Marie Gibson, husband Les Gibson, and the new Clan banner represented the Clan at the Hawkes Bay Hastings Highland Games over Easter. Here is her report and pictures are posted.
New Zealand – with a touch of Scotland...
Over the Easter weekend my husband, Les Nicholson, and I had the pleasure of attending the Hastings Hawke’s Bay Highland Games in New Zealand. Our decision to attend these games stemmed from our involvement with Les’ MacNicol Clan – a very active clan which shows strong support for participation in community events and fosters the building of friendships both within the clan and with members of other clans. Earlier in the year Clan MacNicol members were invited and encouraged to travel to Hastings to support the clan in New Zealand as they would be having a tent at these games. We have friends who live in the North Island so this was a good opportunity to catch up with the Kennedys, join Mal and Jenny Nicolson from NSW to support the NZ MacNicols and also fly the new Buchanan banner!
We arrived on a sunny but cool Easter Saturday morning and the strongman heats were in full swing. The grounds were nicely laid out with nine clan tents, several stages for the piping and drumming contestants, three stages for the Highland dancing competitors and all the usual food stalls and Scottish ware for sale.
The Hastings Hawke’s Bay Highland Games is specifically scheduled after the pipe band competition season to allow pipers and drummers to focus on their solo playing. Musicians respond well to this opportunity with 94 pipers and 22 drummers competing. The Highland dancing competition was also very well supported with 126 competitors. For a city with a population of only 75,000 the calibre of the competition is reflected by this influx of competitors from around the country.
Although there was no Buchanan clan tent, the MacNicols kindly allowed me to attach the Buchanan banner to a corner of their tent to show a Buchanan presence at the games. The MacNicols were also very willing to add our Buchanan folders and cards to their tables and managed to hand out some for us during the two days although I didn’t get to meet a single Buchanan over the weekend.
ANZAC Day was straight after the Highland Games and we attended a drizzly, cold Dawn Service in Hastings. It was lovely to see Les, Mal and Ian (Kennedy) in their kilts – the only kilts at the service as the New Zealand MacNicols felt it was too cold!
The following day we drove north from Hastings and intended to visit Kath (a member of Clan Buchanan website) up at Whakatane but the weather turned very nasty, causing us to reduce the amount of driving we had intended to do. A few hours after we left Hastings, the streets were flooded, a caravan park had to be evacuated and power lines were down near where we were driving. Mobile phone reception dropped out making it impossible to notify Kath that we would not be able to meet her.
On Thursday 28 April we flew from Wellington to Invercargill, the most southern city in the South Island. We hired a car and began driving north, first stopping at Queenstown for two nights. Whilst in Queenstown we went to the nearby Arrowtown Autumn Festival to hear one of our MacNicol friends who was playing the accordion in Celtic Sounds. This band is an eclectic mix of modern and traditional instrumentation and tunes and is made up of a five piece rhythm section of piano, bass, drums, guitar and piano accordion, three excellent female singers and six pipers. And it was here I met the only Buchanans during our trip! The drummer in Celtic Sounds is Angus Buchanan. After the second bracket I went and introduced myself and got to meet some of Angus’ family. Angus said his father and grandfather had emigrated from Scotland and settled at Bluff, near Invercargill. They called the area Campbelltown after the town they had left in Scotland. Angus has taken details of our Buchanan web site and we hope to soon see him join us on line.
From here we crossed the country to Dunedin to attend the MacNicol New Zealand AGM which was the last of our Scottish commitments for this holiday. Several of the MacNicols at the AGM intend to travel to Launceston next year for the MacNicol International gathering and I look forward to a time in the future when Clan Buchanan will be hosting such a gathering.
The rest of our journey was spent enjoying the natural environment including beautiful ice-capped mountains; a trip in a little boat to see and touch the Tasman Glacier; close encounters with sea lions; a visit to Wellington zoo; plenty of sheep, deer, heilan coos, heather and gorse growing on the hillsides... How Scottish is that!