HE PURAPURA MARARA SCATTERED SEEDS
AN INTERVIEW BETWEEN KELLY ISAAC and DONNA LAMBERT (nee ESPIE (Granddaughter)
AN INTERVIEW BETWEEN
KELLY ISAAC and DONNA LAMBERT (nee ESPIE (Granddaughter)
Please note: This assignment was completed many years ago before Kelly died. The original answers were written in Kelly's own handwriting and recently typed up by Donna Peterson.
KI – Kelly
DL – Donna Lambert
DL At what age do you think Hala and Tobia might have been when they got married, and do you know roughly what year it was?
KI 14 and 16 years old respectively, 1892
DL Did they get married in Lebanon? If so, where in Lebanon?
KI Yes, Becharre
DL Do you have any idea as to why they decided to come to New Zealand to Live?
KI – Yes, to get away from the Turkish Army which had invaded Lebanon
DL How long do you think the journey might have taken?
KI - Approximately 6 months
DL Do you know anything about their journey?
KI – Only that the first child was born at sea off the Coast of Melbourne.
DL What sort of conditions did they travel in? Was it a difficult journey? Cold weather? Cramped sleeping quarters?
KI – Yes.
DL Did they have much money
KI – They had money, but I can’t tell you more
DL Did Hala and Tobia always know each other? Did they spend much time together as children
KI – Yes, they were first cousins
DL Did the family encourage the marriage?
KI – Yes
DL Were their families killed in the Turkish War?
KI – Partly, some survived the war, but were under the Turkish Army Rebels. That is why so many emigrated to different countries. A large number to NZ
DL Who was killed? And, do you have any idea how?
KI – My mother’s father was killed by Turkish soldiers in front of her while they were travelling on the road. To the Turkish soldiers it was fun and amusing. She hated the Turkish people all her life ever since. I do not know for certain of any others.
DL What relatives of theirs remained in Lebanon, and did they family try to keep in contact with them?
KI – Their mother’s brothers and sisters. Some only emigrated to other parts of the world. The family kept in touch with them for many years but gradually lost contact after the First World War in 1914 – 1918.
DL Do you believe they lived with their Grandmother after the Turkish War?
KI – They lived together in Becharre until they emigrated.
DL Roughly, how old do you think they were when they fell in love and decided to get married.
KI – I don't know. They grew up together in Becharre.
DL – Did they have any money, and if so where or how did they get it?
KI - They had some money which they acquired from the family estate. That is all I know.
DL Were their families wealthy before the Turkish War, and did they own any land?
KI – Yes they were wealthy and owned lots of land. This diminished greatly after the Turkish invasion. This has all been lost since the invasions, wars and turmoil ever since.
DL If so, do you have any idea what may have happened to this land and money?
KI – It has all been lost because of the wars and turmoil the country is now in.
DL Why do you think they changed their name to Isaac from Khouri. Is it possible that it may have been because the generation before them went by the name of Khouri and before that it was Isaac, and that perhaps it was tradition to alternate the two family names in order to keep family heritage alive?
KI – Over there, because there were so many with the clan name, they were named after their father’s name for easy identification and Khouri was the name of an earlier member of the clan, but Isaac was the name of my paternal grandfather. When they arrived in NZ my parents did not name their children as is normal here because they did not understand the local manner of naming children, but did this in later years.
DL Do you remember them speaking Arabic, and did you understand any of it?
KI – Yes, but because I was the thirteenth child of fourteen, I did not learn to speak very much Arabic, but I did understand some of it.
DL Did your family eat much Lebanese type food?
KI – Yes, we ate many Lebanese dishes and enjoyed them very much, but we ate NZ food also.
DL Were you encouraged to learn Arabic or English as your first language?
KI – English mainly because we went to NZ schools and lived in an English and Scottish environment.
DL Were you encouraged to learn about your heritage, culture and ethnic background?
KI – Yes, but because I was number 13, I did not get as much chance as the others.
DL What were Hala and Tobia like towards each other? Were they a romantic couple?
KI – Yes, they loved each other dearly.
DL Did they show much affection towards each other?
KI – Yes
DL Were they talkative people?
KI – Yes, and were good to listen to.
DL Did your father and mother share in the domestic duties?
KI – Mother did until she became too ill. The children helped a great deal as they were able to do so. My sister Annie was the main domestic helper.
DL Who was the main disciplinary of the children? Hala or Tobia or both?
KI – Both but Dad was a traveller and was thus away from home a great deal. The mother was the main one.
DL What type of domestic duties can you remember Hala doing?
KI – Mainly normal ones until she became ill. She did a lot of sewing.
DL What type of domestic duties can you remember Tobia doing?
KI – None. As a Traveller he had not the time. The children helped a great deal as they grew up and became able.
DL What did Tobia do for a living?
KI – He travelled around the countryside selling drapery, household items and nick nacks.He was very popular and had many loyal customers. We had a van adapted for himand two horses to pull it. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1925. That was tragic. He also had two shops in Invercargill.
DL Did Hala and Tobia socialise often with friends, or were they too busy with all the children?
KI – They socialised often with friends when the time was appropriate.
DL What hobbies did they enjoy if they had any spare time?
KI – Cards and music when they had the time.
DL Did the older children have much responsibility in the upbringing of the younger children?
KI – Yes
DL When do you think Hala and Tobia became Catholic?
KI – All their lives. In Lebanon they were Maronite. (Catholics of the Maronite order).
DL Do you know why they may have identified with this particular religious faith?
KI – They were brought up as members of the Maronite congregation and were ardent Members.
DL Was Catholicism an important part of the Isaac household?
KI – Very much so.
DL Can you remember Hala talking about Lebanon often?
KI – Yes, she talked about Lebanon very much. She loved it very much. The whole family was preparing to return to Lebanon in 1913 – 1914 when the First World War broke out and they had to cancel the idea. Dad died in 1925 and the trip was cancelled for good. (I was not born until 19 July 1916).
DL Do you think she was happy with New Zealand life?
KI – Yes she was but she still loved her homeland and Lebanon.
DL When did Hala and Tobia pass away, and what main illness do you think may have contributed to their passing?
KI – Tobia died suddenly of a heart attack in 1925
Hala died in 1943 from cancer.
DL What sort of things were important to Hala and Tobia? What sort of values did they teach you and your brothers and sisters?
KI – All the best values. To be faithful to our religion and be honest and upright. To love one another, to be friendly to our neighbours, relatives and other people when relevant. Cleanliness and honesty. To strive to have a good life and to be optimistic and objective, to love one another and to remain a happy loving family.
DL Lastly, please write down any moments you can remember of your life with Hala and Tobia.
KI – There are too many to enumerate, social occasions etc, get togethers, parties, picnics and many happy times etc.
DL Is there anything you can remember Hala or Tobia telling you as you were growing up?
KI – To be holy, happy, honest, upright and friendly etc.
DL Perhaps there are sayings that they would repeat to you often that you can remember, (e.g. tidy your room, it looks like a shushma.
KI - That and others I can’t remember.
DL Perhaps there may be a really happy moment like a celebration occasion that you can remember.
KI – When members of the family got married and had children. They loved all their grandchildren very much.