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Introducing One Ancestor At A Time

This is the first post about my new project, One Ancestor At A Time. Stay tuned for regular updates.



It’s 2004 and I’m at a family reunion. My Uncle gives me a mysterious brown paper bag that will change my life forever. 


Well ok, it’s not that mysterious, because on the bag is written in big letters:


“FAMILY TREE”. 

But this is a very special bag. I’ve spent my life looking for this family tree, and now I have it I devour it. 


It looks pretty fancy, despite being a copy of a copy of a copy. Lots of dates, names and coats of arms - but it made me realise...


I knew next to nothing about the history in which these names lived. I started to change that, going on a history-reading binge that hasn’t really stopped to this day. 

Knowing I had a stake in the game, in the form of my ancestors, made me more interested in facts and figures that otherwise don’t seem relevant. 


As my learning widened, and I got perspectives from Samoan, Maori and Chinese cultures, I began to realise … history is not just some things that happened in the past. History has a profound effect upon all of us, right now. 


Scratch any major conflict and you’ll uncover decades or centuries of complex layers. How do we start to understand the world around us? One ancestor at a time. 


As a kid, I used to ask my mum dumb questions like, If we live in New Zealand, why don’t we speak New Zealandish. 


Turns out, those questions aren’t so dumb.

And exploring the answers can make us smarter. 


So I’m on a journey. Not only to discover my own ancestors, but to discover the world they lived in, and how it made our world. I’m Suitauloa Simon Young, and I welcome you to join me.


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