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Haggis hurling and heavyweights Highland Games

Haggis hurling and heavyweights at the Highland Games and Gathering

Tartan Kilts will be swirling next Saturday at the free Auckland Highland Games and Gathering at Three Kings Reserve, Mount Roskill.

This highly anticipated annual event is part of Auckland City’s Free Summer programme of events and runs from noon to 5pm, Saturday 22 November.

Over the past few years, this event has grown steadily in numbers attracting thousands of people of Scottish heritage who celebrate their unique culture with music, dance and what some of us might call rather strenuous activities.

There will be the traditional Highland dancing competitions, a Scottish country dancing display with crowd participation, solo pipers, a clan march past, pipe bands competition, Scottish sheep dogs, Highland cattle on display, a Tug-o-War with prizes and children’s games. A few slightly more unusual activities include a haggis hurling competition for all ages and mock historic battles with the Scots versus the Vikings.

A feature of the day will be the Scottish Heavyweight events, known for separating the men from the boys. The Gaelic Dead Weights involves throwing a 25.5kg weight upwards over a bar which is gradually increased in height. The Farmers’ Walk involves carrying two 100kg weights and racing round a 50 metre course. For those still standing, there is the Log Lift which can be followed by the Caber Toss, neither being for the weak or faint hearted.

One of the most gruelling events in this heavyweight series involves lifting five stones up onto barrels. Each stone is heavier than the last, starting at 80 kgs and progressing to 99 kgs, 114 kgs and finally 139 kgs. This is an extremely difficult feat as there are no edges or handles to grip, the stones being smooth and round in shape. Organisers say these sports obviously suit big men and preferably those weighing over 100 kgs.

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Tom Shiels will address the haggis with a rendition of Robert Burn’s ‘Ode to a Haggis’. The Haggis will then be toasted with Drambuie, often referred to as ‘Nectar of the Gods’, made from a secret recipe introduced by Bonnie Prince Charlie. People can sample Haggis from Gordon Smarts Haggis Hatchery on the day and Scottish fare at Harry Cummings food tent.

There will be face painting and a bouncy castle for children and a variety of stalls and displays including Scottish clan tents, Scottish crafts and fine foods and Drambuie Cream tasting.

This free event is provided by Auckland City and the Auckland Highland Games Association. It is proudly sponsored by 91.8More FM, Drambuie on Ice, O’Hagan’s Irish Pub and MIADA.

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