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Te Kuiti and Districts Pipe Band - the first 75 years

The Te Kuiti and Districts Pipe Band is about to celebrate its 75th Jubilee with a concert and dinner on 25th May 2024, to be held at the Les Munro Civic Centre in Te Kuiti.

Here is a brief history of the band, provided by Don MacColl (don@stockcare.co.nz) in April 2024.

"It began as an idea from John O’Halloran, George Jamieson and others to form a band in 1949. They started off wearing grey slacks and Gordon tartan ties on white shirts.

After 2 years of fundraising they acquired some old Red Brodie tartan kilts second hand from the New Plymouth Pipe Band and equipment, and in 1951 they could stand their own alongside the Pio Pio Pipe Band and the Otorohanga Pipe Band who were active at the time.

Typical activities at the time included Queens Carnival, A&P Shows, Winter Shows, Marching Girls teams, Christmas and ANZAC Parades.

The Pio Pio Band faded in 1968. Those few players joining Te Kuiti contributed to a revival of the band with pipe tutors David Powell and Pipe Major Albert Sheath.

Fundraising continued to raise funds to build a new band hall at Centennial Park which opened in 1969 which was initially shared with the Brass Band until they folded in 1971.

The band had strong membership until it faded in 1989 and it wasn’t until the then current Drum Major, Jim O’Halloran organised a new membership drive with Otorohanga Piper Lloyd Fitzgerald as tutor in 1998. That attracted a group of 4 adult learners and 3 kids who eventually progressed to the pipes and have become the foundation members of the rejuvenated band that we have today.

Fundraising became the focus again to update the kilts to the new Red Brodie Tartan and work hard to build a drum corps which enabled the band to start competing.

The band competed at its first National contest in Masterton in 2010 in Grade 4.

They won the Grade 4a National Contest in Timaru in 2013 with 19 pipers and 10 drummers and last competed at Grade 3 in 2015.

One of the learner piper kids from the 1998 recruitment drive went on to compete with the Hamilton Caledonian Pipe Band and progressed to the Manawatu Scottish Pipe Band Grade 1 band and competed at the World Championships in 2016.

Now a social band, the pipe corps of the band has remained solid with 6 players of an average age north of 60!  It is only in the last 18 months that we have been able to turn out at Christmas, ANZAC and the Muster Parades (and reduced the bands average age significantly) with 6 new young learner drummers being tutored by senior drum tutors from other bands."