Redheads say they are here to stay

Braxton Mackenzie-White loves his red hair and matching beard. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Braxton Mackenzie-White loves his red hair and matching beard. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Ashley Mackenzie-White.
Ashley Mackenzie-White.

Red will never be dead, loud and proud red-haired Southerners say.

A theory suggesting the red hair gene could vanish as a response to climate change has been scotched.

Braxton Mackenzie-White's impressive red beard bristles when asked about a Scottish geneticist's hypothesis that high temperatures and more sun could result in fewer carriers of the red hair gene.

But he has his own response: have red-haired children.

''I would love to have a whole gang of them,'' the 25-year-old said yesterday.

It is a sentiment shared by his sister Ashley (28), who also wanted to see a boost in the number of red-haired people, estimated to be about 1%-2% of the world's population.

The ''proud redhead'' was raising funds - including a fundraising quiz at the Kensington Tavern in Dunedin on July 15 - to attend the Irish Redhead Convention in County Cork next month.

The convention is billed as a celebration of red hair, and includes carrot tossing championships, the best red eyebrows and the most freckles per square inch.

And she is not going to be a tourist.

''I am going to Ireland to take out the title of Queen of the Redheads.''

Ms Mackenzie-White said she was bullied at school for having red hair and dyed her hair ''because I thought it was ugly''.

''It doesn't hurt now because I am really fierce, but when I was in high school it definitely wasn't cool ... but now I just own it.''

''When I see red-haired children I always make a point of saying: 'You have beautiful red hair. Do you know how special you are?'.''

Red-haired Dunedin man Jeremy Burdett married a redhead and they have two red-haired children.

Their household includes ''five ginger chickens, two ginger dogs and a goldfish''.

Growing up in Dunedin, he recalled few red-haired children but ''there seems to be more around'' [now].

He and the Mackenzie-White siblings said attitudes towards people with red hair appeared to have changed from when they were children, and were cool.

''I got a load of **** at high school,'' Mr Mackenzie-White said, as he points at his hair.

''But it may not have been because I was a ginger ... they may just not have liked me,'' he said, laughing.

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