The celebrated New Zealand Aria is on again here in Rotorua next week. The annual competition is being held Thursday 25th and Friday 26th October with the finals night on Saturday 27th October. Many locals will remember it as the Lockwood Aria but the competition’s origins go back 72 years to 1946.
The first annual festival was held by the Rotorua Competitions Society from Friday 10th to Wednesday 15th May 1946. The festival included choirs, dancing, elocution and instrumental acts.
|Public notice advertising first annual festival. Source: Rotorua Morning Post, Thursday 9 May 1946, p. 1.|
In 1946 the Wellington-based judges were Mr. Hamilton Dickson (music – vocal and instrumental), Mr. Barton Ginger (elocution), and Miss Irene Stone (dancing).
Mr. Barton Ginger said ‘the society is to be congratulated on its initial venture, and I trust it will become an annual attraction in Rotorua.’
The Rotorua Morning Post reported in 1947 that the 2nd annual festival saw approximately 50 per cent, more entries than the previous year. The competition has been going strong ever since.
|Public Notice. Source: The Waikato Independent, Monday 3 February 1947, p. 1. Courtesy of Papers Past.|
In 1993 the song section formed its own trust and the Aria part of the competition was held as a separate event. The Lockwood Group, which was formed in Rotorua in 1951 by Dutch immigrants, Johannes La Grouw Snr and Johannes Van Loghem, came on as the principal sponsor and the 48th Annual Festival was branded as the Lockwood Aria.
|1993 Aria winner Patricia Hughes, with Daphne Collins and Deborah Kapohe. Source: The Daily Post, Monday 18 October 1993, p. 1.|
In 2007 the Lockwood Aria was rebranded as the New Zealand Aria. The 2007 event featured a performance by then 18 year-old Rotorua-born singer Elizabeth Marvelly.
The 2018 Aria competition is being held at the Rydges Hotel. The finals night is at Destiny Auditorium on Saturday 27th October.
|2007 New Zealand Aria. Source: The Daily Post, Saturday 3 November 2007, p. B13.|
|2018 New Zealand Aria. Source: The Daily Post, Saturday 6 October 2018, Entertainment, p. 2.|
With thanks to Rotorua Morning Post, The Daily Post, and Papers Past for the above information and photos.
This was post was written Graeme.