Staff

John H - crop

John Hargraves MNZM

Managing Director

(Conceptual Design, Consultancy, Valuations, Tuning & Maintenance)

In 2010 John was named as a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to organ restoration.

"Born in Auckland 11 November 1942. Educated Mt Albert Primary, Te Kauwhata College, Auckland Grammar and University of Auckland, where I studied music with Peter Godfrey, Ronald Tremaine and Thomas Rive. I became fascinated with the pipe organ as a child, listening to my grandfather’s, and my father’s recordings of Albert Schweitzer playing Bach.

I learned piano for several years from age 12 and pipe organ with Trevor Sparling (St David’s Pres. and ex Auckland City Organist) from age 16. Through high school I learned the art of clock repairing and supported myself as a postman throughout my University years.

In 1965 I began a pipe organ-building apprenticeship with John Lee (ex Rushworth & Draper) in Feilding and in 1968 joined the fledgling South Island Organ Co in Timaru. Two years later I became a director alongside John Gray and Garth Cattle and now in the Company’s 50th year share that role with my wife Val.

I was organist-choirmaster of Chalmers Presbyterian Timaru for 44 years and latterly play also at St Marys Anglican. We have 5 children and 14 grandchildren (including 3 organ-builders). My outside interests have focussed on singing, conducting and acting."

Val H - crop

Valerie Hargraves

Director

(Operations, Strategic Planning, Finance, HR, Bookings)

"Born in Pahiatua, at age 12 moved to Feilding with my parents and brothers. I learnt to work hard there supporting them in a seven day grocery business. At school I learnt cello which lead to being a foundation member of the Manawatu Youth Orchestra.  I worked in Palmerston North first at Glaxo Laboratories as a lab technician and later gained clerical experience at the Chief Post Office.

I met John when I joined the church choir at Knox, Feilding and discovered that an organ had more to it than a pipe display and a keyboard. We married in 1968 and moved to Timaru where we've raised 2 sons and 3 daughters and been given 14 grandchildren.

I have been in the South Island Organ Co office since 1992 and a Director from 2007. In this role I have enjoyed meeting people  from throughout New Zealand and abroad and building relationships with them.

During my years in Timaru I've been involved in Community Arts Council and arranged many classical concerts. I am an Elder of Timaru Presbyterian Church. 

In my free time which I don't have much I enjoy being in the garden, meeting up with family and friends, walking on the beach, communing with nature. And I am looking forward to picking up my cello again in my retirement."

Tatiana - crop

Tatiana Hewitson

Administration Manager

(Accounts, Payroll, Daily Office, Systems Optimization, Promo)

" The moment I walked into the door of the South Island Organ Co in December 2016, I felt like home. A great bunch of people, every one is personality plus, very knowledgeable, genuine, modest and loving life. I am privileged to work alongside with them and be surrounded by history, culture and lots & lots of organ parts which my team puts together creating beautiful and complex musical instruments. I am from Russia, a University graduate - B.A. in English, with 10 years experience as the Manager of the Translated Programmes Department at one of the Television Companies. I immigrated to NZ in January 2002 and since then acquired lots of other great knowledge and skills which help me with what I do now. My passion in life is my family - my Kiwi husband and the two beautiful and talented daughters. My hobbies are sewing, gardening, cooking and I love travelling."

John C - crop

John Cookson

Factory Manager

(Daily Operations of Production Floor, Quality & Safety Control)

"I joined South Island Organ Co on 1 June 2002. Before I farmed, got into engineering by repairing and building mechanical devices, and also I taught myself woodworking. My previous skills and knowledge found their place in organ building which I am passionate about. Working with wood, fishing (when I have time), gardening and my family - these are the things that make me happy."

Gerald - crop

Gerald A Green

Master Organ Builder, Tuner, Site

" I did my apprenticeship with WM Hill, Norman and Beard organ building company in UK and worked for them for 7 years. A week after my wife and I got married we packed our bags and went to New Zealand on an adventure that has lasted us a lifetime and still going strong. I joined South Island Organ Co on 21 April 1973. I am an organ builder because it is what I enjoy. I am passionate about my family. I also love travelling and playing golf."

