In the early days of settlement in New Zealand, the so-called New Zealand Company and its offshoots were chiefly responsible for bringing out new settlers from Britain to New Zealand. While many Scots only arrived in the late 1840s, making their way to the newly-established Free church settlement of Dunedin, there were a number of Scots amongst the earlier arrivals to the North Island. In 1840, for instance, the ‘Blenheim’ brought around 200 Scots to Wellington. Many of them initially settled in Wellington itself, specifically in the area of Kaiwharawhara (click on the image to see larger version), which thus became known at the ‘Scotch settlement’. After the government’s purchase of the Rangitīkei land block from local Maori, however, a good number of the Kaiwharawhara Scots made their way north, settling in the Turakina valley – a fact that partly explains the endurance of the Turakina Highland Games.
2015 will see the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the ‘Blenheim’. For the 150th anniversary a dinner was held in Wanganui to mark the departure of the ‘Blenheim’ from Scotland at the end of August 1840, and there was a picnic at Highland Park Kaiwharawhara in Wellington to unveil a commemorative cairn to mark the arrival of the ship in New Zealand in December 1840.
Roz and Ewen Grant from Turakina are planning to hold similar commemorative events again. If you are interested in attending or helping with these events please contact them at Tullochgorum@xtra.co.nz.