Piano Forte - Stories and Sounds from Colonial New Zealand
In 1827 the newly wed Elizabeth Mair arrived in Paihia, on board the mission schooner Herald. Her treasured Broadwood grand square piano accompanied her, almost certainly the first piano to arrive in New Zealand.
This instrument and the thousands of other pianos that followed provided European settlers with a reassuring sense of ‘home; and at the same time introduced Maori to a new sounds world. For both, it offered opportunities for social and cultural activities, and, as time went by, a possible career.
Piano Forte is composed of many voices, as it draws on memoirs, diaries, letters, concert programmes, company records, fiction and visual images. The stories end in 1930, when the increasing popularity of the phonograph, the radio and the introduction of talkie movies were beginning to have a profound impact on people leisure activities. But by 1930, the piano had thoroughly settled in, no longer a stranger but a loved, essential part of New Zealand society.
Otago University Press (Dec, 2011)