Ensuring Scots heritage remains

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Moves are underway in Dunedin to strengthen the city’s Scottish influences and encourage residents to engage with each other through business or community links.

The clans want to ensure Edinburgh retains its importance as a sister city.

The Combined Clans and Societies Group Otago held a meet and greet afternoon on Sunday, April 22 in Green Island, at which more than 40 people came together to discuss ways of bringing Scottish influences back to the city.

Many attending felt the Scottish links had been downgraded as links with Shanghai had been expanded.

Combined clans chairman Todd Wall said the reason for the gathering was obvious.

“We are all here to get to know each other through our businesses, Scottish organisations and clans,” Mr Wall said.

“The gathering is about how we will engage with each other to learn how to strengthen our position within the community.”

The participants formed into small discussion groups to talk about what each person or organisation could do to fulfil the aim of strengthening the ties.

Among those attending was Dunedin City councillor Christine Garey, who stressed how important the Dunedin-Edinburgh links were to the city.

Others attending included Toitu Otago Settlers Museum curator Sean Brosnahan, Otago Scottish Heritage Council chairman Royden Somerville and Liam McIlvanney, the Stuart Professor of Scottish Studies at the University of Otago.

Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City chairman Bruce Nicholson hoped the gathering would improve the people-to-people network of Scottish groups and organisations.

“If we can build a support network, people will be more aware of what is available in the city.

“Currently, we don’t know how to connect people with people.

“This will give us a chance to work that out.”

The Otaru sister city link was about education and Shanghai was about business, leaving Edinburgh as the heritage and cultural link, he said.

“We are trying to rebuild the connections we lost. Basically, we have started from scratch.”

The Combined Clans has representatives from Clans Gunn, MacLeod, Mackenzie, MacNicol and Donald.

Mr Nicholson said there were other clan representatives in the city without support and the Combined Clans could provide some of that.

An attendee from South Canterbury was trying to re-form the Clan Campbell organisation. It was possible representatives from Otago could hold a function in Waimate to lift the profile of Clan Campbell.

A working group will meet next week to discuss the findings and suggestions from Sunday’s gathering. A report will be released to those attending.