Once again it was a brilliant sunny day on Sunday the 11th of December for the Clan Donald Auckland Pre –Christmas Lunch. This is the 4th year that the luncheon has been held in the Highlander Bar of the Northcote Tavern, which is well known for their fantastic menu including the famous Sunday Roast, which this year was roast pork.

As members arrived, they were entertained by John Hawthorn playing a selection of Scottish tunes on his piano accordion.



John Hawthorn playing a selection of Scottish tunes.


Clan Donald members and tavern guests were also entertained by the Signals Pipe Band later in the afternoon.



The Signals Pipe Band entertaining the guests.


Andrew Wilkie, Past President  of Clan Donald Auckland, arranged for the band to be present after performing at the local Father Christmas parade. It was a great way to start the Christmas season. And much appreciated by everyone.



Andrew Wilkie playing the pipes in the Signals Pipe Band.


This was the last Event for the President Bruce McGechan, who on his retirement as President, was moving with his wife Halina, to the town of Waipawa in the Central Hawkes Bay.



Halina and Bruce McGechan
The committee sprung a surprise on Bruce, by presenting him with a beautiful Quaich, Scotland’s cup of friendship. Halina was also presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.




However Bruce also sprung a surprise on the committee, by asking them to line up across the bar. He then presented the Quaich, full to the top with whisky, and asked each member to take a sip. This caused great merriment. And at the end the committee demanded that Bruce drink the last drop, to then turn the Quaich over and kiss the bottom. This is a well-known tradition in piping circles.



Bruce McGechan drinking the last of the whisky from the Quaich cheered on by the committee. From the left Immediate Past President Andrew Wilkie, Cindy Bradley, Eileen Clark, Mary McIsaac, Heather Higgins, Barry Paterson, Vice President Carl Bradley, Vice President Lynnette McDonald and partially obscured John Hawthorn.


After such a fantastic lunch and presentation, the members spent the rest of the afternoon chatting over a few drinks.



Heather Lomas and Heather Higgins



Marlene and Laurie Mathews



Mary McIsaac and Geoff Parry



Murdock and Lois McDonald



Heather Higgins and Sandy Burnett.



The Williamson family, Janet, Angus, Dee and Doug.



Friends since the days of the Auckland Ladies Pipe Band. Jean, Dorothy Beale, Carrol Elliott, Flora Brown with Carl Bradley, Vice President, and Eileen Clark.



Barrie Paterson and Margaret Parry.



Cindy and Carl Bradley



North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and Lynnette McDonald.




Squally rain showers and a very cool breeze greeted everyone at the start of the first Highland Games of the season. Ever optimistic, the Scottish Clans and the Highland Games organisers had everything set up and ready on Saturday the 19th of November 2016. This was the third year in a row that inclement weather marred the Games. Many commented that it reminded them of a typical Scottish Highland Games.

Some of the competitions, Highland Dancing and Piping plus field events were completed, and by the time of the parade of clans and the Opening Ceremony the rain had stopped.


The Clan Donald Colour Party getting ready for the parade of the clans. From the left, the President Bruce McGechan, Guard Barrie Paterson, Secretary and Banner Bearer Tom McDonald, Guard and Vice President Carl Bradley.


The colour party was finally ready to move off for the parade of the clans.

Bruce McGechan, wearing his Inverness Cape, Barrie Paterson, Tom McDonald and Carl Bradley. In the background, the Vice President Lynnette McDonald and Annette Paterson.


The Clan Donald Colour Party during the parade, led by Bruce McGechan, Barrie Paterson, Tom McDonald, South Island Commissioner Elwyn Martin and Carl Bradley.



The Clan Colour Parties lined up for the Opening Ceremony with Clan Donald in the middle.
During the afternoon the rain started in earnest and the Clans started to pack up very early. Although the Pipe Band Contest did start this was soon cancelled because of the weather.

Those Clan Donald members that called in for a chat and refreshment departed hoping to meet at the Waipu Highland Games on New Years Day.




Once again it was a beautiful Summers day on Saturday the 13th of February for the 23rd Paeroa Highland Games and Tattoo at the Paeroa Domain. The domain has many mature trees, which gave plenty of shade to the large crowd of interested spectators.

The programme for the day included Solo Piping, Solo Drumming and Highland Dancing. An Axemen’s Carnival, and a full programme of Heavyweight Field Events.

During the afternoon there was the Pipe Band Contest with bands from the Auckland and Central Districts.

The Clans Village was kept very busy with many visitors and the Clans paraded for the usual Clans March to the town centre in the morning.


