The Dargaville Museum (New Zealand) presents...
'Accordion Gems' by Kevin Friedrich
...A Master Collection of Accordions through Time...

Aratapu Library Purchased - June 2006
Dedication of the Accordion Gems Display - 3 December 2006
Aratapu Library relocated to Harding Park - January 2007
Grand Opening of New Music Wing at the Dargaville Museum - 21 October 2007 at 1:00 PM
Launching of Accordion Gems Exhibit in Display Cabinets - 29 March 2009

A Kiwi First: Unique Collection Squeezes into Dargaville!

Dargaville, just 2½ hours north of Auckland and a short hop from the largest Kauri Tree and the longest drivable beach in New Zealand, recently inherited an International claim to fame… the Kumara capital now has more than 8,000 buttons and keys connected by hundreds upon hundreds of bellows pleats, as it hosts the only exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere of ACCORDIONS!
WHAT? "Accordion Gems by Kevin Friedrich, A Master Collection of Accordions through Time" is the anchor display in the Music Room, the newest addition of the Dargaville Museum.
WHY? To pay tribute to the rich musical heritage of the area! Many are surprised to learn that Dargaville, a rural country town of some 4,000 people at the time, was once home to numerous accordion orchestras/bands spread over four sizable accordion studios, in addition to the Dargaville Town Brass Band, the Dargaville Pipe Band, the Yugoslav Tamburica Orchestra and Dancers, String Orchestra, Choirs, the Dargaville High School Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Band, Concert Band, as well as soloists such as Mark Williams and others who went on to excel in the music field.
Dargaville born Kevin Friedrich, an accordionist who has made his home in New York City for many years now, has worked over the last several years to bring his unique and exotic collection of accordions dating from the early 1800's back to his home town. Dargaville rallied behind this unusual undertaking, and with strong community spirit and support from Council and Museum officials, service clubs, residents and outside supporters, the fund raising efforts and volunteer work have managed to bring the dream of a Music Room wing to house the accordions to fruition.
SQUEEZABLE TREASURES? Yes indeed! The display features over 100 beautiful instruments dating back to the early 1830's, and from there, the collection highlights accordion evolution throughout the years. You'll see more buttons, keys, bellows and rhinestones in various shapes, colors and sizes than you could possibly imagine! In addition, there are historical original accordion manuscripts, recordings and even 300 ceramic accordion figurines!
WHEN? The display was dedicated on December 3, 2006 at the conclusion of a sold out fundraising concert in the Dargaville Town Hall. On regular occasion, music fills the Kaipara air, bellows are squeezed, keys and buttons pushed and feet tap as the instruments are brought back to life in their new home. The following is the official timeline of the Accordion Gems exhibition:
Aratapu Library Purchased - June 2006
Dedication of the Accordion Gems Display - 3 December 2006
Aratapu Library relocated to Harding Park - January 2007
Grand Opening of New Music Wing - 21 October 2007 at 1:00 PM
Launching of Accordion Gems Exhibit in Display Cabinets - 29 March 2009
WHERE? This spectacular visual panorama of buttons and keys awaits you at the Dargaville Museum located on Mt. Wesley in Harding Park on the south end of Dargaville. Located by the site of an old Maori pa, Po-tu-Oterangi, the Museum grounds offer magnificent views of Dargaville, Tokatoka, Maungaraho, the Tangihua Mountain Ranges and the historic Northern Wairoa River.
NEED TO CONTACT SOMEONE? If you would like more information, priority access to photograph the instruments, a quiet moment to try pushing some buttons yourself, someone to talk to, or if you just have to see it to believe it… we can SQUEEZE you in to this 'unique' Kiwi odyssey! Please contact:
Dargaville Museum
Phone: +64 (09) 439-7555
Kevin Friedrich

A warm Northland Welcome awaits you!

New Zealand Accordion Fun Facts at a Glance
  • The journal entry of 24th of September 1839 by English colonist Edward Jerningham Wakefield is the earliest recorded documentation of the accordion being in New Zealand.
  • Bohemian settlers brought the accordion to Puhoi when they arrived in 1863.
  • Guy Scholefield writing of events around the turn of the century, remarked that the accordion was used as an accompaniment to Maori dances during the 1901 Royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall (later to become King George V and Queen Mary).
  • Accordions were also used to entertain the Prince of Wales during his 1920 visit.
  • A New Zealander served as President of the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonists (CIA), (founded in 1935 and member of the International Music Council - IMC-UNESCO) the only non-European President ever, and only the 3rd newly elected President in more than 40 years.
  • The largest Internet site for accordion in the world is founded and run by a New Zealander.
  • New Zealand won the coveted Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships in 2009.
  • A New Zealander is studying accordion in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • A New Zealander graduated with an Accordion Performance Degree from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Conservatory of Music and the Conservatory in Paris.
  • A New Zealand accordionist performed on TV and to tens of thousands live with USA based Celtic Rock Band "The Elders."
  • New Zealand's most prolific composer for accordion is Gary Daverne, Conductor Emeritus of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.
  • A New Zealand accordionist was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Scholar Award.
  • The accordion was the official instrument of the Maori Battalion.
  • Former Prime Minister Rob Muldoon attended the World Accordion Championships in New Zealand in 1980.
  • Famed Soprano Dame Malvina Major, former National Minister of Parlament (MP) Ross Meurant and Weightlifting Gold Medallist Precious McKenzie all played the accordion.
  • The accordion is accepted for study at the Auckland University Conservatory of Music.
  • A New Zealander organized the International Accordion Archive Center housed in Ikaalinen, Finland.
  • Air New Zealand sponsored the Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra in several overseas concert tours.
  • The Air New Zealand Accordion Orchestra was a Sport & Cultural Ambassador for New Zealand Trade & Tourism on their Goodwill International Concert Tours.
  • In 1990 a New Zealander received the Commemoration Medal in recognition of Services to New Zealand along with a certificate signed by the Governor General, the Prime Minister and the Queen.
  • A New Zealand accordionist was created a Fellow of the Institute of Registered Music.
  • A New Zealander broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest nonstop accordion playing.
  • New Zealand soloists have performed accordion concertos with major Symphony and Accordion Orchestras around the world more than 150 times, including performances in Europe, North America, Australasia, China and Turkey.
  • Many New Zealand Accordionists are Registered Music Teachers (IRMT).
  • New Zealand hosted the Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships in the Auckland Town Hall in 1980 and the Bruce Mason Center (Takapuna, Auckland) in 2009.
  • Each year dozens of accordions are imported into New Zealand from Italy with top models lightening your bank account by more than $25,000.00!
  • The curator of the famous Whittaker's Museum on Waiheke Island is an accordionist.
  • The only accordion Museum exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere is in Dargaville.

Contact for the Accordion Gems Exhibition: Kevin Friedrich
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