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Tracing your family back to the “good old days” can be a challenge – and that is where a team of South Canterbury genealogy experts comes in.

The New Zealand Society of Genealogists South Canterbury branch hosted a day at Timaru Library last week to help get people started in their search.

Maree Bowen and Liz Shea were among those who assisted people wanting to learn more or find out how to begin their search.

Over the years the pair have made their own intriguing family discoveries.

Mrs Shea said the scandal of illegitimacy was among the family secrets she had unearthed over the years.

“I had a great-great-great-grandfather, William Brown, and there’s no father recorded on his birth certificate, but there’s one on his marriage certificate. It’s called Peter Gower – that is supposedly his father.”

Mrs Bowen discovered multiple births and big families featured in her history.

“My grandfather was one of 17 and there had been three sets of twins in the family, but always one twin died.”

Researching family history was usually reasonably easy, but unearthing certain details could sometimes take quite an effort.

“It can be easy to a certain extent,” Mrs Shea said.

“I’ve got an adopted cousin and I was able to find his family for him. It took quite some effort,” Mrs Bowen said.

“But we found a half-brother who had been looking for him as well. Sometimes it’s the person from the other side looking that matches up.”

Mrs Shea said the best place to start was with yourself and then work backwards.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Society of Genealogy and August is Family History Month.