The Photoplayer Restoration Trust

The Mazda Foundation has donated $4,150 to The Photoplayer Restoration Trust, to begin the restoration of New Zealand’s only known photoplayer.

A photoplayer is a musical instrument built between 1913 and 1927, specifically for playing during silent movies. The instrument consists of a piano, tambourine, drums and organ pipes, and also includes sound effects needed to accompany any silent movie.

The Mazda Foundation grant will go towards the purchase and transportation, from America to New Zealand, of original Wurlitzer photoplayer plans. These plans will be used to help restore New Zealand’s only remaining photoplayer.

Don Paynter of the Photoplayer Restoration Trust, says, “We believe that the history, uniqueness, and ties to the cinema in New Zealand make this photoplayer an instrument of national importance and a treasure that needs to be preserved for future generations.”

When the restoration work is complete, the photoplayer will be stored in the Deluxe Theatre, Opotiki, and will sing again during the Opotiki Silent Film Festival and other civic occasions.

The photoplayer has been registered with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage as an Object of Significant National Importance.