National Championships

The New Zealand Brass Band Championships is one of the world’s oldest running music competitions. The first contest was held on the 17th of April 1880 with an audience of 2500 people held in the Christchurch Drill Hall. Six bands competed and the audience chose the winner – the Invercargill Garrison Band, under the command of Captain W.E. Heywood.

The contest is held over 4 to 5 days with both junior and open solo competitions taking place on the first two days, followed by five sections of band events (A, B, C, D, and Youth Grades).

Hamilton 2019

The 139th National Brass Band Championships will be in Hamilton from 10 to 15 July 2019. The venue for all solo and ensemble events and A and B Grade stage band events is the Claudelands Arena. The C, D and Youth Grade band events will be at Southwell School. The Street March route is in the city centre.


Hamilton City Brass Band is hosting the contest. For general contest information, please visit the contest committee’s website  or Facebook page  

Alternatively, contact the chairman of the contest committee Malcolm Barr  or 021 606 428.


The Chief Adjudicator is Dr Luc Vertommen from Belgium, and the Assistant Chief is Major Graham Hickman. Stephen Leader from Christchurch is the Chief Military Judge.

Dr Luc Vertommen was born in Leest (Mechelen) where he made his first acquaintance with (wind) music through the local fanfare band. He studied cornet, music theory and piano at the music academies in Mechelen and Willebroek. Further musical studies resulted in a triple diploma – trumpet, music history and band conducting at the Lemmensinstitute in Louvain. He also obtained a first prize in chamber music at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, a master’s degree in conducting and Doctor of Musical Arts (2011) at Salford University, Manchester, (UK). He has immersed himself full-time in the world of band music as a brass teacher, player, conductor, arranger and writer.


Dr Vertommen conducts Brass Band Buizingen (Belgium), Brass Band Nord-pas de Calais (France) and is head of music school in Deurne (Antwerp). He can be heard on more than 25 highly acclaimed CD recordings and is editor and artistic director of Band Press VOF. He regularly is invited to conduct or adjudicate around Europe and obtained the International Buma Brass Award 2014 for his international work within the band movement. As an arranger, some of his arrangements (especially those made for fanfare band and brass band) are performed worldwide.

Major Graham Hickman DSD, FTCL, LTCL(T), Dip Man, Dip Applied Man, AIRMTNZ, AIMNZ, RNZIR.


Raised in Feilding, Major Graham Hickman learned to play the cornet with the Feilding Municipal Band.  While at high school he joined Wanganui City Brass and the RNZAF Base Ohakea Band as a territorial musician.


Graham enlisted into the New Zealand Army Band in 1985 and was posted to the 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment Band in Singapore from 1986 to 1988.  In 1992 he was appointed Senior Instructor of the New Zealand Army Band School of Music, and in 1999 he was appointed Bandmaster of the New Zealand Army Band. He held the position for five years before being appointed as the unit’s Administration Officer. In 2009 Graham was commissioned and in 2010 appointed as the New Zealand Army Band’s Director of Music.


As a performer, Graham has a rich and diverse musical background.  Having won national titles on both cornet and flugel horn he has also performed with groups as varied as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Big Band and the National Band of New Zealand.  He has toured extensively with various musical organisations within New Zealand and internationally. 


A talented and accomplished conductor, Graham has conducted a wide variety of ensembles including brass bands, orchestras, jazz bands, choirs and concert bands. Highlights include three years as the Musical Director of the National Youth Brass Band of New Zealand and eight years as the Musical Director of Christchurch’s Woolston Brass. During his tenure with this prestigious civilian brass band Graham led them to their most successful contesting years to date; winning the inaugural Australasian Championships in 2008 and gaining four consecutive Champion Band of New Zealand titles in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.


Graham is a Fellow of the Trinity College of Music, London and holds diplomas in performance, teaching and management.  An Associate of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers Graham has tutored and adjudicated nationally and internationally. In 2017 Graham was awarded the Distinguished Service Decoration for services to the New Zealand Defence Force and brass bands in the New Year Honours List.

The test music for the 2019 National Contest will be announced on Tuesday 12 March 2019.


The Closing Date for Entries is Saturday 11 May 2019


Please do not hesitate to contact the Contest Manager if you have any questions or concerns.  or 029 770 4588 or 03 960 8829

Contest Newsletter - Hamilton 2019
Contest Newsletter
Full Schedule - Hamilton 2019
Full Schedule - Hamilton 2019
Hall Timetable Wed/Thurs - 2019
Hall Timetable - Hamilton 2019
Show More

2020 National Championships in Christchurch 8 to 12 July


2021 National Championships in Wellington 7 to 11 July


2022 will be in the lower half of the South Island. Applications to host this contest close on 31 August 2019

© 2018 Brass Band Association of New Zealand 

  • w-facebook
  • White Instagram Icon
  • Twitter Clean