Auckland Council Libraries: Family History Expo 2024 speakers

Family History Expo 2024 speakers

Auckland Family History Expo 2024 welcomes international and local guest speakers who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in researching genealogy, family history and genetic genealogy (DNA).

Keynote speakers

Image of Jason Reeve.Jason Reeve

Ancestry AU & NZ  (Australia)

As Head of Content & Community for in Australia and New Zealand, Jason Reeve is a passionate advocate for all things to do with history. Joining back in 2016, he continues to work closely with archives, registry offices, genealogical societies and community organisations to uncover new record collections, assist archival digitisation efforts and support family history organisations. When he's not trawling through archives, Jason speaks at events and conferences as well as delivering presentations on radio, television and social media platforms.

Ancestry is a Platinum Sponsor for the 2024 Auckland Family History Expo.

Image of Dr. Sophie Kay.Dr. Sophie Kay

Khronicle  (UK)

From DNA to historical maps, from research methods to historical occupations, Dr. Sophie Kay is a UK-based professional genealogist and geneticist at Khronicle® who loves all manner of family history research challenges. She’s the Ancestry and Genealogy Expert for popular archaeology show, Time Team; the specialist DNA Tutor for the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies; and teaches courses in historical mapping techniques and research methodology at Pharos Tutors

Sophie is also a Member of AGRA, a UK organisation of professional family historians. When she’s not delving into clients’ DNA results, poring over archival documents or teaching genealogy, Sophie writes articles for her family history blog, The Parchment Rustler , where she shares tips, tricks and strategies for making the most of your ancestral research journey.

Image of Daniel Horowitz.Daniel Horowitz

MyHeritage  and The Israel Genealogy Research Association  (Israel)

Dedicated to Genealogy since 1986, Daniel was the teacher and the study guide editor of the family history project Searching for My Roots in Venezuela for 15 years. He is involved in several crowdsource digitisation and transcription projects, and holds a board-level position at The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA). Since 2006 Daniel has been working at MyHeritage liaising with genealogy societies, bloggers, and media, as well as lecturing and attending conferences around the world. 

 Find out more about Daniel's genealogy work at his website 

Image of Duff Wilson.Duff Wilson

Family Tree Maker  (Salt Lake City, USA) 

Duff Wilson, Executive Director of Family Tree Maker, is considered by many as the father of modern Family Tree Maker having been involved in the design of every edition since 2004. He has two decades of software design and development experience and has earned national awards for his work. Duff is an avid genealogist and works closely with countless genealogists, ranging from novice to expert.  

Family Tree Maker is a Gold sponsor for this year’s Family History Expo.

Image of Helen Smith.Helen Smith

Dragon Genealogy  (Australia)

Helen Smith is a speaker, DNA specialist, researcher, and author with a strong interest in Australian and English medical and social history. Helen has been researching England, Ireland, Wales & Australia with various immigration trails to the USA, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand since 1986. She is a regular speaker at genealogy events internationally and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Genealogical Speakers Guild.

Image of Jen Baldwin.Jen Baldwin

Findmypast  (UK/US)

Jen Baldwin has been working in the realm of professional genealogy since 2010 but has been pursuing her family history since she was ten years old, enjoying her grandmother's stories –and her cookies. She is currently the Research Specialist and North American Content Manager for Findmypast, and her work is featured routinely by media outlets across Great Britain. 

Jen lectures internationally, writes, and consults on a variety of genealogy related topics, and was part of the research team for Genealogy Roadshow, season two on PBS (US). She is excited to discover unique resources that allow for a different perspective in genealogical research. Jen currently serves as a Trustee for the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History and has previously volunteered for her local society as well as the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

Image of Mary McKee.Mary McKee

Findmypast  (UK)

Mary McKee is the UK Archives Manager at Findmypast, managing the partnership with the breadth of archives and institutions Findmypast works with every year. Previously, Mary was the Head of Digitisation, overseeing teams that digitise and publish millions of historic records and newspapers annually. 

Mary studied Irish Women’s History at Queen’s University in Belfast and specialises in Queer History and all things 1921 Census of England & Wales. Alongside working with Findmypast, Mary has started her PhD at Birkbeck, University of London. Mary has appeared on BBC Morning Live, BBC Women’s Hour, and Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast and presented at conferences in the UK, Ireland and America.

