Tawa’s volunteers recognised
Well-known music collector Leon Clements died last week, aged 89.
The Pukerua Bay man made national news in 2000 when he and wife Yvonne sold their unique collection of music paraphernalia to Porirua’s Pataka Museum for more than $400,000.
Darcy Nicholas was the council’s general manager of cultural services in 2000 and said at the time that it was the only collection of its kind in New Zealand.
More than $250,000 was spent on a new wing in the museum to house the collection.
The collection was gathered by Clements over 35 years and contained over 400 items, including mechanical reed organs, juke boxes, gramophones, phonographs, musical boxes and records dating back to the 1880s.
Sheet music from legends like Perry Como and Gene Pitney and a carved walnut organ owned by former Prime Minister John Seddon were among the items.
Porirua’s mayor in 2000, Jenny Brash, said at the time the council made the purchase to ensure it remained intact and in Porirua.
The deal created some controversy because the decision was made behind closed doors, catching Porirua residents by surprise.
‘‘It would have been an immense loss to the city if the collection had been split up or sold to overseas interests,’’ she said.
‘‘Mr Clements has been exceedingly generous in allowing the city to buy his collection for an amount significantly below its market value.’’
Clements, who was a farmer before retiring, had his collection open to the public year-round in Pukerua Bay, before the decision to sell to the council.
Between 2004 and 2009, he decided to refill his home-made museum, scouring antique shops, hunting down items lent to relatives and restoring dozens of his remaining instruments.
As reported by The Dominion Post in March 2009, tour groups began returning to the original Melody Farm – a four-alcove wing in the Clements’ home – which was filled with record players, accordions, radios and dozens of other musical items.
One room housed eight pianolas and at least 2000 rolls of music.
‘‘People of my age get so much pleasure and relaxation in being able to sing the music we grew up with,’’ he told The Dominion Post.
His wife Yvonne remarked at the time that she thought she had retired when the collection was sold to the council, but she had to start baking treats for visitors to their home again.
Leon Clements died on June 14. The community’s unsung heroes were recognised at the Tawa Community Civic Awards recently.
Hosted every two years by the Tawa Community Board, the awards are to show appreciation to those serving as volunteers, whether it be in a school, church, sports club, or community group.
This year mayor Celia WadeBrown presented 43 individuals and groups with awards.
The Arts and Culture category was won by teacher Murray Cameron who helps ensure the biennial Tawa Schools and Community Festival is a success.
The Tawa-Linden Plunket Committee was a joint winner in the Education or Child and Youth Development category for its hard work to replace its old building with a new facility that has brought all of its services under one roof.
Barbara Scott-Hill was the other winner because of the five years she has spent as the Hampton Hill School volunteer librarian.
The Heath and Wellbeing category was won by the The Redwood Club, which helps provides support for the elderly.
The Heritage and Environment category was won by Bruce Murray, the driving force behind the Tawa Historical Society.
Cricket Wellington director Robbie Kerr won the Sport and Leisure award for work with the Tawa Intermediate and College girls’ teams.