Our Arrival in New Zealand- Kevin McCaffrey
The McCaffrey’s arrived in Auckland over a two year period, my father Danny arrived in 1955 and my mother Agnes brought five of us on the Captain Hobson in 1956. I was the youngest and there were three more born in Auckland. Our lives revolved around going to school, mass and growing up in the Irish community where we lived in Newton Gully along with the Coll’s, O’Donnell’s and others in easy reach. As new arrivals to Auckland the friendship of other Irish families provided us with the support of a community and a share of just about everything anyone had; which was not a lot.
There were compulsory lessons in Irish Dancing with the famed Whitty School; no rugby, but the upside was the National Feis and loads of craic at the Irish Club on Great North Road. Later on there was Gaelic football for Hamilton and St Pats, with a gold medal at a Feis; but no trophies for dancing.
We grew up in the Irish Club as did a lot of other families. Danny McCaffrey was President when we bought the clubrooms by Newton Road and Aggie became a much loved Life Member which she cherished. My uncles Gerry and Leo McCaffrey both served as President and my sister Teresa Olphert and various brothers have served on the committee. So it seems to be a family duty – well it was when Nell Delaney ordered me to stand for the office!
Denise and I have two young adults both of whom performed at a Feis. Adrian and wife Melissa now live in Sydney with their daughter Ira, and Kirsten who is currently back Irish dancing and is often about the club with her partner Ryan.
My career has centred on management consulting to a range of large companies and charities across New Zealand, Australia and Asia which has been both rewarding and fulfilling. It was for that reason Mick Hickey asked me to help with securing the lease on our clubrooms.
It was for me an historic occasion when at the Feis in 2012 in the club’s centenary year I read an address to welcome members to our new clubrooms, thank the volunteers and declare the Feis open; using the very same address my father wrote precisely 50 years before me when the old clubrooms were opened.
I also serve on the committee of the St Patrick’s Festival Trust and the Irish Business Network in NZ, so much of my volunteered time is in the Irish community of Auckland and when I can find the time its Golf and Touch Rugby along with Genealogy and reading.
When I look back over growing up as an Irish kiwi in New Zealand there is always the pride of a Celt who will work for and stand up for others and a kiwi that stands for a fair go. But then the motto of the McCaffrey’s is: Justitia et Fortitudo Invincibilia Sunt – which means Justice and Fortitude are Invincible.