Celebrating our day, our way 8 Feb 2005
By Mark Hotton
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New Zealanders around the UK once again embraced Waitangi Day and celebrated it in their own unique way – without any of the controversy that dogs the anniversary back home.
The traditional Circle Line pub crawl was held a week before due to engineering works, but others still found a special way of marking the day in London and also in Edinburgh.
More than 400 guests and members of the New Zealand Society attended the expat organisation’s annual Waitangi Day dinner at the Dorchester Hotel on Friday night.
Dinner suits and ball gowns were the standard for the event, which has become an institution in the UK-calendar events calendar.
Society spokesman Tim Emmet said the style for the evening was set by Maori performing arts group Manaia "who literally transfixed the guests with their dramatic entrance, weaving between the tables in contemporary dress to take the floor with a brilliant sequence of a haka, twirling poi, songs and dances".
It was a "truly startling beginning to the evening evoking the spirit of New Zealand", he said.
Guest speaker former BBC radio presenter Brian Perkins provided a series of anecdotes of early broadcasting in New Zealand and also how he gained national recognition in the UK through radio.
The evening also saw the presentation of the Society’s New Zealander of the Year award to Scotland Society president Peter Leslie, in recognition of his work promoting New Zealand in the country.
There was also a strong turnout on Saturday night at the Devonshire Arms in Piccaddily for Marama Totara’s Stars In Their Eyes karaoke challenge. The event was held to raise money for the group.
Meanwhile, several hundred Kiwi music fans attended Spacific’s Waitangi Day event at Cargo in Shoreditch.
New Zealand Society Scotland held its first Waitangi event in Edinburgh at the Overseas League on Sunday. About 50 attended the "smart but casual event", chairman Peter Leslie said.
The event was an opportunity for meeting and greeting and Scottish and New Zealand music was provided by piper Jim Fitzpatrick (pictured above).
Leslie gave a brief Waitangi address highlighting the links between Scotland and New Zealand.
The evening also saw the launch of the NZS Scotland’s Edinburgh Sub-group whose co ordinator is Fiona Campbell.
Leslie said a group based in the capital would make it easier for Kiwis to network and help raise the profile of our country in and around the capital.
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