McGillicuddy Highland Army

The McGillicuddy Highland Army is the fighting wing of New Zealand's Clan McGillicuddy and does battle with enemies of the Clan in accordance with the rules of the pastime of pacifist warfare. Battles have taken place at wide range of locations and events around the country. During the period 1984-1999 it shared many members in common with the Clan's political wing, the better-known McGillicuddy Serious Party.



The McGillicuddy Highland Army (McGHA) was established in Hamilton, New Zealand, in 1978 as the McGillicuddy Highland Regiment, the battling wing of the Clan McGillicuddy. Its foundation was inspired by a pacifist battle that Clan leader Graeme Cairns, the Laird of Hamilton, had taken part in in Dunedin earlier that year involving Alf's Imperial Army (Alf's).


As required by the rules of pacifist warfare, the McGHA fights its battles using strictly non-harmful weapons, such as newspaper swords and cardboard shields for personal duelling. 'Mass effect' weapons such as water bombs, flour bombs, porridge bombs, funnelators (huge slingshots), and meths mortars armed with soft or rotten fruit are also used (though water and flour bombs are the most common). 'Psychological Weapons' such as the Can-Can charge, heavy duty assault poetry, mass singing and vicious taunting are also permissible.


The basic uniform of the McGHA regiments was a white shirt, kilt, and bonnet with a white cockade, with a doublet faced in the regiment's colour. How strongly military the uniform looked varied depending upon the individuals in a regiment; whilst there were very strong variations between the regiments themselves. Appearances ranged from 17th century Scottish Jacobites to 19th century Victorian British Scots, to South American Presidential Guard, to hippies or anarchists, with the only article in common being a kilt. One regiment even wore tartan trousers combined with Russian-style jackets and fur hats.


The Clan McGillicuddy being a Jacobite Clan, its Army naturally fought for the restoration of the Stuarts to the throne of New Zealand and Scotland. A strong rivalry with Alf's Imperial Army[1] soon developed, as the McGHA evolved their own idiosyncratic interpretation of pacifist warfare.

The regiments developed into the Clan's 'standing army' with uniformed troops ready to swing into battle against the McGillicuddy Serious Party's political opponents [2],[3], The Cambridge Borough Council [4],and various 'irregular' pacifist warfare groups such as folkies, nudists [5], hippies, anarchists, Outward Bound [6], student clubs [7] and student hostels [8], .

Other uniformed 'regular' opponents, include such groups as Alf's Imperial Army [9], The Fort Custard Fire Dept [10], Black Mac's Death's Head Hussars [11], the Seaweed People [12], the Knights of the Brown Bottle [13], the Auckland Revolutionary Army, The Knights of the Order, and the NZ Colonial Brigade.

Battle Locations

Battles have taken place in towns and cities all around New Zealand, and at public events such as University Orientation weeks and Capping Events [14], Folk Festivals, Local Carnivals [15], Wine and Food Festivals [16], Snow Festivals [17], Swimming Pool Openings [18], School Gala Days, and Summer City programs [19].

Brief history

The 1st Flying Claymores were the first company in the regiment, quickly followed by the 2nd McBormann Fusiliers, both based in Hamilton.

The name was changed to the McGillicuddy Highland Army in 1985, shortly after the Wellington-based 3rd Laird's Own Borderers (established in March 1984 [20] ) was officially incorporated into the Army, and its members welcomed into the Clan.

The success of the Clan's political wing, the McGillicuddy Serious Party in the 1987 and 1990 NZ General Elections saw a rapid growth in McGHA membership, with new regiments founded in Auckland (The 5th Thane of Gordonton's Own Islemonn), Christchurch (The 6th Jahkirk Highland Tossers), and Dunedin (The Blues and Greys). At its peak in late 1992, the McGHA consisted of some eight uniformed regiments boasting a combined membership of over 100 pacifist warfarers.

Current status

As of 2009, the Clan McGillicuddy has no 'standing' uniformed regiments, although the Army has never been formally demobbed. Many Clan members still answer the Laird's calls to arms, and the Clan will still happily meet in battle any opponents who wish to challenge them. The most recent battle by Clan McGillicuddy saw McGillicuddy "Martians" take on Alf's Imperial Army in Oamaru on January 31, 2007, in an enactment of the "War of the Worlds".[21]


  1. ^ "Angry Clan Wages War on Alf's Army" Evening Post (Wellington)3 June 1988
  2. ^ Election Shorts NZ Herald 22 October 1988
  3. ^ "Blokes Prepare for Beach Battle" Gulf News 26 January 1990
  4. ^ "Army at Ready" Cambridge Edition 13 August 1986
  5. ^ "Zany Holiday Capers at Mapua" Christchurch Star 27 December 1988
  6. ^ "Wizcorp Eyes Cosmic School" Evening Post (Wellington) October 1987
  7. ^ Salient, Magazine of Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association 1 March 1992
  8. ^ "Highland Spirit Willing" Evening Post (Wellington) 17 July 1986
  9. ^ "McGillycuddies of New Zealand" Wairarapa Times-Age 17 March 1988
  10. ^ "Battle Royal by Waterside" Evening Post (Wellington) 3 June 1986
  11. ^ Marlborough Express 8 Feb 1987
  12. ^ "It's War at Mangawhai" Northern Advocate (Whangarei) 2 June 1989
  13. ^ "McGillicuddy Beaten Back" Bay of Plenty Times 19 November 1989
  14. ^ Chaff, Magazine of Massey University Students' Association, 10 June 1988
  15. ^ "Local Defencers Prepare to Defend Taupo" Taupo Weekender <4 December 1987
  16. ^ "Alf's Army and McGillicuddy's Army Engage in Furious Combat" North and South magazine April 1988
  17. ^ "Methven Winter Festival Opens in Grand Style" Ashburton Guardian 4 July 1988
  18. ^ "Battle at the Pool" Gisborne Herald 27 October 1987
  19. ^ Hutt News 20 March 1987
  20. ^ Salient, Magazine of Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association 9 April 1984
  21. ^ "Alfs Beat Martians in Battle" Otago Daily Times January 2, 2008 Page 15


Largely taken from issues of the Clan McGillicuddy's magazine Th'Noo in particular issue number 10/11. Available in the National Library of New Zealand. ISSN: 1170-6333 Hamilton [N.Z.] : Och-a-non Publishing, [1988-

External links

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