the dates that the earliest types of accordion were invented,
one would not expect accordions to be mentioned in any early
colonial literature of New Zealand, especially since New Zealand
is half way around the world from the centres of accordion
development. However a reference does exist in the journal
of Edward Jerningham Wakefield, one of the earliest English
colonists, and his entry from the 24th of September 1839 contains
an amusing reference to his use of an accordion:
named Te Kaeaea diverted us much by.....bringing a long pointed
wooden spear within inches of our bodies; then retreating
with a roar of laughter every time he saw us shrink from the
thrust.... I repaid him his surprise the first day that he
came on board. I had got an accordion under a large cloak,
and kept time to its notes with my mouth, so as to deceive
him and twenty other natives into the idea that I was uttering
the various sounds. They showed a profound respect for my
oratorical talents, until I let them find out the trick, a
day or two afterward. The accordion in question was called
my mouth for a long time afterwards".
that New Zealand's Maori inhabitants were not slow to perceive
the potential of the accordion for by 1901 they were using
it to accompany their own songs. Author Guy Scholefield writing
of events around the turn of the century, remarked that instruments
like the accordion and mouth organ were used as accompaniments
to Maori dances during the 1901 Royal visit of the Duke and
Duchess of Cornwall, and were also used to entertain the Prince
of Wales during his 1920 visit.
the 1920's, advertisements for "accordion pleated skirts,"
appeared in newspapers. One factory even called itself the
Accordion Pleating Company, a fact which indicates that accordions
were sufficiently known and popular, for a manufacturer to
consider it worthwhile associating his name and product with
the instrument. However it appears that the most significant
increase in accordion use and popularity occurred later in
the 1930 decade, to be eclipsed again in the 1950 decade and
continue in many respects to this day.
were several early type button accordions brought out on a
ship of Bohemian settlers in 1863. Surprisingly the brand
name was "Kiwi" (a native bird of New Zealand).
concertinas and some accordions were in New Zealand at earlier
times it seems that the year 1936 marked the beginning of
the growth of accordion marketing in New Zealand. In this
year sanctions (as they were described in a catalogue from
R. Harold Court of Sydney) were removed from Italian accordions.
This catalogue listed a number of brands that were available
to wholesalers at a third discount plus a 15% duty drawback
discount. It is at about this date that a number of New Zealanders
began taking an interest in the accordion. It would seem that
the first piano accordions came into New Zealand soon after
World War I.
visit of Arnie Hartman created the motivation that really
popularised the accordion in New Zealand. He demonstrated
what was possible on the accordion and this caught the attention
of many would be accordionists.
coincidence commenced much of the serious advancement achieved
by accordionists in New Zealand. Back in 1938 Allan Jones,
then a young accordionist attended a show in Auckland and
was amazed by Arnie's performance. The real coincidence was
that Arnie and Allan had booked in at the same hotel and were
seated together at the same table for breakfast the following
morning. From this chance meeting developed a life long friendship.
Arnie spent nearly a year in New Zealand as Allan's guest
and returned that favour with regular music lessons and accordion
World War II introduced the accordion to many New Zealanders.
A few years after it ended, the great growth of accordion
interest and advancement took place. Today, there remains
a steady growth in New Zealand.