16 Nov 2018

'Ginger Gathering' celebrates redheads in Wellington

From Morning Report, 8:52 am on 16 November 2018

On Friday evening Wellington will be host to New Zealand's first ever celebration of redheads - at the 'Ginger Gathering'.

With prizes like best ginger beard and palest ginger, the event aims to celebrate the special two percent of Kiwis who have red hair, organiser Ashley Mackenzie-White tells Morning Report's Susie Ferguson.

"For me it's a bit of good craic [Gaelic for 'conversation or a good time'] as part of the Irish Festival. But also it's about getting little wee redheads together and showing them it's quite an amazing magical thing to have red hair.

"We're very rare. It's like a secret club. When you pass another redhead you want to say hello. Yesterday I was teaching and a wee redheaded girl came and sat next to me, I caught her looking at me, and she told me her red hair came from a woman she'd never met - her nan had red hair and passed it down.

"And I think growing up, being bullied, as a kid - it's just nice to reclaim it.

"My brother and I both have red hair and people used to drive past and yell 'ranga', and it's like well yeah, good, thanks for pointing that out in case I didn't notice."

She says red hair helps build character. "You have to be kind of strong, resilient, brave."

At the event they will be fundraising for the Cancer Society. Ms Mackenzie-White says her sunburn time is probably about three minutes. "I wear sunblock every day."

The Ginger Gathering, part ofthe Irish Festival in Wellington, takes place on Friday evening, 16 November, at JJ Murphy's in Te Aro.