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 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 …

Waipu and its Scottish heritage

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.51.15A few days ago the Waipu Caledonian Society in New Zealand held its 145th annual Highland Games – Games the Society has thus organised since its foundation in 1870, though the first Caledonian sports meet in Waipu took place even earlier than that. This does not make the Waipu Society New Zealand’s oldest Caledonian Society, but the Games are among the longest-running Highland Games in the country. While the 145th Games were marred by poor weather, the tradition is still going strong (let’s just ignore that hurling of a hairy haggis … or even of a whole haggis family).

What makes the Scottish heritage in Waipu even more interesting than its long-standing Highland Games, however, is how Scots came to settle in Waipu in the first place. While …

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 …