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1 Sept 2021

Viti's Book Launch 15th August 2021

 On 15th August 2021, and proceed with my Book Launch at Perth, Boola Bardip Museum was joyful. No other word for it! Waiting during Uncertain times with COVID to whether we would go into lockdown and not be able to have this celebration hung like a heavy cloud.

Therefore, sincerely grateful was how we felt on the day, and aware much of the Eastern Seaboard of Australia were in lockdown conditions.

The Perth Museum is a venue well worth considering for your next event. We utilised the Woodside Education Hub, but there are numerous options throughout this magnificent building. The Importance of Indigenous Stories promoted is so poignant to the content in my third book, which captures historical insights through storytelling and tales.

Title: Hikoi of Discovery, Fathers Maternal Ascendants Emerge: Leaf, Maning (Manene), Diamond (Taimona). Hokianga, the 1800s-1920s and the King Country, 1930s-1950s is now available.

Two avenues for purchasing are:

(1)   Viti's website:

Book 3 Description:

Book Order Form:

(2)   Email Viti direct at

Photos were taken at the Launch:

I intentionally wrote this book with a broader readership in mind. However, my first endeavours in writing within a historical/biographical context from a descendant's perspective feedback from the readership are encouraging.

Feedback: Teresa Dean Parkes, Perth WA (Family connections to the content of this book)

"I'm thoroughly enjoying reading Viti Simmons' book - "Hikoi of Discovery". It is an absorbing experience delving into the history of the Diamond side of the family. There has been so much hard work, and passion poured into this book. It was a wonderful experience and privilege to attend your book launch and meet so many interesting people who were all somehow involved in the writing of your book. Well, done, Viti xx". (18th August 2021)

The importance of Social Media platforms has been the catalyst for reconnecting Whanau members unknown and living in Perth. Including those, I have not been in touch with since my formative years.   

The communities associated with this book are Pakanae, Whirinaki, Kohukohu, Mangamuka in Hokianga Northland and Taumarunui and Manunui in the King Country, New Zealand.

Until we chat again, take care.

Viti Simmons  

26 Jun 2021

The learnings from...

Hikoi of Discovery

Father's Maternal Ascendants Emerge

Hokianga 1800s - 1930s and his relocation to the King Country 1930s-1950s

Leaf, Maning (Manene) Diamond (Taimona)


Viti Kay Simmons (nee Diamond) 

There have been many while writing over the last three years (p/t). Just the other day, a light bulb moment. I found myself vocalising a musing while standing at the kitchen bench. 

Father's Maternal Ascendants have reconnected their descendants.

I have met new members of our extended Whanau (family) from across Australia and New Zealand over the last six months and recently with my promotion of, Hikoi of Discovery. My messaging app has been a  'busy bee', as has my Facebook page messaging. 

New friendships have emerged, and those close at hand I have arranged to have a coffee with. Reconnections to my first cousins next generation. Keen to learn about the contents of my book. A few attending my Book Launch at the WA Museum Boola Bar dip in Perth. Something I had not anticipated.

Technology has been at the heart of this reconnection with the broader Whanau who live in Diaspora communities, generally speaking. This means,

"Any community of people from the same country or region living in another country (or countries). They are considered a community if they consciously collaborate based on their belongings to the same country or region of origin. Collaborations could be through meetings And social events that are or are not linked to life in the country of origin." Sourced 26/06/2021 online

The research process for the Whakapapa (Family Tree) included many hours of what I have referred to as working with a rubric cube and the importance of working with colours. Otherwise, it was not difficult to be overwhelmed by names, places, and sorting through information provided online, which often has contradictory information. Worth the toil of arriving at an understanding of one's interpretation of data in all its forms. 

Take care in the interim.

Viti Simmons

Founder of

From 2008.

