen Kennedy

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Fiona Lees

Fiona Lees (née Lindsay) is a “Mainlander”, born and brought up near Lincoln, just out of Christchurch. She became fascinated with her ancestry and who fitted in where in her family tree when she was in her teens, and was lucky enough to have “two lovely parents and one grandmother nearby who didn’t mind all the questions.” But looking back, she says, she just never did ask enough questions. With parents who had married in Scotland before coming over by ship, Fiona is a first generation New Zealander, but very proud of her ancestry and the places her family have lived. Her ancestry is 75% Scottish with most of the rest being English with a smattering of French, but some of her forebears have lived in slightly more exotic places so her family research also takes her to the West Indies, Bermuda, China, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Orkney.

Jenny Mayne

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Susan McLean

Susan is a member of the NZSG resident in Australia and a descendant of Scottish immigrants to Otago and Southland.  She began her family history research in 1972 when she unexpectedly found herself living in Scotland, an experience that left her with a deep love of Scottish history and culture. She joined the Genealogical Society of Victoria in 1995 and has been involved with that organisation in various ways, including serving as Councillor and Vice President and has also served as chair and editor for that society’s Scottish Ancestry Group. She delivered papers at both the 2006 and 2011 Australasian Conferences of Scottish Family History, and also spoke on the topic of Scottish death rituals and records at the NZSG conference in Wellington four years ago.

Geraldene O’Reilly

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Michelle Patient

Known as the Patient Genie, Michelle Patient is a genealogist with qualifications in Chemistry and Geology, who has spoke not only in New Zealand but also in Australia and England.  With ancestry ranging from early Australian military, convicts, and free settlers, as well as early New Zealand settlers through to post WWII Royal Naval Support, her personal research covers a wide range of British Isles diasporas and early Down Under research, including stories of will disputes, adoptions, children being given away, bankruptcies, and murder-suicides. She has uncovered facts from fiction as part of her delving into these areas. Michelle belongs to many genealogy societies and has a keen interest in education, surname research, adoptions, methodology, and technology. Understandably, DNA has become an additional essential tool in her research and her work.

Geoffrey Rice

Dr Geoffrey Rice is an independent historian who was formerly Head of History (2006-10) at the University of Canterbury, where he remains an Adjunct Professor.  Though his early research and all of his university teaching were in European history, his recent books have been about local Christchurch history. “Christchurch Changing: an illustrated history” (1999) was reprinted several times and an enlarged second edition appeared in 2008. The second edition of his definitive study of the 1918 influenza pandemic in New Zealand, “Black November” (2005), was shortlisted in the History section of the 2006 Montana Book Awards. His most recent books are “Victoria Square: Cradle of Christchurch” (2014) and “Cricketing Colonists: the Brittan Brothers in Early Canterbury” (2015). He was secretary of the Canterbury Historical Association for 25 years and is currently the secretary of the Canterbury History Foundation.

Linley Robinson

Linley has been researching her family history for more than 35 years and has been a member of the NZSG for almost as long. She is currently a committee member of the Palmerston North branch and enjoys helping others with their research. While her ancestors hail mainly from England, Scotland, and Ireland, with a smidgen of German, they were an adventurous bunch, spending time in South Africa, Australia, India, the USA, and Canada. More recently, Linley has become involved in genetic genealogy, or using DNA for genealogy research, which overlaps her day job as a scientist at AgResearch.

Helen Smith

Helen has been researching in Australia and England since 1986. She is a professional researcher and speaks to a wide variety of audiences nationally and internationally, including Unlock the Past cruises.  As a Public Health Microbiologist, she has a strong interest in social history and health through the ages. She is the author of “Death Certificates and Archaic Medical Terms” and “Google: The Genealogist’s Friend” and has written for a number of family history as well as scientific publications. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Genealogical Speakers’ Guild.

Edwina Swingler

Edwina Swingler has been tracing her own family’s history since 1968. A member of the NZSG from 1977, she began researching for others in 1985.  She has spoken to a wide range of conferences, workshops, seminars, and local meetings, as well as assisting with several Hooked on Genealogy tours managed by Jan Gow. Edwina also holds qualifications specialising in Records and Quality Management.

Jane Teal

Jane Teal has been the Archivist for the Christchurch Anglican Diocesan Archives for many years. She has an MA (Otago) and a Post Graduate Certificate in Genealogy, Paleography and Heraldry (Strathclyde). She has spoken to many and varied groups on both archival matters and other research interests, including previous NZSG conferences.

Emerson Vandy

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Christine Whybrew

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Rae Wilson

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