25 Dec 2014

Taking kapa haka to the Edinburgh Tattoo

From Christmas Day, 10:30 am on 25 December 2014

Shirley Ann Thomson
Shirley Ann (centre) at Edinburgh Castle August 2014.

Shirley Ann Thomson with Catriona McLeod.

Shirley Ann Thomson with Catriona in her lounge with her large participating medal from this year's Tattoo. Photo: RNZ

Scottish dance choreographer Shirley-Anne Thomson has had an impressive 70-year involvement with Highland dancing in New Zealand  – she's performed for royalty, and in countries all over the world.

In August this year, she was in Edinburgh as part of the New Zealand contingent taking part in the famous military tattoo at Edinburgh Castle, the 10th Tattoo she's been involved with.

For the first time 36 Highland dancers and a 50-strong kapa haka group representing Te Matatini performed together –  a routine that presented some unique challenges  to choreograph.

The group performed in front of a live audience of 220,000 people over 25 shows during August, and up to 300 million people watched on BBC television around the world. In fact the BBC described the New Zealand item as "pure bliss".

Catriona MacLeod went to visit Shirley-Anne to find out how it all went, and chatted to her in her Johnsonville lounge which is full of Highland memorabilia and gifts she's received from tattoo participants from around the world.

Edinburgh Tattoo
The Highland Dancers and Te Whanau a Apanui and Te Whaka Huia at Edinburgh Castle, August 2014