Town Hall Organ Gets a Makeover

19 November 2013

The Town Hall pipe organ is getting a makeover.

Two workmen.

Pipes from the Town Hall organ being removed


We’re taking a rare opportunity to remove and restore the organ - one of the few authentic Edwardian pipe organs in the world - while the Town Hall building is earthquake-strengthened.

This powerful musical instrument can compete with or complement any orchestra with its enormous range of notes - from deeper than a bass tuba to higher than a piccolo. And when the stops are out, the volume of sound vibrates the auditorium floor.

The Council’s Manager of Building Resilience, Neville Brown, says while some maintenance and restoration of the organ has been done during the past 100 years, it’s time for a major refurbishment to access parts we haven’t been able to reach before.

“We need to remove a wall and the floor to install the new base-isolator piles that will enable the building to move in a quake. To do this, we have to dismantle and remove the organ, including its 4000 pipes, four keyboards, pedals and bellows.”

The concert organ is known for its exceptional sound quality. Many international organists have performed with it and some have helped to save the instrument from being rebuilt and losing its unique qualities. Listening to the organ today, you hear the same sound as when it was first played in 1906.

Over the years, the organ has been part of many choirs, the NZSO, Festival of the Arts, civic receptions, silent films and all manner of ceremonies.

South Island Organ Company, who will be doing the restoration work, will put the organ back together and tune it ready for its first performance once the quake strengthening is completed in 2016.

NZ Lotteries has funded $847,900 of the $1.45 million needed to restore the pipe organ and carefully store it while the Town Hall is closed.

For more information and photos, see:
Town Hall Strengthening - The Organ