11 months ago

Selwyn Times: August 08, 2017

12 Tuesday

12 Tuesday August 8 2017 Latest Christchurch news at Our People SELWYN TIMES Allan McKenzie Bagpipes help Rolleston man to Rolleston’s Allan McKenzie, 48, helps run the Ellesmere Highland Pipe Band and leads the Canterbury Caledonian Society band. He spoke to Georgia O’Connor-Harding I hear getting involved in the Ellesmere Highland Pipe Band cured you of your asthma? I started out when I was 12. I was told it was supposed to help your lung capacity. It certainly does. If I go to the doctor now I can blow the peak flow metre to about 750. I think it goes out to 800. A normal person can’t blow that far. It has definitely helped me. Do you get asthma attacks? No. I used to suffer as a kid with bronchitis and in those days we never had inhalers so you just lived with it. I did have an attack when I was about 16. But from that point on I have been great. The asthma attack I had was awful, I was driving at the time. I wasn’t sure what triggered it. I think I got wet. Who gave you the advice to go play for the pipe band? Family. I had an uncle who was good at it. My father started to learn as well – it was in the blood. Bagpipes are an awesome option because you can take them anywhere. You can play at all sorts. I started in Oamaru, but most of my piping time was in Dunedin. I played for Maggie’s Garden Show. I played for the All Blacks at Larnach Castle. I got to meet the Royal Family when they came over. I didn’t play for them – you have got to be pretty special to do that. I met Prince Edward. What did you think of him? I was pretty nervous. It was a long time ago, but he was like a normal person. Seeing the All Blacks up close was pretty special. I played for the Government. It is amazing when you look back at all you have done. What was the highlight? I played at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. That has probably been the pinnacle for me. That was for the Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band based in Christchurch. We had never HERITAGE: While playing at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow Allan McKenzie visited the Applecross peninsula, where his ancestors are from. been out of New Zealand – pretty amazing. It was about three years ago. New Zealand has a great reputation for producing good bagpipers. Why is that? We have a good infrastructure. I am involved in a trust where we send people over to Scotland to learn. Then they come back and they teach here. Everyone has got to start somewhere. There is the Rolleston Piping and Drumming School. I help them out the best I can. I have also taken over the Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band as pipe manager based in Christchurch. Does your family have their own tartan? There is a McKenzie tartan and I do wear that. I am very proud of that. In fact, when we went over to the world champs, we visited where the McKenzies came from. They are from the Scottish Highlands. I played the bagpipes on the hills. It was quite an eerie feeling so I got out of the car and had a tune. It was lucky we had a wee bit of family history. Applecross is where our family is from but I am Kiwi born and bred. That is another advantage of being in the pipe band – you get to travel. DESIGNER FASHION AT OUTLET PRICES SMART BRANDS SMARTER PRICES HORNBY 409 Main South Road | Open 10am–5pm, 7 days

SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at Tuesday August 8 2017 13 breathe easy and see the world Do you enjoy a whisky? When I was in Dunedin I did a bit of work in tourism and we got sponsored by Wilsons whisky. They didn’t know my name so they called me Jock Wilson – I was always called that by the old guys. I was brought up to drink the whisky neat. Some of the old guys used to say to me if it was made to have water, it would have water in it. The Scottish call it the water of life. I was always told by the old guys, haggis and bagpipes go together and, of course, whisky too. You always toast the haggis with whisky. In fact, I played at the world record for the largest haggis at Larnach Castle some years ago. They had a world record for who could make the biggest haggis. Are you related William Wallace, the Scottish legend? There is a statue of him in Dunedin, but no, I am not related to him. But I have played by the statue of him in Dunedin a few times. The bagpipes certainly need to be played by someone who knows what they are doing. A lot of people haven’t been shown how to play properly. There is a school in the summer in Christchurch for pipers and drummers. The resources are there – we’ve never had that before. What do you think of the music scene in Selwyn? The beauty about bagpipes for younger people is you can take the instrument anywhere and play it. Could be a birthday party or funeral. That is how versatile they are. You can entertain people anywhere. You learn about competing, how to plan and design. There is a saying we have – the will to win is worthless without the will to prepare. The pipe band does lots of good things for you – you meet some great business people and because you entertain, you get over shyness quite quickly. Does your immediate family share an interest in playing the bagpipes? My wife is a highland dancer. We have been married 28 years. Both of our kids have been brought up with the bagpipes. In the past, Callum has played the base drum and Braedyn has played a little bit on the bagpipes. I understand you help out OUT IN THE OPEN: Allan McKenzie out hunting for game with his son Callum. at the Rolleston Piping and Drumming School? There are bagpipers all over the district. There is a hub of bagpipe players in Leeston and then there is a pod in Rolleston and there is an idea to bring them together. Rolleston has grown so much. A lot of people have put in work to get the Rolleston Piping and Drumming School going. There will be a lot of future bagpipe players coming from Rolleston. You have an interest in duck shooting? Yes, we don’t hunt for trophies, we hunt for food. Canterbury is just awesome. We shoot deer, tahr, we fish for salmon and trout. Do you have a favourite hunting spot? I like to get up in the hills. It gives me quiet time – it is so relaxing. We go duck-shooting as well and sometimes go high up by the Rakaia – it is a pretty special place. You can be sitting up on the Rakaia River and you can look up at the hills and you can see the lights of Mt Hutt. The most special part is going out with my kids. Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Selwyn? I work for a great company called Foodstuffs. I moved from Invercargill. I have been all over the South Island actually, but we have assembled here. I lived around Dunedin, Timaru, Oamaru, Invercargill and, in all those areas I have lived in, I have been involved with the local pipe bands. Pipes are a polarising instrument. What do you think? The neighbours don’t tend to complain. They are a stirring instrument there is no doubt about that. But I have never been told to stop. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it. Sheffield Volunteer Fire Brigade mud plug 27 TH AuguST - STARTS 10Am RAIN dATE 3 Rd SEpTEmBER no alcohol no dogs gumboots essential hot food and drinks available • $30 PER FAMILY • $10 ADULTS • UNDER 15 FREE • held at the property of derek bull farm - cnr of main west coast road and waimak gorge road sheffield FOR further enquiries phone nev on 021 650 554 or graeme on 027 604 1824