13 Jun 2021

A Pikoura Maori Carving Design

Apologies if you have already received this one...                                                                         

Bev Ryan Publishing recommended the above-carved symbol so symbolic as part of my forthcoming book design @

“The Pikoura represents an eternal bond between people and cultures. ... This carved symbol is often gifted to close friends, family, or new cultures to signify a binding between two entities. It is the perfect gift for friendship, love and family to signify eternity and togetherness.” (Source unknown)

 It is a gift that our five grandchildren have or will receive when they turn 10 years old. Their paternal Grandfather Paul Simmons has re-introduced this symbol design for one of his granddaughters when she turns 10 years of age. Each grandchild is gifted with a symbol with consideration.

We are now in the design and layout phase of Book 3 and moving forward to my Perth Book launch date has been set for the 15th of August 2021 at the Perth Museum. RSVP 26th July 2021

The ‘learnings’ have been numerous while researching and writing this book. Just how crucial social media platforms have been and realising that they are a preference for the majority I have communicated with. Communication through emails is not as productive so I needed to adjust my strategy to one of messaging through Facebook. This has proven to be highly beneficial.

Another useful approach when self-publishing has been to have a Book Launch date in collaboration with your publisher. This approach has worked for me as it keeps one’s, ‘foot on the pedal’ to ensure I reached my desired timeframe.  

I am in the process of populating new content for my Bear Fruit website (offline) in the next couple of months with new services. It is exciting to be back under my business umbrella and an opportunity to make resources available. I will keep you updated on when that will be. 

Viti Simmons

Founder of Bear Fruit 2008.

3 May 2021

It has been SOME TIME since I last posted.

Picking up where I left on in 2018. At that time I was working on my manuscript part-time in between undertaking an Australian International Volunteer Assignment in Fiji and on my return to Perth took on a role with a local Community Centre in Perth.

End of 2020 I left that role so I could spend the time on completing my third manuscript (1st solo piece of writing).

Book Title

Hikoi of Discovery
Father's Maori Maternal Ascendants Emerge
Hokianga to the King Country 


In acknowledgement of my Father, 'Ropata' Robert Tohu Diamond alias Taimona (1916-2003).

His memoirs and tales were taped as I am driving towards the Hokianga in 2001. His recourse about his mother, Keita, and contributions on behalf of his 13 siblings would have been lost, had we not?

His formative years captured is: full of wit, humour, raw and challenging. Much of which was new to me.

In late 2018, I returned to the Hokianga for further research and engagement with Whanau (family) connections. Essential in enriching the family history and filling in the gaps.

Ascendants discovered

Discovering the names of Father's maternal ascendants: Mereana Leaf, Moengaroa Maning, and Erana Kohe Leaf, was overwhelming.

Nonetheless, they have been in my presence, since. Joyful. Father's mother, Keita Diamond, my grandmother (Kui). I knew her name, but little else. 

The responsibility of co-authoring on behalf of these ascendants has not been lost on me. At times, our Whakapapa (Family Tree) felt like a rubric cube. 

Fathers four maternal ascendants were in interracial unions/marriages with settler men.

The above photo was taken after attending Sunday Service in Whirinaki in 2018. This was the community that Father’s ascendants had lived.

Photo: Phoebe Watkins (middle) was my guide and Dorrie Hemara on the left with myself on the right before we visited the local Urupa's (Cemeteries). 


Historical works provide context for the 1800s and early 1900s

Angela Wanhalla (2013), Matters of the Heart, A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand, informs that, "...Maori women’s voices are not easy to find in colonial records. Largely written by white men and officials, these documents offer an uneven picture of marriage practices.…”

My focus on bringing women's voices to light, across cultures, would not surprise many of you. I have been travelling this road since 1993-2021 locally, nationally and internationally, all self-funded.

At times my courage would waver while writing. Fortunately, Alexa Whaley a Volunteer at the Hokianga Historical Society in Omapere would put the wind back in my sails.

Her last piece of advice, " be opening up the hitherto unknown territory about Keita and her life – that’s so important in itself.'

Rivers & Native Timber Trade

Both the Hokianga and King Country were associated with timber industries and rivers. With migration comes the establishment of families and communities.

Father and Ian Goodman's journey to establishing their families in the Timber town of Manunui from 1915 to the 1950s. They first met when playing for the Manunui Rugby Club in late 1930s to early 1940s.

