2019 Programme

Meetings are on the 28th day of the month, held at the Victoria University of Wellington Law School*, Old Government Buildings, Lambton Quay (between Bunny and Whitmore Streets);  entrance door from Bunny Street.

Vehicle access to Bunny Street is allowed on VUW business; to park in the grounds enter by Lambton Quay gate.

Weekdays: 7.15 for 7.30pm start
Weekends: 2:45 for 3.00pm start [* Unless stated otherwise].

Visitors are welcome (no charge for regular meetings), Scottish blood not necessary! Other events may also be held.


Thursday 28 February 2019
300 years of Scottish education

Convenor of the NZ Society of Genealogists Greater Wellington Scottish Interest Group, Max Kerr will talk on 300 years of Scottish education, from the mid-sixteenth century to the Education Act of 1872, setting out how the system developed and what makes it distinctive.

Thursday 28 March 2019
Charles Cameron, architect extraordinaire to Catherine the Great of Russia

Catherine II (1762-96) kept an eye on the courts of Europe to recruit people for hers! She found Charles Cameron (1745?-1812); he served her as interior decorator of palaces, architect for many buildings and other projects. Pauline Quinn has investigated, and will tell us about this Scotsman’s unusual life (aged 30 to death at 67) Unknown in his homeland; lauded, with a great reputation as an architect, in Russia!

Sunday 28 April 2019 at 3.00pm*
Bigger than the Bayeux? Today’s tapestries tell Scotland’s (and other) stories

Recent years have seen several grand scale embroidery projects illustrating history – and it all started in Scotland (inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry)! The Prestonpans Tapestry tells of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s exploits from France to Prestonpans; the Mt. Felix Tapestry – WWI with NZ connections. Kathleen Major has been exploring the stories behind these colourful embroideries and two others. Andrew Crummy is their Scottish designer.

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2018 Programme

Meetings are on the 28th day of the month, held at the Victoria University of Wellington Law School*, Old Government Buildings, Lambton Quay (between Bunny and Whitmore Streets);  entrance door from Bunny Street.

Vehicle access to Bunny Street is allowed on VUW business; to park in the grounds enter by Lambton Quay gate.

7.15 for 7.30pm start [* Unless stated otherwise].

Visitors are welcome (no charge for regular meetings), Scottish blood not necessary! Other events may also be held.


Wednesday 28 February 2018
The Scottish Harriers – origin and contribution to Wellington and NZ athletics

Founded by a Scot, Walter ‘Pop’ Ballantyne, now the Wellington Scottish Athletics Club – long known as the Scottish Harriers, has provided an opportunity for Wellingtonians to explore our local lowlands and highlands for over 100 years – since 1915! Grant McLean, a top marathon runner and historian, has written the Club’s history and will share stories from its founding and early years of struggle, to the club becoming the most successful athletics club in the country.

Wednesday 28 March 2018
New Zealanders in the Scottish Women’s Hospital units in World War 1

Wellington historian Jane Tolerton will talk about the New Zealand women who worked for the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service during WWI e.g. Wellingtonians Dr Agnes Bennett and Dr Mary Blair and Kate Fulton (aunt of Kate Harcourt) from Christchurch – she was awarded the Croix de Guerre for ambulance driving under fire on the Western Front. Jane is the author of Make Her Praises Heard Afar: NZ women overseas in WW1, published in November 2017.

Saturday 28 April 2018 at 2.30pm*
A very significant milestone! Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand in 1893!

A prime mover was Kate Sheppard, a Scotswoman, as were others. National Archives’ Stefanie Lash will take us on a tour of the Suffrage Exhibition at the National Library; she led the curatorial team.

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2017 Programme

Meetings are on the 28th day of the month, held at the Victoria University of Wellington Law School*, Old Government Buildings, Lambton Quay (between Bunny and Whitmore Streets);  entrance door from Bunny Street – meetings in Room G07.

Vehicle access to Bunny Street is allowed on VUW business; to park in the grounds enter by Lambton Quay gate.

7.15 for 7.30pm start [* Unless stated otherwise].

Visitors are welcome (no charge for regular meetings), Scottish blood not necessary! Other events may also be held.


Tuesday 28 February 2017
Robert Burns:  Poet and Revolutionist – writings by Harry Holland

Upheavals in daily living patterns inspired Burns’ writings which expressed great concern for the resultant plight of his fellow man – they resonated around the world. Later the socialism movement arose, grappling with similar issues. Harry Holland, eventually leader of the NZ Labour Party, wrote widely reiterating Burns’ messages. Still very relevant today, Dougal McNeill (VUW Lecturer) has gathered and edited them and will introduce his book.

Tuesday 28 March 2017
Scots College :  the Centenary Celebrations in 2016 – 100 years of people and events

The School’s motto (translated), “Let education make the all-round man” is reflected in the many prominent Old Boys who followed in the footsteps of the founders – city leaders e.g. Wellington Mayor, MP J.G.W. Aitken and Rev. Dr. James Gibb.  Former Headmaster Ian McKinnon (VUWSIG’s Patron) will tell of the 100 year journey..

Friday 28 April 2017
Easter Island – in the jurisdiction of Chile;  Scots were involved in them both too!

