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Although better known for poultry and forestry, the small town of Herbert, in North Otago, is the unlikely home of the largest display of pipe organs in New Zealand.
Oamaru musicologist and organ builder Dr Ron Newton, over the last two and a-half years ''with the help of a lot of friends'', has been collecting the instruments and putting them together in the New Zealand Organ Museum, now housed in the 1866 original chapel at St John's Presbyterian Church.
''So that's 250 pipe organs opened in New Zealand churches and schools in a 35-year period, which is quite remarkable considering the population,'' Dr Newton said. ''But it was simply because, in 1895, New Zealand suddenly came out of a depression and because of a change in taxation rules, it made it very easy for anyone to build a pipe organ.
Herbert's New Zealand Organ Museum, now only houses six pipe organs but the trust that runs the museum has ''quite a lot of instruments in storage around the country''.
''We have enough instruments to fill two or three museums of this size,'' Dr Newton said yesterday.
The 1885 Sandford pipe organ from Lyttelton, the first instrument acquired by the museum in 1989, is understood to be the last pipe organ heard played by Captain Robert Falcon Scott before his ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition in 1910.