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Persistence and Sacrifice Reward Tahitian’s Family History Search

A young boy from Tahiti was assigned to fill out the first 15 names on his family tree but he couldn’t do it, knowing only his mother’s and grandmother’s names. It took him over 40 years of searching and sacrificing to finally find his Tahitian, French, English and Swedish roots.

Growing up in Tahiti under his grandmother’s care, Raymond Maire had little interest in seeking out his ancestors. He was too busy with the many chores his grandmother gave him and playing in the large river that flowed beside his house.

In 1964, at age 16, he left his home in Tahiti to become a boarding student at the Church College of New Zealand. He lived there for 3 ½ years without returning to his home in Tahiti.

As a school assignment, “We were told to put together the 15 names, showing our four generation family tree—ourselves, our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents—so they could be sent to Salt Lake City and put in the records vault.

“So I started. I got my name, got my mother, and I got my grandmother.” Raymond didn’t know any names beyond that.

“So, I wrote to my grandmother, and she said, ‘Oh, I’ll tell you that when you come back to Tahiti.’ So, I wrote to my uncle, and nobody would reply.”

When he was 19, Raymond accepted a call to serve as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His assignment…Tahiti.

He admits to feeling a little disappointed not to be going somewhere else, but, “I thought, here is my chance. I’ll meet all my relations there.”

“I went and asked everybody, and I was given just one or two names and nobody would give me more than that. I just didn’t know who they were.”

“I was born out of wedlock, and my mother was born out of wedlock. So, for a start, to find who my parents were, nobody wanted to tell me.”

“But, I persevered, and, finally, my uncle gave me a few more names. But I couldn’t get anywhere with them.”

“So I kept writing to different people that were of some relation, thinking they might be able to help me. But I hit a blank wall everywhere I went.”

“And then my grandmother passed away and everything stopped for me. I tried everything and nobody would give me any names.”

“For years I tried to get more names. I had one name that I thought was my father’s, but I couldn’t confirm that it was.”

“Then a missionary from my mission was sent back to Tahiti to record all the legends and stories. He sent me a letter and said, ‘I have about 20 names of your family here.’”

“He sent it to me because he saw the Maire name and connected it. But because I didn’t know who they were, or if it was the right line, I had to wait.”

But Raymond continued to search. He eventually learned that his great grandfather on his mother’s side had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was a young man and was sent to Idaho on a mission.

While there, he learned to read and write. When he came back from his mission, he wrote his genealogy and had a book with all the names in it.

Raymond also learned that his great aunt, the youngest daughter, his grandmother’s sister, had the book. He contacted her and asked if he could see the book, but was told no.

He contacted the missionary who had given him his genealogy to ask for his help. The missionary said he had been assigned to go back to Tahiti, and he would copy the book.

But when he went back, he was told that she had been instructed not to share the book until after she had passed away. “So I had to wait forty years, from the time I started.”

"And then my uncle wrote to me and he said, 'Raymond, when grandmother passed away, we the children decided because you were brought up by your grandmother, we’re going to give you the piece of land that you grew up on.'"

"And I wrote back and said, “Thank you very much, but it’s not my land. And I cannot take it. If it so happened that my mother inherited that piece of land and she decided to give it to me then I’ll accept it. Otherwise, I cannot because I’m not one of grandma’s children.”

A year later he wrote back and said, “That piece of land is still waiting for you.”

"And I wrote back and said, 'I still haven’t changed my mind. I’m staying in New Zealand. I’m not coming back home.'”

In the meantime, following clues from the few names he had, Raymond finally found his grandfather in France and contacted him.

"This French grandfather wrote to me and said, 'Raymond, if you change your name to my name, I’ll give you land in Tahiti.'"

"And I wrote back and said, 'I feel very honoured if you think I’m worthy to carry your name. But for 28 years I’ve been trying to get my name to be accepted as a good name. It would be hard to change and try a new name.' He got upset and stopped writing to me.”

But, in Tahiti, word spread that Raymond had now turned down two different offers to accept the inheritance lands he could rightfully claim. Knowing that he was not after the land, his aunt wrote to him.

“Raymond, I’ve got your genealogy and you can have it.”

“She sent me a copy, and there were 1,500 family names in the book!”

Through the new family connections he has been able to make, Raymond says there continue to be names added to that list. Raymond now has information linking him to ancestors from Tahiti, France, England, and Sweden and can fill out his family pedigree chart.

“It proved to me that if you want something enough, and work hard and sacrifice to get it, the Lord will provide. Try and try, and try and try, and the Lord will provide.”

To learn more about family history click here.

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