The Island – with an ancient indigenous people – was ‘discovered’ by the Dutch on Easter Day 1722 then annexed by Chile in 1888.  Scottish settlers contributed greatly to its development, also were/are prominent in mainland Chile.  Marco Martinez from The Chilean Embassy will describe his country and the Scottish connections.

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2016 Programme

Meetings are on the 28th day of the month, held at the Victoria University of Wellington Law Faculty*, Old Government Buildings, Lambton Quay (between Bunny and Whitmore Streets);  entrance door from Bunny Street – meetings in Room G07.
Vehicle access to Bunny Street is allowed on VUW business; to park in the grounds enter by Lambton Quay gate.
7.15 for 7.30pm start [* Unless stated otherwise].

Visitors are welcome (no charge for regular meetings), Scottish blood not necessary! Other events may also be held.


Sunday 28 February 2016 at 4.00pm*
Growing up in Glasgow with the “divi” (dividend)

Glaswegian Sheena Hudson will give us a personal perspective on a History of the Scottish Wholesale Society which played a vital role in many families’ lives, promising some reward for loyalty to the Co-op when buying goods – from food to furniture!

Monday 28 March 2016
No meeting (Easter Monday)

All are welcome to attend the Easter Monday service at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Willis Street, at 10am.

Thursday 28 April 2016
John Kirkcaldie – his store and legacy (founder with Stains of the much loved Lambton Quay store)

In January, with sad hearts, Wellingtonians farewelled their beloved ‘Kirks’ – an institution frequented by generations of families.  Historian, biographer and publisher (Writes Hill Press Ltd.), Julia Millen, in “A Wellington Story” (2000), does indeed tell its story which she will share with us. It is one of her numerous books – about NZ writers and ‘characters’, memoirs, etc.

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2015 Programme

Meetings are on the 28th day of the month, held at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Architecture & Design*, Vivian Street (at the junction with top of Marion Street); entrance opposite the back of the Comfort Hotel (ex Chancellor/Trekkers). [*UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE] 7.15 for 7.30pm start.

Visitors are welcome (no charge for regular meetings), Scottish blood not necessary! Other events may also be held.


Saturday 28 February 2015 at 7.30pm
Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2014

The audiences at the Tattoo especially loved the NZ item – a fabulous fusion of Highland dancing and Maori Kapahaka telling the story of the Scottish migrants arriving in the country.  Co-choreographer Shirley-Anne Thomson, together with Major Julie Richardson, will take us behind the scenes and show extracts from the spectacle.

Saturday 28 March 2015 at 2.30pm*
Treasure Trove at the Turnbull – at The Turnbull (National) Library* Molesworth St

Alexander Turnbull’s wonderful collection formed the nucleus of our National Library.  Our visit offers a dip into the pile of treasures pertaining to Scots in NZ  – letters, photos etc.; view the first class reproduction of The Book of Kells.  Strictly limited numbers (maybe 2 groups); book by 22nd March;  ph Edith 388-8069, Pauline 976-4525, Linda 567-0557.

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2014 Programme

Meetings are on the 28th day of the month, held at the VUW School of Architecture & Design*, Vivian Street (at the junction with top of Marion Street); entrance opposite the back of the Comfort Hotel (ex Chancellor/Trekkers). [*UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE] 7.15 for 7.30pm start.

Visitors are welcome (no charge for regular meetings), Scottish blood not necessary! Other events may also be held.


Friday 28 February 2014
The Ryder Cup in Scotland – “the home of Golf” : at Gleneagles in September 2014

The Ryder Cup is one of the last great international sporting events based on prestige rather than money. In a mercenary world, golf’s greatest stars compete for a little gold cup donated long ago by an English seed merchant (but a Scottish cham-pion influenced him quite a bit). Always extraordinarily full of incident, Bernard Quinn will tell us the tale and more!

Friday 28 March 2014
The Basking Shark in Scotland: Natural History and Human History

Denis Fairfax, author of a book on this topic, will discuss the intermittent fishery for this giant shark, changing perceptions of the animal, Scottish sea-monsters, and the status of the basking shark today.

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2013 Programme

Date: Meetings are on the 28th day of the month – February to October
Time: 7.15 for 7.30pm start*
Place: VUW School of Architecture*, Vivian Street (at the junction with top of Marion Street); entrance opposite the back of the Comfort Hotel (ex Chancellor/Trekkers).
* UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE e.g. April, July, and September

Visitors are welcome (no charge for regular meetings), Scottish blood not necessary! Other events may also be held.


Thursday 28 February 2013
Scottish Castle on a Hillside: Robert Arthur Lawson’s design for Seacliff Lunatic Asylum (1878)

Rebecca McLaughlan won the 2012 VUWSIG Prize in Architecture for her paper on New Zealand mental hospital design including work by Scottish Architect Robert Lawson. More recently credited with enriching Dunedin “with its finest buildings,” he was forced to depart NZ following the Government Inquiry into structural issues at Seacliff, his largest project. She will present recent research (for her doctoral thesis) suggesting Lawson’s achievement at Seacliff has been previously underrated.

Thursday 28 March 2013
The Border Abbeys including Sweetheart Abbey and Devorgilla

The Borders is a kind of theme for VUWSIG this year. Pauline Quinn picks up on this with the history of these famous institutions the Border Abbeys, and an acknowledgment of the string of defensive towers/castles, also introducing the story of an important, strong and fascinating character, the Lady Devorgilla.

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