The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Conference 2013 Report - 9th Oct 2013

This year over the weekend 20th – 22nd September our New Zealand Academy members travelled to Tauranga for our 63rd Annual Conference.

The Solo Seal Examination was held in the Performing Arts Centre at Bethlehem College and the audience was treated to dancing from nine Solo Seal candidates – it has been many years since such a large number has entered this examination. This is our only examination where the public can attend and is our supreme award on our examination system. The candidates Niamh Blackman, Jessica Findlay, Emma Denney, Leighton Terry, Rachel Bates, Sarah Robson, Sarah Gluyas, Kendall Reid and Nicole Harding. Each candidate was accompanied with excellent piping from our own Academy member Mr Neil Baxter from Christchurch. This was a large undertaking by Neil and I am sure all candidates appreciated his very thorough and professional approach. Mr Doug Hendry was compere for the evening and the entertainment was provided by The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand who performed two excellent items – thank you to all Company members and Dance Directors for being so willing to perform for us.

The Youth members met bright and early on Saturday morning at a session facilitated by the new Youth Representative Miss Emma Cropper. There were 50 of our Youth Members in attendance which is an excellent number of our young members who are so enthusiastic about Highland Dancing and our Academy. The youth use the time allocated to them to discuss matters they feel are relevant and then a summary of these discussions are presented to all members during the Annual General Meeting.

Tauranga’s Mayor Mr Stuart Crosby officially opened our conference at the beginning of the Annual General Meeting. Our meeting then covered all formal aspects relating to the Academy with reports tabled for various activities. Our new Kiltie Club editors Conor Hendry and Nicole Harding gave an excellent presentation - they have worked extremely hard researching ideas to try to grow the membership numbers in this area – Executive is very grateful for their passion and enthusiasm in dealing with our young members.

Following the Annual General Meeting a discussion forum was held - this year the topics that were covered were:
• 18 years and over cutting movement
• Degrees of passes for examination grades
• Retention of candidates in our examination system
• Colour of underwear being worn under kilts
• Late payment fee for late examination entries
• Children’s Book update
• NZQA and the process review

The Dance Development Course commenced after lunch on Saturday with our first guest speaker Diana Bomford – we are extremely grateful to Diana for agreeing to speak to our members at very short notice due to the unfortunate unavailability of our scheduled guest and members were appreciative of her time and the sharing of her knowledge. The Technical Committee had organised a quiz which all members who participated enjoyed There was fierce competition between teams and a great way to get to know members. This was followed by a Nostalgic session showing old photos in a power-point presentation – how fashion’s change …….….I wonder what we will say in 20 years time as we look back on this weekends photos!!

Our Saturday evening function was held at Mills Reef Winery – what an amazing venue with splendid hospitality. The evening commenced with the members of the Highland Dance Company of New Zealand being presented – a chance for some of the Academy members to put faces to names and so we can all acknowledge the huge contribution they are making to the Academy. The Diploma and Bar Awards were then presented. This year we had two members receiving their 60 year memberships – it is amazing for us to have people who have been a member of our organisation for 60 years. Mrs Margaret Daines was not in attendance but a dancing friend, and one of our Life Members, Mrs Enid Weir spoke and gave everyone an in-site into Margaret’s dancing life and also spoke of the significance of friendships made through Highland Dancing. Our Academy President Mrs Annetta Cowie gave a presentation for Mrs Verna Dougherty for her 60 year membership – it is always interesting to hear of these members experiences and the contributions they make. A presentation was made to Mrs Janet Allison who has recently resigned from our Technical Committee – it was an opportunity for us to acknowledge Janet’s contribution to Technical and we thank her for her many years of service. The final presentation of the evening was to Mrs Kay Grout. Kay has been made an Honorary Life Member of our Academy – a very deserving recipient of this award. Thank you Kay for your continued interest in our organisation.

The Dance Development Course continued on Sunday morning with a warm up session – learning the Lochaber Broad Sword – there were a large number of our members up dancing at 8.45am! There were many interesting and informative workshops held – these were prepared by our Technical Committee members. The content was varied and something for everyone. Congratulations to Mrs Sherilyn Hall and her team - many hours of work goes into the preparation and the attention to detail was evident.

Our second guest speaker was Sir Gordon Tietjens who spoke on a large variety of topics including the importance of team culture, discipline, nutrition and training. WOW – how lucky we were to have Verna Dougherty’s nephew agree to come and talk to us. Sir Gordon was so generous with his time – a very humble man who shared his knowledge and views on a wide range of topics. I am sure if you look carefully at the television coverage at next years Wellington Sevens you will see Academy members in the crowd.

Thank you to the Bay of Plenty Teachers and Judges Committee for hosting such a superb weekend. The hospitality was amazing (the baking tremendous!) and Bethlehem College was a great venue making it so easy to renew old friendships and forge new ones.

We look forward to our 2014 Annual Conference in the deep south in Invercargill.

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The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Inc., PO Box 5470, Palmerston North
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