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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Bands: Past and Present

Bands: Past and Present

Early in 1872 there was a “wood instrument band” at Ormond under Mr. Clements. Some Gisborne bandsmen, who owned their own instruments, assisted an orchestra known as “The Musicale.” The Gisborne Brass Band was formed on 5 April, 1873. Its first conductor was H. M. L. Atcherley, who had been the conductor of the Wairoa Brass Band. Under Thomas Faram, the band became the J Battery Band in December, 1878. When it was re-formed in March, 1886. under S. G. Poppelwell, it was again attached to J. Battery. The title “City Band” was first used in 1888, when Tom Morrison was the conductor. In turn, the band became associated with other military units, and, temporarily, appeared under other designations.

The first contests which the City Band attended were held at Masterton in 1903. At Gisborne, in 1912, A. E. Lawrence led it to victory in B grade. Under C. Chesterton, at Nelson, in 1921, it tied for first place in B grade against stronger competition. In A grade, at Wellington, in 1922, the band, under Mr. Chesterton, was highly praised for its fine performance in the second test piece, in which it was placed second. Life memberships were awarded in 1947 to the following veteran players: W. Harris (39 years), A. Sebire (38 years) and V. Norman (36 years).

When the Whataupoko Band was formed in 1895, under T. Aston, it had only nine members, who practised “under the canopy of the heavens,” but a Fair and Art Union in 1901 enabled it to buy a full set of instruments at a cost of £350. Bands page 382 sprang up soon afterwards at Te Karaka, Tolaga Bay and Port Awanui. The Whataupoko Band became the Gisborne Rifles Band in April, 1901, with D. McKillop as conductor. In 1907 some of its members joined the City Band, whilst others, under Mr. McKillop, formed the Private Band, which, later, became known as the Federal Band.

The Gisborne Military Band was formed in 1931, with R. Wyke as conductor. It was, at the outset, a reed and brass band. In 1939 G. H. Douglas succeeded Mr. Wyke. The Gisborne Home Guard Band was organised in 1941 from the Military Band to furnish music for the Home Defence units. Mr. Douglas accepted the conductorship in an honorary capacity. There are also two pipe bands in Gisborne—the Poverty Bay Pipe Band (incorporated in 1940) and the Gisborne Highland Pipe Band (incorporated in 1946).

A Drum and Fife Band, established in connection with Cook County Rifles, made its first public appearance at Ormond in February, 1886.

Established in 1886, the Gisborne Salvation Army Band has proved a valuable local institution, as well as a useful adjunct to its parent organisation. Its nucleus consisted of only two instrumentalists—Bro. Tremain (cornet) and Bro. Stuckey (drum).