3 months of winter events are organised and ready to go for the 4th annual Winter@Waipu Festival. This small Northland community is awash with creativity and well known for its strong celtic spirit. Set near some of the best beaches in Northland, it is a well known summer playground, and the Winter@Waipu festival ensures it remains a great destination for a mid winter break.
Waipu is known as the Celtic Heart of Bream Bay and the town is proud of its Scots/Nova Scotian heritage, something that is clear when you enter the recently redesigned Waipu Museum. It is 150 years since the arrival in NZ of the Breadalbane, one of the ships that brought the Scottish pioneers to Waipu.
The Winter programme kicks off on the June long weekend with the usual popular markets, but this year the descendents of the Breadalbane will also parade down the street behind Waipu‚Äôs Pipe Band. On Sunday 3pm the sound of a karanga and the pipes will ring out at the the Waipu Cemetery welcoming people to remember those who have died in the past year, as well as the Breadalbane descendents, as part of the Matariki celebrations in Northland.
To top off the weekend celebrations one of the greatest contemporary Celtic bands ‚Äì The Battlefield Band will perform once again at Forum North in Whangarei, 2pm on Monday 2 June. They will be in NZ working with the Waipu Museum to write a musical about the great migration that led to the Scottish settlement of Waipu.
There are events every weekend in June ‚Äì you can join others for a cycle along the beach or a mid winter swim, you can learn scottish Country Dancing. Also on offer is the Mid winter festival of flowers, and a pampering day at Zenford Lodge, along with the chance to enjoyo a hangi at the Waipu Hotel or a mid winter dinner and party at Artform.
Winter@Waipu is once again providing a hotspot of winter activities in Northland. This small community has for the last three years hosted a 3 month long winter festival with events on most weekends – everything from cycling to drama, from Scottish Country Dancing to Line Dancing, from markets to busking.
Waipu was settled over 150 years ago when hundreds left the Scottish Highlands in search of paradise. Their amazing journey took them to Nova Scotia and Australia before landing in Auckland and moving north to Waipu. Led by the Reverend Norman McLeod they were a determined community, overcoming loss, poverty, famine and disease, building their own ships and travelling, unassisted, to the “ends of the earth” in search of a better way of life.
This year Winter@Waipu celebrates some of this story with a number of key events including 8 performances of The Rocking Cave by James McNeish.
However as organiser Rosemary Neave comments, “Waipu is not just about Scots and bagpipes – we have many talented locals who are part of Winter@Waipu festival.” Bogwood Productions will again be producing a series of short plays to be performed around dinner in Waipu’s Artform restaurant by local Bogwood Productions, there will be a poetry competition and performance, writing workshops, a mid winter dinner and an opportunity to celebrate Matariki with a hangi and kapa haka performances at the Waipu Hotel
For those who enjoy a spot of exercise you can bike on the beach with champion cyclist Fiona Southorn, you can have a go at Nordic Walking, Line Dancing or Scottish Country dancing or join the annual 3/6km fun walk around Waipu.
Rosemary feels that Winter at Waipu has helped to create a buzz in the off season in Waipu.
“There is something every week to get involved in for locals as well as those who want a winter break away. And as well as all these activities, there are still our wonderful empty beaches to stroll along – what more could you want?”
1. The Rocking Cave by well known New Zealand playwright James McNeish is loosely based on the early Scottish migration story, and will be produced for the first time in Waipu There will be 8 performances of the play over two weeks, James McNeish said he regarded the upcoming production of his play as the most significant since it was first produced at the Mercury Theatre in Auckland. He said he felt the story of Norman McLeod had a relevance to New Zealand’s history and should be recognised as not just a local story, but also a national one. For McNeish “It is a story that transcends place. It is bigger than Waipu.”
Alistair Williams, who played Norman McLeod in the Grand Pageant produced by Lachie for Waipu’s 150th anniversary in 2003, will spend a term away from his job as deputy principal of Marlborough Boys High School to live in Waipu and rehearse for the part of the ‘Minister’.
Waulking Songs will be heard again for the first time in over a hundred years – Six local women women will learn some of these old rhythmic songs, which were sung regularly by Waipu’s early Nova Scotian settlers at working bees or frolics as they were called.
2. Tartan Day: Waipu celebrates International Tartan Day 7 July – shops hand out shortbread to those who have worn tartan for the day, there is a market and school children are invited to busk. Waipu’s own Highland Pipe band will parade in the morning and the Museum will have an live day with highland dancing, and a reception for the descendents of The Spray
3. The Spray was the 4th of the 6 ships to bring the Nova Scotians to Waipu, and it arrived 150 years ago in June 2007. The Waipu Museum will be having a special celebration of this on Tartan Day 7 July – there will be a live day a the museum and a special recognition of the descendents of those who came on the Spray.
The Spray sailed from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia captained by John Duncan. She had 89 passengers and among the names on the manifest were Cameron, Campbell, Finlayson, McNabb, McMillan, Munro, Urquhart. Several were large family groups including McKenzie (there were 29 of them), Matheson (11) and Stewart (13). McLennan and McLean, who had missed the sailing of the Gertrude were reunited with their wives and children who had sailed earlier.
