Author(s): Kristine Moffat
The phrase 'colonial New Zealand piano' immediately and inevitably conjures up the image of the grand piano on a deserted beach that is the leitmotif of Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano: both a powerful symbol of the incongruity of the piano in this context, its status as 'alien' intruder, and a moving testimony to the personal and cultural value of the instrument that accompanied its owner to the far side of the world. Did nineteenth-century European settlers share the fictional Ada McGrath's passionate attachment to her instrument? Was the instrument particularly valued by middle and upper class women, or did it transcend gender and class divides? How did Maori react to the melodies the piano released? Were the sounds it produced, in terms of both sonority and repertoire, affected by the new environment? What kinds of physical places did pianos occupy? This book attempts to answer these questions and in so doing to thus gain an understanding of the place and significance of the piano in colonial New Zealand culture and society.