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New Zealand

Christmas and New Year Hours

Extended Christmas Hours

  • Saturday 21st December 10am–4pm and 5pm–8pm
  • Sunday 22nd December 10am–4pm
  • Monday 23rd December 10am–4pm
  • Tuesday 24th December 10am–4pm

Normal Hours

  • Thursday 26th December 11am–3pm
  • Friday 27th December 11–3pm (not open in the evening)
  • Saturday 28th December 11–3pm


  • Sunday 29th December to Monday 6th January – Closed

Open As Normal

  • From Tuesday 7th January

The team at Gandharva Loka wishes everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

An Interview With Brendyn Montgomery

Brendyn MontgomeryBrendyn Montgomery is a New Zealand born Irish traditional musician who plays and teaches the wooden flute, whistle and fiddle. In 2003, Brendyn earned an M.A. in Traditional Irish Music Performance with first class honours from the University of Limerick – the first person in Australasia to do so. His debut album Mountain Air collected the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand’s 2004 Tui Music Award for Best Folk Album. Brendyn records, travels and performs regularly, and is involved with Ceol Aneas in Nelson. Brendyn also designs websites and offers music courses online.

In this interview Brendyn offers his thoughts on growing up around the folk music scene, his development as a traditional Irish flute player and teacher, and shares with us his view of Irish music in New Zealand. This interview was recorded on Thursday July 15 – 2004. Our thanks to Brendyn Montgomery for kindly giving his time to record this inspiring and informative interview.


Shardul: You were born in Dunedin and now live in Castle Hill. What do you like about living in Castle Hill? [Since the time of this interview, Brendyn has moved to Nelson.]

Brendyn Montgomery: For me really it’s the stillness. Castle Hill is not even really a village – there are no shops, no petrol station – nothing! There’s a little collection of houses and about ten of us live there permanently – the rest are all holiday homes. So in that sense, it’s still as there are not a lot of people around. But in a greater sense for me there is tranquillity about the place that I haven’t really encountered anywhere else, and because I do so much travelling, it’s really nice to be able to come home to Castle Hill and relax.

S: Is the proximity of the Southern Alps a factor? I hear you’re a big fan of the mountains.

BM: I just love the stillness. If I could, I would live in a place by the sea where I could see the mountains, but living amongst them is the next best thing. I love the cold and the effort of having to stay warm. Keeping the fires going is very vital; it’s very raw. Most of these experiences have been removed in the society that we live in now.


Cultural Biodiversity: finding a sense of place

This article was written by Brendyn Montgomery in 2004 for the quarterly Flute Focus magazine (now an online publication) and is reproduced here with the permission of Flute Focus and Brendyn Montgomery.

Cultural Biodiversity: finding a sense of place

I sometimes wonder what led me to this place. I am an Irish flute player with a BSc in Zoology and an M.A. in traditional Irish music performance (1st class honours) and I have lived in Ireland. Yet I am a New Zealander. Brendyn MontgomeryI was born here, my parents were born here, and in fact, five generations of my relatives proceed me in this land…

My music does not come directly from my extended family as a neatly handed-down package as it so often does in Ireland. Irish has such a strong oral tradition in its homeland, where people live and breathe the music everyday. I live in a country where the society has evolved hugely from the societies that my ancestors left. The demise of the family unit and the freedom to choose your own path that has been slower to change in Ireland and Scotland, the countries of my ancestry. I am not against this change by any means; it simply means that many of the threads of the oral tradition have been broken.

Yet I am certain that the immigrants brought their music with them. My mother’s mother talks of how they played for dances from an early age, tunes that were handed down from the wider family. But that was lost as the family moved away to different parts of the country. I was bought up with both recorded and live music and was dragged to folk festivals from the age of six weeks. It is something I have grown to appreciate with time. This was not family music, but folk music of the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by technology and recordings from other parts of the world.


An Interview With Pat Higgins

Pat HigginsPat Higgins is an Irish traditional musician who plays wooden flute, tin whistle and guitar. Originally from County Galway in Ireland, Pat now resides in Wellington, New Zealand, where he works as a computer engineer in the IT industry. Very active in the local Irish traditional music scene, Pat is a regular at the Kitty O’Shea’s sessions on Monday evenings and is a past chairman of Ceol Aneas – New Zealand’s Celtic music school.

In this interview, Pat shares his insights and inspirations concerning the Irish flute, Irish traditional music and life in general. This interview was recorded on Saturday June 19, 2004. Our thanks to Pat Higgins for kindly giving his time to record this inspiring and informative interview. Go raibh maith agat Pat.


