Waipu, 1.5 hours north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, is famous for its proud Scots heritage and the Annual Highland Games held at New Year. When local entrepreneur Rosemary Neave suggested a Winter festival five years ago, Winter@waipu was born. Neave was keen to connect Waipu with other national and international celebrations, so she hit the internet to see what else was going on in June, July and August around New Zealand and around the world.
One of the great discoveries was that July 1st was celebrated in many parts of the world as International Tartan Day. This seemed a perfect fit for Waipu’s very Scottish heritage, as it celebrates the anniversary of the repealing (in 1782) of the Act of Parliament (British – 1747) that made it punishable with SEVEN YEARS TRANSPORTATION for wearing the TARTAN. That is almost two generations where the TARTAN, Pipes etc. were not a normal part of life in Scotland.
July 1st has become a day to celebrate Tartan and the wearing of the tartan, and to celebrate the influence of the Scottish dispersion around the world.
So, not to be outdone, Waipu now celebrates a Tartan Week – this year starting on June 27th and culminating in the Clachan A Choin Ball on July 4th. The recently refurbished Waipu Museum will host an exhibition, Waipu’s own Pipe Band will parade, Tartan will be worn to Church, and the town will be awash with tartan as kilts and scarves are dusted off to wear to town – free shortbread is available in many of the shops in Waipu for those wearing tartan.