The Southland Times
December 30, 1997
City of Invercargill Caledonian Pipe Band's tour to Japan
next week was almost silenced when pipers were threatened
with the confiscation of their instruments.
Eleven members of the band have been invited as part of
Invercargill Sister City delegation to Kumagaya, leaving
on January 7. They have been asked to perform almost daily
and will be a feature of the official opening of a new
cultural centre and the traditional Japanese coming-of-age
However, just before Christmas someone joked the bagpipes
could not be taken because they contained ivory.
Although at first Drum Major Neale Smith laughed at the
suggestion, he thought he had better check it out.
After many phone calls, the definitive word came back
from the Department of Conservation's Wellington head
"He said: `If you take those pipes out of the country
they will not come back. Without proper certification
those pipes will be confiscated'," Mr
Worldwide conventions preventing trade in endangered species
meant each piper had to have a certificate proving the
bagpipes were bought before such laws came into effect
and that they would be brought back to New Zealand.
Piper Trevor Morton said the ivory made up less than 10
percent of the instrument and was a decoration or ferrule
on the drones. New bagpipes were made with plastic or
imitation ivory but most pipers in the band were playing
bagpipes which were between 50 and 80 years old, he said.
"It's something we've never ever thought about,"
Mr Morton said.
"It's not like we're going to rip our pipes to bits
and sell the ivory."
Mr Smith said DOC staff had gone out of their way to process
the applications on Christmas Eve and the certificates
along with a $280 bill had now arrived, he said.
It had been a valuable lesson for the band, which will
face similar regulations when it heads to Scotland in
August to perform in the prestigious Edinburgh Military
Tattoo, Mr Smith said.