Shardul: Would you like to tell us a little about where were you born Pat?

Pat Higgins: I’m from rural County Galway in Ireland – a place called Annaghdown which is on the eastern shore of Lough Corrib. It’s about twelve miles north of Galway city. When I say I’m from Galway people usually say, “Oh, you’re from the city”, and of course I’m from a farm – I’m a farm boy.

S: Did you grow up around music?

PH: Not really. My Mother loved music, but in fact there was no active music in the house at all. My Grandmother, who I didn’t really know, she played the accordion, but I have no memory of the accordion being played in the house. I kind of got into music, well, in Ireland, mostly we were listening to music on the radio. I was twenty-one when I started playing my own music for the first time.


An Interview With Bob Bickerton

Bob BickertonBob Bickerton is a stalwart member of the Celtic/Irish traditional music scene in New Zealand and a past chairman of Ceol Aneas – New Zealand’s traditional Irish music workshops that are held in Nelson each year.

A multi-instrumentalist performer, recording artist, composer, producer and recording engineer, Bob is also a past director of The Nelson School of Music who has encouraged the development of community programmes, with particular emphasis on children’s education. He has performed to over 150,000 students in schools over more than two decades and has received critical acclaim for the quality of his educational programmes as well as his ability to engage children in an inspiring way.

In the development of his personal musical capacities, Bob has studied Uilleann pipes, Irish flute and fiddle in Ireland. He was a founder member of the popular Irish group Gael Force, is currently a member of the exciting six piece Irish band Bana Nua and has performed at most major concert venues and folk festivals around New Zealand for over two decades. During this interview, Bob talks about the development of his passion for folk, traditional Irish and Celtic music, and how a career in the field of performing arts and music events promotion has blossomed alongside his own evolution as a musician. He also talks about the development of the traditional Irish music scene in New Zealand; of the evolution and future of Ceol Aneas, and offers insights into the history and evolution of traditional music in general.

This interview was recorded on Thursday June 14, 2007, two weeks after the annual Ceol Aneas weekend in Nelson. Our sincere thanks to Bob Bickerton – a man of many capacities and a generous heart – for kindly giving his time to record this inspiring and informative interview.


Shardul: Hi Bob – you’ve recovered from Ceol Aneas?

Bob Bickerton: Oh, I think so – just about. It was a full-on weekend, but good – very good fun.

S: A successful weekend?

BB: Oh yeah, it was great! We’ve found a formula that seems to work really well and people really get a buzz out of it. I guess because I’m involved so much, I get a slightly different feel on things as perhaps other people who’re from out of town. But yeah, it was great.

S: Excellent. We’ll get back to Ceol Aneas a little later. Tell us a little about yourself Bob – where were you born?


Gandharva Loka’s Vajin Armstrong wins the Kepler Challenge

ShardulThose who have visited Gandharva Loka over the past few days may have noticed a new face behind the counter. That would be me – Shardul, a keen flute player and music lover. While I do not have a great knowledge of the many wonderful instruments that are available in the store, I have been learning on the job and it has been an inspiring opportunity and challenge. A lovely aspect about working at Gandharva Loka is that the people who come into the store generally derive and express great joy at the wide variety of instruments which represent so many of the world’s cultures. It is a happy space to be in.

Vajin Armstrong running the Kepler Challenge 2010The reason I was fronting Gandharva Loka is that the managers of the store, Vajin and Prasasta Armstrong, were away following up opportunities and challenges of their own. As is mentioned on this website’s meet the team page, both Vajin and Prasasta are athletes. This past Saturday Vajin competed in New Zealand’s premier off-road mountain race, the Kepler Challenge – with Prasasta playing the all important role of support crew. Not only did Vajin finish the tough 60 km mountain race, he also won it with a very respectable time of 5.03.27. (Tramping the Kepler track with a pack takes most people three days or more!) I think Vajin’s win surprised a few people because first-timers do not usually win the Kepler Challenge. The course record is 4.37.41 which was set by Phil Costley in 2005.

The race begins with a steep 15 km climb that often takes its toll on the runners. Following that, the downhill and switchback nature of the trail demands great concentration, stamina and technical prowess – mistakes can cause disaster. Reflecting the nature of the race, Vajin’s path to the Kepler Challenge was not all straight lines and tail winds. It all began when he failed to obtain online entry into the race due to the website being overwhelmed with applicants. Entry to this very popular race is limited as it is held on Department of Conservation land and it is a case of first in, first served. This from The Southland Times: