Founding committee member Colin Forsyth returns from nine years in Scotland to become the 12th Hororata Highland Games Chieftain.
In 2010, the rural district surrounding Hororata was brainstorming how to rebuild following the Canterbury earthquakes, not just their homes, church, hall and pub but their community. “We knew we needed something more than a bake sale; we needed something enduring which would bring people to Hororata and put our district on the map,” said one of the Hororata Highland Games founding committee members, Tish Ballagh.
“Most of us knew nothing about running a Scottish Highland Games, but some community members did. One of them was Colin Forsyth. We are excited to have him back with us at Hororata this year as Chieftain.”
Hailing from Stirling in Scotland, Colin has been involved in Highland Dancing and Pipe Bands all his life, having grown up around the Scottish Games circuit following his father, President of the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing and World Champion Billy Forsyth. When asked to help found the Hororata Highland Games, Colin brought his 50 years of experience to ensure that the Pipe Bands, Highland Dancing and Heavy events were authentic.
“As a Scotsman who grew up involved in Highland Games, to be asked to be Chieftain is a huge honour. We were a passionate group who founded the Games and everyone contributed greatly to get it off the ground. It is still run by volunteers, many who have been there from the start and I am excited to see how the event has evolved in the past 9 years,” commented Colin. “I can only commend the committee for their continued vision of a Scottish Highland Games with a twist of Kiwi. Having travelled to Highland Games in all corners of the world. I can honestly say that the Hororata is one of the best anywhere you go.”
As a civil engineer, Colin played a pivotal role in leading the Sewer Emergency Response with City Care, following the devastating February 2011 earthquakes including a significant stint as a Team Leader in the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT).
Colin, his Kiwi wife Nichola and five children left New Zealand for Scotland in 2014 where he has watched the Games evolve from afar. This year, Colin has returned to New Zealand to take up a Technical Director position with Davis Ogilvie and Partners in Christchurch. His family will follow in 2024.
The role of the Chieftain dates back to when Scottish ‘Clans’ all had a ‘Chieftain’ as the leader of their family. The highland games allowed the Chieftain to find out who was the strongest and fastest that would represent them in battle. The role at the Hororata Highland Games is not quite so serious! The Chieftain presides over the day and is honoured in a moving Welcoming Ceremony at midday which is a unique blend of Scottish and Kiwi culture.
The 12th Hororata Highland Games will be held in the Hororata Domain 11th November 2023. Tickets are on sale now. There are no gate sales. Visit www.hororatahighlandgames.org.nz