I come from a Clan Down Under
What the most popular wine in Australia? Dad… Do we have to go to New Zealand?! I think that must have been one of the first jokes I remember hearing as a child in Australia. But then again, there is the classic joke about the Australia New Zealand rugby score: Australia 6 New Zealand 7 (it really needs a New Zealand accent to work).The ScotlandShop offices are located deep in the idyllic wilderness of the Scottish Borders, about an hour’s drive south of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a truly wonderful city; a city steeped in history, learning and culture – absolutely worth spending a few days poking around Auld Reekie if you get the chance to visit. I find Edinburgh so captivating that I hate leaving to drive back down to the Borders. If I find it hard to leave when I live a mere hour away, imagine the pain of the emigres who set sail for New Zealand in the 1840s – I don’t mean to imply there is, was or could be anything wrong with New Zealand but the idea of leaving Edinburgh behind for good would utterly do me in. Thankfully, the intrepid Scots were heading to a new Settlement; Dunedin.
DunedinLet’s kick off with a few facts about Dunedin. The city is located toward the southern end of the south island of New Zealand, about as far from Scotland as it is possible to get. There is evidence, somewhere believe me, that there have been humans inhabiting the area around what is now known as Dunedin since about AD 1250 when the first Maoris came to the area. Europeans first came to the area in 1770 when Capt. James Cook landed on the shores near Dunedin. Annoyingly, Cook mentioned in his reports that he had seen a glut of seals and penguins in the area, this brought the seal trade to the area which in turn caused a huge amount of friction with the Maori tribes in the area (to put it mildly). In 1844 the New Zealand company chose Dunedin as the location for a settlement of members from the Free Church of Scotland, the city was founded in 1848, being named after… Edinburgh of course; Dunedin is the Gaelic name for my favourite town. I don’t think it would be letting the cat out of the bag too soon if I were to mention that I am working on a series of blogs for Burns’ Night 2017, this is what has led me to Dunedin as it happens. However, before I go into that any more, there is a canny wee Burns connection with Dunedin. Robert Burns’ nephew, a certain Thomas Burns, was one of the very first settlers of Dunedin, being the Free Church minister chosen to join the voyage. Burns’ seems to have inherited the agricultural knowledge of his father and famous uncle and proved himself to be a useful settler.
Our Man in DunedinIn the course of my research for the aforementioned Burns’ series, I have had occasion to contact a great many Caledonian societies from around the globe. John Stinson, the secretary of the Club has furnished me with some interesting information about their society. The Caledonian society of Dunedin was established on the 24th of October 1862 by the Scotchmen of Dunedin. John tells me that the original intention of the society was to promote benevolence, Scottish literature and customs as well as setting up some Highland games. The Caledonian Society has around sixty members, however not all of these members are of Scottish escent. When asked why people with no familial connection get involved with the society, John was pretty clear: Sports. It seems that the society have been prominent in promoting sports, including Highland Games in the area as well as promoting education, awarding an annual grant to suitable applicants with connections to the society. The Caledonian Society also instigated the first night education classes in Dunedin and was instrumental in establishing the King Edward Technical College. It certainly seems that the Caledonian Society of Dunedin has been busy throughout its years and continues to be so. On November 26th the Society will attend the 150th South Otago A and P show and in January they will attend the Otago/Taieri Show – I’d love some pictures of these events if any of you attend. John has also co-authored a book detailing the 150 year history of the Caledonian Society of Dunedin entitled Cabers and Ceilidhs.
If you are a member of a Caledonian or Scottish society and would like to get the word out about any events you have planned, please don't hesitate to get in touch. P.S. There is a Dunedin Tartan in the Scottish Register of Tartans, however, we don't have any in stock. The tartan featured on the products above is Edinburgh tartan, it thought that would be fitting as Dunedin is the Edinburgh of the South.