Maori hapu welcomed at gathering of the clans in Scotland

More than 40,000 people of Scottish descent have gathered in Edinburgh for the biggest gathering of the clans in over 200 years.

Among them was the family of Ngati Awa negotiator John Mahiti Wilson, and today in a special ceremony the clan met the hapu.

Christine Wilson, clutching a photo of her late husband, was welcomed by the sound of bag pipes in a Scottish take on the traditional haka.

Mr Wilson worked tirelessly for his tribe Ngati Awa, but never forgot he was Scottish as well as Maori. His family say he would often wear his korowai, a Maori cloak, at the same time as his tartan colours.

This weekend 40,000 people of Scottish blood returned home, parading through the streets of Edinburgh.

Wilson had very much wanted to be part of it but died last September, so his family marched for him and made a presentation to his clan.

"I am very privileged and honoured to bring the spiritual essence of my husband back to this homeland, Scotland," said Christine Wilson.

It was a first for the clan, but they coped well with the culture shock.

"They feel very strongly that they're Scottish as well as Maori, and I think it was a marvellous ceremony," says Iain Gunn, Clan Gunn commander.

At first glance the two cultures could not be more different, but consider the history of the Scottish clan: from around 1300, each clan ruled their own area of Scotland only answerable to the clan chief. But in the 1700s the British government tried to get rid of the clan system, banning tartan, weaponry and even the playing of bagpipes.

"The connection to the land, the connection to the creator, the connection to the people, absolutely the clans and the hapu of Aotearoa New Zealand are the same," says Ngati Awa representative Pouroto Ngaporo.

Common ground found in a land half a world away.

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