This photo of the Whanganui River was taken in 2015 when I revisited my childhood swimming spot. These steps were there in the 1950s. It was a period and an environment that was influential in shaping my curiosity.

The final section in the book is the relationship between a Father and his daughter and her awakening to the importance of gender equity.

PLEASE NOTE: if you are interested in obtaining a copy of my book the best option at this stage is through my direct email: in readiness for my print run approximately June/July 2021.

My intent is to return to posting more frequently. 

 Take care in the interim.

Viti Kay 


27 Oct 2018

Arrival in the Hokianga - 13th November (Vignette 1)

As I drove towards the sandhills on the horizon I was very conscious that this trip would be very different than previous visits to the Hokianga. This was not just about the connection one makes with the environment, landscape and known Whanau but an acute awareness that I was endeavouring to dig deeper into the social and historical context of the Hokianga. I sensed new learnings and friendships would be an offshoot to the growing excitement - arising within. 

In particular, I was much more aware of the small community of Whirinaki. A community one drives through on State Highway 12 to get to Pakanae where my father spent his formative years with mother Keita and father Tere. The women I am writing about came from this community. Because of my research, I had gained a heightened awareness of the history and social fabric of Whirinaki and my desire was to build upon that understanding.

Reflecting... about those women who had come before
When I pulled up at the Urupa (cemetery) in Pakanae I parked next to a couple of other vehicles. As I stood in front of Keita and Tere’s headstones I was deep in thought but aware of another couple a few rows in front. The view beyond the Urupa is the Hokianga Harbour and across the Harbour, it's glorious sandhills - well known.

The couple in front made a move towards the exit gate and as he passed he raised his eyes to say Kia Ora and noted the headstones I was present at.   I mentioned that they were my father’s parents and he commented that my wife Alexa is part of your Whanau. Before I realised we were both in an embrace and trying to work out how in ‘a moment in time', that this connection was made? Eliza was visiting her parents’ graves and heading back to Auckland. My journey to the Hokianga commenced three days earlier. Yes, in that embrace I did feel overwhelmed. Nonetheless, a new Whanau connection and communication was the outcome!  

On the following day, I attended the Anglican Service in Whirinaki and part of this service included singing hymns in Maori. I did not find this difficult because during my primary school years it was not uncommon to sing Maori songs. However, back then one was not expected to understand the meaning of the words. Nor was it included in the educational curriculum. So I discovered that all I needed to do was listen at the commencement of the hymn to pick up the pace and sounds and away I'd go. This was a surprise I must say.

Viti and Minister Marina (NAERA) inside St David's church in Whirinaki
Such experiences continued and reflected in the analogy of a snowball throughout the week. After Sunday's Service, I met up with Phoebe Watkins who had laid the foundations for my visit and her value cannot be underestimated. As was the contribution of so many, their storytelling and willingness. It warmed my spirit and soul. 

The importance of land and water will make up Vinyette 2. 
Warm regards
Viti x

27 Sept 2018

Being nimble while writing....

Well, my intent was to blog more regularly after my return from Sri Lanka. However, that has not proven to be because the ebb and flow of LIFE have determined otherwise. I am learning to be at peace with that ebb and flow.

The value in doing so has me heading back to the Hokianga in October to spend a week in the area where fathers maternal ascendents lived. So my writing has been replaced by planning for this trip and communication with Phoebe Watkins who lives in Rangi Point, Hokianga. I look forward to meeting her in person. She has been very active on my behalf of which I am most grateful.

We first met through a letter Phoebie wrote to my father back in August 2001- on behalf of her parents. Father then included her letters in one he wrote to me that same year. When I commenced this manuscript in early 2018 I thought I wonder if I could get hold of Phoebie? I reached out and was able to locate her through Ngaire Slade also living in Perth.

