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New Zealander calls for help to trace Jersey roots

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A NEW Zealander who has been looking into his family history for almost three decades is hoping he can finally trace his links back to Jersey with the help of Islanders.

Kerry Bree was born in Auckland and his research into his family has revealed various links with Jersey and more widely with the Channel Islands.

Mr Bree (66) first started looking into the history of his family more than 30 years ago after his father mentioned that the family came from Jersey.

His research took him to the Unseen Jersey Facebook page, where he explained his story and contacted other people who shared his surname in order to explore his family links further.

Mr Bree knows that his family shares heritage with a man called Helier Bree, and he is now appealing for Islanders’ assistance in tracing his ancestors.

Mr Bree said: ‘Our surname and the origins of it have always been a bit of a mystery, mainly because my father, Frank Wallace Bree, was adopted out with his twin sisters at a very young age due to family problems.

‘Dad was born in Wellington in 1917, he did not speak much about his early years, especially his mother and father, but I recall when I was young he said we were from Jersey and that we were descended from a man called Helier Bree who arrived in New Zealand in 1865.

‘This started me doing a bit of research. Unfortunately there was no such thing as the internet back then. Now there are a lot of references to Helier Bree and large amounts of details of his marriage and of his 14 children.

‘I often wondered what drove a man to leave Jersey and travel to colonial New Zealand way back in those days – life here must have been tough.

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‘A woman I know here in New Zealand mentioned the Facebook page Unseen Jersey. Her family emigrated to New Zealand over 50 years ago – their name was Le Gallais.

‘I put a post on Unseen Jersey and received many comments from Brees, or people who knew someone named Bree or were descended from Helier, including Steve Bree, the administrator for Unseen Jersey. Steve has been very helpful and is extremely knowledgeable on the family history.’

The more Mr Bree has looked into the subject the more complex it has become and he joked that he could be related to most of the Channel Islands.

He is now appealing for Islanders to help him find extra information that will help him piece together his family history – from one side of the world to the other.

Anyone who thinks they may have a link to Mr Bree’s family can email him with information on kerryjbree@gmail.com.

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