Af­ter 80 years the fam­ily se­cret is out


For more than eight decades Shirley McLough­lin didn’t know how her fa­ther died.

This year, at the age of 89, the truth was fi­nally re­vealed.

‘‘I hadn’t known about it but I’d al­ways had flash­backs,’’ McLough­lin said.

Ivan McCracken and his wife Bar­bara have spent the past two years in­ves­ti­gat­ing the fam­ily’s past. Their ef­forts, which re­vealed many tragic events in the fam­ily his­tory such as the death of McLough­lin’s fa­ther Arthur McCracken, have re­sulted in a book Our McCracken and Good­win Her­itage.

‘‘Arthur com­mit­ted sui­cide,’’ Bar­bara said. ‘‘But Shirley didn’t know un­til we were do­ing this re­search.

‘‘She was just so re­lieved to know what re­ally hap­pened to her fa­ther.’’

McLough­lin, who is based in Ha¯wera, said the in­for­ma­tion meant the world to her.

‘‘It’s set my mind at rest.’’

She was also very thank­ful for the book it­self.

‘‘I think it’s mar­vel­lous, for me, it’s mar­vel­lous,’’ McLough­lin said. ‘‘It means a lot - it’s my fam­ily. I can pick it up now at any time and it’s all go­ing to be there.’’

Ivan said that while grow­ing up the fam­ily didn’t know much about their de­scen­dants, or even first cousins, and met some of them for the first time at the book launch.

The McCracken and Good­win fam­i­lies came to Mid­hirst in the 1880s and two Good­win sis­ters

‘‘It's set my mind at rest.’’

Shirley McLough­lin

mar­ried two McCracken broth­ers and had a to­tal of 21 chil­dren all to­gether.

How­ever, due to some of the tragic events such as death by rare dis­ease, death at war, and men­tal ill­ness, parts of the fam­i­lies were sep­a­rated.

Ivan and McLough­lin are first cousins but only met each other for the first time this year de­spite both liv­ing in Taranaki.

McLough­lin said she didn’t know about any of the deaths in the fam­ily, other than her fa­ther’s which she said her mother shel­tered her from.

She also said she’d only met two of the fam­i­lies out of the many McCracken de­scen­dants.

In say­ing this, Bar­bara ad­mit­ted this book she and Ivan wrote didn’t just re­veal tragedy.

‘‘There were good things too and from that sad­ness new life has come - that’s the beauty of it,’’ she said.

‘‘Those peo­ple that were here at the book launch, they’re the prod­ucts and the off­shoots of that sad­ness.’’


Shirley McLough­lin is the ma­tri­arch of the McCracken fam­ily and learnt many fam­ily tales from the re­cently pub­lished fam­ily book.

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