Reunion co-organisers Julia Ralston (left front), of the
United States, and Janine Tansley, of Dunedin, reflect on a
successful Ralston family reunion held at Allanton, East
Taieri, on Saturday. They are holding photographs depicting
young Ralston relatives early last century. Photo by Peter
About 90 people, including one visitor from the United
States, converged on Allanton, in East Taieri, for a Ralston
family reunion at the weekend.
Ralston family links with Allanton began about 1864 with the
arrival in Otago by sailing ship of Alexander Ralston,
initially from the Mull of Kintyre, in western Scotland.
After working as a farm labourer, he acquired his own farm at
Allanton and many other family members followed his example,
also developing farms in the area.
This farming era eventually ended in the mid-1980s when the
last of the Ralston farms in the area was sold by Lindo
Ralston, reunion organisers said.
Dunedin resident Janine Tansley met her New Zealand-born but
US-based relative Julia Ralston for the first time two years
ago, when Ms Ralston visited Dunedin.
The two then joined forces as reunion co-organisers, working
from opposite sides of the Pacific.
''The two of us got together. It was a huge job,'' Ms Tansley
Ms Ralston, who lives near Philadelphia, did much of the
organisational emailing of relatives, while Ms Tansley
attended to hands-on organisation in Dunedin and contacting
relatives in and around Dunedin.
More than a year of planning had paid off in a successful
reunion, the first organised by Ralston relatives with
Allanton-linked ancestry, Ms Tansley said.
''We're really excited. It's a dream come true for us.''
Ms Tansley had spent a lot of her childhood in Allanton and
the reunion was ''just brilliant''.
''We can't believe that it's the day. I'm absolutely rapt.''
And despite the vast distances between them, Ms Tansley and
Ms Ralston have become good friends and plan to visit
Scotland, their shared ancestral homeland, together next