It was with sadness that Wellington City Libraries learned of the passing of Sandra Clarke recently.
In 2000, Welington City Libraries in association with Wellington Tenths Trust funded the first of four volumes of tūpuna living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara , 1840 (and onwards). Although Waitangi Tribunal report– from the onging claims process, gives a comprehensive insight into the history of the land – missing from that history is the stories of people who lived and established a presence on these lands.
Two researchers, Neville Gilmore (in association with then Wellington Tenths Trust), and Sandra Clarke began to fill in the gaps of a multitude of interconnecting relationships of the people of Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Not sure of our process, we sought a research assistant skilled in identifying land titles, and tracking relationships through a myriad of government / archival historical files. Sandra became that person for us, and her writing formed the basis of the four Tūpuna volumes published 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007. The time factor for each volume was insane, but Sandra put her head down, and delivered to us a short one-pager bio each week, during the alternate years of– 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006.
Sandra’s personal experience in tracking and recording the lives of both her paternal and maternal forbears was a lifelong commitment and several of her research papers have been deposited with Alexander Turnbull Library.
An example of Sandra’s research tenacity is this photograph above, discovered at Alexander Turnbull Library – which she linked to Ropiha Moturoa and whānau outside his neat weather-board house at Pipitea.