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A canny U-turn

Last updated 09:36 22/11/2012
TOM SHIELS: Thrilled with Auckland Council backing.

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Tom Shiels will have his haggis after all.

The Beach Haven Scotsman is thrilled after Auckland Council, which initially refused to fund this year's Highland Games, backed down and gave $8000 to the event.

Mr Shiels was left "flabbergasted" after the council told organisers last week that the 91-year-old event would not receive a cent of funding.

The money was awarded to the games after the North Shore Times questioned the council over the decision.

Mr Shiels believes lobbying by the North Shore Times saw the ruling overturned.

Council representatives will meet the committee after the event and will help with next year's funding application process, spokesman Glyn Walters says.

Mr Shiels says $95 of the funding will cover the haggis - something he is very pleased about.

The Scotsman earlier claimed the decision not to fund the event was "racist" and considered taking his claim to the Human Rights Commission. The games celebrate Scottish history and competition, and have been held since 1921. More than 10,000 people attend from around New Zealand and the world, Mr Shiels says.

The day includes the caber toss, stalls and traditional Scottish and Celtic performances.

There are also live performances from bands and Mr Shiels says the groups will be pleased with the late funding decision.

The council has funded the event in some capacity for 15 years, he says.

Other Auckland cultural events such as Diwali and the Chinese Lantern Festival receive funding from the council, Mr Shiels says.

"We just want the same consideration. The super-city is a joke," he s earlier told the North Shore Times.

The Highland Games used to be run on a profit through admission sales until the council decided to get involved, he says.

The committee applied through the council's community group assistance fund.

Mr Shiels looks forward to planning next year's event with the council.

The Highland Games is on Saturday at Three Kings Reserve. 

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