Lebanese Settlers Reunion – Dunedin NZ

Updated 19 March 2018


Scattered Cedars


Once again the so-called Lebanese ‘genealogists’ of Dunedin failed miserably in providing the correct names of Jacob Coory’s grandchildren, in a book about the Lebanese migrant community in Dunedin in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, published in 2013.

In the earlier book published, entitled Lebanon’s Children (see below) I, nee Anne Marie Coory, was in a group photo but alas was the only child not named. I took that as an insult to my grandfather, Jacob Coory, one of the original settlers, and to his oldest son, my father, Joseph Coory. But I assumed any later books published would correct the mistakes in this first book. But no!

Any genealogist worth their salt, knows that you do not publish family trees with incorrect information. Fact checking and date checking takes much time, and expense, if you have to purchase original documents, but it must be done! Looking through this latest edition, Scattered Cedars, I saw that there were not many photos of our branch of the Coory family and very little other information. But there was a family tree of sorts: ‘Joe Coory’ there under his parents’ Eva Arida’s and Jacob Coory’s names.  Not even my father’s proper name, ‘Joseph’, just ‘Joe’, and under his name ‘Kasey’, whose name is actually ‘Kevin Joseph Coory’ not his nickname KC, which were his initials! Kevin was actually Phillip Coory’s son, Phillip being Joseph’s younger brother.  My father adopted Kevin after he married my Italian mother, Doreen Marie Frandi, whom Phillip had abandoned when he found she was pregnant. He was already married with a son, you see? My name in the family tree is listed as JoAnne, which upset me greatly. I have written a book Whatever Happened To Ishtar? 


ishtar-front-cover (200x299)

in which all this tragic saga is explained in full. To cut a long story short, my mother was kicked out of the Coory family home in Carroll Street, Dunedin and I, my father’s only biological child, was dumped in an orphanage at ten months old. When I was about nine years  old, the Coory family decided that they needed me to be trained up as a future housemaid for the family, and I was sent to St Dominic’s College in Rattray Street Dunedin, (fees which my father could barely afford) with all the other Lebanese girls in the Dunedin community at that time, although I was certainly not their equal as they made very clear to me. When I was fourteen years old, two of my aunts decided that Ann Cockburn, my aunt, and her daughter, Anne Marie, were enough ‘Annes’ in the family, so my name would henceforth be changed to “Joe’s Anne’ shortened to JoAnne! My mother, and Kevin, (who was kicked out along with our mother), and her Italian extended family always called me Anne, named after my mother’s youngest sister, who was very special to my mother, as she practically raised her. Many years later when I visited Italian family members around the world, for information for my book Whatever Happened To Ishtar? they also knew me as Anne, which is the name on my birth certificate if anyone writing up Jacob Coory’s family tree would have discovered!

As it happens, the only correct name given to the three children under Joseph Coory’s name on the family tree, is my younger brother’s name, Anthony. My mother did not rate a mention!

-Anne Frandi-Coory


Lebanese expats in New Zealand mark their reunion in October 2011: Descendants of 19th Century Lebanese settlers in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, have unveiled a Cedars of Lebanon Grove at the city’s botanical garden:

…about 250 people gathered on the edge of the Botanic Garden’s Mediterranean Garden to witness the ceremonial opening of a new grove dedicated to the community’s history in Dunedin. The grove’s centrepiece was a large bronze sculpture of the cone of a cedar, the national tree of Lebanon, as well as two cedar trees and a wooden park bench on which to sit and contemplate the area.

Dunedin also has its own ‘Lebanon-town’:

The gathering also included exhibitions of family history, a reception and black tie ball in the Dunedin Town Hall, as well as a tour of the “Lebanese precinct” between Carroll, Maitland, Stafford and Hope Streets in Dunedin. As Reported by LebTweets

Jacob & Eva Coory c.1897


Anne Frandi-Coory’s grandparents Eva and Jacob Coory (Fahkrey) and their extended family lived in Carroll Street for over 100 years, following their emigration from Bcharre, Lebanon. Kahlil Gibran came from the same village as Eva and Jacob, and were related by marriage. Anne would have liked to have gone to the reunion, but too many past ghosts are forever  haunting her.



