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Information for Bands

Keep up to date with contest information, this page is updated regularly.

“NZ & South Pacific Pipe Band Championships” 


Welcome to Nelson for the 2017 NZ and South Pacific Pipe Band  Championship Contest. Nelson is a land rich with spectacular scenery, three national parks, and the high sunshine, great cafés and creativity. As well as enjoying contesting here, we hope you have time to take in what Nelson and the district has to offer.  


We are pleased to offer you a contest with all events in close proximity, right in the centre of our city.  We are back at Trafalgar Park, but Bands will be located in a new area. The tent city site, on an adjacent public park, includes trees for shade and lots of space for Bands.


We appreciated the positive and constructive feedback we received in response to the survey sent out after Nationals 2015 here in Nelson and have attempted to use this  to bring you an even better contest.

The contest will run along similar lines to  2015, but incorporate some of the Fielding innovations. On the Friday we will be running to ONE time line, but on two boards next to each other, with alternating times. This will provide for an efficient flow of Bands and clarity for Live-streaming as to which event is being recorded. Saturday will be one board only, 

  • Friday: Grade 4B, Grade 4A & Grade 3, Sets and Medleys, then Juvenile.


  • Saturday: Street March, Grade 2 & 1, mace flourishing and displays.

Pipe Major Bryce Gilchrist


Contest Committee

Contest Circle Layout
  • The layout of entry to the contest board is a little different. On the Friday, we will be running to ONE time line, but on two circles next to each other, with alternating times. This will provide for two events at once, an efficient flow of Bands and clarity for Live-streaming as to which event is being recorded. Saturday will be one circle only. 

  • The reporting time will be taken from when the front-rank marches across the Clock Line. Bands will then wheel round onto either Circle 1 or 2 as per the programme and halt at their point “A”. Another Band is likely to be finishing its performance on the alternative Circle. Bands exiting are to give-way to any Band that may be entering the alternate point “A”.

  • All bands should have already secured accommodation. If this is not the case, let us know ASAP if you would like any help.

  • Once you have booked, please remember to advise the Liaison Officer of the name of the Hotel/Motel for our database of where bands are staying.

Celtic Bar
  • The Marquee on the grounds for the bar will be bigger and better, with more seating and shade.

  • Open Friday 10am - 8pm, Saturday 12 noon to 12 midnight. 

Centre City Street March
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to get approvals for street closures within central business districts. We are grateful to have been granted permission to hold the street march on Saturday morning along the same route as was used in 2015. To be able to again display our music and marching in Nelson's CPD is a real bonus.

  • The street march course is:  Halifax Street-Trafalgar Street-Bridge Street. See attached map.

Centre City Massed Grade 4 Street March
  • The Massed Street March will return marching down lower Trafalgar Street

Event Schedule

Friday: Trafalgar Park

  1. Grade 4B and 4A Set's

  2. Grade 4B and 4A Medley's

  3. Grade 3 Set's

  4. Grade 3 Medley's

  5. Juvenile


Saturday am: Centre City

  1. Grade 4B Street March

  2. Grade 4A Street March

  3. Grade 2 Street March

  4. Grade 1 Street March

  5. Grade 3 Street March

  6. Grade 4 Massed Street March


Saturday afternoon: Trafalgar Park

  1. Grade 2 Set

  2. Grade 2 Medley

  3. Grade 1 Set

  4. Grade 1 Medley

  5. Mace Flourishing eliminations

  6. Displays

  7. Mace Flourishing Finals

  8. Massed Bands & Presentations


Saturday evening: Trafalgar Park

  • Function in the Celtic Bar with Celtic Rock Band, Ceol River,


Sunday am: Rutherford Hotel

  • Robert Mathieson presentation, for all bands people

  • We will have with a wider range of food vendors this time, including ice-cream. For those wanting to go off-site, there are several great cafe's very close by.

Friday Night Entertainment
  • The Celtic Bar on the grounds will remain open until 8 pm.  Irish singer, Keith Nolan will be performing, and many of the food stalls will stay open.  We see this as an easy way to socialize, feed your band, and relax.​

Gate Entry Wrist Bands
  • Band entry wrist bands will be used again. Bands will be allocated numbers as per their member numbers, plus 2 for support personnel.

  • Additional wrist bands (2 day passes - $15.00) can be purchased by bands who pre-order these need to be ordered by Friday 17th February, by completion of your band questionnaire.  Payment must be made by the 28th February 2017.

