Maguire tinkles last tune

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Queenstown jazz festival director Harvey Maguire has played his last song.

After organising the annual music shindig for 30 years, the 68-year-old resigned his position at the committee meeting last Friday.

He first got involved with Queenstown JazzFest – then known as the South Island Residential Jazz Festival – in 1978 as a pianist in a jazz trio playing at the original venue, the Cellar Inn below the old O’Connell’s Hotel, where the shopping mall now stands.

Under his watch, the event has grown from a handful of bands performing over Labour weekend in a smoky pub to the 10-day affair with 200-plus performers.

Maguire still loves music but the stress of organising a major do – including sourcing international musicians and finalising venues – has become too much, the granddad of seven says.

“I’ve been in [the festival] 30 years and I’ve just about had it to my back teeth with it, really,” he says.

“I wish [the trustees] all the best with the event – it’s a big event and my hope is that they can continue it and make it prosper.

“[But] I’m going to have a breather.”

The Queenstown JazzFest Trust – formed to find funding and keep the event in the resort – is yet to fill Maguire’s shoes and those of trust chairman Trevor Tattersfield, who also resigned on Friday after filling the role temporarily since last year.

The trust hopes to find replacement board members by the end of April.

But those details are far from Maguire’s mind.

He’s focusing on relaxing with his grandkids and wife Anne, tying flies for his seasonal fly-fishing business and penning music for an album he hopes to release in the future.