Auckland Libraries: Family History Expo 2020 speakers

Family History Expo 2020 speakers

Auckland Family History Expo 2020 welcomes international and local guest speakers who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in researching genealogy.


International speakers

Curt Witcher.Curt Witcher (US)

Curt is the Senior Manager for Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library  in Fort Wayne, Indiana, managing the Genealogy Center  as well as the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection of Abraham Lincoln related research materials. A former President of both the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society, he is also the founding President of the Indiana Genealogical Society. He has penned articles on topics of interest to family historians, librarians, and archivists, and presented lectures across the country. Curt also serves on the Indiana State Historical Records Advisory Board.



John Grenham.John Grenham (Ireland)

John Grenham came to professional genealogy in 1981, as one of the panel of Genealogical Office researchers. As in-house researcher for the Genealogical Office in 1990-91, he was instrumental in setting up the GO Consultation Service, forerunner of the current Advisory Services in the National Library and National Archives. He was Project Manager with the Irish Genealogical Project, and later developed and marketed his own genealogical software, Grenham’s Irish Recordfinder, and was the first Genealogist-in-Residence at Dublin City Library. He is the author of several books including the standard guide to Irish genealogy, Tracing your Irish Ancestors (6th ed.2019). Visit John Grenham's website. 



Jason Reeve.Jason Reeve (Australia)

Jason is a family historian and Content Manager for Ancestry. Originally from Adelaide in South Australia, Jason has spent several years working within the information technology industry. A passionate advocate for all things history, Jason works closely with a range of archives, registries, historical and genealogical societies to uncover new record collections and share them with the Ancestry community. He is a regular speaker at genealogy events on Ancestry and AncestryDNA genetic testing.



Michael Higgins.Michael Higgins (NZ and the Pacific)

Mike is employed by FamilySearch International to look after its New Zealand and Pacific operations, supporting approximately 150 family history centres. His responsibilities include training volunteers and creating long term strategic relationships with government officials and archive leaders in an effort to preserve significant genealogical records sets. During his several careers, including with the New Zealand Police Force, Mike has pursued educational qualifications including several business diplomas and recently graduated with a masters’ degree in business.



Myko Clelland.Myko Clelland (UK)

Myko Clelland is genealogist, spokesperson & regional licensing manager for Findmypast , regularly discussing family history on television, radio, online and in print. He holds a Masters’ degree in Genealogy (distinction) and is a qualified adult education teacher with over 200 worldwide speaking appearances, from Oxford University to The National Archives (UK) , National Library of Wales , RootsTech , The Society of Genealogists , Who Do You Think You Are? Live  and many regional archives and local family history groups.


Local speakers

Fiona Brooker.Fiona Brooker

Fiona has served as both President and Treasurer of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists  (NZSG) and has worked with local branches, including convening the 2008 and 2018 national conferences. She holds a Higher Certificate in Genealogy from the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies . She began her company Memories in Time  from a desire to help others trace their family history. She has helped people get started, get through roadblocks, and find heirs to estates. Fiona is a co-founder of Talking Family History .



Anthony Brunt.Anthony Brunt

Tony is an Auckland based writer and historical researcher specialising in the pictorial history of early Samoa. He is a consultant to the Museum of Samoa , and is of Samoan, English and German descent. Tony has contributed to major exhibitions mounted by the museum and is co-administrator of the museum’s highly popular Facebook page which regularly features rare photography he has collected.



Elena Fowler.Elena Fowler

In early 2017, on a whim, Elena and some family members purchased DNA test kits from Ancestry. They discovered the fascinating and exciting world of DNA and learnt so much more about their families and whānau than from traditional genealogy alone. They were hooked. Elena is representing MyHeritage  and Legacy Family Tree Webinars  at this Expo, as well as sharing her expertise on evaluating Māori and Y-DNA test results.



Jan Gow.Jan Gow QSM FSG

Jan is both a Past Treasurer and President of the NZ Society of Genealogists . She has been awarded the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Service and is a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists , London. She holds the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for service to genealogy. Since 1985, Jan has spoken and taught at local, national and international conferences, as well as on cruise ships and in community education. Visit Beehive Books  and Hooked on Genealogy Tours Facebook page .



Joan McCracken.Joan McCracken

Joan has worked at the Alexander Turnbull Library  since 1984 and has been the leader of the Library’s Outreach Services team since 2011. The team supports Turnbull’s public events programme, and includes a Field Conservator, who advises community groups on care of collections, and two oral history advisors. Joan has a personal interest in family history research.



Michelle Patient.Michelle Patient

Michelle is a genealogist and scientist with qualifications in chemistry and geology. She is a past President of the NZ Society of Genealogists and current NZ representative of the Guild of One Name Studies  (GOONS). She has spoken in New Zealand, Australia, and England, belongs to many genealogy societies and has a keen interest in education, surname research, adoptions, methodology, and technology. She set up the New Zealand DNA Users Group on Facebook  to assist researchers using this new tool. Michelle is also a co-founder of Talking Family History .



Andrew Peteru.Andrew Peteru

Andrew started researching his family genealogy two years ago while trying to locate Samoan, German, English, and Tongan ancestors. He and his niece Leilani Schmidt have collaborated on researching descendants of eight ancestors from the mid-1800s focusing on family narratives, official documents, and family DNA. A family website has been established, and he is a member of the FTDNA Polynesian DNA, European_Samoans, NZ genetic, NZ DNA project, and the C-Haplogroup projects. Andrew’s background is in Health promotion and public health and he is currently a PHD candidate with the Department of Sociology at the University of Auckland.



Christine Liava’a.Christine Liava’a

Christine runs the Pacific Islands Interests group of the NZ Society of Genealogists. Her late husband was Tongan and she became involved in helping people with genealogies in the Pacific area. She has published books about the soldiers from the Pacific islands in WW1 and publishes the group’s quarterly newsletter. She has had stands at the previous Expos, and helps many people with their research.



Gail Riddell.Gail Riddell

Gail is a well-known presenter of DNA in the New Zealand Genetic Genealogy circles and a frequent contributor to many genetic genealogy forums as well as newsletters in NZ, US and UK. The US DNA testing firm (FamilyTreeDNA  aka FTDNA) uses her skills by having her foster projects and newcomers. Her forte is Genealogical testing, and she uses three separate testing firms – all for different reasons. Having officially retired, Gail is now teaching ‘Using genetics for genealogical research’ in Motueka, Tasman.



Leilani Schmidt.Leilani Schmidt

Leilani is of Samoan descent, born and raised in South Auckland. She is employed full-time as a Probation Officer for Manurewa Community Corrections and is studying part-time for a Masters in Applied Practice in Social Work. Since 2018, she has researched family genealogy at tuaamasuli.com  alongside her uncle Andrew Peteru. Her passion is in research genetic (DNA) genealogy for both Samoans and Samoans with European ancestry. She began a surname project with Gail Riddell and Elena Tipuna for the European_Samoans at FTDNA, to assist both Samoans and Samoans (with European heritage) to get the most out of their DNA results.



Mary Shadbolt.Mary Shadbolt

Mary is the Chairperson of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists  Board of Directors, which has governance and policy oversight of the organisation.





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