The passing of John MacGibbon late last month has left a huge gap in musical theatre not only locally but throughout New Zealand.

John, a retired farmer, made contributions to entertainment and culture which have resulted in the enjoyment for thousands throughout his career spanning nearly 60 years.

Raised on a Waitahora sheep/beef farm, he attended Dannevirke High School before returning to run the farm, then marrying Edith and raising three sons and more recently enjoying his five grandchildren.

During his time on the farm John used his many handyman skills to renovate the house and build an 18ft cabin cruiser which led to many great holidays at Taupo.


He was always trying to innovate to raise additional money converting old sheep into dog tucker rolls, contract weed-spraying using a boom added to his Land Rover, raising goats, selling frozen chickens, travelling around the North Island with Williams & Kettle wool buyers conducting woolshed demonstrations and was part of the New Zealand Wool Board stand one year at Hamilton's Mystery Creek Fieldays.

His expertise extended to electrical and sound technology for which he developed a huge reputation throughout New Zealand in later life, setting up his own company ML Consultants after he sold the farm, providing the technology for shows and other major functions.

John had always been interested in musical theatre, learning the bagpipes at a young age then moving to other musical instruments including clarinet and saxophone.

He was part of the very popular Blue River Dance Band which entertained almost every weekend for nearly 40 years from Hawke's Bay to Wairarapa.

John joined the Dannevirke Choral Society in 1961 and was a life member of the Dannevirke Theatre Company. He took part in and directed several productions and became the technical go-to man for nearly all its major productions in the past 50 years.

He was elected to the National Executive of Musical Theatre New Zealand in 1980 and was national president as well as being made a life member. He was also on the New Zealand Amateur Arts Assembly for a number of years.

John was committed to other local Dannevirke organisations including Dannevirke Host Lions, singing in Lions Pride as well as providing all its technology and becoming president in 2005.

He was a proud Fantasy Cave Dweller famous for his ability to make "widgets out of wodgets", less than successful buying the weekly lottery ticket and infamous for organising its members on tours of both the North and South Islands.


John's funeral was held at St John Anglican Church but the reception was located in the Dannevirke Town Hall at John's request, admitting not long before his death it was "his happy place".