The New Zealand Gaidhealtachd = Sealain Nuadh Gaidhealtachd : the uses of history in the creating and sustaining of a culturally based community : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
Natives have often wished that white people would study their own ancestors.1
1.Kame'elihiwa, in R. Borofsky,'Cook, Lono, Obeyeskere and Sahlins', Current Anthropology, 38, p.2.
The topic of this thesis is the Gaidhealtachd Celtic Studies Summer School which takes place every year between the 2nd - 7th of January at Whangarei Heads School in Northland. The word Gaidhealtachd refers to a Gaelic speaking area (specifically of Scotland and Ireland), and is generally understood as the area where traditional ways survive and are valued. The objectives of the Gaidhealtachd, as outlined in the Gaidhealtachd Booklet produced in its tenth year, are that: 'The Gaidhealtachd seeks to promote an awareness of the cultural debt we owe to our Celtic ancestors, and to provide opportunities to explore Celtic arts, languages, values and traditions'.2
2.Gaidhealtachd booklet, 1999.
The booklet also describes the Gaidhealtachd as being specifically for those 'who identify themselves as Celts of good will, who want to explore their own and related Celtic cultures in the spirit of rediscovery and redirection made possible in the unique context of New Zealand-Aotearoa'.3
3.Gaidhealtachd booklet, 1999.
Gaidhealtachd has recently become a trust and has conducted a Celtic Studies Summer School annually for the last seventeen years. The Gaidhealtachd is an interesting topic for study because, while there are many Scots, Irish, and Welsh clubs and organisations in New Zealand, research has revealed that the Gaidhealtachd is probably the only group which encompasses all the individual Celtic cultural identities in an educational context. The choice of venue for the Summer School provides a further point of interest in that Whangarei Heads School, founded in 1857 or 1858, is the oldest continuously operated settler school in New Zealand. The school was established by members of the Gaelic speaking Nova Scotian Scots of Waipu who settled at Whangarei Heads in 1856. Whangarei Heads School has been the venue for the Gaidhealtachd for the last seventeen years, principally because of its historical significance as the oldest continuously operated settler school in New Zealand, and also because of its Gaelic speaking origins. It will be argued here that the history of the area of Whangarei Heads area generally, as well as that of the school, has had considerable influence over the development of the Gaidhealtachd Celtic Studies Summer School and that knowledge of the first settler community has become a touchstone for participants understanding of history in general and also in how it is interpreted on a personal level. This thesis will therefore consider the way history itself is used - in the history of the Scots from Nova Scotia, in the understanding of the Gaelic language as spoken by the settlers at Whangarei Heads and by the pupils of Whangarei Heads School, in the creation of a community based on a Celtic ethos, and in the significance and perceived wider understanding of the history of the Celtic peoples. As the leader of the Scottish Nova Scotian community who settled at Waipu and founded other communities such as Whangarei Heads, the role of the Reverend Norman McLeod as reference point will be discussed and it will be argued that there is significantly less emphasis placed on his part in the development of the Whangarei Heads community than that of Waipu.