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Kindly reproduced from the book 'Without Fear Nor Favor' a history of the Auckland Police

Music, in one form or another, is a tradition with armies of the world, the origins for which have been lost in time.  Those traditions were carried into the Armed Constabulary in New Zealand, which itself, was for a time as much a military body as a Police unit.

By 1886 however there were no Police bands.  With small numbers of Police serving wide areas, and financial constraints in force, those Police officers who were able to play a musical instrument joined outside bands.

It was not until June 1945 that the Auckland Police Highland Pipe Band was formed, following a meeting at the Auckland Central Police Station - chaired by Constable Fred McKenzie.  The Commissioner gave his blessing to the band's formation and there followed three years hard work to find tutors, train bandsmen, obtain uniforms and equipment.

It took all of three years before the band was ready ready to perform in public, and following a weeks final training and practice at the Papakura Military Camp in South Auckland, the band took to the streets of Auckland on Sunday 29 August 1948, led by Drum Major Constable Bob Walton.  The Auckland Police Highland Pipe Band has been a show piece of the New Zealand Police ever since - and has had the distinction of being invited overseas on several tours.

Between 1945, when the decision was made to raise a Auckland Police Pipe Band was mooted, and 1948, when the band gave its first performance, it was joined by Regimental Sergeant Major William Cameron McQueen - from the Papakura Military Camp.  A perfectionist himself, he set about the task of turning civilian Police into marching performers.  On 20 and 21 November 1948, shortly after the bands first appearance, the Auckland Provincial pipe band contest was held at Auckland, at which the Auckland Police Highland Pipe Band was placed second in the street march section.  RSM McQueen died in 1974 as a lifetime member of the band.

The band has worn three tartans since its formation in 1945.

  • 1945 - 1965 - The McKenzie Tartan
  • 1965 - 1975 - The Black Watch Tartan
  • 1975 - present - Tartan of King George VI

The opening of the new Police College at Porirua in 1981 gave the first opportunity for all three bands of the New Zealand Police to appear at one time.  The Christchurch Police Brass Band formed in 1979.  The Wellington Police Highland Pipe Band formed in 1936.  Police General Instructions allow for the combination of the Auckland and Wellington bands into the New Zealand Police Highland Pipe Band wearing the King George VI Tartan.  The Christchurch Police Brass Band parade in Police uniform.

Today, the band performs with pride and distinction throughout the Auckland Region, at civic ceremonies, festive occasions, Police parades and open days, old peoples homes, hospitals, school galas, product launches etc.

The bands foundation members in 1945 were:

  • Detective Sergeant Bill Fell - Pipe Sergeant, Secretary,  and Treasurer
  • Constable Fred McKenzie - Pipe Major.
  • Constable Wallace Chalmers - Pipe Corporal
  • Constable Raymond Forsythe - Drum Major
  • R. Brien - Drum Sergeant

In the years from 1988 through to 1998 the band has performed with distinction and honour at several overseas locations including the Hawaiian Highland Games, Alaskan Highland Games, Java Highland Games in Indonesia, National Police Memorial Week in Washington DC. and performed at New Zealand Embassies at Jakarta Indonesia, and Washington DC. Click here to see the Bands Tour history.

Since 1998 the band has been in a rebuilding mode with several of its Police Officers members retiring and co-opting civilian members into the ranks. In 2002 under the leadership of Pipe Major Andrew Baker, and Drum Major Michael Brown, has so far seen the band perform at North Island contests in Paeroa and Wanganui - taking part in the street march events and playing in the evening Tattoo.  The APHPB also was a featured item in the Tri Services Parade ( click to see Media report) in Auckland City - commemorating the 50th Jubilee of HRH Queen Elizabeth 2nd. The band has formed a close liaison with the band of the Royal New Zealand Air Force - Auckland (Brass) and assisting it with Retreat Ceremonies, flag lowering and other military occasions where the two bands can combine. 

In May 2003 the two bands combined to put on its first combined concert in St Andrews Cathedral - arranged by the Police Chaplain.  At this time the NZ Police presented long serving member Piper Fraser Sim with a 20 years service certificate and a special thanks - Fraser has retired to Waipu.


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