World stage beckons for St Andrew’s College bagpiper

Teen bagpiper Maggie McConnochie. Photo: Supplied
Teen bagpiper Maggie McConnochie. Photo: Supplied
By Claire Reid

A talented teenage bagpiper from Christchurch has been selected to take part in two of the most prestigious bagpiping competitions in the world.

Maggie McConnochie, 14, recently won the New Zealand Under 21 Piobrairechd and the Comunn na Piobairechd silver medal – and has since been invited to compete in seven competitions in Scotland in August.

It includes two of the most respected solo bagpiping events in the world, the Argyllshire Gathering and the Northern Meeting.

The St Andrew’s College student was the youngest person in the New Zealand awards categories.

“It feels pretty good, but it feels unreal. It’s really exciting,” she said of the result.

Maggie is likely to be the youngest taking part in Scotland, according to mum Delwyn, but says she tries not to let nerves get the better of her.

“I do get a bit nervous, sometimes,” she said. 

“But I don’t get too nervous – I feel like I’m prepared and try not to think about it too much.”

Maggie spends between five and seven hours practising the bagpipes every week, alongside school, homework and sports.

She also plays at rest homes and took part in the Rolleston Anzac parade in 2023, and led the dawn service parade in Twizel this year.

Maggie first picked up the bagpipes when she was 9-years-old.

Under the tutelage of Richard Hawke (NZOM), she has gone from strength to strength.

“Maggie wouldn’t be the piper she is without the support of her tutors. She’s really grateful for Richard’s expertise and guidance,” Delwyn said.

Maggie hopes her success will inspire other girls to get into bagpiping. 

Females are significantly under-represented in the solo piping world, making up about just six per cent.

  • Maggie is self-funding her trip to Scotland, which will cost about $8600. She is selling cheese rolls and has set up a Facebook page – Piping Hot Cheese Rolls – where you can order and give her a helping hand.