I did not make it to the Games this year, but heard good reports as usual. Here is Bream Bay News report
“We haven’t added it all up yet but we think the numbers were about the same as last year” said Don Ewen, Chairman of the Waipu Caledonian Society regarding the 142nd Waipu Highland Games held on 1 January.
Cyclone Evan, which brought rain and wind over Christmas had passed over and 1 January was hot and sunny. An estimated 6,000 people passed through the gates of the park to see the games. The Caledonian Society’s uses the profits to maintain the park and its facilities throughout the year. The games are its main event, so fine weather and big crowds are crucial.
The Waipu Highland Games are the largest Highland Games in New Zealand and host the annual New Zealand Highland Heavyweight competitions which forty one year – old Pat Hellier won for the 18th consecutive year and thereupon announced his retirement.
This year the games were officially opened by the Mayor of Whangarei, Morris Cutforth, who said it was a well established tradition amongst many residents of the district to head to Waipu with a picnic rug on the first day of the new year.
On the tree shaded Scottish Country Dancing stage at the St. Marys Road entrance the indefatigable Elaine Goldthorpe was directing novices in dance sequences. Highland Dancing competitions continued throughout the day with tiny tots through to highly accomplished young men and women competing in flings, Irish jigs and leaping high in the Sailors Hornpipe.
Young Jamie Lymbourn of One Tree Point marched alongside guest drum major Grant MacDonald to lead the massed pipe band around the park. Waipu’s Ashney Were was the chief’s official piper leading Caledonian Chief Bain McGregor into the park.
People strolled amongst the avenue of Clan tents telling one another about their Scottish lineage and, dazed by the heat, they had to be continually reminded not to wander into the path of runners competing in races around the running track.