City of Tauranga Pipe Band is currently New Zealand’s champion Grade 3 band. The band has up to 40 playing members – pipers, side drummers, tenor drummers and bass. In addition to our competition commitments we play at local parades and events, particularly Anzac Day and the local Christmas parade. The band offers free piping and drumming tuition to learners to ensure the future of the band remains strong. Find out more about free lessons here.
Band members range in age from 10 years to 60+. Our Pipe Major, Warren Aitken, and Drum Sergeant, Neil Mogey, have played for Grade 1 championship bands for many years and are keen to develop the band’s playing and performance skills and foster a strong band culture among members.
City of Tauranga Pipe Band marked its centenary in 2014. Formed mainly by Scots, the band had its first parade at the Tauranga Athletics Highland Games in December 1914 under Pipe Major W.G Brown.
The band, now known as City of Tauranga Pipe Band, was originally Tauranga Scottish Society Pipe Band, and has also been Tauranga Highland Pipe Band and City of Tauranga Highland Pipe Band.
World War One saw a severe depletion of the band when all its pipers left, carrying the Great Highland War Pipe to the Battlefields of France, many never returned home. After the war, a minimal band continued and took on learners to build up numbers. In 1938 after many fundraising activities the band purchased its first full set of No 1 uniform adopting the Gordon Tartan.
World War Two saw many of the band’s members again go off on active service. This time losses were not as great and the band was able to develop and make exceptional progress under Pipe Major Laurie G Johnson. In 1948 the band attended the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships winning the open street march and being placed in the selection and Drum Majors display. The performance of the band on this occasion is summarised in the official NZ report: “the skill and devotion of each and every member of the band was extolled. Great credit goes to P/M for the attention and care he gave to the music of the band. This success is probably due to the uniformity of the training of the pipers, nearly all whom have been taught by P/M Laurie Johnson. By its performance the Tauranga Pipe Band is entitled to be classified as the best band in NZ at street marching.’’
In 1962 on his visit to New Zealand, the Marquess of Huntley appoints the band the official New Zealand band to the “House of Gordon”. In 1963 the Tauranga Borough having attained City status, bestows the band with the title of City of Tauranga Highland Pipe Band. In the 1970s the band is one of New Zealand’s top Grade 2 pipe bands and in 1982 the band wins the grade 2 championship at Nationals and is promoted to Grade 1.
The band’s fortunes fluctuated with rising and falling membership and by the late 1980s the band was in Grade 3 winning many annual Centre Championships but the New Zealand Pipe Band Championship remained just out of their grasp.
In 2000 the band bought new uniforms and entered the new millennium with a new tartan – Roxburgh Red Modern.
In 2017 the band moved up to Grade 3 after consistently successful competition seasons in the previous few years.
In 2023, the band won Grade 3 at the New Zealand and South Pacific Pipe Band Championships in Christchurch.