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Moritz Fassbender

Qualified & Certified Organ & Harmonium Builder, Head of Design Team, CAD Designer, Site Manager

"I joined South Island Organ Co in 2010. Before I worked for Orgelbau Klais in Germany where I completed my apprenticeship. I first came in contact with pipe organs through my farther who is an organist and a music teacher. I have chosen to be an organ builder because I like the diversity of the job. I also like creating something that people can enjoy for many years to come. My family is my passion and I love spending time with them. I also enjoy sailing and running in my free time."

Mike - crop

Michael Young

Experienced Organ Builder, Tuner, Site

"I joined South Island Organ Co in April 2017. I served a 15 year apprenticeship in UK under the guidance of Peter Wood, before taking over and running the business for a further 18.5 years under my own name. A love of music and woodwork at school led me into instrument making. The satisfaction of restoring an organ to its original glory is huge. Every one is different and you never stop learning. The biggest passion of my life is my family. I like music, sailing and the outdoors."

Christopher - crop

Christopher Templeton

Voicer, Tuner, Tonal Regulating/Finishing, Archivist, Health & Safety

"I joined South Island Organ Company on 13 January 1992. I am an organ builder because I like challenge and history. I enjoy repairing a set of old damaged pipes and making them sound as the original builder intended, or taking a new set of pipes and turning them into a well blending rank of pipes. Also delving down the overgrown and forgotten paths of history is my passion this is why I appreciate the opportunity to be the company's archives keeper. Books and book collecting, paronomasia are my other favourite pastimes."

Neil H - crop

Neil Hooper

Qualified Organ Builder, Site

"I started my organ building career in UK at JW Walker & Sons Ltd. I completed my training with Bishop & Sons, but worked at Principal Pipe Organs, North of England the longest. In the beginning the pipe organ fascinated. The particular knowledge and experience which builds up can be useful on a daily basis. I joined South Island Organ Co in September 2009. My favourite pastimes are music, walks, reading and I enjoy looking after my cat."

Julian - crop

Julian Shaw

Organ Builders' Assistant, General Factory Work, Site

"I joined South Island Organ Co in 2014 because it was a job opportunity for me. Having spent some time at the factory and on site in the company of dedicated professionals, I have come to appreciate that organ building is an interesting craft which requires lots of various skills. I have learnt a lot and still learning. My favourite pastimes are cycling and reading."

John G

John Gray

Voicer and Tuner

“I was born in 1943 in Tottenham, London. As I wanted a job that involved travelling, I started work with Hill Norman and Beard holding keys for an organ tuner in the London area. Soon after I moved on assisting site overhaul of organs and a year later started work at the London factory for general training and then pipe voicing which was to become my main job. I enjoyed it then and still do. I worked and trained under Arthur Rundle, 3rd generation reed voicer and a good task master.

I came to New Zealand at age of 24 to join South Island Organ Co as a Director. In 40 years with the company I have been actively involved in many organ projects, large and small which has been a very rewarding time. Now, semi-retired, I am still with the company, but in a more relaxed role. I enjoy getting out and about and use my skills and knowledge of a tuner and a voicer, looking after the pipe organs in different areas of New Zealand. I also restore grand pianos.”

Bryan

Bryan Jones

Electronics Engineer, Tuner, Site

” I was born and educated in Taumarunui. My parents and grandparents were active in church music, so I grew up with plenty of organ and choral music exposure. Interests in engineering and electronics lead me into a career with New Zealand Railways, initially training as a telephone technician, and then moving into the field of industrial control electronics. This provided me with very good training in machine control systems and calibration. I joined the South Island Organ Company as a service technician, gaining training and experience with organ control systems and general maintenance and repair. Since then I have been involved in several major organ installations, and my work has expanded to include tuning rounds which cover the lower half of the North Island, as well as being available for work elsewhere as required by the Company.

I am married to Nancy and live at Waitarere Beach, Levin. We continue the church music tradition with Nancy being the deputy organist for the local Uniting Church, and me singing in the