Sometime later I was able to locate Phoebie who lives at Rangi Point in the Hokianga. As they say, the rest is history! When I emailed niece Kiri recently about my pending trip back to the Hokianga she came back with a saying I have not heard for many years. You are picking up the breadcrumbs Aunty.
Nieces:  Piki - Myself - Kiri attending the 2016 Indigenous International Research Conference hosted by
Nga Pae Ote Maramatanga - Auckland University N.Z. 
This trip was not anticipated at the commencement of writing, early 2018. However, a journey eagerly anticipated and the opportunity to meet people I have been in contact with is such a bonus. Sometimes we have to listen to our inner thoughts and allow them to bloom. I am very aware that this trip will enrich not only the manuscript but my understanding of my father's maternal ascendants and meeting Whanau that have emerged.

Take care in the interim

26 Aug 2018

Oh, my goodness

I had a sense when I commenced my manuscript in January 2018 that there would be new material that would evolve. There always is, when research is involved especially when the focus is historical. What I had not anticipated were the GEMS that would emerge. In some cases, the unknown is now known.

One such example is father’s tale about the Manunui Boarding House where he lived as a single man. Until now that was all I knew with no idea of the name of the Boarding House or location in Manunui. While we were recording this period, I did not occur to me to ask the specifics. I was just delighted that we were capturing his stories.  

During one of my earlier trips to Taumarunui, N.Z. I had met up with Ron Cooke who operates a business Abundant Past Ltd. Ron compiled the Roll back the years series and the material he has gathered over the years, is significant. Therefore, I thought it was worth asking him the question, do you have a photo of the Boarding House in Manunui during the 1930’s – 1940’s located near the Manunui Fire Brigade?

Dominion Boarding House, Manunui 
Sure, enough along with other requested material the above photo arrived. What a joy to have received. This, in turn, enabled me to ‘join the dots’ between Ron and my material which was a treat! An example of this is the realization that in Vol 3 of the republished roll back the years series. I had viewed and read this material but not made the connection until I received the image.

The above photo, A 1929 view, from the fire brigade tower, of {Ellis and Burnand’s] sawmill and box factory. Compiled by Ron Cooke, Roll back the years, Vol 3 Pg.356, Republished November 2010 – photo courtesy NZ Forest Service collection, Wellington (ref: 13096).

The joy of writing this manuscript continues.
Go well

30 Jul 2018

"From Whom Do I come"?

The above question is part of a quote which I have recently inserted into my manuscript.

The author is Bidois, E. whose explanation of Whakapapa, 2006 on the 10th October captures my endeavours in researching and writing this book.  

What has emerged - seven months on with writing - is an emerging pattern. I have anchored five sections of my book - each with sub-headings. Section two (2) onwards is a known from, "Whom Do I come?" My mother's English maternal heritage was very influential during my formative years. I recall during my early adult years father saying, you were going to live in a white man's world daughter so to him it made sense that their influence was beneficial. 

On the other hand, Angela Wanhalla's book, ‘Matters of the Heart" provides a broader study of interracial marriages which I have found immensely beneficial and thought-provoking.

"By marrying a white man, a Maori woman was engaged in the project of assimilation..." and then goes on to reveal " had to involve a man of respectability who had the capacity to educate and 'civilise' his wife." 

However, "greatest public scrutiny was reserved for those Pakeha women who married across racial lines." Which were the experience of my parent's case and many others as I recall during the 1940's and beyond? 

What has become evident in my research is the stark contrast of women's longevity in cross-cultural families. My research to date shows that father's maternal Tupuna's and sisters - all bar one - did not have the longevity of life like my mother's side. That, of course, is another story!

Sourced on 31 July 2019 from and
map generated by NASA's World Wind program
The above Hokianga harbour and its estuaries generated by NASA provides an overview of some of the communities and towns that my manuscript is interwoven. Whirinaki and Pakanae located on the right-hand side of the harbour entrance and opposite the sand hills (on the left) and further North are the communities which my Tupuna are associated with.

The intent is to return to posting more regularly as I move towards the completion of my manuscript. 
In the interim take care.
Best wishes

27 Jun 2018

Maternal lineage continued...

