The Rountree and Coleman Families of New Zealand began emigrating from County Cavan Ireland to Canterbury in the 1860s, with the second wave following in the early 1900s.

We can trace our verified origins back to Charles Rountree and Mollie Coleman, who married in 1730 in Bailieborough.  At the end of the 1890s, Rev Walter Rountree, of County Cavan, travelled visited many of the Rountree families, and copied down details from their family bibles.  He then laid out the information into a family tree scroll and distributed copies around the extended family. 

In 1994, New Zealand descendants, headed by Dallas Rountree and Jo Noble, expanded on this original “Rountree Family Tree Scroll” and published a 200 page private family history book, It’s a Long Way From County Cavan, Life and Memories of the Rountree/Coleman Clan of New Zealand.  Unfortunately the quality of the photos was very poor due to the high cost of print technology at the time.

Fast forward to the late 2010s.  Jo Noble had a desire to update the “life and memories” of the extended family.  She hoped to engage the interest (and services) of cousins, Christina Carroll and Deb Donnell.  Christina had continued on her late father’s and cousins’ genealogical work.  Deb was an author and professional publisher. 

However, it was 2020 before the work began in earnest.  With Covid-19 spreading around the world, the cousins got into action.  The extended cousins was invited to share stories and photos about the lives and memories of growing up as a Rountree and/or Coleman New Zealand descendant. 

The Irish Rountree and Coleman families emigrated to Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand in the 1860s and early 1900s.

Although most of our ancestors arrived in Lyttelton, Canterbury, some also landed in Auckland.  Most arrived as assisted passengers, with skill-sets as farmers, labourers, or domestic servants.  Many went on to purchase farmland around Canterbury.  They were all hard-working and determined to build a better life for themselves, their children, and descendants.

As well as our farming heritage, nursing, and teaching seems to be a common theme.  As we move down through the generations, we have expanded out into a wide range of industries and skill-sets.  However, we all seem to have kept the creative, can-do attitude that was demonstrated by our pioneering ancestors.

We have expanded in numbers, and many have returned back to Ireland to explore our roots.  Others have gone on extended “OE’s” (overseas experiences) and settled in Australia, Canada, Asia, United Kingdom, and so on.  It is fascinating to connect with our cousins, to see what commonalities we have, and what makes us uniquely different.

If you are a cousin, and would like to connect with us, please contact us here.

"Choosing your ship was a bit like taking out a lottery ticket. In the 1860s you were limited to space being available on the next ship, and more importantly, the Canterbury Association agreeing you were a suitable immigrant for the colony.

Once aboard, the lottery continued. The comfort and length of the journey depended on the weather, the route the captain chose to take, as well as the captain's skills and management of the ship and crew. The conditions were far from anything else our ancestors had already experienced in their lives.

Therefore, not everyone survived on this long voyage out, and some ships had a higher mortality rate than others. However, when you study the history of Ireland, you start to gain an understanding of why Protestant Irish, especially our County Cavan ancestors, were attracted to the Canterbury Association's utopian vision."

– From “A Journey to a Better Life” by Deb Donnell (part of It’s Still a Long Way from County Cavan)

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