THE skirl of the pipes and the boom of the bass drum with the almost rain-like sound of the snare drum rat-a-tat-tatting combined as 49 national and international pipe bands marched the streets of Invercargill on Saturday.
As sporrans swayed from side to side, the bands marched to Queens Park as part of the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships, under the gaze of eagle-eyed judges who scanned their every move.
People lined up their camp chairs on the footpath to get the best view of the bands marching in formation and playing triumphantly along the way.
Hokonui Pipe Band members Brendan, Fiona, Liam and Jessica Fairbairn are proof that a family who plays together, stays together. The three family members were part of the 25-member band which played in the Grade 4A competition at the weekend.
Brendon had been playing for 35 years wife. He said the weekend was a chance “to play against other bands throughout the country, and also good for our younger members to see the top bands play as well”.
Their son Liam was also piping for the New Zealand Police Pipe Band, which was one of four bands competing in grade one.
For the Rae family, of Invercargill, the street march was a great way to reconnect with their Scottish roots.
Tony Rae’s great-grandfather, Walter Rae, emigrated from Scotland in 1871 aboard Helenslee, to help set up the Mosgiel woollen mills.
On Saturday, Tony was there with his wife, son and grandchildren to see the bands and enjoy the sunshine.
“It’s great to see it all, and it’s only across the road from where we live so it makes it easy.”
McAlpines North Canterbury piper Claire Ross, of Rangiora, had attended “a few more than 20” national championships. The thing she loved most about being in the pipe band was its members had become like family.
“I often say I’m going out with my 17 brothers,” she said.
“You’re not just a group that meets up once a week, you’re a family.”
She said piping was “a really good, all-round, wholesome hobby, really”.
Grade 1 Champion: Canterbury Caledonian Society PB; Grade 2 Champion: ILT City of Invercargill HPB; Grade 3 Champion: Manawatu Scottish No 2; Grade 4a Champion: Hokonui Celtic PB; Grade 4b Champion: City of Rotorua HPB; Juvenile Champion: ILT City of Invercargill HPB Juv A.