Many of these settled in Waipu and Whangarei Heads, but others also went to Mangawhai, Purua, and Kaiwaka areas.
4. The Battlefield Band are said to be the most famous celtic band in the world. They have mixed the old songs with new self-penned material, playing them in a unique fusion of ancient and modern instruments – bagpipe, fiddle, synthesiser, guitar, cittern, flute, badhran and accordian. They will play at Forum North 2pm on Sunday 10 June as part of the Waipu Museum’s aim of promoting Waipu as a Celtic music heartland.
2006 press release 1
The first month of the Winter@Waipu festival is set to kick off on 3 June with Waipu’s well known Street market, and Monthly market in the morning and the local rugby club playing a home game against Hikurangi in the afternoon. The Waipu Highland band will as usual be at both events – giving that Scottish flavour to the day. On Sunday the Waipu Antiques and Collectables Fair is on in the Hall – with lots for aspiring treasure hunters to explore.
If you have always wanted to learn Scottish Country Dancing – now is your chance – there is a beginners day school on 10 June, and a Ceilidh that night to practice your steps and if you want a bit more of an adrenalin rush you can try your hand at Caving on every Sunday morning at Waipu Caves.
Bogwood Production of Lost in Space – a series of three plays will have its first performance at Artform Restaurant on 25 June, and budding writers are challenged with several competitions – children will be working on their stories for the Short Story competition, and the Bream Bay News is running a poetry competition in preparation for National Poetry day in July. On the 17 June Waipu Primary are challenging teams to gather for a Quiz night challenge.
Winter Solstice – the shortest day is 21/22 June this year – Artform Restaurant are hosting a Midwinter Dinner fundraiser for the local hall, and the Waipu surf club is inviting people to brave the waters at the annual midwinter dip on 18 June.
Looking ahead to next month – the 1 July is International Tartan Day, and Waipu is inviting everyone to dust off their kilts, scarves and tartan accessories and join the fun.
2006 press release 2
International Tartan Day to be celebrated in Waipu on 1 July
“The Wearing of All Tartan is Banned!” This might have been the headline in a local paper in 1747 – because that was the year the British made wearing tartan a crime punishable with 7 years transportation. On 1 July 1782 the ban was lifted and that date has often been celebrated as International Tartan Day.
International Tartan Day kicks off the second month of Winter@Waipu festivities, and Waipu is inviting people to dust off their kilts, and scarves and come and celebrate Tartan Day in Waipu – Northland’s foremost scottish village. Tartan wearers will be able to claim a free shortbread in many stores. There will be a market in the Hall, special displays at the Waipu Museum and late morning the Waipu Highland Band will parade down the main street.
All the local shops will be open on Saturday and many will be having Winter specials. There will also be five $50 prizes for people shopping in Waipu over the next few weeks – better odds than Lotto!
‘Waipu Buskers’ will also be about on Saturday morning on the main street – we are inviting any school children who would like to share their talents – dancing, singing, piping, guitars, juggling – to have a go. They can book a space (no charge) by phoning Ronnie on 432 0046
Winter@Waipu festivities will continue through July.
– Those with a literary bent will be interested in the Workshop for those interested in writing for children with published author Sue Welford on 15/16 July, and Montana National Poetry day celebrated on 21 July with an evening at Artform Restaurant – you are invited to read your own poetry, or your favourite author, or just enjoy listening to others. The second performance of Bogwood Productions three plays will be performed at Artform on 30 July at Artform.
– For the Artistic amongst us there is the Waipu on Canvas exhibition at Melody Lodge, and the Paint Ya Jeans competition closes on 28 July and entries will be displayed in Artform after that.
– and for others there is a chance to taste some New Zealand Reds at the Off Licence on 19 July, an open day at Heavenly Heights Gardens on 26 July when the spring bulbs and camelias will be at their best, and a Coffee Ceilidh on 30 July
– You too can Dance like the Stars – On Sunday afternoons from 23 July there is a 10 week course led by professionals Chris and Anne Leitch.
2005 press release
The Waipu Business and Promotions Group plan to develop a series of creative events through the winter period in Waipu around the brand Winter@Waipu, aiming to build up a tradition of winter events to promote Waipu in the off season.
“In the summer people flock to the area, but in the winter, we are not seen as holiday destination.” says organiser Rosemary Neave, “However walks on the beach, horse riding, relaxing with friends around a fire, cruising art galleries and caf√©s are all compelling winter images, and being just one and a half hours north of Auckland, Bream Bay is a perfect place for a short break.”
The Business Association hopes that those who already have events in the winter period will join this joint promotion effort, and they are also hoping that other individuals and groups will see this as an opportunity to organise an event as part of Winter@Waipu.
Ideas in the pipeline include – arts weekends, food and wine events, poetry evenings, Mid Winter swim, Marae visit, Tournaments, jazz evenings, horse trekking, fun run/walk…. If you are a group with an idea for a fundraiser or event in June July or August contact Rosemary Neave on 4321234