Vagabond Tim
I had intended to attend the Highland games in Auckland but due to unforeseen circumstances I will not be going. I was however able to weasel a ride from Christine Rhodes to spend some time with one of the featured pipe bands as they practiced in the week previous to the event.

The Whangarei & County Pipe Band was formed in 1936 and despite appearances I am told none of the weird old fellows I spent time with as they practiced were actually members at the time.
The 38th Annual Auckland Highland games is also known as the world gathering although I am fairly certain that worldwide there are more than the nineteen clans in attendance. Clan Macleod has the senior position this year although I am not altogether certain what that actually means other than that there will be numerous yellow tartans fluttering about the place.

The smallest of the clans should field about five members, with some sending as many as thirty. The various non-Scottish folks in attendance will cause the rather small grounds to be fairly packed and somewhat confusing, if any information is needed simply find the nearest man in a skirt and ask away.

I should also thanks David Harvey, one of the beskirted men I mentioned earlier, for answering many of my questions and pointing me to several websites for additional information.

Among the many Highland games events in New Zealand the one in Auckland is strangely not the largest despite Auckland being far and away the largest population center in the country. The upcoming festival in my home base of Waipu, with a population of around 1500 people, is larger and has been running yearly for a far longer period of time due in large part to the much more heavily Scottish ancestry of the town than the country in general.

The noise made by a dozen bagpipes in one place is indescribable

pipers marching forward

They manage to look somewhat menacing when marching directly at you while enveloped in a tactile wall of sound, a sonic shield if you will

piper

After watching this fellow hold a note for close to a minute I came to realize even attempting to learn to play the bagpipes could result in loss of life.

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