Winter in Waipū has kicked off with more than a month of events planned to celebrate the origins of the town's residents.
The festivities, co-ordinated by the Waipū Business Promotions group, mark both Matariki, the Māori New Year, plus the anniversary of the repeal of the 1747 Act of Proscription, which banned the wearing of tartan in Scotland.
The first event was a Murder Mystery Night at the Caledonian Hall – a show written, scripted and directed by Jill Mutch, featuring a cast who don't know what's coming and much audience participation.
More than 200 people attended the show, raising $6000 for the NorthCal Pipe Band. Afterwards the band presented cast member and recently retired band member Bain McGregor with an engraved silver chanter in recognition of his 33 years of service to the band.
Winter in Waipū events coming up next week include: Northpine Ruakākā Races on Saturday, a celebration of Matariki at the Waipū Museum from this Saturday until July 31, a mid-winter Christmas lunch at Salt N Pepper Cafe both Saturday and Sunday.
International Tartan Day celebrations start at 1pm on Monday outside the Waipū Pizza Barn (or Celtic Barn if raining) with prizes for the best-dressed participant. Also on Monday, Waipū's Croquet Club holds its tartan tournament, call Christine on 027 238 7680 to find out more. Waipū Primary School's 150 speech competition finals are on July 2.
Trail of Tartans
Just in time for International Tartan Day, Waipū's streets bear a fresh reminder of the town's Scottish roots – 32 poles along the Braigh and Shoemaker Rd carry plaques of clan tartans.
A trip to Nova Scotia five years ago sparked the idea. As Waipu's Ross Boyd and wife Wendy walked along the waterfront of Pictou town they noticed plaques on each light pole representing different clan tartans.
"We thought: wouldn't that be great in Waipū?" said Boyd. "Each of us thought the other had taken a photo, but it turned out neither of us did."
Relying on memory, Boyd pitched the idea to the Waipū Residents and Ratepayers Association, which received it enthusiastically.
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Enlisting the help of sign company Splash Signs to make the plaques, he began the arduous task of sorting out which clans should be recognised.
He looked at the names on the monument outside Waipū's museum, which lists families of Scottish ancestry who travelled to Waipū from Nova Scotia in the mid-19th century.
Boyd whittled the list down further, using the phone book for the names of families still in Waipū.
Deciding an oval rather than a square plaque shape would stand out more, Boyd next chose which form of each clan tartan to use, a trickier task than he expected.
"The first one I looked at, Anderson, had 42 varieties," he said. "There were ancient, modern, hunting, private, corporate."
He consulted local families, asking which they thought was appropriate, but sometimes had to choose for them.
Putting the signs up last month also proved tricky. Boyd planned to install them on poles in alphabetical order so people could find their clans easily, but unstable roadsides by some poles meant the plan had to change.
Boyd plans to put a map showing the location of all the signs on the Waipū facebook page so people can find their clan plaques.
The project has taken him hundreds of hours over more than two years and the overriding feeling he has seeing them in all in place is, he said, relief.
He is grateful to all the people and organisations who supported and helped fund the project – the Lotteries Commission, Whangārei District Council, along with several local businesses, families and a couple of clan organisations.
People seem to like the new plaques, he said. "One girl said to me: 'That's my mother's clan on the pole outside her house'," he said. "She was thrilled – it wasn't planned, it just happened."
Art'nTartan gathers momentum
With just three weeks to go, things are hotting up for director Stuart Devenie and his plans for this year's Waipū Museum Art'nTartan wearable arts contest and show in the Celtic Barn July 19-20.
Preliminary judging of the entries took place two weeks ago, giving Devenie his first glimpse of the glittering costumes vying for the prize pool this year of more than $16,000.
"The costumes were amazing. I was absolutely blown away with the fantastic array of creativity on display. The audience are going to be surprised and delighted with what we have in store for them."
Devenie has now commissioned the singers, dancers and musicians for the show and their first joint meeting took place last Sunday in the Celtic Barn. During the day, Devenie and assistant director Mags Crichton outlined their plans and listened to any ideas and suggestions put forward by the performers.
In attendance was the surprise Waipū personality who will oversee the performances on stage and act as hostess for the evening.
Tickets are selling fast this year. They are available from www.eventfinda.co.nz/2019/waipu-museum-artntartan/bream-bay This link will take you straight to all the details of times and prices.
Ruakaka playground bricks
Just two weeks are left to put your name on a brick and help towards a new playground for Ruakākā School students. The current playground has gone to make way for new classrooms due to the school's expanding roll. Buy a brick by July 5 and your family or business will always be a part of the new playground – contact the school on 09 432 7503 for more details.
Bream Bay swimmer in the fast lane
Bream Bay Swimming Club's Rebecca Reade, 16, was one of six Northland swimmers to take on the country's best in the pool at last week's 2019 AON New Zealand Open Championships in Auckland.
More than 300 athletes from around New Zealand and overseas took part. Reade swam in both the 100m and 200m women's backstroke events, placing 23rd in 200m and improving her time in 100m backstroke to move from 38th to 32nd place in the rankings.
Funds for community groups
Marsden Lions Club raised more than $8000 at their charity golf tournament earlier this year, and at their evening meeting last week they handed out the funds - $4000 to the Northland Emergency Services Trust, and $1500 each to Ruakākā Surf Life Saving Club, Ruakākā Volunteer Fire Service and St John Bream Bay.
• Email Julie Paton at email@example.com if you've got Bream Bay news to share with Northern Advocate readers.