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 New Zealand Organ Manufactory



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Dr Ron Newton

Organa Cantuariensia



New Zealand Organ Museum


Oamaru's Historic Quarter



The big event in August was also one of the biggest events in the history of the Manufactory: moving the workshop from Harbour Street to Meek's Mill in the centre of Oamaru.  We had been in the old grain store in the Historic Quarter for ten years, and it had become too small.  Lack of separate storage areas had always been a problem, and so the end of the lease gave us the opportunity to move to something more commodious.  Meek's Mill was suggested and with a number of helpers, three vans and a trailer, we began the massive exercise of moving.  I didn't realise how much valuable, historic material (i.e. junk) we had accumulated, but thanks to Ryan, Daniel, Mark, Cheyanne, Reg, Doug and Etienne everything was moved out and cleaned in readiness for the next leasee.

Meek's Mill is one of the oldest and became the largest of North Otago's 35 flour mills, still operating in the 1970s.  The space the Organ Manufactory and Museum has moved into is the oldest part of the building, adjacent to the Oamaru Creek, and across from Takaro Park.  It is immediately behind the Town Clock in Thames Street, so is easy to find.


The whole interior had to be cleaned from countless decades of mill dust.  Repairs and painting of rooves, windows and doors will be ongoing, but the eventual results will be spectacular.  What other Organ Museum do you know of that has a tower and an oat malting room?


Our September tuning round was marked by three recitals.  The first was at St. Matthew's in Masterton, the first recital in National Organ Week; the second at St. Matthew's in Hastings, as part of the famous Blossom Festival; and the third at St. Cuthbert's in Manaia as a celebration of the organ overhaul we undertook a few years ago, with the Hawera handbell choir joining in.

Joe and I spent a couple of days on a marae at Kawhia completing the restoration of the Methodist church reed organ, which was followed by an informal recital for a group who had arrived there for a retreat.

Another notable feature of this month was the mammoth task of dismantling the pipe organ in St. Matthew's church in Hobson Street, central Auckland, in preparation for the arrival of the new Willis organ.  This large 1940 Lawton & Osborne instrument was taken to pieces, all the pipes wrapped and labelled, and removed to Holy Trinity Cathedral for temporary storage.  Quite a large section of the church was filled with the bits and pieces in preparation for removal, but Joe, Terrence, Shaun and I remained undaunted.  The various parts are for sale, and a substantial number of the ranks of pipes are finding new homes.