How TMT started
After Peter retired from Montana Wines in 2005 and we moved to Napier, we thought it would be a good time in our lives to undertake some new venture involving our interests in children and music. We wanted to combine Peter’s passion for classical music and Pam’s interest in children and education. We could see that many children from low income families might never have the opportunity to experience learning to play a musical instrument.
We were also strongly influenced by the success of Peter’s NZSO initiative, where a group of musicians played annually in the Montana warehouse for the staff, whose response was always hugely enthusiastic.
We invited a small group of teachers and people interested in music to spend a weekend with us, and we worked out the aims (and name) of the Trust.
The teachers in the weekend group were enthusiastic about the benefits that have been proven to accrue with youth who become involved in such programmes – both their behavioural and general learning skills can be expected to improve.
One of this group works in South Auckland schools, and through this knew of Trevor Canute’s tremendous enthusiasm and commitment to his school. The same group member knew of Emma Featherstone’s music programme using wind and brass instruments, that she had introduced to schools in the Eastern Suburbs with outstanding success.
And so we began in 2006, with a class of Year 5 children at Papatoetoe West School, a large collection of wind instruments, and a wonderfully dynamic teacher, Heather Keys.
By the end of the year the group was sufficiently experienced to perform on a float in the Papatoetoe Santa Parade, playing in front of thousands of enthusiastic spectators.
2007 saw the beginning of a second class at Papatoetoe West, and the progression of the original class to become the “Intermediate Band”. None of this could have eventuated without the support and encouragement of the school Principal, Trevor Canute and his staff.
In 2008 another beginner band was begun at Puhinui school, and we also enlisted a fantastic team of three string teachers led by Rachel Snelling to introduce a string group at Papatoetoe East Primary.
In 2009 another beginner group was introduced at Papatoetoe East Primary, and a second wind group at Puhinui, so there were now about 50 children learning string instruments and about 100 learning wind instruments through the Tironui Music Trust. All these children were performing in public regularly, in their own schools, in kindergartens and neighbouring schools, and even in public concerts and competitions with considerable success.
First Intermediate school
Our original plan was to have a 4-year programme, from Year 5-8, but because the three schools taking part at that time were all contributing schools rather than full primaries, this was not possible. Having watched the project grow gradually and successfully for 4 years, we felt it was time to approach the local Intermediate schools to discuss the way forward for our Year 6 graduates.
As a result, in 2010 our first Year 7 orchestra started at Papatoetoe Intermediate. The children were very excited to find that their music teachers from primary school were still going to be teaching them, and enthusiasm ran high amongst both teachers and students.