Today we left the beautiful Bay of Islands and headed south once more. Swapping a night in the Bay of Islands for a night in Auckland meant our plan to spend time at the 143 Highland Games in Waipu (about halfway to Auckland) was easily effected. In short, it was a super day. Hoots toots magroots it had everything... tartan stalls, clan tents, highland dancing, fiddle playing, stone tossing and of course, the biggest toss of all... the caber throw. I am sure it's a little known fact that in 2009 a Kiwi from Waipu beat the Scots on home turf and became the Highland Games Heavyweight Champion of the World. He was the only one today to successfully toss a caber ~ 60 lb 18' length of wood after none of the 2014 contestants could get the pole of end over end. He shrugged off the judge's mantle and showed the adoring crowd in the stands and around the oval how it was done.
Don't get me wrong, to even pick up that caber is a feat that demands respect, let alone even get it to stand on its end... let alone get it to end over end.
So many came so close. The crowd cheered and clapped each time the men in the heavyweight division had a crack...
The lassies were dancing in all kinds of age divisions. There was a mass dance with the mass pipe and drums band but the crowd was 12 deep and getting a snap was nigh impossible. Yep, there were loads of folk there enjoying the day. Of course, not all the lassies were dancing. Some were doing that thing with the stone. Yep, stone and wood played a big part in the games. Items easily available in the Scottish Highlands. (Btw, it's a 16lb stone she is about to heft... some distance I might add.) Her post throw comment to the team was all about the possibility of receiving the large bottle of single malt whiskey on offer as the prize for the winning team.
But getting back to the dancers, one can only admire the ankle strength of the young lassies who lithely bounce up and down nimbly flicking their feet in front and behind the other leg.
So, the eternal question as to what does a Scotsman wear under his kilt... is not really answered here. More what does a Scottish Highland Games Heavyweight Division Scotsman wear under the tartan...
The Greenpeace vessel the Rainbow Warrior was sunk by French Secret Service agents in 1985. The two responsible for placing the limpet mines on the hull of the ship were never charged. However, the support team of Alain Mafart and Dominque Prieur who posed as Swedish tourists, were caught at Auckland Airport. Why? Firstly, great work by NZ authorities. But allegedly, the critical break through in the capture was because the French agents needed to get the bond back for the camper van rental used as part of their cover to appease the "Money Penny" accountants back in France. The atrocity of their actions aside, the $15m paid in compensation, and the public relations disaster for France that ensued meant that bond was less than small change.
It was the second limpet mine that killed photographer Fernando Peirera. After the first exploded and cast the ship in darkness he went to his cabin in the bow to retrieve his gear which was directly above the second limpet mine. The French didn't expect this behaviour. After the first mine blew a car size hole in the hull, it was assumed that everyone would abandon ship.
The second sinking of the Rainbow Warrior occurred at a site some 35 minutes by fast boat from Matauri Bay near Paihia in the Bay of Islands NZ. For those who like precision: 34.9748°S 173.9349°E in Matauri Bay, near the Cavalli Islands. The RW was patched up, refloated and moved at a cost of $750,000 with the local Maori of Matauri Bay offering to protect the wreck and the memory of Fernando Pereira. On the hill overlooking Matauri Bay is this memorial sculpture that includes the propellor from the Rainbow Warrior.
Now thats a hole in the side... Sitting in around 26m of water, the wreck has plenty of marine life and the swim through is rather fabulous if rather sad when approaching Fernando's cabin.
It is suggested that in 10 years not much will remain of the wreck.
Paihia Dive are an awesome bunch of people. All hopelessly in love... with diving and keen to help everyone develop the same. Hire gear was in good nick and the boats were well equipped. Craig the owner even swam 50m over to a private sailboat that appeared at the site and lent them a map of the RW wreck so the enjoyment factor for the divers on that boat would be enhanced. It speaks volumes. Pictured below is the Aku-Maru or Red Boat. Smaller than the other.