Iain McKay, New Zealand honorary consul at Salt Lake City,
in the United States, with a photograph of his great
grandmother, Emily Duff (nee Cameron). Photo by Jane
A few tears were shed yesterday as Iain McKay, New
Zealand's honorary consul to Salt Lake City, Utah, made an
"emotional" return to his Scottish roots in Dunedin aboard the
cruise ship Volendam.
Mr McKay (72) was born and raised in Wellington, later moving
to the United States in 1976, where he has since lived.
He worked in Salt Lake City for a major television and radio
broadcasting corporation for more than 30 years, until his
Mr McKay vividly remembers as a young child visiting
relatives in Dunedin, descendants of some of the city's early
settlers. One of his grandfathers, Allan Cameron Duff, could
"recite Robbie Burns non-stop, in-between gulps of whisky and
home-made shortbread", he recalled.
When Volendam entered Otago Harbour yesterday, Mr McKay and
his US-born wife, Heidi, and 20 other members of their
extended family were all on deck, mindful of the earlier
arrival of their Scottish ancestors by sailing ship in the
During their stopover, three generations of the McKay family
took part in an "especially memorable" and intense return
visit to the city.
They were taken by minibus to several locations important to
the family's history, including the grave of grandmother
Hessie McKay (nee Steele) at the Green Island Cemetery.
And the Otago Settlers Museum, which has long been closed to
the public during its $35 million redevelopment project,
opened specially for the McKays yesterday, to help Mr McKay
make inquiries involving his family genealogy, and to look at
early museum artefacts.
Mr McKay yesterday praised Sharon Byles, of Dunedin-based
Hoppit the Magic Bus Tours, for organising the shore trip,
including arranging for the museum to open and organising an
authentic fish and chip meal.
Mrs McKay said the Dunedin trip had been "wonderful", and Mr
McKay said the return to his roots had been "very, very
special" for him, their six children and other descendants.
Over the years in Salt Lake City, he maintained his
connections with the Southern city, in a volunteer capacity,
as an international adviser to the Mobil Song Contest - now
the Lexus Song Quest - between about 1980 and 2000.
He arranged international tours for the winners, including
for Dunedin bass baritone Jonathan Lemalu, who made his North
American singing debut in Salt Lake City.