Rolf Zweeger was in Whanganui on Saturday to see the carillon which his father gifted to the city almost 35 years ago.

Rolf's father, Tony Zweeger, was a founding member of the company Farm Equipment Ltd, one of the first firms to assemble farm equipment in New Zealand.

The company gifted the carillon on May 21, 1981, to mark the completion of their Whanganui factory.

"It was quite expensive to import farm machinery at that time ... so they decided to import the components and assemble them here," said Rolf.


The promise of the carillon was announced on April 16, 1980, during the initial opening of the factory.

It was meant to be completed months later, but delays meant it took over a year.

"At the time the idea was to give the carillon to the community in a few months, but it took longer to build the carillon than it did the factory."

The carillon is made up of 18 different-sized bells. It can be played manually via a keyboard under the tower or electronically to a pre-set tune.

Businessman Rolf says his visit was prompted by his father's praise for New Zealand and Whanganui.

"That was the reason I arrived. He told me he had seen a lot of the world and the two nicest places were New Zealand and South Africa, and New Zealand was definitely the nicest."

Tony Zweeger would visit New Zealand several times during the factory's construction.

"He said these are the two countries you should see before you die."

Rolf and his wife Tineke visited the carillon with mayor Annette Main and were pleased to see it still running.

"It still works ... every hour it plays. We were there at two o'clock and were surprised to hear it play. It was really nice."

The carillon was built in the Netherlands by Petit and Fritzen, a company that has been building carillons since 1660.

Located in Queen's Park, the carillon sounds hourly to mark the passage of time.