Securing hosting rights for a national highland dancing competition is a real coup for Oamaru, North Otago Piping and Dancing Society vice-president Kimberley Mavor says.

In July, 270 dancers will travel from as far as Auckland and Invercargill in pursuit of a national title at the New Zealand Highland and National Dancing Championships in Oamaru.

Mrs Mavor said the event was “huge” for the highland dancing community and for Oamaru.

“It’s quite an honour to win,” she said.

“It’s what they all aim for.”

North Otago Piping and Dancing Society president Marlene McKerrow said the national event was the “pinnacle” for highland dancers.

Mrs McKerrow’s daughter Donna Wech, who won the competition as a young woman, was returning as a judge. Mrs Wech would be joined by four other judges approved by the Piping and Dancing Association of New Zealand, which was in charge of the event.

The Oamaru Opera House would host the national championship for senior dancers and a regional competition for juniors. Competitors will range in age from 5 to 26 years-old.

Juniors did not have a national competition, but Mrs Mavor said young children looked up to the older dancers.

By holding the regional and national competitions at the same time, the juniors felt as though they were at the big league and had something to aspire to.

It was also a good opportunity for local dancers to get a taste of national competition, giving them something to work towards, she said.

The national event had taken two years of fundraising and planning to prepare for, and the society was still on the look out for sponsors. Contributions from sponsors would go towards sashes, prizes and medals.

The competition would be held across four days, from July 15 to July 18, and would be open to the public to watch.