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Support Letter for Funding

David Groves - 12/07/2012

93A Wellington Road, Paekakariki - -04 905 7465

To Whom It May Concern

I am writing in support of any application that Mary Gow may be making for funding to help her continue with the organisation of the extraordinary series of concerts held in the Memorial Hall in Paekakariki.

When my wife and I moved to Paekakariki in 2002, we knew it to be a unique place. Within easy reach of Wellington and with a marvellous situation, it had, and retains, a reputation for the vitality and richness of its community life.

Into the breach stepped Mary Gow, who has lifted the concerts back to the highest standards, through her network of contacts with many of the most renowned musicians practising in New Zealand. The fact that Michael Houstoun and Diedre Irons are willing to return time and again to play in this small hall is indicative of the incredible privilege we now enjoy. The concerts have in the past attracted, and now again attract, audiences from outside Paekakariki, from Wellington and the Embassies there, and from persons visiting from overseas (I personally can vouch for this).

In addition, the programme is not narrow in an exclusive high-falutin’ way. Brass bands and jazz harmonic players are terrific drawcards too. The thoughtful, wide-ranging and adventurous programming has meant that we have also heard pieces of New Zealand music written by composers when resident in, or inspired by, Paekakariki and the Kapiti Coast. Mary Gow does not “play it safe”. We have been privileged to hear modern works hardly or never heard before, which is terrific thrill, but a financial challenge I am sure.

Mary Gow’s motto, like that of Peter Walls the successful C.E.O of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (a number of whose section leaders have performed in Paekakariki - and Peter Walls himself has also been seen in the Paekakariki audience) seems to be the brave and optimistic one of “Never underestimate your audience”, so here in Paekakariki we are not likely to get stuck in a rut of the same old classics performed time and again.

The size of the hall and the resident population is not however big enough to sustain all of the costs on anything like a user-pays basis (hardly any cultural event throughout the whole world can). Publicity is of course an absolute and costly necessity - the lack of any advertising was one of the major factors for the swift shipwreck at Southward. A number of Wellingtonians regret not having heard about a particular concert sufficiently in advance.

The situation has worsened in this respect by the recent folding of the excellent local monthly community newspaper, the Paekakariki Xpressed.

Mary works with extraordinary energy and dedication, taking time out from her own music-making career to make all this possible. Her devotion to the local and the wider community is perhaps best illustrated by the concerts that she organised both here and in Brussels, where she also spends part of the year, fund-raising for the Christchurch earthquake relief appeal. The number and quality of performers that Mary was able to attract (almost too many!) is a testimony to her personal and organisational skills in attracting the highest possible talent.

Together with the Surf Club and the sporting activities in Campbell Park and at the brilliant new tennis courts and the bowls lawn (alas, too prone to flooding); the increasingly flourishing activities centred on St. Peter’s Hall and the other fine events held in the Memorial Hall, plus the entertainments organised by Kevin and Nancy in the pub; the Railway Museum staffed by a splendid team of volunteers; the activities centring on Paekakariki School, Te Ra and the Play Centre; and the annual Arts Trail and everything else that goes on our diverse community - together with all these and more, the concerts organised by Mary Gow are an essential part of the mix of activities that make Paekakariki such a special place and a pole of attraction for others.

The experience of one of the fine concerts in the Memorial Hall by the sea at sunset on a summer’s day has to be seen and heard to be believed.

I thus commend the series to your consideration for any public or private funding for which Mary Gow applies.

David Groves

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