Landmark building alive with music

By Alexandra Newlove

2 comments
Whangarei Youth Music members Alex Winterton (left), Campbell Jones, Felicity Christian, Lee Jones, Frances Cristian-Farrow and Atawhai (centre left) and Purotu Martin as they move into the Old Library. Photo / John Stone
Whangarei Youth Music members Alex Winterton (left), Campbell Jones, Felicity Christian, Lee Jones, Frances Cristian-Farrow and Atawhai (centre left) and Purotu Martin as they move into the Old Library. Photo / John Stone

A Whangarei landmark will celebrate its 80th birthday with a new lease on life as it fills with young musicians.

Whangarei Youth Music (WYM) will make the iconic Old Library on Rust Ave their home by the end of this month, joined by sub-tenant music groups Sistema and Northland Sinfonia.

It would become a base for performances, rehearsals, lessons and administration.

President Felicity Christian said while the move was exciting, WYM's Anzac weekend move from their Lower Dent St building was also daunting.

"We've got five pianos, a massive music library and about 50 sound panels we have to take, so there's a lot to move.

"Hopefully lots of members will help out," she said.

WYM had called their Whangarei District Council-owned Lower Dent St building home for about three years, but it was time to move given the council was eyeing up the Hihiaua Peninsula as a site for future residential development.

WDC also owned the Old Library. "It's really nice to be by the new library where there's families passing by - for them to have the opportunities right there to learn music."

Ms Christian said she was grateful the council had given the non-profit trust the chance to be in such a prominent location, in an "historically significant" building which would turn 80 this year.

The group would continue on a $1-a-year peppercorn rental agreement with WDC, the same arrangement they had at the Dent St building.

WYM was one of 35 community groups to have such an arrangement with the council.

WYM's move-in date follows an administrative shambles at the Old Library last year. WDC was forced to take over management of the building in June 2015 after a restructure at Culture, Heritage & Arts Resource Trust (Chart) disestablished an incorporated society that was supposed to run the building and its bookings.

WDC property manager Mike Hibbert said the building's down time at the start of this year had been used to paint the interior and carry out much-needed maintenance. While finalising a new head tenant had taken longer than anticipated, Mr Hibbert said he was pleased with the outcome.

WYM would still be able to hire out the building for events but these would be more performance-based, Mr Hibbert said.

The Chamber of Commerce and Saralee Studio would stay on as WDC's tenants at the back entrance of the building.

Creative Northland - formerly Chart - would relocate its headquarters to the RSA Pavilion, also on Rust Ave.

Ms Christian said WYM offered a huge range of lessons and groups for beginner and experienced musicians.

She encouraged people to see whangareiyouthmusic.co.nz for details.

- Northern Advocate

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