Image of Thomas Nelson.Thomas Nelson


Thomas Nelson is a Content Preservation Manager for FamilySearch in Africa and the Pacific. He has been employed by FamilySearch for ten years. Prior to working for FamilySearch, Thomas was a professional genealogist for fifteen years.

FamilySearch is a Gold sponsor for this year’s Family History Expo.

Image of Paul Bennallack.Paul Bennallack

FamilySearch International

Paul Bennallack manages support and operations throughout Asia Pacific at FamilySearch International, with a special focus on all family history activities throughout the Pacific area for FamilySearch. Prior to joining FamilySearch Paul worked in technical and management roles in information technology in many business sectors in both Australia and New Zealand.

FamilySearch is a Gold sponsor for this year’s Family History Expo.

Image of Deb Carter.Deb Carter


Debra is a Senior Research Manager at Ancestry ProGenealogists, the client research division of Ancestry, where she has been working both in the UK and Australia for over eight years. She has a diploma in Family Historical Studies from the Society of Australian Genealogists and an Advanced Diploma in Local History from Oxford University. She is a member of the UK Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA), the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Society of Australian Genealogists.

Deb specialises in research of Australian and associated migratory records, both online and at archive and research facilities. She combines efficient research and project time management, communication and evidence-based report writing to deliver high-value and rewarding family history discoveries and journeys. She is also actively involved in the genealogy and heritage community and presents talks on a variety of genealogical subjects.

Image of Allegra Marshall.Allegra Marshall

Independent researcher

Originally from Sydney, Allegra Marshall has travelled extensively in the Pacific Islands and is a 35-year part-time resident of French Polynesia. For nearly a decade, Allegra has been immersed in extensive research focusing on Pacific connections from the 1790s onwards. Commencing in July 2022, Allegra is currently Tahiti’s first and only Cemetery Tour Guide, covering six cemeteries to date. Using her vast knowledge and bilingual expertise, Allegra has rapidly become a Polynesian subject matter expert and assists others in finding their genealogical gaps. She is often called upon as a guide and reference for historical documentation.

Local speakers

Image of Andrew Henry.Andrew Henry

Auckland Council Libraries

Andrew Henry (RLIANZA) is Curator Auckland Collections based at the Central City Library in Tāmaki Makarau. He has worked with Aotearoa NZ’s documentary heritage since 2011 at the National Library in Wellington and for Auckland Council Libraries. 

As well having a keen interest in family history, Andrew is also interested in finding out more about how our ancestors lived, what they read and what ideas influenced them. He believes a combination of local, social, family and book history techniques can help us in developing a deeper historical understanding.

Image of Bradley Greer.Bradley Greer

Family Tree Maker 

Family Tree Maker representative Bradley Greer has been studying genealogy with his grandmother since he was ten years old. Since the release of Family Tree Maker in 2017, Bradley has been presenting it at the Auckland Family History Expo. During the Expo, he will also be selling copies of Family Tree Maker and walking people through its various uses.

Family Tree Maker is a Gold sponsor for this year's Family History Expo.

Image of Fiona Brooker.Fiona Brooker

Memories in Time  and Talking Family History 

Fiona has served as both President and Treasurer of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists  (NZSG) and convened the 2008 and 2018 national conferences. She holds a Higher Certificate in Genealogy from the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies and began Memories in Time to help others trace their family history. She continues her role as Chief Memory Officer at Memories in Time and is a co-founder of Talking Family History .

Image of Gail Riddell.Gail Riddell


Gail Riddell is semi-retired and has been working closely with FamilyTreeDNA for over 10 years. She works with YDNA Haplogroup Projects, mtDNA Projects, Geographical Projects, and Surname Projects, not as a researcher but as an administrator. She is familiar with all the products and the tools of the field and is well qualified to answer questions on genetics.

Image of Dr Janine Irvine.Dr. Janine Irvine

Independent researcher and author

Dr. Janine Irvine is a life writer, oral historian and researcher who has helped numerous individuals, families and communities over many years to record their life histories and stories, organise archives and collections of memorabilia, and publish them. Included among her publications are The stories of places – a literary approach to writing local history; Eyes skyward – Nugget Cohen; The pioneer history of the Roose family (Pukekohe); Rakaia – Our History.

