Wellington Scoop

Wellington historian to write the story of the NZ Opera Company

News from Friends of the Turnbull Library
Historian Doug Munro of Wellington has been awarded the Friends of the Turnbull Library 2013 Research Grant of $10,000 to write a history of the New Zealand Opera Company 1954-1971.

‘Dr Munro’s work will cover an important period in the development of opera in this country from its early beginnings with single-act productions to a time when he says the New Zealand Opera Company became this country’s most important cultural institution after the National Orchestra,’ comments Rachel Underwood, President of the Friends.

Dr Munro has access to the extensive collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library which relate to his topic and which include the papers of his father, baritone singer Donald Munro, who has been called ‘the father of New Zealand opera’. In addition to accounts of the operas that were performed, Dr Munro plans to reveal what went on between productions and behind the scenes, the boardroom struggles and how the Opera Company functioned.

The Friends of the Turnbull Library Research Grant is intended to emphasise the distinctive contribution that a research and heritage library makes to public knowledge. It celebrates the significant role of ongoing research and publication based on the Alexander Turnbull Library collections and the knowledge of the staff. It is funded from income derived from two generous bequests, by David Bilbrough and Wesley (Bill) Secker.

The Friends received a number of high quality applicants for the grant this year. We look forward to increasing the size of the award as funds become available and encourage bequests for this purpose.

Previous grants have been awarded to Philip Norman for his biography of Douglas Lilburn; Tim Beaglehole for a biography of the historian JC Beaglehole; Alex Bremner to complete a study of colonial Anglican architecture; Paul Diamond for his photo-biography of Makareti (Maggie Papakura); Jennifer Shennan for her biography of dancer Poul Gnatt; Paul Meredith for a book based on the journey to England of the Māori King Te Rata in 1914; and to Philip Simpson for his book, Totara: Te Mahi a Rauru and to Charlotte Williams for a History of Relations between Māori and the National Party 1936-1996.