A Decade of Harmony: The Resonance of the Pilot Bay Boardwalk Piano

by Madonna

Celebrating its tenth year gracing the Pilot Bay boardwalk, a 129-year-old piano, initially discovered on TradeMe for a mere $30, has become a cherished focal point for community connection and musical delight.

Acquired in November 2013, the piano underwent a stunning transformation at The Incubator Creative Hub, thanks to the skilled hands of artists Simone Anderson, Wendy Pedersen, Constanza Tagini Nightingale, Rosey Armstrong, Katherine Steeds, Lisa Meehan, and Jannine Spiers, with paint generously provided by Resenes. Herb’s Autos added wheels to the piano, a $450 enhancement funded by Stewart Fleming, owner of Mount Backpackers.


The piano’s unveiling drew a gathering of family and supporters, including Kevin Costner’s jazz pianist sister Andrea Pooley. Over the years, this musical beacon has witnessed countless memorable moments, fostering a sense of community and joy.


From impromptu performances to shared picnics and serenades to departing cruise ships, the piano has woven itself into the fabric of Pilot Bay life. Notable occurrences include a surprise appearance by Gareth Morgan, who played tunes and shared anecdotes about his cat, and the heartwarming visit of a seal, seemingly enchanted by the nearby melodies.


The ‘Pilot Bay Piano Appreciation Society’ emerged, demonstrating the community’s commitment to supporting the piano’s presence with a legal busking license. Heartfelt stories abound, including chance encounters between a millionaire and a homeless individual, and the transformative impact on a woman named Shirley Lee, who found solace and companionship by the piano.

Musical talents have flourished, with a young aspirant evolving into a skilled pianist, securing a scholarship in Poland. The piano has served as a catalyst for emotional connections and rehabilitation, aiding those with head injuries and fostering a sense of belonging.

As the community emerges from the challenges of the Covid years, the Pilot Bay piano stands as a testament to the power of music and community. It beckons residents and visitors alike to gather, share an evening picnic, and bask in the warmth of both music and sunset—a timeless celebration of a decade filled with harmonious moments.


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