About the Shetland Society of Wellington

We are a group of people with an interest in Shetland – some of us were born there, some have a family connection, and others are just “interested”. One thing we all have in common is an enthusiasm for these unique, far-flung islands, their culture, music and heritage. Through the Society and its activities we can celebrate all things “Shetland” and the New Zealand-Shetland connection.

The Shetland Society of Wellington has a long and busy history. It was formed in 1922 by a group of Shetland Islanders who had left their homeland and settled in New Zealand. Many Shetlanders came to live in the greater Wellington region.

Within Wellington City the majority were involved with maritime activities linked to the busy port of Wellington, and  Island Bay on the south coast had a flourishing Shetland fishing community in the 1920s. At this time Shetland Society functions routinely attracted attendances of over 200, and up to 300 for special events.

Over time the focus of the Society has shifted as the flow of immigrants from Shetland has diminished. While our Society is still very active in organizing many functions throughout the year and in keeping in touch with our members, we also try to provide information about Shetland to a wider group of New Zealanders.

To mark the Society’s 75th anniversary in 1997, a week of celebrations included the visit of the Shetland Young Heritage Fiddlers, an Up-Helly-Aa, displays of craft, tourism promotions, film screenings, and a ball.

A book recording the history of Shetlanders in New Zealand was commissioned and launched, and remains a milestone in documenting the contribution Shetlanders have made to the building of New Zealand. “Chips Off the Auld Rock: Shetlanders in New Zealand” can still be bought through the Society. Please contact us by post or send an email to contact@shetlandwellington.org.nz if you would like a copy (price $25 – plus $8 for postage within NZ if required (and an additional $4 if to a rural delivery address), or ask for overseas postage rates).

Connections with Shetland are never more strongly cemented than during a “Hamefarin”, when large groups from New Zealand and other countries visit Shetland for a hectic programme of receptions, reunions, excursions, and exhibitions, with the emphasis on Shetland arts, crafts, music and language. The first Hamefarin was in 1960 and was instigated by John Arcus of the Shetland Society of Wellington. Subsequent Hamefarins have been held in 1985, 2000 and the most recent in 2010. The aptly named “Reverse Hamefarin” sees Shetland Islanders coming here for an equally enthusiastic and lively programme of events. Some photos from the 2010 Hamefarin can be viewed on the public site here.

The latest President's Report for the Shetland Society of Wellington New Zealand (Inc.) can be read here - Presidents_Annual_Report_2020.pdf

The Rules of the Shetland Society of Wellington New Zealand (Inc.) can be read here