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Piping hot . . . Members of the Hokonui Celtic Pipe Band proudly show the trophies, including the Gordon Challenge Cup for highest points in grade 4A, which they won at the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships in Invercargill on Friday and Saturday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

The Hokonui Celtic Pipe Band has been enjoying the “surreal” experience of winning a national pipe band title.

The band won grade 4A at the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships in Invercargill on Friday and Saturday.

Band president Jeff Shanks said the win was unexpected.

“The guys thought they had played well but they didn’t think they were going to win it and that’s what probably made it more special and winning it by one point,” Mr Shanks said.

“It was quite surreal listening to your name getting called out.”

It had been a cool start on Friday morning when the band was the first to perform in the competition at 9am.

The tutoring that drummer Sam Darling, of Dunedin, and piper Liam Fairbairn, of Invercargill, had been giving the band had paid off, Mr Shanks said.

The band had been working on getting the pipers to achieve the same tone.

“We’ve started listening with our ears.”

The 26-member band had also improved the quality of the sound it was producing.

“It’s the combining of the pipes and the drums, the snare drums and the tenor drums all together to sound like one unit.”

There were 10 bands in grade 4A.

While the band had the option of going up a grade, a decision had not been made on that yet.

Piper Martyn Turnbull said it was the first time the band had won an event in the 35 years he had been playing.

“We got second once in 2003,” Mr Turnbull said.

“It was just a surreal moment to hear your name called out.

“Everyone gave a big yahoo, a big cheer.

“We finally knew what it was like to actually win.”

He was proud of the effort everyone had put in.

“It makes all the hours of practice worth it.

“Makes you want to get out and do it again.”

Bass drummer Darrin Taylor was in his third year of playing in the band.

“It was nerve-wracking.”

Next year’s event would be held in Napier.

Austyn Turnbull (13) and Maegan Mitchell (15) are two of the snare drummers in the band.

They were both pleased with the win.

“It was awesome because we’ve never won,” Austyn said.

“Very happy and proud to be in the band,” Maegan said.

The band had put in many hours of practice.

“A couple of times we were a little bit over it but it was definitely worth it all,” she said.

Piper Chloe Taylor (15) said she was surprised the band had won.

“We’ve never really won anything like nationals before.”

Winners.Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band. Grade 2: ILT City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band. Grade 3: Manawatu Scottish No 2. Grade 4A: Hokonui Celtic Pipe Band. Grade 4B: City of Rotorua Highland Pipe Band. Juvenile: ILT City of Invercargill Juvenile A.