Celtic Day

April 06, 2018 at 4:19 PM

Let me tell you a story
From long, long ago
When the Haggis roamed wild
On the hills topped with snow
It was a strange wee creature
Not easy to see
And the Scots they would catch them
And eat them for tea…

With flaming red hair, tam o’shanters, kilts, tartan boxers, strategically placed tea towels and enough face paint to challenge Mel Gibson’s Brave Heart, our sons of Kentigern gathered in their clans ready to do battle for the House Celtic Day Cup, on a day when the sun shone brightly ready for a full day of clan activity. 

Whatever the weather, Celtic Day is always a most warmly anticipated event for those in the know - and can be quite an eye-opener for the uninitiated, especially the parents who offer up their services for the first time! 

The day began with that curious mix of heritage, as our tartan-clad Kapa Haka group, led by Sam McLeod, laid down the challenge, their voices carrying far across the field, signalling the moment for the College Pipe Band, followed by the Boys’ School Pipe Band, to begin the parade. 

This is day for our oldest students to show leadership and provide care for their junior clan members, knowing what fun lies in store! With their younger counterparts firmly under their wings, our senior boys led the way, as the House Clans followed the band in a ribbon of colour as they marched towards the Jubilee Sports Centre for the official ceremony. Nick Forgie had the honour of piping in the official party. 

In his opening address, Principal Mr Peter Cassie explained to our new families that the day is to celebrate our Founders; a day when our Scottish ancestry is welcomed, unravelled and put and on show in ways you may not always expect.  Like the introduction of a square of carpet to the formalities - and the revelation that if Mr Cassie lay down in his Saint Kentigern kilt on the new floor covering in Roselle House, he’d be well-camouflaged!

This year we welcomed Saint Kentigern grandfather and true Scot, Mr Terry Brown to talk to the boys about his childhood in the Orkney Islands – a far cry from a Saint Kentigern boy’s life in Auckland, 70 years on. We thank Mr Brown for taking the time to be part of this special day. 

Our House leaders then gave a sobering reminder of the source of our House names – the four Scottish Martyrs, Donald Cargill (1619-1681), James Chalmers (1841-1901), Patrick Hamilton (1500-1528) and George Wishart (1513-1543). 

Each successive Head Boy will tell you that along with the pride of being named the student leader of Saint Kentigern Boys’ School… comes the trepidation of knowing that Robert Burns’ fiendishly difficult ‘Ode to a Haggis’ will need to be learned and recited on Celtic Day – in Gaelic! This morning, Austin McKegg joined those who have gone before, in not only mastering the soliloquy but delivering it with immense confidence and spirit. His long applause was well earned!

And so to the business end of the day, as far as the boys were concerned! After the traditional tasting of the Haggis – a morning snack made from ‘the less interesting parts of a sheep!’ – the boys set about enjoying their day out on the field for riotous action with quiet interludes inside for craft activities. A new activity this year saw the boys prepare and cook damper over an open fire pit – always so much tastier when made yourself! 

There was much to enjoy but nothing quite captures the imagination like the castle siege as boys set about with wet sponges to attack the cardboard ramparts created by staff and parents. As the day wore on, Roselle Lawn wore out, so those taking on the challenge later in the day found themselves wallowing in mud – including the stoic parents on duty! 

As always, we must thank our Parents and Friends Association, chaired by Vanessa Playle, who did a fantastic job in providing support on the day, from preparing shortbread for the guests’ morning tea, offering haggis to the boys (who let’s be honest, would have preferred the shortbread!), to being at the forefront of the games on the field and in the pool. Our sincere thanks to a wonderful group of mostly wet, muddy parents! Celtic Day could not happen without your enormous contribution!


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