Scottish emigrant letters from New Zealand

Screen-Shot-2015-10-11-at-16.13.21George MacDonald’s mother started writing to her son, who had emigrated to New Zealand, in 1885. That, commented his sister Margaret, who was also communicating with her brother, was a complete novelty in itself since their mother had never sent a letter before. The mother’s desire to maintain communication with her son helped her overcome the fear of writing. Yet she expressly noted that she did not want anyone to see her letters apart from the immediate addressee; perhaps she was embarrassed by her writing and poor grammar. The fact that Catherine MacDonald picked up a pen to write in the first place, however, is important not only because letters by female writers are rare, but because it gives even further weight to the letter’s role as the crucial medium …

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 …

James Keir Hardie in New Zealand

Screen-Shot-2015-08-15-at-13.49.04On this day in 1856, James Keir Hardie was born near Holytown, a small town close to Motherwell. He had a most interesting life, and even those with different political views would probably concede that his contributions in making the Labour Party were critical to British political life. What I want to focus on today, however, is how Keir Hardie was a global figure, a figure of much wieder relevance to political movements beyond the British Isles. Let’s look at one specific episode, his 1907-08 visit to New Zealand. This visit was part of a tour that brought him not only to New Zealand, but also Africa, Australia and India (for more, see for instance here).

Hardie began his tour in Auckland, where he arrived, by ship from Australia, …

The New Plymouth Scottish Women’s Club

NPSWCThe New Plymouth Scottish Women’s Club was formed by a group of women who were either born in Scotland themselves or were of Scottish descent in New Plymouth in New Zealand’s North Island. The Club had three main objectives: (1) to encourage and foster an interest in Scotland, Scottish traditions, history, song, story, etc.; (2) to hold meetings, lectures, social functions, etc.; and (3) to provide means of fostering a love of Scotland in Junior Members. In line with many other Scottish associations—certainly those in the twentieth century, which tended to maintain a more exclusive outlook—members had to be Scottish or of Scottish descent. This was later qualified so that daughters who had a Scottish mother, but a father of another nationality, could also join. Any woman wishing to join …