The Society was established in by the settlers from Nova Scotia,1871 to promote their culture and to help settle late comers of the migration that took place from the 1850’s. They were a group of people who left Scotland during and after the clearances, settled in Nova Scotia for about 30 years and then came to NZ. Most of them settled in Waipu. One of the things they did was hold Picnic days where they held dancing competitors and athletic events for both the parents and the children.
The original Game were first held on William McKenzie’s property at the Braigh.
About 1900 the Society acquired land, about 9 acres, to hold their annual games. This land has been developed into a park and includes 2 Rugby fields, Squash courts and 4 Tennis Courts, and a Croquet green. These facilities are maintained by the users. The Park is also used by other community groups like the School Gala, Variety Bash etc. and a stopover place for self-contained motor homes.
Since 1989 the Society has hosted at least 21 NZ Piping Championships and about 34 Dancing Championships. Since they started The Waipu Caledonian Society has been holding traditional Highland Games annually for the past 145 years. It is the oldest such Society in the Southern Hemisphere and is known world-wide for its New Year’s Day Highland Games. The Games are attended by up to 8000 people annually, drawing visitors from many parts of the world. In !993 they started NZ Heavyweights Championship and have held the event every year since. We have hosted 2 World Heavyweight Championships, one in 1996 and again for the millennium in 2000.
The Caledonian Society has only one day a year to recoup some income to maintain the park, mowing, drainage, painting etc of dancing (Highland) and piping stages and annual administration cost (e.g. rates) and to run the Games. The local council give us a small subsidy for mowing. The Waipu Highland games are considered by the Whangarei District Council to be the most Iconic annual event in all of Northland. In 2011 a decision was made at the annual general meeting of the Waipu Caledonian Society to form the WAIPU CALEDONIAN TRUST. The purpose of the trust was to take over and administer the assets of the Waipu Caledonian Society.
Each year we have had to hire large tents and marques for shelter from either the sun or wet weather. Also we have out grown the facilities we need for the competitors and judges etc.
It was decided that we needed a more permanent structure (Celtic Barn) that would incorporate shelter for some of these events, and provide a large modern Venue for other Public events.
A Joint Venture chaired by Ritchie Guy was formed with community groups to raise funds for the construction of the new facility and at the same time upgrade and modernize the existing Waipu Coronation hall which adjoins the park. The Celtic Barn was officially opened in July 2015 by the Deputy Prime Minster The Hon. Bill English.
The “Barn” will be utilized by the community for a variety of events, market days, meeting places etc. in the same way as our grounds are now. It incorporates a large carpeted lobby a modern kitchen facility and new toilet facilities. The Barn has a sprung wooden floor for use by indoor sports activities. EG net ball, Indoor basketball, and indoor soccer. Table and chairs provide seating and dining facilities for over 400 people, and the seating capacity for shows and concerts is approximately 600. The Celtic Barn which was completed in 2015 was built by Trigg Construction and designed by Hawthorn Geddes Engineers and Architects Ltd. The Waipu Celtic Barn has won a silver award in the Recreation and Leisure section of The New Zealand Commercial Projects 2016 Awards.
Every year New Zealanders attend our Highland Games to compete in Piping, Drumming, Highland Dancing, Athletics, Highland Heavyweight Field Events ,and Fiddling, have fun with Tartan In The Park or to share with the public their Clan heritage and genealogy/family history.