Lebanese Settlers Reunion – Dunedin NZ 2011

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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. 

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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

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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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