Diva leaves home in shaken city

By Abby Gillies

Dame Malvina Major is leaving her home - Waianiwa Homestead in Canterbury - after 15 years for a new challenge in her home town of Hamilton. Photo / supplied
Dame Malvina Major is leaving her home - Waianiwa Homestead in Canterbury - after 15 years for a new challenge in her home town of Hamilton. Photo / supplied

Internationally renowned opera singer Dame Malvina Major is saying goodbye to earthquakes and her Christchurch house to take up a position in her home town.

The Hamilton-born singer, 68, will start a role as a teacher and ambassador at the University of Waikato in February.

Leaving the 1.37 ha homestead after more than a decade was heart-wrenching, but it was the right time to make the move and the ongoing earthquakes since September 2010 had made the decision easier, she said.

"I understand that people are terrified of them (earthquakes). It's been 15 years of my life and heart which is really hard to give up but there comes a moment," Dame Malvina told APNZ.

A plan to expand Canterbury University's music department had also been stopped as a result of quakes, and the changed city was "not a nice place to be".

She was excited about taking up the new role and being closer to her children in Taranaki and Auckland.

Dame Malvina said she hoped her property - Waianiwa Homestead - near Hororata and 42km from Christchurch Airport, would be maintained and enjoyed by a new owner.

"It's better to know when to step back than to be told you have passed your use by date."

The restored six-bedroom property, which includes a landscaped garden, library and two studios where Dame Malvina works on her music, is being marketed by Bayleys will be auctioned on February 16.

The site could be adapted to a homestay or lodge or the gardens could be used for weddings and private functions, said Bayleys agent Jeremy Gould.

After winning the New Zealand Mobil Song Quest in 1963, Dame Malvina studied at the London Opera Centre and her international opera career has included several major operatic roles, musical composition and concerts.

She has had a long relationship with the University of Waikato, from whom she received an honorary doctorate in 1994.

Following a holiday break Dame Malvina will be preparing for the upcoming Hamilton Garden Arts Festival and a fundraising concert for the Waikato Breast Cancer Trust.

- APNZ

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