For potentially the first time ever, the heavyweight event at the annul Waipu Highland Games was cancelled because of strong winds and heavy rain.

The piping, drumming, dancing and fiddling continued inside the Celtic Barn, at the local school and church but athletics, including what many consider the highlight of the event - the Highland Heavyweight competition - were cancelled in the games' 145th year.

Pat Hadlee, from the games organising committee, said when she spoke to Jean Baxter, who had attended the games for 71 years, Ms Baxter could not recall a time the heavyweight event had ever been cancelled.

"People came from everywhere, it is a disaster," Ms Hadlee said.


"It would be really dangerous to hold it. You can't have people throwing a 170lb [77kg] caber or hurling a 16lb [7kg] hammer because if they slipped that could cause serious injury."

Ms Hadlee said some competitors had come from as far as Wellington and arrived at the Highland Games early on but knew it would be too unsafe to compete.

Because of the events which were cancelled, entry to the event was free. Ms Hadlee said it was sad as the games were a major fundraiser for the Waipu Caledonian Society.

"It's a total loss, it will make it difficult for the Caledonian Society as they donated a sum of money for the barn.

"But like any event of this size there are a lot of fixed costs. I imagine there will be fundraisers where possible."

She said the Celtic Barn became a lifesaver as it meant important competitions which could not be cancelled like piping, dancing, drumming and fiddling could still go ahead easily.

The possibility of holding the heavyweight event, which was meant to take place yesterday, at the Paeroa Highland Games in February is being discussed.

-More pictures from the events that did go ahead will be in Monday's Northern Advocate.