On the evening of Saturday the 1st of August, over 100 guests attended the Celebratory Dinner, hosted by Clan Donald Auckland at the Quality Hotel in Parnell, Auckland. The Dinner was to celebrate the appointment of Andrew Wilkie as High Commissioner for New Zealand. Andrew is the third Clan Donald Auckland member to be appointed as High Commissioner. The first was Donald Webster in 2004 and then Harold McIsaac in 2007.
There were also nine Scottish Clans represented at the dinner. Clan Cameron, Clan Campbell, Clan Davidson, Clan Ferguson, Clan Gordon, Clan MacMillan, Clan Matheson, Clan MacPhee and Clan Stewart.
As the guests arrived, they were greeted to the sound of the Clarsach, the Gaelic Harp, played by Anna Dunwoodie. She played many Scottish airs which set the scene for a great Scottish evening. It was a wonderful way to start the evening, as the harp was loud enough to be heard over the chatting guests, without being intrusive.
Anna Dunwoodie playing the Clarsach, The Gaelic Harp.
The MC for the evening was James Donald, a long-time member of Clan Donald Auckland. He kept the guests entertained all evening, with his fund of quips and anecdotes
The Master of Ceremonies James Donald.
The Clan Donald Pipers, Anton Hodson and Iain Foxell, took turns piping in the Official Guests. Each group was also led in by Steve MacDonald bearing the Great Sword of Islay. The first was the Clan Donald Auckland President Jim Murdoch and partner Anne Marshall, then Tom McDonald, North Island Commissioner and Lynnette McDonald, followed by Elwyn Martin, South Island Commissioner and Christine Martin, then came Alan MacDonald High Commissioner Emeritus. We were also honoured to have Grant Davidson the Chief of Clan Davidson and his wife Brenda, then Allan MacDonald of Vallay, a Clan Donald Chieftain. Then came Glenyss O’Halloran, the High Commissioner for the House of Gordon and James McPhee, the High Commissioner for Clan MacPhee and his wife Mary. And finally, the most important guest to be piped in, was Andrew Wilkie, the High Commissioner for Clan Donald New Zealand and his wife Pat.
Iain Foxell piping in Alan MacDonald, High Commissioner Emeritus.
High Commissioner Andrew Wilkie and his wife Pat, being led in by Steve MacDonald with the Great Sword of Islay.
The top table. From the left; Lynnette and Tom McDonald, Alan MacDonald, Anne Marshall and Jim Murdoch, Pat and Andrew Wilkie, Christine and Elwyn Martin.
Everyone then sang the unofficial Scottish national anthem “The Flower of Scotland” accompanied by Anton Hodson on the pipes. Jim Murdoch then gave the welcome speech. After Murdock McDonald gave the Selkirk Grace the soup, the first course of the dinner, was served.
A video was also played giving a welcome to all by the High Chief, Lord Godfrey Macdonald, and congratulating Andrew on his appointment as High Commissioner for Clan Donald in New Zealand, and to represent the High Council of Clan Donald.
Six members of the Signals Pipe Band, in full military dress, presented a great Haggis ceremony. Tom McDonald was the bard for the ceremony. He gave his usual excellent rendition of the Robbie Burns “Ode to a Haggis.”
The six members from the Signals Pipe Band piping in for the Haggis Ceremony.
Tom McDonald about to start the Robbie Burns “Ode to the Haggis.”
We were then entertained by the Balmoral Dancers. They are always an exciting group and great supporters of Clan Donald Auckland, having attended all the dinners for many years. They performed an exciting Sword Dance and Foursome Reel, finishing with the Highland Fling. They were accompanied by Kerry Loomis a very highly regarded piper.
Piper Kerry Loomis and the Balmoral Dancers dancing the Highland Fling.
The guests were then invited to select from the wonderful dishes at the smorgasbord, for the main course of the dinner.
It was now time for the main event at the dinner. The presentation by Alan MacDonald, High Commissioner Emeritus, the High Commissioner’s Warrant, from the Clan Donald High Council, to Andrew Wilkie. Alan explained what the Warrant contained. Andrew also had a laminated copy, which was left on the table for the guests to view.
Alan MacDonald, High Commissioner Emeritus, presenting High Commissioner Andrew Wilkie with his High Commissioner’s Warrant.
Finally, Andrew was presented with a set of 6 Hawk’s feathers by Philip Fry, an associate of Andrew’s from the Auckland Officers Club. Normally Chiefs, Chieftains and Commissioners wear feathers in their glengarries or bonnets. 3 feathers for a Chief, 2 feathers for a Chieftain and High Commissioner, and 1 feather for a Commissioner. The feathers are normally eagle feathers. However, it was very appropriate that Andrew should have a set of New Zealand Hawk’s Feathers.
Philip Fry presenting Andrew with a set of 6 New Zealand Hawk’s feathers.
A final surprise at the dinner, was a humorous introduction by Murdock McDonald for the presentation of a Clan Donald Life Membership to Tom McDonald. Tom has given sterling service as Secretary for 18 years, to Clan Donald Auckland. The actual certificate was presented to Tom by the President Jim Murdoch.
Murdock McDonald giving a humorous introduction to Tom McDonald’s Life Membership presentation.
Tom McDonald showing his Life Membership certificate.
The evening was rounded off with a couple of toasts and a Valedictory speech by the President Jim Murdoch. A great night was had by all.