The ILT City of Invercargill of New Zealand is one of the oldest pipe bands in the antipodes and, with several years in Grade 2, was recently promoted to Grade 1 under the direction of Pipe-Major Ali MacKenzie. After a solid competition season in New Zealand’s summer, the band is searching for a new leading-drummer following the departure of Scott Birrell.
MacKenzie came to New Zealand from Scotland in 2011 with solo competition success and as a long-time member of the Grade 1 ScottishPower Pipe Band of Glasgow. He is employed by the Southland Piping & Drumming Development Trust (SPDDT) as a full-time piping instructor, and the new leading-drummer would hold down a similar position for drumming.
“We really want to do some damage in New Zealand next year,” MacKenzie said. “I am looking for a solid lead-tip . . . It’s a great life in Kiwi land – the people are great, very much like Scotland, and it’s a good challenge for somebody to come on and keep the band kicking on up.”
Since moving to New Zealand, MacKenzie and Birrell have worked to bring Invercargill from Grade 1, and developed feeder bands in Grade 4A, Grade 4B and Juvenile.
MacKenzie also said that the top-flight solo piper and pipe-major of the Grade 1 Auckland & District for the past 10 years, has joined ILT City of Invercargill as pipe-sergeant. Under Frewen, Auckland & District won two New Zealand Championships and qualified for the Grade 1 Final at the 2010 World Championships.
As part of his deal with the SPDDT, MacKenzie returns to Scotland for six weeks of the New Zealand winter to rejoin ScottishPower for the RSPBA major championship in July, the World’s and the Cowal Championship “to keep developing and bring back to youngsters here in Southland.”
The SPDDT was formed in the southern part of New Zealand in 2006 to promote long-neglected piping and drumming. City of Invercargill was also in dramatic decline and “the SPDDT was set up to try to reverse that trend and return the province’s once-proud pipe band tradition back to, or beyond, its former glory.” Two Invercargill bands were merged and funding was secured from the ILT Foundation, the ILT and the Community Trust of Southland.
The SPDDT is reportedly considering broadening to include other Celtic music types, and making a name change to the College of Piping, Drumming & Celtic Performing Arts, New Zealand. They have already created a relationship with the College of Piping & Celtic Performing Arts in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada, and James MacHattie and Kylie MacHattie, who run the piping program at Summerside, will travel to New Zealand in 2014 to run workshops, share information and compete with ILT City of Invercargill at the New Zealand Championships.
ScottishPower Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong travelled to New Zealand in each of the last two years to teach, perform in recital and compete with Invercargill.
Drummers interested in the SPDDT job and the leading-drummer position should contact SPPDT’s Allister Macgregor.
ILT is an Invercargill-based non-profit foundation that distributes grants to the community from the proceeds of gaming machines.