Monday, October 30, 2006

Genealogists Unemployed in New Zealand

Nathan Fien's decision to play for the New Zealand rugby team instead of his native Australian team has sparked a controversy. The international constitution requires that a foreign player's grandparents be from the country he is representing, and some in Australia are demanding proof that Fien's grandmother really was a Kiwi. An Australian newspaper went so far as to call 20 relatives and friends of Fien to ask if they had ever heard of the grandmother in question, Irene Lilian Maude-Lett.

They gave almost the same answer. Not one of them had heard of Fien's grandmother Irene or of his supposed New Zealand heritage. Others tried desperately to pour cold water on the controversial subject. When we contacted Fien's uncle Ron, he abruptly hung up after saying: "That's a question that only Nathan should answer."

Repeated calls to Fien's father, Arthur, and sister Kara went unanswered. Mysteriously, Cathy Martin, a Fien family friend said: "I don't know the Fiens." She then hung up. [Link]
For its part, the New Zealand Rugby League argues that grandmothers are notoriously forgettable.
NZRL chairman Selwyn Bennett believes that sort of investigation is nonsense and that most people could ring 20 friends and relatives who would not know who their grandmother was.

He says the implied accusations are dangerous and people have to be taken at their word as they do not employ genealogists, and it would be a sad day if they did. [Link]

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