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Religion is a strong factor in New Zealand history and in New Zealand family history. I recall shortly after I met my future wife, Ellie, taking her and her daughter, my stepdaughter Emma, to meet my maternal grandparents.

My grandfather quickly worked out that she was from a Catholic family and at the end of this occasion, stated that she was alright for a Catholic. My maternal grandfather was from a Brethren family. He used to tell stories of the hardcore protestants of Mount Eden going over to Ponsonby to pick fights with the Irish Catholics. This would have been in the early 1920s when sectarianism in New Zealand had perhaps reached its all time high due to the rebellion in Ireland and the Civil War which followed. There were a number of lodges and a strong level of division between Catholic and Protestant communities.

I had thought until recently that my father's family were likely to be Catholic. Certainly there are parish records in Ireland that show this. I was surprised to find that my grandfather gave his religion as Baptist when he enlisted in the army. Tom had mentioned to me that in later life, his parents were quite distant and that his mother's, my grandmother's, quite pronounced Englishness was perhaps one of the causes of this. She belonged to the Church of England.

I had thought that my grandfather might have converted from Catholicism or had become a non observant Catholic as a result of my grandmother's wishes. So it was interesting to me to see that my paternal grandfather identified as Baptist and I revisited a number of assumptions I had made.