Hanover Hall opens with PM's tributes

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dunedin Symphony Orchestra board president Ruth Houghton give...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dunedin Symphony Orchestra board president Ruth Houghton give 15-month-old Eve Murray her chance to shine at the official opening of Hanover Hall in Dunedin yesterday. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH
When Cally McWha and Lloyd Williams first laid eyes on the former Hanover Street Baptist Church, the historic stained glass windows were boarded up, there were holes in the roof and there was a horrid smell emanating from within.

Most people would have turned on their heels and walked out, but the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra members had other ideas.

"I remember this time really vividly. Lloyd and I looked at each other and we figuratively punched the air and said 'Yes' in unison.

"This is where the orchestra should be.''

The Dunedin couple bought the building and three years later, with much help from the orchestra and the public, it has been transformed into Hanover Hall - a community hub for the city's arts organisations.

It is the first time in the orchestra's five-decade history it has had a permanent home of its own.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern officially opened the facility yesterday in front of a large crowd of arts supporters.

She gave special praise to Ms McWha and Dr Williams.

"I'm astounded by the vision that you've had for this space and for seeing it through right to the very end.

"It's obviously paid dividends with the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, various musical productions, the Rotary club and even the Verlaines using this space.

"I want to applaud you both for that commitment to heritage, but also to music, so that others can enjoy it alongside you.

"Thank you for the work that you do with aspiring musicians to develop their orchestral skills ... and it's immensely beneficial, building those life skills and general wellbeing and confidence.

"Hanover Hall is a great example of the good that comes from shared values, shared commitment and more than just a little bit of vision.''


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