Press Releases

Bagpipes on endangered list

Kirsty Macnicol
The Southland Times
December 30, 1997

THE 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 a 10-day
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 ceremony.
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 office.
"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
Smith said.
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.

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