Image of Jason Murphy.Jason Murphy

PapersPast, National Library of New Zealand 

Jason Murphy is Service Manager at National Library Online, part of the team who brings you PapersPast. He has the task of shaping the design and development of PapersPast, with the help of a highly engaged community of users. With an unpromising start as a jazz bass player, Jason weaved a path to his current role through Wellington City Libraries, Victoria University Library and most recently the National Library of New Zealand.

Image of Liam Appleton.Liam Appleton

Auckland Council Libraries

Liam has been a Research Librarian with Auckland Council Libraries since 2017 and holds a Master of Arts in History from the University of Auckland. As a librarian, Liam has helped unravel pieces of many family histories, including his own. He also helps support the Auckland Council Libraries Heritage Talks programme and writes for the library’s Heritage et al blog .

Image of Maggie Gaffney.Maggie Gaffney

MG Historical Research 

Maggie Gaffney is a professional genealogist and speaker living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. A fourth-generation New Zealander, she has traced her family back to Ireland, England and Scotland. Maggie is a tutor with the Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies (IHGS) and holds their Diploma in Genealogy as well as an Advanced Diploma in Local History from the University of Oxford.

Image of Marie Hickey.Marie Hickey

Auckland Council Libraries

Marie Hickey has been researching her family for over 40 years and worked at Research Central for over 16. A former staff member of the Society of Genealogists in London, she enjoys assisting others with research and mentoring colleagues in family history. She has taught night school classes in family history and presented papers at conferences and expos in New Zealand. She continues her role as Senior Library Assistant (Family History) at Auckland Council Libraries.

Image of Michelle Patient.Michelle Patient

The Patient Genie and Talking Family History 

Michelle Patient is a genealogist, computer geek, and DNA enthusiast, with qualifications in Chemistry, Geology and Family History. Her personal research covers a wide range of British Isles Diasporas and early Australian research. Michelle volunteers for several genealogical societies and has spoken at several global genealogy events. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, co-host of Talking Family History with Fiona Brooker, and is the DNA consultant behind the Australian SBS TV series Every Family has a Secret.

Image of Pamata Toleafoa.Pamata Toleafoa

Auckland Council Libraries 

Pamata Toleafoa serves as the Curator Pasifika for Nga Pataka Korero o Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland Libraries and a member of the Pacific Advisory Group for Taāmaki Paenga Hira, Auckland War Memorial Museum. Pamata was born in Hastings and raised in Mangere, South Auckland. Hailing from the villages of Salelesi and Satapuala, Upolu Samoa, Pamata is passionate about measina and indigenous knowledge.

Image of Dr Phoebe Li.Dr. Phoebe H. Li

Independent historian

Dr. Phoebe H. Li has held research positions at the University of Auckland and Tsinghua University in Beijing, and is currently an independent historian with interests in the Chinese Diaspora in Australasia. She has published A Virtual Chinatown: the Diasporic Mediasphere of Chinese Migrants in New Zealand (2013), Recollections of a Distant Shore: New Zealand Chinese in Historical Images (2017, co-authored with John B. Turner), and a number of research articles.

Image of Sarah Hewitt.Sarah Hewitt

New Zealand Society of Genealogists, Inc. 

Sarah first became interested in genealogy when she was 11 and has been actively researching her family's history in New Zealand, Australia, USA and the British Isles since before the internet. She is also currently Convenor of the Kilbirnie Branch of the NZSG. Her professional background as an accountant included corporate planning and stakeholder relationship roles. More recently, she has finally tapped into her family genes and moved into education. She teaches genealogy at varying levels at the Wellington High School Community Education Centre and has led the project to develop and produce the Getting It Right resources for the NZSG.

Image of Brent Giblin.Brent Giblin

Auckland Council Libraries

Brent Giblin works as the Research Engagement Librarian at Central Library and has been working on his family history for over 30 years. His DNA is 77% English and 14% Scottish and he is DNA matched with over 500 relatives all over the world. His family owns a budgie and two cats who can’t wait to be DNA tested. As the designated family historian for the Giblin and Colechin names, he is always looking for an exciting link to a famous relative that will make him rich! He is interested in how technology can help with this search.

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Auckland Council Libraries:Family History Expo 2024 speakers