Canterbury Earthquake: The Heartstrings Guitars Display and Concert this Sunday

Canterbury Earthquake: The Heartstrings Guitars Display and Concert this Sunday

As the nation approaches the first anniversary of the 22 February quake in Canterbury, Te Papa would like to invite you to join us this Sunday between 10.00am–6.00pm for an amazing event – Heartstrings.

Heartstrings Seven Guitars made by Bruce Pickering.

Seven extraordinary handcrafted guitars commemorating the loss of life and buildings in the Canterbury earthquakes will go on display at Te Papa, as part of an online auction to raise money for Christchurch.

The display, which will include a performance by ‘Stars in their Eyes’ winner and Christchurch-based singer Mandy Pickering, marks the opening of online bidding for these unique and historic pieces. They are being auctioned in aid of the Christchurch arts community which has also been severely impacted by the shakes.

This project is so meaningful to us. Christchurch is my home town and my family and I have experienced our own personal loss, including the loss of our home, but what I love about this project is that it brings hope and positivity to our city,’ says Mandy.

Visitors to Te Papa will be given the opportunity to see, touch and hear the Heartstrings guitars which were created by Mandy’s father-in-law, Bruce Pickering, with the help of her husband, Christchurch musician Jason Pickering.

The free concert will take place in the Marae on Level 4, 2.30pm–3.30pm.

‘Each guitar has a unique design that reflects the history of the timber used to craft it. The idea was to take something broken and turn it into something beautiful,’ says Bruce Pickering, creator of the Heart Strings guitars.

Each guitar was handcrafted using timber donated from many historic and heritage buildings. ‘In many cases the timber itself dictated the story, and each piece could be given a new life and an entirely new purpose,’ says Jason Pickering, who was involved in collecting the timber.

Graduate is made from a piece of commanding kauri from the Great Hall of the Arts Centre (formerly the University).

Homebush is from the historic Deans’ family home of the same name which was damaged beyond repair.

Chester is made from kauri weatherboard from a Victorian house in Chester Street dating back to the late 1800s.

Epicentre visually references the 7.1 earthquake’s epicentre and includes a selection of historic timbers paying homage to the emergency services.

In sympathy with the age of the timber used, the guitars have been created using a classic single cut-away shape reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s. Electronic components enhance the vintage effect. The contours are subtle, and the rivers and sudden change in topography in the areas at the centre of the devastation are embodied in the designs.

An eighth guitar was crafted following the 22 February earthquake. Named Kia Kaha, it is also built using historical timber from places such as the Timeball in Lyttelton, but painted white. A scroll listing the names of those who lost their lives has been gently laid to rest within the guitar body. The Kia Kaha guitar has been generously donated to Christchurch by Bruce and Jason Pickering and is being featured at an exhibition at the Canterbury Museum later this month.

They are fully operational electric guitars which Bruce and Jason Pickering hope people will see as a metaphor for Christchurch – ‘that something beautiful, lasting and tangible can rise from something broken and destroyed.’ Epicentre was incorporated into the fourth incarnation and national tour of Fly My Pretties, a sixteen-piece band of guitar-playing talent including Aaron Tokona (Cairo Knife Fight), Ryan Prebble (The Nudge), Age Pryor (Ukelele Orchestra), Anna Coddington and more. ‘It was a real honour to take this beautiful guitar on the road and be part of such an inspirational and original idea,’ says Pretties co-founder Barnaby Weir.

The guitars have also been road-tested by kiwi musicians Don McGlashin, Jason Kerrison, Victoria Gerling-Butcher, and Dave Dobbyn, who commented after strumming Chester; ‘When you play these guitars, it gives meaning to the words “if these walls could talk”.’

Online bidding for the seven Heart Strings guitars begins Sunday 12 February and concludes with a ‘live auction’ event in Christchurch on 24 February. Money raised will be held and distributed by Creative New Zealand.

Heart Strings live guitar auction: bidding opens

Sunday 12 February–Friday 24 February on Trade Me. The auctions will finish during the event in Christchurch on the 24 February .

Heart Strings auction event: Armstrong Prestige Mercedes Showroom, Christchurch, Friday 24 February from 7.30pm


For more information on Heart Strings and forthcoming auction and associated events, please visit

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