Clan Donald members outside the Pavilion. From the left, President Bruce McGechan, 
North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald, Barrie Paterson, Vice President
Carl Bradley, Lex Allan, Sergeant at Arms Murdock McDonald, Ruth and 
Bruce Parker from Hawke’s Bay, Cindy Bradley and Laurie Fear. 

Clan Donald Auckland was kept busy in the Pavilion with members calling in for a chat and refreshments plus several people interested in becoming members. One of the new members Lex (Nathan) Allan was appointed Banner Bearer for the Clans March.


New member Lex Allan, Banner Bearer for the Clans March.

James McPhee of Clan MacPhee presented Tom McDonald, the Clan Donald North Island Commissioner, with a special eagle feather for his Glengarry. It is customary for Commissioners to have one feather, High Commissioners and Chieftains two feathers and Clan Chiefs three feathers.



Clan Donald North Island Commissioner receiving the gift of an eagle feather 
from James McPhee of Clan MacPhee.



Murdock McDonald chatting with Laurie Fear.


Tom McDonald and Vice President Lynnette McDonald with Guard Barrie Paterson.



Marni Macdonald from Coromandel with a Dress Up Doll.



Tom McDonald chatting with Lex Allan with Lynnette McDonald in the background.


At 5.30 pm the Tattoo was started with the Pipe Bands Street March through the town to the domain.

During the entertainment there was a Mace Flourishing Competition, a Haggis Ceremony and massed highland dancers.

The Tattoo finished with the Lone Piper, the Ode to Scotland, Massed Bands playing Scotland the Brave and Auld Lang Syne.



I trust everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing time during the summer holidays. I was in Wellington for a few days at the end of 2015 and was able to attend the anniversary picnic to celebrate the arrival of the barque the Blenheim in 1840. I spent New Year in Waipu with the intention of attending the Highland Games but unfortunately it rained heavily and the Games were cancelled.

In December 2015 it was 175 years since the barque Blenheim  arrived at Port Nicholson (Wellington), having departed from Greenock in Scotland four months earlier.  On board were 197 Scots mostly from the Northwest Highlands but with a large group from Paisley, near Glasgow, who joined at the last moment when some of the Highlanders pulled out.

The passengers were selected by my great, great, great grandfather Donald MacDonald, in his capacity as a representative of the New Zealand Company. His role was to recruit people suitable for the Company’s enterprise of colonising New Zealand. He brought his wife and eight children out on the Blenheim.

The Blenheim passengers were landed at Kaiwharawhara which was purposely done by the New Zealand Company because most of the emigrants had been engaged to construct a road along the foreshore from Wellington to Petone. Donald MacDonald was in charge of building this road which was finished in the spring of 1841. Donald also took charge of the building of the roads to Karori and Porirua.

These Scots were therefore part of the very early settlement of New Zealand. Besides being involved in the building of roads, they worked in many of the early exploration and surveying parties until farm land became available. From there they developed and farmed land mainly around the lower North Island, some opened business according to their skills, while others went further afield.

To mark the arrival of the Blenheim, a picnic was held on 27th December 2015 at Onslow College, Johnsonville which is not far from Kaiwharawhara. It was a glorious, summer day with a good crowd in attendance to enjoy a day of celebration of many things Scottish and also to acknowledge the hard work, resourcefulness and perseverance of our ancestors in their part in helping to establish New Zealand.

Some of the crowd enjoying the entertainment. 

Organising Committee Member David Moore (descendant of Donald MacDonald
and Clan Donald Wellington member).

Captain Robert McMillan addressing the haggis. 

Clan tents and other displays.


Blair Hodson had a great year in 2015. He won Grade B at the Waipu Highland Games, the Hastings Highland Games and the Otago Centre Queens Birthday Competition. These are considered to be the three most prestigious competitions in New Zealand.

Blair seems to have a talent for the Piobaireachd, where he placed 1st at Waipu and won the Dunedin Silver Medal for Piobaireachd. He was also placed 1st at both Waipu and Hastings for the March, Strathspey and Reel proving that he is a well rounded piper.

Blair also competed in the Highland Piper’s Society of Canterbury’s Silver Chanter Solo Piping Championships 2015 B Grade, where he was placed 1st for the 6/8 March and 3rd for the Strathspey and Reel.

Blair is descended from a long line of pipers. The first were from the McIsaac family who arrived in Nelson in May 1842. Richard and Jean McIsaac with their children had left Glasgow for their new life in New Zealand on board the sailing ship, the “Clifford”. They settled in Renwick, a small town in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough.

