Emily died in March 1897, aged only 33, leaving Murdoch to raise his young family as best he could. Maggie, his sister, came north to help, but the arrangement did not last and she returned south with Murdy's youngest child, Murdoch Might, in her care. Thereafter, Murdoch sold his carting business and started working for others in various small town - as manager of a coaching station or as a barman - while shuffling his children between his current residence and friends, or relatives of Emily's, in Auckland.
Sometime around 1906-7, the family decided to try to help. 'Riverina' had just been sold, and Duncan came north with part of the proceeds to set up a homestead and dairy farm jointly with Murdy, at Pollok near Auckland. The farm, named 'Wonwondah' after the sheep station in Victoria where Murdoch and Maggie were born, was apparently intended as somewhere Murdy could put down roots. But it did not work, and in 1909 Murdoch made the final move in what had been a life-time in motion. He abandoned 'Wonwondah' and took a lease of land amidst a Maori settlement in one of the most remote corners of North Island - at Te Hapua, on Parengarenga Harbour, close to the most northerly tip of the entire island.
Murdoch's was perhaps an extreme form of a push for an independent lifestyle, but it was not unique. His older brother, Alexander (Alick), showed similar tendencies - although he moved south from 'Lochinver' rather than north. Alick, with his experience of rounding-up and breaking wild horses at Taupo, took to working with horses in the rural areas around Napier - his occupation in the electoral roll of 1893 is given as 'trainer'. At that point he was living in the little township of Kuripapango, a beauty spot at the top of the road known as the 'Gentle Annie' which rises westwards from the coastal plain on to the interior plateau.
There, a year earlier, he had married Elizabeth Jane (Jeanie) MacDonald, who was a daughter of Alexander MacDonald, the owner of the Kuripapango Hotel. The young couple moved shortly afterwards, to Fielding, near Palmerston (and not too far from Kitty and Daniel in Dannevirke) where their first child was still-born. In October 1893 they obtained by ballot 492 acres of public land, on which to start a farm, in the relatively remote and little populated northern stretch of the Rangitikei River (which runs from north to south through the southern part of North Island). However, this venture, near Apiti, was not a success, and Alick and Jeannie moved on to an even more isolated location - at Pipiriki on the Whanganui River - where Jeannie died in 1915.
Margaret (Maggie) Munro
Meanwhile, Alick's younger sister, Margaret (Maggie), moved south from Wairoa around 1897 to take up a position as a school-teacher in the little railway and cross-roads town of Waipawa (about 40 miles to the south of Napier). There she acquired a house which she named 'Laggie-side' (a reference to her mother's childhood home at Logieside in Ross-shire), and, as a single woman, raised from infancy her young nephew, Murdoch Might Munro. In 1911, at the comparatively late age of 47, she married Daniel Thomas Kelly, a railway clerk.
By this time her younger sister, Isabella, was already a married woman with three children. Isabella had married Alexander Mc Gowan, a farm worker, at 'Riverina' in October 1901.
Isabella (Ross) Munro
Their mother, Isabella (Ross) Munro, died at 'Riverina' on 15 September 1905, aged 77 years. Following a service conducted by the local Presbyterian minister, she was buried in the Wairoa Cemetery. Her passing was a significant event in the history of the family in New Zealand in that it triggered a final dispersal from a single core home. Within months of her death, 'Riverina' was put up for sale, William (Willie) left to marry a woman on the South Island and to take up residence with her at the
Colin Munro in later life
southern end of Hawkes Bay, Duncan went north to set up with Murdoch the Wonwondah dairy farm near Auckland, and Colin senior left 'Riverina' to live with Maggie at Waipawa. He died there on 8 February 1908, aged 82, and his body was returned to Wairoa to lie alongside Isabella.