This new page will bring you stories written by MacLeods in New Zealand about their feelings on Scots in New Zealand and their Scottish Heritage. If you have any content that you feel suitable for this page please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
The story of a young Kiwi and his feelings about his Scottish ancestory !
from Tim Rossiter - Japan and New Zealand!
Since I was a child my mother has told me about our heritage. I grew up with tartan and ceilidhs and I even learned the bagpipes for a short time. To me these parts of Scottish culture seemed fairly natural and it wasn't until I grew older that I found out most of the other children hadn't tried Haggis or even heard of the Celts. That's when I started to appreciate my links to Scotland as unique and I finally understood why the older people in my family seemed so determined to nourish and protect the traditions of their forebears.
Growing up in New Zealand the next step in my understanding, was to truly believe that there was a real connection between myself and the faraway realm of Scotland. I had read books and watched films about misty highlands and rugged heroes but how could I believe this had any relevance to me; Tim Rossiter, from the Horowhenua' It was lucky for me that I had been brought up in a family that was proud of their roots, and our Highland heritage. When I got past teenage self consciousness I realised it wasn't so uncool to be different and I began to listen and learn about my family's past. The black and white photos of the heavily bearded men and stern looking women on our hallway came alive as I learned that these people; my family, had bravely journeyed to the bottom of the world to find some kind of life for themselves and their kin. I certainly found a connection.
I learned about the terrible upheaval that befell highland people after Culloden which culminated in the shameful land clearances during the mid 1800s. The separation of these people from their ancestral lands and the destruction of a unique way of live is a very sombre thought. When I consider the sadness of people leaving their homes and friends for far-off lands they knew little of, I can only wonder at the courage and determination they possessed. My family history encompasses two such migrations.
The first of which began when 16 year old Murdoch McAulay migrated to Nova Scotia from Uig, on the Isle of Lewis on 'Ann of Shield' in 1812. He settled in Baddeck and at 23 married Ann McLean. They had a child named Catherine in 1832 who would later marry a schoolteacher named Hugh McLeod. Hugh and Catherine had three children together: Annie, Andrew and Hannah. But life was tough for the family in Nova Scotia due to the unforgiving climate and subsequent poor harvests. So, in 1860 they joined the migration to Waipu, New Zealand, led by the charismatic Reverend Norman McLeod, aboard the 'Ellen Lewis'. The mild climate and abundance of land in the young colony gave the religious Highland people a chance to build a community of their own and create a better life than they had previously been afforded. Their determination and faith was rewarded and the population of the small Gaelic community soon thrived in their new home.
The second migration is the story of my ancestor Malcolm McLeod, who in 1865 at the age of fourteen left the Isle of Rona with his family on the 'Viscount Canning'. His father Murdoch and Uncle Angus had been farmers on Rona and it's thought they were one of the 94 families cleared off the Island during this time. I've recently been very moved to learn the story of Malcolm's mother Jessie who died at just 37 and is buried on Rona with five of her children who died in infancy. I guess that's testament to how hard life was on the island and it seems the journey to New Zealand offered an easier life for them. The McLeod's arrived in Auckland wearing kilts and speaking little English yet the family eventually adjusted to the different lifestyle. The five young Scottish boys who arrived here with their father went on to have families of their own and I'm one of many descendants living in New Zealand today.
Considering the worldwide Diaspora and assimilation of Clans people it's amazing that the highland culture survives, but I guess it's kept alive chiefly through the pride and memories of descendants who are determined not to forget their people.
Two of these such people are my mother Rona Cooper and my Great Auntie Tui McLeod-Parsons. These two, along with my late grandmother Gladys Leys (nee MacLeod) have greatly encouraged the family's interest in our highland origins. In 2003 our greater family attended the Waipu 150th Celebrations to commemorate the migration of the Normanist Highlanders and we had a fine time. I was very happy to escort my proud Great Aunt Tui in the Descendant Parade during these celebrations. In addition to this event she has been very keen to get involved in many Clan and Highland Gatherings prior to this. She attended the first MacLeod Parliament In 1956 but sadly now at 86 she feels she's unable to travel to Scotland this time. I intend to join the parliament next year and represent her, as well as the rest of the family at the event. I'm looking forward to hopefully joining the North Room Group and meeting others from the clan, visiting Dunvegan and learning about the history of the tribe.
I will be very proud to do this, but the truth is that Parliament is only one of the reasons I want to visit the Hebrides in 2006. Since I was younger I have seen photos of the Islands and felt the lonely beauty of their lochs and hills. I have always aimed to go and explore the isles and see amongst other things the island that my mother was named after. And now I'm 23 I am very excited that the time for this journey is nearly at hand. I want to explore my ancestor's homeland and see where they lived. I believe this may help me to understand something about myself and where I come from. I also want to show my respect to those who left all those years ago never to return. They never forgot the land they were born in: they carried it with them forever after, and I think I owe it to them to return and see their lands for myself.
When I visit Scotland this year I am planning on exploring my roots in the Isles and hopefully sharing experiences with others who are linked to the clan from Scotland and around the world. What I can offer is a thoughtful and sincere account of this journey from the point of view of a member of the younger generation returning for the first time.