New Zealand Pipe Band Championships cancelled
The association made the difficult decision due to the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the antipodean country seeing flair-ups and lockdowns in recent weeks.
Ironically, while most of the rest of the piping and drumming world is only just emerging from the crisis, New Zealand was able to stage its 2021 national pipe band championships last March, with Canterbury Caledonian taking the top prize in a field of five Grade 1 bands.
Some 35 bands competed at the event in Hastings, one of few major pipe band competitions held in a 2021 that saw all of the RSPBA’s championships cancelled for a second straight season. At the time, the piping and drumming world celebrated a rare bright spot in an otherwise grim situation.
The RNZPBA made the decision to cancel the 2022 Championships on the evening of November 8th, and issued a statement to members that read, “We had hoped we could wait a little longer before making the call but it is clear delaying the decision a few more weeks in the hope conditions might allow planning to proceed will not make any difference and would further burden organizers and bands. It is better that we make the call now so bands and their members can plan their summers with certainty and focus on other things.
With pretty much the rest of the season cancelled already, and a lot of bands not practicing, it makes sense to give everyone a break, take a year off, focus on the wellbeing of individuals and their families, and come back with a vengeance in 2023. – RNZPBA President Iain Blakeley
“The 2022 Auckland National Contest Organizing Committee are deeply saddened that this course of action is required. They have already done three years of preparatory work and had some exciting plans in place for a wonderful showcase of pipe band music and movement. They are committed to forging ahead when conditions permit and have announced they are ready to host the 2024 National Pipe Band Championships in Auckland. That decision will be made over the coming months.”
The organization has also postponed its annual general meeting.
Despite being able to contain the virus since it first arose in early 2020, since August New Zealand has seen a sharp spike in infections since August of this year, resulting in the country’s largest city, Auckland, being under lockdown for nearly three months in a war against the more infectious Delta variant. Restrictions are expected to ease this week, however. New Zealand has had one of the world’s strictest responses to containing the spread of the virus.
New Zealand’s total case count recently topped 200 for the first time. Scotland, whose 5.5-million population is close in number to New Zealand’s, recorded more the 2,900 new cases on November 7th.
The next New Zealand Pipe Band Championships are scheduled for March 2023 in Christchurch.
“With pretty much the rest of the season cancelled already, and a lot of bands not practicing, it makes sense to give everyone a break, take a year off, focus on the wellbeing of individuals and their families and come back with a vengeance in 2023,” RNZPBA President Iain Blakeley said.