Pipe band set to open tattoo

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IN six weeks Southland’s Waimatuku Southern Scenic Highland Pipe Band will be performing at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Welling› ton.
The tattoo is a large›scale perform› ance of music and displays by military, marching and other bands. More than 1200 performers are expected to take part, at the Westpac Stadium over four nights, from February 18›21. The venue will also feature a full›scale replica of the Edinburgh Castle facade.
Although Waimatuku will be the only South Island band, another three bands from the North Island, the United Kingdom and possibly Aus› tralia will also be performing, Waima› tuku pipe major Merv Gunn said.
‘‘It is an honour and a privilege to take part in the tattoo and represent Southland. We will be part of a massed band, and open the show, and also perform during the finale.’’
Established in 1934, the band encompasses all ages with the young› est a drummer aged 12 and the oldest a piper in his 70s.
‘‘Of the 20 performers, a third are under the age of 20,’’ fundraiser organiser and piper Ann Robbie said.
As well as 12 pipers, seven drum› mers and the drum major, a cha› perone and two support people will make up the southern contingent.
Although only 15, piper Lewis McKay already has experience playing at a tattoo, having played at this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, along with his grandfather Val McKay. He will also be perform› ing at next year’s tattoo.
Another young performer will be drummer Kirsten Devery (12), who Mrs Robbie said would possibly be the youngest performer at the tattoo.
Fundraising had been an ongoing effort, she said.
Performing at such a prestigious event meant an update to uniforms and there was always the ongoing cost of keeping instruments in top con› dition.
‘‘We have to play to a certain sound level, so there have also been drum upgrades, new chanter reeds and new drumming sticks.’’
Mrs Robbie said the fundraising had been going well.
‘‘We have had a fantastic response from Southlanders… which it makes it easier for us to focus on performing.’’
In the military tattoo’s 55›year history, this is the fourth time shows have been performed outside Scot› land and the second time in New Zealand.

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