Often thought of as an English city, Christchurch, NZ in fact started as a Maori village then the Scottish Deans brothers arrived in the 1840s long before the planned migration from England.
The Canterbury Burns Club in Christchurch New Zealand today commentated the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet – perhaps the first in the world to do so.
With cicadas singing, temperatures over 25 degrees, kilts swirling, pipes playing, ladies and gentlemen dressed in the Victorian and Edwardian fashion, and a Maori blessing of the event, a procession of Scottish clans and descendants of our early Scottish settlers, ( including this writer) the day was enjoyable.
They also used the occasion to unveil a Scottish Pioneers’ Memorial at Riccarton house and Bush. This was home to the Deans brothers when they left Scotland to start a new life in New Zealand.
Descendants of those brothers were present, including Austin Deans the celebrated war artist (now aged 93 and who is marrying next weekend) and Charles Deans, chair of the Riccarton Bush trust which protects the remnant of native bush that was preserved by the early members of the Deans family.
No Burns day would be complete without a haggis ceremony,
which was dramatically addressed by Dr Ron Macintyre – the bard would be proud of it.
As always, a drop of whisky ended the day.
‘Will ye no came back again?’