New Zealand Kilts

Figure 1.--This boy was photographed in Wellington, probably during the 1890s. He wears a complete Highland kilt, with cap, jacket with square buttons, sash, plaid kilt, sporan, and kneesocks. It is indistinguishable from the kilts worn by Scottish and English boys.

New Zealand boys do notvappear to have widely worn kilts, despite the significam Scottish imigration. The kilt was, however, a dressup outfit for younger boys in the 19th century.


New Zealand, like neigboring Australia, had a significant Scottish imigration. The Scottish were particularly important on South Island in cities like Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invergargill. Even so, kilts were not commonly worn by New Zealand boys. HBC believes that even Scottish imigrants did not commonly dress their sons in kilts, although HBC has little information to substantiate this.

Kilts are little seen in modern New Zealand. Many schools on South Island, however, have pipe bands and the members wear kilts when performing.


Highland kilt

The kilt rather appears to be primarily a style for prosperous families during the 19th cenntury. It was probably more common for New Zealanders with Scottish ancestry. Boys wearing kilts would have probably been mostly younger boys

Kilt suits

HBC is unsure if New Zealand boys wore kilt suits. The style was widely worn in the United States, but HBC is unaware of its popularity in England.

Personal Experiences

When I was 12 years old in the 1970's, we moved from Chicago, Illinois to Christchurch, New Zealand. We had relatives in Dunedin (the Edinburgh of New Zealand) and there was a parade and a big holiday (gatherthing of the clans). My cousins were three older girls and a boy my age. We dressed up with kilts of the Gordon clan and we marched in the parade. We were teased a lot of not being real Scots. After four years in New Zealand, we returned back to the States. New Zealand was a great experience and my most traumatic moment was when I had to wear a short trouser school uniform after I have been in longs. From 1st form through 4th form I always wore shorts.

Christopher Wagner

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main New Zealand page]
[Return to the Main national kilt page]
[Introduction] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Activities] [Essays] [Biographies] [Bibliographies] [Contributions]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing national pages:
[Return to the Main countries page]
[Australia] [Belgium] [England] [France] [Germany] [Ireland] [Italy] [Japan] [Korea] [Mexico] [New Zealand] [Scotland] [United States]

Created: May 1, 1998
Last updated: February 8, 2001