Iain and Heidi McKay look for branches of their family tree
with their grandchildren Abby (left) and Brooklyn (right)
at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum yesterday. Photo by Craig
Each time Iain McKay visits Dunedin, he manages to pack a
suitcase full of Crunchie bars and a treasure trove of family
history before he returns to the United States.
The New Zealand honorary consul to Salt Lake City, Utah, and
former Kiwi, was back in Dunedin yesterday with his wife
Heidi, on their third visit to research more of his family
history - and stock up on chocolate items for ''Kiwi friends
and family back home''.
The 74-year-old arrived on the cruise ship Oosterdam and
during his 10 hour stopover in Dunedin was taken by minibus
to several locations important to the family's history,
including the grave of his great-grandfather, Angus McKay, at
the Andersons Bay Cemetery.
Angus McKay was born in Islay, Scotland, in 1832 and died in
Dunedin in 1910, and visiting his grave was a very special
moment, Iain McKay said.
''These trips get very emotional. I've shed a lot of tears in
this part of the world.
''It's digging back into my past, it's finding my roots,
finding my heritage.
''We get the same thrill each time we find some new
information. They are like gems.''
On their last visit to Dunedin in 2012, Mr McKay discovered
the grave of his grandmother, Hessie McKay (nee Steele), at
the Green Island Cemetery, and found a photograph of
great-grandmother Emily Cameron at the Toitu Otago Settlers
Mr McKay said he had managed to trace his family tree back to
the 1700s, but had always regretted not asking his
grandparents more about family history before they died.
''I'm just sorry that I never asked more questions about the
Duffs, the Camerons and the McKays.
''Now, I'm making up for that by digging into my family
history when I come back.''
Mr McKay said he was keen to pass on what knowledge he had
been able to glean from his trips, and had written a 500 page
book which he has given to friends and family, particularly
his children and grandchildren.
''Being able to share this material with my family is a very
Mr McKay was born and raised in Wellington and in 1976 moved
to Salt Lake City, where he worked for a major television and
radio broadcasting corporation for more than 30 years before
Mr McKay said the visit to Dunedin was not entirely focused
on his family history.
The couple enjoyed sharing the delights of eating a parcel of
fish and chips and an ice cream with their two grandchildren,
Brooklyn (8) and Abby (6) McKay, who are accompanying them,
before their ship departed about 6pm yesterday.