The largest, and last theatre organ to arrive in New Zealand in 1929 was the instrument for the beautiful 3,500-seat Eberson-style atmospheric Civic Theatre in the heart of Auckland,and was the Wurlitzer’s Opus 2075, a 3-manual 16-rank Style 260 “Special”.
The console was mounted on a “worm-drive” turntable lift that is believed to be one of the highest organ lifts in the world. Resting at the foot of a large well, the console lift had to rise an entire 20 feet before coming into view of the patrons. The spiral then ascended another 17 feet before the audience in the seats of the Grand Mezzanine could see the organist, who then entertained theatre patrons from a dizzying height of 37 feet!
The organ was purchased by Sir Len Southward and opened in 1983,at his car museum in Paraparaumu, just north of Wellington, in a theatre especially constructed for its use with chambers installed on either side of the auditorium, and with the console on a turntable lift . The Civic/Southward Wurlitzer has been played by many touring artists from around the world, performs many concerts and accompanies silent movie presentations.
Text via Mr Eric Kearney
Watch this Youtube video of the Civic Theatre Wurlitzer Organ played by Don Thompson at Southward Museum