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A gathering of the clans

 

 

BY ROB POOLEY

games-581games2-968There are few days in Waipu that bow to pomp and ceremony as the Waipu Highland IMG 9001-910Games, held this year for the 149th occasion.

Blues, greens and yellows of each individual clan weave and mottos signifying strength, faith honour and loyalty proudly adorn the grounds. Clan crests and colours bring out the individuality that signifies their roots, pitting man against man in a series of competitions to find the bravest and strongest, but also the dancers and pipers, no less talented.

Some of the bloodiest wars in memory involved the Scots, many against their own countrymen such as the feud between the MacDonalds and the Campbells and the Massacre of Glencoe in the 1690s, much of it fuelled by brute force and famous Scotch whisky. In the end they are all Scots to the core and while fiercely protective of their heritage, all angst is put aside on occasions such as these to bring fun, enjoyment and education to townsfolk and the thousands of holiday visitors of all ages who throng the Caledonian Park each year.

While the prefix Mac or Mc is synonymous with Scotland they are far from all ‘Macs’. The names Davidson, Cameron, Douglas, Matheson, O’Brien and many more hold pride of place in Scottish history and they all come together on this day to celebrate the migration that began the Waipu we know today, still very much steeped in tradition.

There is nothing like the skirl of the pipes to turn heads as the ‘march past’ through town and into the stadium is the precursor to fiddling competitions, dancing, running and sack races for the kids and of course the ever popular strong man competitions.

This year a women’s division was introduced. Tossing the caber generates its own fascination and this year a women’s competition sent out a challenge for others to follow in the future. This is a talent which, as much as strength, relies greatly on technique. Strong man and Kiwi Olympian Jacko Gill was on hand to compete for the fourth year in a row, but try as he might the legendary Pat Hellier’s records remained intact.

Field displays included historic demonstrations by The Norsemen and Kraken’s Lair the local Steampunk group were entertaining in their way-out costumes giving a whole new slant on science fiction and technology. Celtic band Twisty Willow had toes tapping, while food outlets both modern and traditional did a steady trade and the trees and outdoor tables found favour from the sun for many.

With next year being the 150th Anniversary of the Waipu Games, Patron Brian McLean said it was hoped the occasion could attract features such as world fiddling and dancing championship competitions. That will surely be an event to look out for.


 
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