Jenny Mair: Civic Award winner 2016

Published on 22 September 2016

Photo of 2016 Civic Award winner Jenny Mair

Jenny Mair was born to work with her hands and bring ideas to life. “I pick up ideas and I make them happen.”

Jenny Mair is deeply passionate about music, botany and her Scottish heritage. These great loves, and her ability to make things happen, have led to her long standing involvement with the Manawatū Scottish Society, Pipes and Drums of Palmerston North and Districts Inc., Wellington Centre of Piping and Dancing New Zealand, and the Manawatū Orchid Society.

Manawatū Scottish Society

Her passion for music, and her deeply held belief that every child should learn an instrument, led to her son taking up the bagpipes in the early 1970s.

Keen to support his playing however she could, she joined the Manawatū Scottish Society in 1972.

“Before too long the whole family was involved in pipe bands and highland dancing. If you’re going to have one involved, may as well have all involved!”

Jenny Mair Highland Square Day

In 1980 Dennis Pierce and Briar Hamilton, two well-known members of the Society, established Highland Square Day, an annual pipe band contest held in The Square. Jenny said to him “any ideas you’ve got Dennis, I’ll follow you.” And that’s exactly what she did.

Since then she has been the driving force behind the event which brings good cheer into the city every year in December. Under her watch it has grown to be the second largest pipe band contest in the country, attracting more than 20 pipe bands from across New Zealand and Australia.

In recognition of her contribution it’s now known as Jenny Mair Highland Square Day.

“The Highland Square Day is absolutely magical. Where else in New Zealand could you have all these pipe bands right in the centre of town?”

Pipes, drums and dancing

Jenny has also organised the prestigious and highly successful Craig Claidheamh’mor Invitational Solo Piping Competition since its inception 32 years ago. She is the Patron of Pipes and Drums of Palmerston North and Districts Inc. and a life member of the Wellington Centre of Piping and Dancing New Zealand.

Her passion for music and dance has seen her mentor and encourage hundreds of young pipers and dancers over the years, ensuring the Manawatū Scottish Society will thrive for years to come.

Manawatū Orchid Society

Her love of plants also led her to be heavily involved in local botany groups. She grew up in a family passionate about gardening, and after finishing school trained at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens before taking a job at the City Council’s botanic plant nursery.

In 1994 she was elected to the Manawatū Orchid Society committee, a role she still holds today.  For more than 20 years she has helped out at regional and national shows, arranging flowers and setting up displays.


Manawatū Orchid Society

  • 1994-present: Committee member

Manawatū Scottish Society

  • Member since 1972
  • Life member since 1994
  • 1972 - present: Committee member
  • 1982 -1998: Secretary
  • 1998 -2003: Chair

Pipes and Drums of Palmerston North and Districts Inc.

  • Patron

Wellington Centre of Piping and Dancing New Zealand

  • Life Member