During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century many thousands
of Scottish peasants in The Highlands were "encouraged "
to leave their traditional clan lands in order that their chiefs
could use the land to increase their income and continue their
For this and for other reasons such as general poverty, famine
and religious dissension a large number of Highland Scots found
their way to eastern Canada- Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton,
and Nova Scotia-between 1790 and 1825 and re established their
close knit Gaelic speaking communities.
One such community developed in 1822 in the St Ann's/Baddeck
region of Cape Breton. This community was initiated by a particularly
zealous religious individual and his group of followers and quickly
grew to a thriving community as other emigrants followed their
clan connections and relations to Canada.
The Reverend Norman McLeod as he later became known, established
a hard working, God fearing, community in the St Ann's area that
won respect throughout Nova Scotia. However, despite all their
efforts and nearly 30 years of land clearing and farming famine
again struck in the late 1840's and the possibility of further
emigration presented itself.
The journey to New Zealand from St. Ann's, Nova Scotia, is historically
remembered for the mass exodus of around 900 Scottish immigrants
between 1850 and 1859.
Led by Rev. Norman McLeod, these Gaelic speaking Celts built
their own ships on the shores of their land and embarked on a
fantastic 15,000 kilometre journey to New Zealand, in search of
a better life than the life of hardship available in St. Ann's.
A College dedicated to the teaching of the Gaelic language and
Celtic dancing and piping now occupies the land that once belonged
to the Rev. Norman McLeod in St Ann's.
The Waipu Heritage Centre (The Waipu Pioneer Memorial Settler's
Museum known as The Waipu House of Memories) was established in
1953 as a memorial to the Scottish Nova Scotian pioneers who migrated
to New Zealand from Nova Scotia during the 1850s.
These Pioneers created a history of a double migration, firstly
from Scotland to Nova Scotia in 1817 and 32 years later to Australia.
Always under the watchful eye and strict control of their leader,
the Rev Norman McLeod, the first two boatloads found conditions
in Australia to be at the opposite extreme to those in Nova Scotia.
Six months after arriving in Adelaide and after the deaths of
three of Norman McLeod's sons, the group decided that life in
the Australian gold fields was not for them. They had long held
an established form of social and community standards and these
were being severely put to the test in Australia.
Communication was established with contacts in New Zealand and
eventually 47,600 acres of land was allotted to the group for
settlement in the Parish of Waipu. Between 1853 and 1860, a total
of six ships - the Margaret, Highland Lass, Gertrude, Spray, Breadalbane
and the Ellen Lewis brought the families from Nova Scotia. The
Margaret and the Highland Lass originally took them to Australia
but after a time most of the families sailed on the Gazelle to
A Gaelic speaking community still under the 'guidance' of the
Rev. Norman McLeod for some years to come, was re established
and the area is still largely populated by the descendants of
those first immigrants. Further information on the migration can
be obtained from the Waipu Heritage Centre.
1953 saw the Centennial of the landing of the Settlers in Waipu.
The celebrations that were held over three days on January 1st,
2nd and 3rd and had been several years in the planning included
a three day Highland Games and the opening of The House of Memories.
Now 50 years later, the sesquicentennial celebration exceeded
those of 1953. One of the highlights being The Grand Pageant -
a show by the local community recounting the details of the double
migration which has been videoed along with other events over
the 5 days of celebrations and International Highland Games from
January 1st to the 5th. The videos can be viewed & purchased
from the Waipu Heritage Centre.
The Ngati-Whatua Maori tribe, who were the original settlers of
Mangawhai, were annihilated in a battle with Hone-Heke’s
tribe from the north in 1825. It is only in very recent years
that a few Maori have moved back into the area after the Tapu
was lifted as a consequence of that famous battle. There is today
a small monument marking the area on the Mangawhai Kaiwaka road.
European settlement began around 1838 with the harbour being
used as a timber port. Mangawhai was a thriving place of Kauri
gum diggers and Kauri cutters. Onehunga Wharf piles were built
from totara logs hauled out of Mangawhai Bush by introduced bullocks
From there sheep, cattle, and dairy farming took hold, and in
more recent years horticulture has become a part of the farming
scene. One of the largest avocado orchards in the country is situated