Day when Scots come out to play

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 10:32 23/11/2012
highland games

HIGHLAND FLING: A pipe band struts its stuff at last year’s Auckland Highland Games and Festival.

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Organisers say this year's festival of all things Scottish will be an "absolutely fantastic" event complete with kilts and haggis.

The Auckland Highland Games and Festival is being held tomorrow and anyone keen to indulge their Celtic side or learn more about the Scottish influence on New Zealand and Auckland are invited to the free event.

Organiser David Harvey says the Highland fling has been a regular feature on the Auckland events scene for many years and is well attended.

"The Auckland association has been running it for 37 years, however it has been around since 1921 except for during World War II, so it is one of our most senior festival gatherings in Auckland," he says.

"The only other ones that go as hard out as us are at Waipu and Hororata, and that one is only two years old."

The event features piping, Highland dancing and demonstrations throughout the day of Scottish pastimes including songs and music, country dancing, strongmen events, junior events, Highland cattle, a haggis ceremony, Scottish clans, pipe bands and Scottish stalls.

"We will also have a clan avenue where each of the seven clans brings their own tent and will have as much information as they can about their clan."

Scottish food will be available but some of the classic dishes haven't found a fan base in New Zealand.

"The deep-fried Mars bars haven't taken off here but we will have a haggis ceremony where the haggis will be piped on with escorts and will be addressed and blessed and then dished out for everyone to have a sample."

Mr Harvey says the event continues to be a popular attraction but it has been hard to get it supported by the Auckland Council.

"The council seems to think our movement is dying, but they don't realise the popularity of the games and how many Scots people there are around Auckland - we have a lot of strong Scots families like the Fletchers, Winstones and McCleans, who helped set up the tramways.

"New Zealand actually has the highest number per capita of pipe bands, we even outstrip Scotland."

The council eventually came to the party with a last-minute $8000 grant.

"We've got a forecast budget for over $50,000 to run the event but we have cut corners and volunteers refused pay and we did what the Scots do, saved money, and we brought it down to $16,000 and they gave us $8000."

Despite the lack of funding Mr Harvey says it will be a lively event.

"Everybody will be wearing as much Scottishness as possible."

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

Auckland Highland Games and Festival is being held at the Three Kings Reserve on the corner of Mt Eden and Mt Albert roads tomorrow.

There will be piping from 9am, Highland dancing from 10am and other attractions from 11am until 4pm.

As with last year a junior Highland games will also be held, giving boys and girls aged 9 to 17 the chance to test their mettle by tossing the caber, throwing the stone, hurling the hammer and throwing the weight for prizes and glory.

Registration begins at 10am. 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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