The McIsaac family were involved in establishing the Scottish Society of Marlborough Highland Pipe Band in 1916, and in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s there were a number of McIsaac’s involved in this band.

Anton Hodson, Blair’s father, played in this band in the 1960’s unaware of his mother’s family connection. It wasn’t until the McIsaac family had a reunion in 1994, that the connection was made, when a lot of stories about the pipers were told.

Blair is descended from his father’s grandmother, who was the granddaughter of the emigrants from Scotland. His cousins in Blenheim and Nelson also play the pipes.

A talent such as Blair’s, tends to confirm the old Gaelic saying “often the pipers are the seventh son of the seventh son”.

23 year old Blair, is also a Clan Piper for Clan Donald Auckland, and has been for the last 5 years along with his father Anton.

Clan Donald Auckland has several pipers as members, including the President Bruce McGechan, and it has been of great interest to see Blair’s progress over the years. He is a fantastic talented piper who is just coming into maturity and has now progressed to A Grade.

Blair also plays for the Canterbury Caledonian Pipe Band who have been the New Zealand Grade 1 Champions for the last five years. This band has also competed, for the last three years, at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow Scotland, gaining an 11th place in 2013, 9th in 2014 and 10th last year. A fantastic result, when competing against the top pipe bands from around the world.


Blair Hodson. New Zealand B Grade Champion for 2015.


The 6th annual Hororata Highland Games were held on Saturday 5th November and attracted a record crowd of well over 10,000 people, as well as a record number of competitors. Once again we were fortunate to experience a fine spring day.

The Hororata Highland Games were established as the main fundraising focus of the Hororata Community Trust which was formed after the September 2010 earthquake to help rebuild and promote the wider Hororata community.

ChieftaIn for the day, piper Kyle Warren, commended the organisers on how successfully they engage young people in the event. He said this was evident right through from the competitions to the ‘Have a Go’ events.

Each year the organisers work to refresh the games so as to attract a wider audience. As an example, this year a new event, the Gough CAT Vehicle Pull was introduced.

Tom McDonald, our North Island Commissioner and Lynnette McDonald, Vice President Clan Donald Auckland, joined the Clan Donald Canterbury members attending the Clan Donald tent and assisted throughout the day. We had a steady stream of visitors and were successful in signing up 5 new members.


Clan Lane which is hosted by the Canterbury Scottish Heritage Council.



Clan Donald Canterbury President, Christine Martin pictured in the Clan Donald tent.



Alan MacDonald, High Commissioner, with Lynnette McDonald, Vice President
Clan Donald Auckland, and Tom McDonald, North Island Commissioner.



Contestants in the popular ‘Kilted Mile’ race.



Massed Pipe bands performing in the closing ceremony.


Clan Donald Hawkes Bay hosted a dinner on the 8th of July for “Clan Donald and Friends”. International Tartan Day falls on 1 July and the dinner helped to mark that occasion as well as providing a bit of winter cheer.

The dinner attracted 46 guests, including the Clan Donald National President Christine Martin and her husband Elwyn, who is the Clan Donald South Island Commissioner. Also in attendance were the North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and his wife Lynnette, who is a Vice President of Clan Donald Auckland, and John and Trish McKechnie from Clan Donald Wellington.

Clan Donald Hawkes Bay’s Piper, Maurice Chisnall, who is the Pipe Major of the City of Hastings Pipe Band, piped in the visiting dignataries, and also piped in the haggis for the Haggis Ceremony which was held at the beginning of the evening, after which he entertained those present with a selection of pipe tunes. Later in the evening Robert Arrell, from the Napier Pipe Band, played for the gathering as well.


From the left. Elwyn Martin, Lynnette McDonald, Peter Mackie (Treasurer HB), Jill McDonald, David McDonald (President HB), Christine Martin, Doug McGechan, Ruth Parker, Bruce Parker, Bev Fothergill, Lyn McNaughton, Glennis McDonald, Ian McDonald, John McKechnie, Trish McKechnie, and kneeling Tom McDonald.



Robert Arrell and Harry Renfree from the Napier Pipe Band, Doug McGechan, Glennis and Ian McDonald.



Ian Brown, Diane Peters, Tim and Denise Godfrey.



Bruce and Ruth Parker.



Lynnette McDonald, John and Trish McKechnie, Christine and Elwyn Martin.



Peter Mackie, Jill and David McDonald, Greg Rowe.



Robert Arrell from the Napier Pipe Band.


