New Zealand and Scotland have a long shared history, enjoying a connection that has lasted for centuries into the present day. It might be a bit surprising to hear that around 2 million New Zealanders can claim Scottish ancestry, quite a large percentage in a nation of only 5 million people! The first Scots to arrive on New Zealand’s shores worked as crew on James Cook’s ship Endeavour in 1769. They were followed by thousands more over the next 200 years, people desiring a better life who risked the incredibly long sea voyage to make a new home for themselves on the far side of the world. The Scots migrants brought many useful trades and skills with them, along with ideas and beliefs that positively influenced modern New Zealand culture, they were proponents of education and equal opportunity for all and fostered a strong sense of personal and social responsibility in the growing nation.
Today many New Zealanders still feel a strong link to their historical homeland, with regular cultural celebrations like holding Highland Games, sumptuous Burn’s Night suppers in celebration of famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, the thrilling skirl of Scottish bagpipe bands and rollicking fiddle music, and the traditional haunting refrains of Auld Lang Syne sung every New Year’s Eve and on many other nostalgic occasions. Plaid is even in style! Another exciting way to feel this time-honoured connection is learn how you can become a Lord! This unique, and in some cases, deeply moving gift bequeaths the real, official title of Lord and Lady via the ownership of a small plot of land in the Scottish Kingdom of Fife. The proceeds go to a good cause, protecting the picaresque region from greedy land development projects such as golf and country clubs that destroy the native Scots landscape and cultural heritage. A tree is planted to honour each and every new Lord and Lady, helping to keep Scotland green for years to come!
Many more cultural traditions connect the far-flung lands to each other. Several regions of New Zealand, such as Otago, boast their own tartan. Scottish dress is worn by many New Zealanders to celebrate their ancestral heritage, so men wearing kilts are not an uncommon sight. The South Island city of Dunedin is Gaelic for the Anglicized Edinburgh, and is thought of as the Edinburgh of the South!