  • Entry to the contest is by wrist band or purchase of ticket at the gates $10 per day. 

Grounds & Tuning  
  • There is lots of room around Tent City for initial tuning & rehearsal.

  • The contest arena and final tuning spots are 3-4 minutes walk from Tent City. Bands will cross a foot bridge to gain access.​ NO playing once across the bridge except for in final tuning areas.

  • Four allocated tune up areas will be set up behind the main grandstand. Bands have scheduled times slots for their allocated area. Bands will have about 30 minutes tuning time before moving to the Final Tuning Spot.

  • No playing past the marked “NO PLAY” line.

Grounds - Practice
  • On Thursday Bands are welcome to practice at the grounds during the setting up of the contest.   You can practice on the Park itself where the contest circles are, or in the tuning up areas behind the pavilion (where tent city was last time), or at Tent City or any of the areas over by Tent City by the river. 

  • ABSOLUTELY NO PRACTICING IN HATHAWAY CAR-PARK at any time. This is a City Council requirement.  Please be mindful of our locals, and their need for peace and quiet.  

  • For those overseas or in NZ who can't make it, the contest will be live streamed.

The link for Live Streaming is: 

Parking and Bus Parking
  • All band parking will be over the bridge on the other side of the river.  See maps and plans for details. Approach parking area from Paru Paru Road.

  • There will be ample bus parking in the new car park in Rutherford Park next to the Trafalgar Center. This is right next to Tent City and the practice areas. 

  • Additional public parking is available at the Hathaway Terrace Car-park, adjacent to Trafalgar Park, and disability parking is available in the grounds for mobility card holders. 

  • Wide Brimmed Hats

  • Caps

  • Drink Bottles

  • Carry Bags

(See More)​

  • There will be merchandisers with stalls on the grounds. 

Massed Bands
  • Our survey showed many Bands would like to see this process be more efficient.

  • To make for a seamless, fantastic display for the public and less time for bands personnel to be standing around, we have developed a new format for Massed Bands assembly.

  • To achieve this, the bar will stop serving anyone in a band uniform, 40 minutes prior to massed bands.  

  • Bands must assemble behind the grandstand, in street march order at the announced time.   

  • We appreciate co-operation of bands to be ready at the scheduled time. We need to start on schedule and complete the presentations in good time.

Robert Mathieson Sunday Talk for all bands people.
  • Robert Mathieson will present a seminar on the Sunday (12th March) after the Nationals.

  • The Presentation will commence at 1000hrs and will conclude at 1130hrs at the Rutherford Hotel. 

  • Subject: " Pipe Band Medley - Making a Global Statement"

    • Musical Construction 

    • Engaging the Audience 

    • Dynamic Ensemble 

Saturday night function
  • The Saturday night function will be in the Celtic Bar on the Grounds, You can move from the final prize giving ceremony, to have a refreshing drink, dinner from one of the many food stalls which will remain open and enjoy the entertainment from a Celtic Rock Band, Ceol River.  

  • This event is free.​

Tent City & Set-up
  • We have a fabulous new area across a small walking bridge over the Maitai River, for “Tent City”. This includes trees for shade with lots of space for Bands. This new area was not available last time. The entire area has been completely revamped and is a wonderful facility.  This has been a major council upgrade and our event is likely to be the first to utilise these new facilities. 

  • Bands who have booked, are welcome to set up their own tents on Thursday. 

  • The area will be fenced off, with overnight security on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. This new Tent City area is expected to be ideal for bands as they prepare then move through to the final tune up area. 

  • The walk from tent city to the final warm up area is very similar to the distance at Fielding 2016. The grounds where Tent city was located in 2015 will now be the final tune up area.

  • Tents must be booked, by completion of your band questionnaire by Friday 17th February!  They are $125 per tent and must then be paid by 28th February. If you wish to erect a tent or marquee you must also inform us of this if you wish it to be withing the bound of "Tent City".  Also, as part of the questionnaire.  

Information & Updates

The Contest Committee will post updates as more information becomes available. We will also produce a Souvenir Programme Book which will be on sale at the grounds - $5.00. A copy of the program and the scheculed tuning times will be in your band pack which will be at your accommodaiton on arrival. We welcome your enquirers about any aspect of the Nationals. We are looking forward to an exciting weekend.

Helen Gilchrist 

Liaison Officer

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