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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Blenheim 175 Picnic

Blenheim 175 picnic posterThe anniversary of the arrival of the barque Blenheim in New Zealand will be celebrated on 27th December 2015.

The Blenheim carried many Highland Scots who emigrated from Greenock to Wellington in 1840. The settlers initially lived at Kaiwharawhara and they constructed the first road between Wellington and Petone. A number of the Highlanders also settled elsewhere in New Zealand, notably Rangitikei, Manawatu, and the Wairarapa.

A celebration on the Sunday 27th of December will be held in the Onslow College grounds from 11am, featuring a pipe band, Highland dancing, a display, and children’s games.

View more details on the Blenheim 175th Anniversary website (which includes full details of all the passengers).

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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To Russia with Love… and Danger

By Chris King, President of The Russian Convoy Club of N.Z. [May 2010. Notes by Anne Miller]

Chris King, gave us a fascinating talk on 28 May, 2010 a cold and very wet Friday evening. Those hardy souls who attended were well rewarded with a dramatic talk, with helpful illustrations, about an interesting period in history. VUWSIG members thanked Chris for this insight into life on these Russian convoys.


Chris explained his Scottish connection. Firstly he spent time in Greenock, Gourock, Edinburgh and Glasgow during WWII, and experienced great hospitality and lots of fun in these places. He went on to describe how the Russian convoys operated at this time: they were assembled mainly in Loch Ewe in northwest Scotland, which provided safe anchorage for up to fifty seagoing ships, before going on to join up with other ships off Iceland. The destinations were either Murmansk or Archangel. The sailors used the local village of Aultbea for R and R and the staff in the local pub, called Jam Jar Inn, worked overtime to look after them. Why the name? If glasses ran out, jam jars were used instead!

Using a map of the North Sea, Chris pointed out the route used by the forty outward bound convoys as they sailed to the northern Russian ports to keep these allies supplied with food, seeds, clothing and war equipment. They usually took ten days depending on the weather and enemy action. Archangel was fifteen days away but it was ice-bound in winter so not such a common journey. The winter journeys were more dangerous as the convoy sailed closer to the Norwegian coast and therefore closer to enemy action. Between August 1941 and May 1945 105 merchant ships and 23 escort vessels were lost on the Arctic route. Three thousand allied seamen perished. Chris talked about the cold which was ever present on the ships. There were violent storms and dense fog and temperatures dropped to minus 500F which was dangerous and brain numbing.

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