In my last post, I spoke about the maternal generation of women in Sri Lanka that we had the pleasure of meeting. Since that posting, I have received Nicla on the left Great Grandmother passed away in late 2017. I recently received this photo below which includes Rocelin (2nd from the right) who passed away in 2017. She was the eldest member of these descendants.
Nicla, Dishna, Rocelin and Mercy.
Now back working on my manuscript the above photo brings to mind that I am unable to insert similar or images of my Maori maternal ascendants. Over time I have only seen one of father's mother, Keita and Koro Tere.  The whereabouts of this photo remain unknown. Therefore, I will need to be creative and sensitive to this while working with the material gathered.  

After our visit to Oscar and Dishna’s they transported us to a small garment manufacturer in the same village.  What an opportunity to see first-hand how this business ran its operations which employs local women and men.

Viti meeting employees 
Sureka, the supervisor of this workforce was generous with her information and informed that their products are distributed to local and export markets. Their workforce consists of 20-23 employees which include trainees. Sureka has been with the company for 16 years. The opportunity did arise to speak first-hand with the companies Manager/Owner. 

Sureka, Dishna and Viti
I look forward to sharing updates as I progress through my manuscript in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Take care in the interim.

12 Jun 2018

Sri Lankan Maternal Lineage

Our most wonderful visit to Sri Lanka has come to an end.  So many experiences and memories remain. I was blown away the attention to detail in the tourism and hospitality industries. Street food was a whole another experience for someone like me, who does not eat curries or spiced food.  Once again, I tried but did not prevail.

The last week in Sri Lanka provided an unexpected set of circumstances. Firstly, while speaking with our tour guide Oscar Perera a National Tourist Guide Lecturer. I asked him if his wife worked?  After further discussion and my sharing with him the work that I have been involved with in Nepal we arranged to meet his wife Dishna who had established a small business called, Green Grass Garden at their home in Negombo, Sri Lanka. 

 If you travel to Sri Lanka you just may wish to experience this opportunity.

Contact details: Dishna Perera: 031-2225966 / 076-7170672 / 077-5483866
No: 119/C1, Nugawela Road, Katuwapitiya, Negombo, Sri Lanka

On arrival it was a delight to meet Dishna and Oscar’s extended family, who assist with the cooking classes on making traditional Sri Lankan meals. The area that this takes place is the front building which was previously Dishna's mother's home. Oscar and Dishna have retained the foundations of the original home which now hosts their guests and cooking classes. In Sri Lankan tradition the mother’s house is known as the Grand House and very symbolic.

I could not help but reflect on the stark contrast to the maternal side of my father’s ascendants. Here I was enjoying the company of this maternal lineage of women whose motivation is to contribute to their new home currently being built behind their enterprise. 

On the other hand, if I was to include in this instance my mother’s English maternal lineage I had experienced similar when my parents bought the seven-day a week corner store in Taumarunui. Mother and Gran ran the shop 6 days a week and I ran it on a Sunday while at High School so they could have a day off. 

Nicla (Dishna's daughter) Mercy Dishna's Mother, Dishna and I.

What a pleasure to meet Oscar's family whose daughter Nicla is undertaking Economic Studies at university. Nicla added that she was particularly interested in the business side of her course. The fourth and previously eldest member of this maternal lineage of Sri Lankan women, Rosaline, passed away in late 2017, not that long ago. 

How poignant to hear how these four women had spent so much time together over four (4) generations. This is in such contrast with the manuscript I am currently working with my father’s maternal lineage of Maori Tupuna Wahines. While sitting amongst this lineage of women it was evident the respect they have for one another.  Communication was undertaken through translation and English and I was left with a sense, that everyone contributions, formed  parts of the whole.  

Dishna’s 2nd business venture, along with four (4) other women, who are members of a Corporation (30 members) provides a platform to understand the ‘needs’ of its membership. One recent example was a proposal put forward by their Office Bearers, on their behalf, to approach the relevant Political Minister for roadside huts (pop ups) next to one another - for five (5) consecutive days a month. Previously they had been selling in a temporary building. These entrepreneurial women were informed the day before we met, that they had been successful. What a special note to end this post on.

 I have one more connection to Sri Lanka that I will share in my next post. In the mean time it is back to my manuscript. Not as easy as I had anticipated after 6 weeks of being disconnected.  It has taken me a few hours to gather what were my rhythms before I went away.

Winter is upon us.
Take care