Flanders to Rome

Nicola Sciascia
Family Pilgrimage 2007

Riria McGregor

1857 to 16-05-1938

Riria McGregor was the eldest daughter of Teone and Pirihira McGregor of Foxton.

Little is known of her early life but in 1882 she married Nicola Sciascia at Foxton. They had 11 children - the first Margaret Carlotta was born in 1883. Then followed John de Tomba, 1884, Mary Christina, 1885, Nicola James, 1887, Lydia Louisa, 1888, Elsie Maud 1890, Charles Rangiwawahia 1891, Ellen Ruth 1892, Emma Hannah 1895, Frank Tariuha 1896 and Pirihira 'Waikawa in 1898.

Nicola Sciascia worked always near the sea variously employed as coxswain, signalman, assistant lighthouse keeper and harbour boatman. In 1896 the Sciascia family moved to Portland Island (Waikawa) at Mahia and that is where they stayed until Nicola met his untimely end when Nicola was gored by a bull and died of his wounds on March 29, 1898.  Riria was faced with the prospect of bringing up her children alone. She liked to wear a long skirt of the McGregor tartan, smoked a pipe and always kept the Sabbath Day especially for the Lord (rest and no work). After the death of Nicola she returned to Koputaroa. Through the years to follow she lived with her daughter Pirihira (Tutu} at Porangahau with returning visits to Koputaroa to stay with her daughter Lydia (Lucy). With her death in 1938 at Porangahau, her body was returned to Koputaroa by her son Frank and buried beneath Charles Rangiwawahia Memorial Stone at Puaotau cemetery, Koputaroa.

This edited text has been taken from the reunion books of 1972 and 1987. However some changes have been made due to recent research identifying some minor errors in previously published text.


The following has been provided by Marina Sciascia

There are members of the family who can still recall their association with their Grandmother or Great Grandmother Riria. The Wakefield's can account for periods of her time in Porangahau especially in her later years, while the Pene whanau and Aunty Lucy's family talk about her time with them. The Ropiha whanau speak about her coming to stay with them at their Homestead on the Waipukurau road. How she would tempt them with freshly made toffee that you had to go near and twist off your share. Then she would scoop them up for a hongi if they didn't run away quickly enough. About her sitting with her daughters weaving on the front veranda with her daughter's making kete. She was an accomplished weaver.

At the time of her death she was with her daughter Tutu at Te Urunga, along the Wimbledon road where the whanau gang was scrub cutting. Tutu was the cook. Nephews in the gang along with the Wakefields included Barney Pene and Alec Ropiha. They along with the rest of the whanau, Ropiha's, MacDonald's, Tutaki's with her two sons Jimmy and Frank were part of a large group that accompanied her return to Koputoroa. (“Hakui” 2004)

A description from a story for “Tuahine” states that Nanny Riria was laid out in the parlour at her daughter Emma's home on Pa corner. Early the next morning she was taken on the back of her son's green truck. A memory describes men standing on the running boards of both sides of the truck as it slowly drove out of Porangahau.

At Palmerston North in the Gallery at the Museum is a full size model of “Takihiku” carved by her brother Hokowhitu MacGregor. Two women seated on the ground on the left ( one with a hat on ) are believed to be Riria and one of her sisters.

Alan Sciascia © 2007 HomeCharlesTravel NewsItineraryParticipantsPhotosContactsWhakapapa

Nicola's and Riria's portrait images kindly scanned and edited by Diane Taylor
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