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Paeroa Highland Games and Tattoo
An article and pictures of this event in 2009


Anne Stewart Ball

"Ceud Mile Failtie" - was the welcome extended by the Organising Committee President, Jill Munro. On February 14th crowds gathered to enjoy the 16th Annual Paeroa Highland Games and Tattoo 2009 at the Paeroa Domain "down under" in New Zealand.

The 2009 event also saw an added bonus. Readings of that famous Scottish Bard, Robbie Burns. This to salute a birthday celebration of another milestone - 250 years since his birth in 1759.

There were also some special guests attending these Highland Games and Tattoo - Edie- May Wilkins of Dunedin recent winner of the "Queen o' the Heather" title at Dunedin, Guest Chieftain of the day Murdock Stewart McDonald (current President of the Auckland Clans Association) and Lady Glengarry from Scotland.

For the crowds attending, it was a chance to experience a variety of things Scottish. From the Clan March to the town centre, lead by the pipes and drums, of the pipe bands from many New Zealand towns, to the other events. The overcast and cooler, rainy day did not deter this spectator. In fact there was the thought that it would be welcome relief for competitors in full Highland Dress, instead of the soaring over 30 Celsius, Summer temperatures of the week prior.

During the day there was much to see.

The axeman's carnival, where some pretty slick axe work took place. As quick as spectators could blink an eye, the block was chopped through.

The Highland Games where the crowd in the grandstand, decorated with Clan Emblems, were treated to some strong competition as competitors vied with each other in the events. Several had travelled from Australia, to join the gathering and the competition. There were gasps from the crowd as distance was not reached and claps as distance was made and previous records broken in "Caledonian Hammer", "Highland Stone", Weight for Distance" and the popular "Tossing the Caber". Then there was the "Tossing the sheaf" (It looked easy from the view of being a spectator in the grandstand, however it proved an event requiring great skill- the same of which could be said for the "Weight for height" event ).

For those who had a yen for music and dancing there was an opportunity to visit these corners of the Paeroa Domain. Here was the chance to catch up on the Highland Reel, Sword Dance, Pipe Bands Contest and the Singers on a stage adjacent to the Clan Tents. Here in the afternoon spectators were also treated with some poetry from Robbie Burns, read by Alec Calderwood.

For those with a yen for Scottish History and Genealogy and a chance to catch up on one's "Scottish Roots" on offer, were the Clan tents. Amongst the Clans present were Wallace, McLean, Donald, and Lachlan. Fraser, McLeod and Gunn. If one's Clan was not present in the Clan Tent area there was still an opportunity to look up the Maps and Books available to trace the area in Scotland where one's clan originated from, or the tartan of that clan.

For those with a yen to spend some money, there were the tents where one could purchase a Clan Pin or Clan Tartan. (From the point of view of a spectator who had had a family member involved in cloth the cut of this cloth" on offer was of finest quality and if GF had been present he would have said 'well woven".)

To assuage some of those "Spectator Hunger Pains" was the Scottish Bakery from Pakuranga New Zealand. Here one could reawaken those Scottish taste buds with the choice of some good Scottish victuals - Scottish Pie, Oatcakes, Shortbread and Aberdeen Butteries. Making the choice was the hard part.

Under the lovely old Domain oak trees, were visitors of a different kind to the Highland Games, but nevertheless very popular with young and old. Here one could pat and fall in love with the Highland Cattle of the Braco Highland Cattle Fold from Matamata. (This spectator speculated whether it would be possible to have some of these placid natured animals grazing at home.)

After a busy day, enjoying the variety on offer, there was the final evening event which was the highlight of the day - The Tattoo. The crowd was treated to one final extravaganza which included pipe band displays and mace throwing. Of course the day and evening entertainment was not complete without that traditional Burns song "Auld Lang Syne."

We wended our way 'Hame", this spectator feeling very satisfied with the opportunity to have enjoyed a day of Scottish traditions and culture - some Scottish Diaspora in New Zealand. Looking forward to the 17th Paeroa Highland Games and Tattoo in February 2010 - and as our Hauraki District Council Mayor John Tregidga said in the welcome The continued support ensures these are a significant event for the region


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