To quote the Scottish, the official opening of IceInLine’s two-lane indoor curling rink in Alexandra was “pure dead brilliant”.
The Scots influence dominated proceedings which began on Friday night with the cutting of the ribbon by New Zealand Curling president Graham Sinnamon, at an informal ceremony attended by Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan and Southland MP Joseph Mooney.
On Saturday, that Scottish taste became full flavour.
Lowburn Curling Club member Jack Davis otherwise known as M’Lord, presided over 11 teams from Central and wider Otago taking part in an informal tournament.
Rain forced the crampit variety of the game from the outdoor rink and the indoor lanes hosted time-limited games of 30 minutes each.
Curling’s traditions have changed little in the more than 150 years since it arrived with Scottish immigrants and his role was to “make sure we stick to traditions,” Mr Davis said.
In curling parlance males are called brothers, females are sisters.
Mr Davis said he believed New Zealand might be one of the last places in the world to follow traditions to the letter and those traditions began at the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in Scotland but health and safety regulations made maintaining those traditions fraught with difficulty.
Traditions included adhering to the Spirit of Curling but not humble opponents, bad language on the ice, even words like “bloody”, guaranteed an appearance in curlers’ court where proceedings were secret.
“If I was tell you [about it] I would have to shoot you,” Mr Davis said.
The title M’Lord, a life sentence, was offered to him in 2009.
“Any [with the title] I’ve known, and I’ve only known a few, have all died poisoned chalice.”
His national role covered 37 clubs from Otago and Canterbury to Auckland.
He had the job of calling the bonspiel when conditions allowed and curlers had to be ready to play with barely 24 hours’ notice, he said.
The tournament wrapped up with a dinner featuring the traditional piping in of the haggis, toasts and speeches from New Zealand Curling president Graham Sinnamon and former New Zealand Cricket coach Warren Lees.
The weekend on the ice concluded on Sunday with sliding start, or “hack” curling, common at international tournaments such as the Winter Olympics.