Notes from Anne Frandi-Coory:

Thank you Wendy Joseph, for attending the Lebanese Reunion,  I know how hard that must have been for you; We never would have found each other again if you hadn’t been so brave. Both our mothers abandoned us, we paid a heavy price, but survived. Sadly, with no help from the wider Lebanese community.  That’s not to say that I am not proud to be Lebanese, but I cannot speak for Wendy.


The question I ask of the Lebanese community, which endlessly heralds its “sense of family”, is this: Why was there not enough love and compassion from aunts to close in around me and Wendy? True, our mothers were ‘outsiders’ and found life difficult (to put it mildly) among so many ethnocentric Lebanese immigrants, with their different style of living and eating. I remember the ‘racism’ well. Everyone was well aware within the community at the time,  that preference for marriage partners was for those from within the Lebanese community itself or from those families back in Lebanon.  But the truth was, many did marry “unglese” and life could be very difficult for them unless they were strong and independently minded, which my mother certainly wasn’t. ><

Anne Coory 8


After a Lebanese community celebration c 1956 (the date on the photo is incorrect), photos of family groups were taken on the steps of St Joseph’s Cathedral at the top of Rattray Street, Dunedin.   I am the only child there who is not named. Why?  If I was publishing such an important work, I would have left no stone unturned until I found the name of the unnamed child.


Photo below: Ann Coory Cockburn, Eva Arida Coory’s daughter at rear on left,  Eva in front of her in furs, and beside Eva on the right is her daughter, Neghia Coory Dale with me standing in front of neghia with her hands on my shoulders.

Carroll St Dunedin c. 1956


The photo above was obviously taken on the same day as the Lebanese Community group photo on the Cathedral steps, this one taken outside the Coory family home at 67 Carroll Street, Dunedin…

The Coory family were beginning to show off their hard-earned prosperity at this stage.

And there again is 8 year old Anne Frandi-Coory, in the same dress, the odd one out and as usual looking bewildered, but still no-one knew who I was?  I was not long extracted from the Mercy Orphanage for the Poor in South Dunedin, but still, my father lived in the Carroll Street house most of his life! 


It is not for me I mourn, but for my children and their children who missed out on so much! That is my heartbreak.

Anne blog

Anne Frandi-Coory


An apology to my grandfather Jacob Coory, a pillar of the Dunedin Lebanese community.  The above group photograph of Lebanese families appeared in a publication Lebanon’s Children’ in 2004. The front row proudly displays their children. Unfortunately, Granddad, there I, Anne Frandi-Coory, 5th child from the left, stood holding the hand of my little cousin Anne-Marie Cockburn, but no-one knew who I was.  Even though I was the only daughter of your oldest son, Joseph, I was the only child in the whole book not to be named.  One of your sons was on the committee that produced the book, but even he didn’t  recognise me! The reason could be that my Lebanese family dumped me when I was 10 months old, in an orphanage for the poor a few blocks from their family home because they hated my Italian mother.  Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Still, I was devastated to discover I didn’t exist as far as my own extended family was concerned. Obviously, not all of  ‘Lebanon’s Children’ are born equal. As a writer, genealogist and author,  I would not have published Lebanon’s Children’  until I had identified the the unnamed child. Enough of that community saw me often walking with my father, holding his hand, as he stopped to talk to Lebanese compatriots, around the streets of Dunedin. And what of my brothers, Kevin and Anthony? The point is, the abuse and neglect I suffered as a child, at the hands of my Lebanese extended family, has had an adverse effect on following generations. That is what I find very difficult to come to terms with. 



My Lebanese grandfather, Jacob Habib El Khouri Eleishah Coory (Fahkrey) as I remember him

Thank you Granddad Jacob for treating me with love and respect and protecting me from the family’s hatred when you could. Even though I was only 8 years old when you died, you had a profound effect on my life.  It only takes one good man…

>><> More….photos, stories …. Catholic schools, churches and orphanages


Read more about Anne’s story here: Whatever Happened To Ishtar?;  A Passionate Quest To Find Answers For Generations of Defeated Mothers – throughout Anne’s family tree; both Lebanese and Italian


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