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Rebecca Gibney Healing The Past

Monday, July 14, 2014

“I was raised in quite a dysfunctional family. We’ve always felt like there has been a spirit of rejection, I guess, hanging over our family. We’ve always felt this kind of sense of abandonment. To now know this is something that has come down from the generations, it makes sense.” – Rebecca Gibney 

Actress and Gold Logie winner, Rebecca Gibney has a smile which lights up lounge rooms across Australia but her warm nature is in contrast to the traumas that have beset her family over generations.
Rebecca bravely decides to investigate her past in “Who Do You Think You Are?” 7:30pm Tuesday 15 July on SBS ONE.

Travelling to New Zealand, the place of her birth, Rebecca wants to discover what she can about her mother’s family.

First she explores the life of her Great Great Grandfather, James Way Jnr, who had a tragic upbringing, having lost his mother and two siblings in quick succession. Rebecca is happy to learn James Jnr succeeded in finding a more stable family life, having married and fathered an incredible sixteen children. But then he became involved in an infamous chapter of New Zealand history. James Way’s military service saw him sent to invade the peaceful Maori settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki.

Rebecca travels to Parihaka - to be part of a history making moment - the first ancestor of the militia to be afforded an official Maori welcome. On learning that despite the Maori’s staging a campaign of non-violent resistance to European occupation, the militia ransacked the settlement. Rebecca apologises for her ancestor’s role and in a highly moving reconciliation ceremony she offers up a tearful rendition of Amazing Grace as a way of thanking the community for the warmth and friendship they have offered her.
Rebecca knows little about her father’s upbringing. Travelling to Wellington, she learns that her 19 year old Grandmother Madge arrived from London in December 1913, alone, poor, and eight months pregnant. Shortly after Madge gave birth to a baby girl called Kathleen, but was forced to relinquish her to foster care.

Being a mother herself, Rebecca cannot fathom how hard it must have been for Madge to give up her five month old daughter. She learns that Kathleen has a surviving daughter – Patricia Duff – and travels to Auckland to meet her.

“The gift of new family and reconciliation and bringing closure to some really painful chapters in the family’s history…it’s been healing. That’s one of the biggest words that comes to me from this whole journey is the healing. And what a special, special thing that is.”– Rebecca Gibney

“Who Do You Think You Are?” is produced by Artemis International and Serendipity Productions for SBS.
Rebecca Gibney’s episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” airs 7:30pm Tuesday 15 July on SBS ONE.
The sixth series cast of acclaimed genealogy series “Who Do You Think You Are? “ stars Andrew Denton, Jacki Weaver, Richard Roxburgh, Amanda Keller, Adam Goodes, Lisa McCune, and Paul McDermott.

Twitter: #WDYTYA