From the Bay of Plenty Times
$140,000 to write book on piano
By Anna Bowden
A Bay university lecturer has been awarded a $140,000 grant to write a book with a central thread of Tauranga's The Elms Broadwood Grand Piano.
Dr Kirstine Moffat, from the Waikato University English Department, is among 78 world-class researchers given a share of the $39.1 million Marsden Fund awards.
Inspired by Jane Campion's movie The Piano, Dr Moffat will write a book exploring the historical and literary significance of the piano in colonial New Zealand culture and society.
She told the Bay of Plenty Times the book would encompass the "extreme adventures" of the piano in New Zealand - many of which were shipped out from Britain and carted through bush tracks and over streams after reaching New Zealand.
"It's a project that I've been thinking about for a long time, to get funding for it is just fantastic," she said.
But the research is not merely a record of pianos shipped over from Britain during the colonial era - it also reveals a fascinating social history.
Dr Moffat has examined the role of the piano in the home and in religious, educational and public institutions and the relationship between the piano, gender and class.
She continues to lecture students in Tauranga via the campus' video-conference system delivered in Hamilton.
She has scheduled a special appearance in Tauranga on September 24 to present a lecture entitled High Tea with the Elms Piano, one of the stories to be detailed in her book.
Soon after she concocted the idea to explore the representation of the piano in literature, art and photographs, Dr Moffat saw potential for a lengthier investigation and put her preliminary proposal forward for the Marsden Fund.
Hers was one of 932 preliminary proposals, with 240 asked to submit a full proposal and 78 ultimately being funded.
Among other projects to receive funding were investigating the social networks of homeless people and analysing youth perspectives on videogame violence.