Hawkes Bay President David McDonald was very happy with the success of the evening and with the number attending. By opening the occasion up to “Friends of Clan Donald” as well as members, it is much easier to attract enough people to make the occasion financially viable as well as enjoyable for those participating – literally “the more the merrier”.


On a beautiful balmy evening on the 7th of May, members and friends of Clan Donald Auckland gathered at the Quality Hotel Parnell for the 18th Annual Dinner. Auckland was in the midst of enjoying an unusually warm late Autumn with temperatures in the mid twenties.

The President Bruce McGechan and his wife Halina welcomed the guests, as they entered the hotel to the sound of the pipes played by the Clan Piper Anton Hodson.

To start the evening the Official Party was led in by the piper Anton Hodson. Carl Bradley carrying the “Great Sword of Islay” followed with the President Bruce McGechan and his wife Halina, and the North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and his wife Lynnette, who is also a Vice President of Clan Donald Auckland.

The President welcomed the guests and said that there was not only a great buffet but great entertainment as well. There was the traditional Haggis Ceremony and our old friends the Balmoral Dancers. And a special treat, with Blair Hodson, the 2015 New Zealand B Grade Piping Champion, playing a few sets of tunes. This young 23 year old has developed into a fantastic piper, and Clan Donald Auckland is proud to have him as a Clan Piper as well.

The Guest Speaker for the evening was our Vice President and Historian Carl Bradley. He gave us an address on the recent Australian Conference held in Victoria, Australia. Carl was also the MC for the evening.


The President Bruce McGechan with the Vice President and MC Carl Bradley.


The Haggis Ceremony followed the singing of the Scottish National Anthem the “Flower of Scotland”. Led by the piper Anton Hodson the Haggis Party, Guards Carl Bradley and Bryan Haggitt, Haggis Bearer Barrie Paterson, Bard Tom McDonald and Whisky Bearer Bruce McGechan, paraded the Haggis around the room. Tom McDonald gave his usual great rendition of the Robbie Burns “Ode to the Haggis”.

The Rev Barrie McCuish gave the “Selkirk Grace” before the guests enjoyed the entrée of Haggis, Tatties and Neeps.

Before the main course, we were entertained by the very talented piper, Blair Hodson. He really demonstrated his fantastic ability by ending his recital with a series of hornpipes and jigs, which had everyone tapping fingers and toes. He will give many of the A Grade pipers a run for their money in the 2016 competitive season.


Blair entering the room at the start of his recital.



Blair finishing his recital with a set of jigs.



Blair resting after his recital with his father Anton centre, and Clan Donald Patron Murdock McDonald.


The Buffet dinner itself was a fantastic selection of dishes. Including Beef Bourguignon, Cajun chicken, honey glazed ham plus a range of vegetable dishes and salads, which catered for everyone. And the desserts were so delicious. The choice was from apple and blueberry crumble to Pavlova and chocolate log, all with mouth-watering trimmings.


Two of the Clan Donald Auckland Committee Members, Eileen Clark and Barrie Paterson, enjoying the dinner.



From the left. Treasurer Geoff Parry, Margaret Parry, Lawrence and Marlene Mathews, Vice President Lynnette McDonald, North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and a visitor from Adelaide, Australia, David Hutcheson.



Members, and visitors enjoying the evening. From the left Lyn Bergquist, Sally Meiklejohn, Norman Cameron President of Clan Cameron, and his wife Jill, Jenny and Bryan Haggitt Clan Cameron members, and Doug and Janet Williamson.



From the left. Halina McGechan, Lois McDonald, Murdock McDonald, Anton, Blair and Carrie Hodson.


Our old friends the Balmoral Dancers gave a very impressive performance accompanied by Kerry Loomis, a well-known and talented piper.



The Balmoral Dancers ready to start the performance.



The Balmoral Dancers accompanied by Piper Kerry Loomis dance the Highland Fling.


After dinner the usual four toasts were given. For Scotland by Vice President Carl Bradley, Clan Donald by the President Bruce McGechan, Absent Friends by the North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and to Visiting Clans by our Patron Murdock McDonald. Norman Cameron, the President of Clan Cameron gave the reply to the toast to Visiting Clans.

Carl Bradley gave a very interesting and often humorous address on the recent Australasian Conference held at Queenscliff near Melbourne in Australia. The members attending the conference also had the opportunity to do some sightseeing and also visit the Geelong Highland Games.

After a great and very enjoyable evening, all that was left was to finish with the traditional Auld Lang Syne.