Although the Welsh settled particularly in Canterbury in the 19th century and Auckland in the 20th century, they are to be found throughout New Zealand. Every two years they come together for a national cymanfa ganu which involves communal singing of hymns. Angharad and Gwenda Whelan, daughters of Sue Whelan who came to New Zealand in 1989, were photographed with the mayor of New Plymouth at the national cymanfa ganu in 2002. The girls, like their three siblings, learnt Welsh songs and poems and were able to say ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogh’ in unison forwards and backwards! This is the name of a village in north Wales, and is often said to be the world’s longest place name (although in fact that distinction rightly belongs to a small hill near Porangahau in Hawke’s Bay). The Welsh name means ‘St Mary’s church in a hollow of white hazel near to a rapid whirlpool and St Tysilio’s church near the red cave’.
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
Private collection, Margot Griffiths