Vivienne May McConnell née Hovell

Ngāti Porou

1928 - 2008

Vivienne McConnell was born in Te Araroa, East Cape and was educated at Te Araroa Native School and Te Araroa Secondary School. She studied nursing from 1946-49 at Gisborne Hospital and became a New Zealand registered general nurse. In 1950 she continued her nursing studies at Whangarei Hospital and eventually became a New Zealand registered maternity nurse. She worked as a nursing sister and private nurse in Gisborne, Te Puia, Auckland, Fiji, Samoa, and Brisbane. In 1958 she married Robert (Bob) Neil McConnell of Fairlie. The couple moved to Te Araroa where Robert became principal of Te Araroa-Te Waho-o-Rerekohu Area School and Vivienne worked as Home Economics Teacher at the school from Vivienne retired from teaching and wrote history, short stories, and family history. She also provided photography and illustrations for magazines, non-fiction publications and her husband’s books on Ngāti Porou history. She conducted extensive research on the history, genealogy and photographs of the Cameron family on her mother’s side up to 1535 and of the Hovell family on her father’s side from pre-Mormon times. As well as writing and researching family history she collected and recorded rare photographs of her people on the Coast, her collection numbered thousands.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Vivienne McConnell on 4 Feb and 2 June, 1998.


  • Traffords of the Gisborne & Wairoa Districts, N. Z. Gisborne, N.Z.: R. & V. McConnell, 1986.
  • McConnell provides a comprehensive history of the Trafford family, beginning with its English origins in pre-Norman Lancashire and tracing their genealogy through to the 19th century when members of the Trafford family began to emigrate to New Zealand. McConnell writes of Arthur Trafford’s emigration to New Zealand in 1876, followed by William John Trafford in 1891 and Margrave Thomas Trafford in 1892. She discusses their subsequent marriages and offspring, drawing on family reminiscences, photographs, obituaries, letters, and newspaper clippings. McConnell wrote this history to coincide with the Trafford Reunion of May 1987.
  • Other

  • "Fence Battens and Goats: Two East Coast stories told to Bob McConnell by Vivienne (Hovell) McConnell." Illus. by Phillip Paea. School Journal 4.1 (1996): 22-25.
  • In these two stories McConnell recalls splitting battens with her family in the bush and remembers a childhood visit to the goat cave high up on a cliff face that overlooks a nearby town.
  • "Four Stories." Oral accounts told by McConnell to her husband Bob McConnell. Illus. by Phillip Paea. School Journal 4.2 (1996): 44-48.
  • The first three stories: "Treasure", "Bob Taylors Story" and "A Ghost Story" were told to McConnell by her father Tom Hovell and are about the wild days of Te Araroa at the turn of the century. "The Diving Competition" is from McConnell’s own memories.
  • Visual Arts

  • Te Araroa Native School, Rerekohu District High School Centennial Book. Photos and illustrations by Vivienne McConnell. Gisborne, N.Z.: R. & V. McConnell, 1974.
  • Olé José. Bob McConnell. Photos and captions by Vivienne McConnell. Gisborne. N.Z.: R. & V. McConnell, 1980.
  • A guide to running reunions.
  • Olive Branches: History for Manuel José Reunion - Tikitiki, East Coast. Bob McConnell. Photos, illustrations and maps by Vivienne McConnell. Gisborne, N.Z.: R. & V. McConnell, 1980. Rev. ed. 1991.
  • The revised edition includes 3000 more names in the whakapapa, new photographs and other information.
  • Te Araroa - An East Coast Community. Bob McConnell. Photos and illustrations by Vivienne McConnell. Gisborne, N.Z.: R. & V. McConnell, 1993. Rpt. 1998.
  • Nga Konohi o Rongomaitapui Raua Ko Hinerupe: A Book Of Identity And Remembering/ The Faces Of Rongomaitapui And Hinerupe. Photos, illustrations and captions by Vivienne McConnell. Whakatane, N.Z.: R. & V. McConnell, 1996.