Celebrating Halloween in New Zealand

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-15-15-23It’s that time of the year again when people all over the world celebrate Halloween – a good moment to remember that Halloween has long since been one of the many cultural traditions Scots took with them to places all around the world where they settled. This included New Zealand, where Scottish communities in both the North and South Islands made Halloween celebrations a central part in their annual events calendar.

In Wellington, in 1908, a Scottish festival was held in Burns Hall. The event was advertised as ‘a night of Scottish song and story’, and there was also a lecture entitled ‘The Love Songs of Scotland’, which was delivered by the Rev. J. Aitken (see advertisement). The musical programme had a number of contributors, including a Mrs Dempster who …

The role of testimonials for Scottish migrants

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 18.04.55I recently wrote a post on Scottish emigrant letters from New Zealand, explaining at the end that post could get lost and that, obviously, it was less reliable in the nineteenth century. It was partly in response to the practical limitations of these communication flows that ethnic ties, be it through direct kith and kin or more removed through shared Scottish descent generally, proved a crucial safety net for many Scottish migrants. It is why many Scots, as can be seen on the picture on the left, ‘clubbed together’. When the Jack family left Scotland, for example, several passengers on the Iona were familiar faces from Edinburgh, accompanying them to London. New friendships were then quickly formed aboard the ship to Wellington, particularly with other fellow Scots; the …

The Scots in New Zealand

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 14.14.53This time a decade ago I had just started packing. I had sold my car and a good number of other items. And all that because I was soon to head off to New Zealand to commence my PhD at Victoria University in Wellington, investigating the Scots in New Zealand.

Coincidentally I’m back in New Zealand just now for a visit and a number of activities (see here for details). So I though it would be a good opportunity to post a few stories about  the Scots in New Zealand here on the Blog – one of which already came, as it fit so well with Burns’s birthday, at the end of last month (see here). New Zealand, described a report published in Wellington’s Evening Post in 1931, was …

The monumental poet: Burns statues in New Zealand

BurnsAuckThroughout this week and over the weekend many a Scot around the world will join in a toast to Scotland’s National Bard, Robert Burns. But Burns is not only remembered through these toasts, there are also a good number of visible reminders, with statues of the poet traceable all over the world, from Vancouver in Canada to Ballarat in Australia. While the Burns statue in Dunedin, New Zealand, is well known, the same cannot be said of the country’s three other Burns statues in Timaru, Hokitika, and Auckland. The latter was erected in the Auckland Domain and, as that in Sydney, is a replica of the Paisley Burns statue produced by F. W. Pomeroy. Burns is represented in peasant costume, standing next to a plough. Donated to the city by …