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Brief History

Leys Orchestra is very closely associated with the Leys Institute in Ponsonby. Founded in 1905, The Leys Institute main building contains a public library, offices, lecture hall and meeting room, with a gymnasium added in 1906. 

The inspiration for this establishment for the founders – brothers Thomson Leys and William Leys, a newspaper editor/owner and a bookbinder – was to provide opportunities for "rational recreation" for Ponsonby youths. 


William Leys was deeply concerned about 12- and 13-year-old school leavers "who played on the streets and aimlessly hung about the notorious 'Gluepot' hotel at the Three Lamps." [Coral Ridling, Leys Institute Librarian 1955-71]

Various clubs arose, including the Leys Institute Orchestral Society in 1912. The orchestra has been active for over a century, with periods of recess due to the two world wars and the great depression. 

At present we have lost our home, and face the prospect of an extended period ‘in exile’. 


Rehearsals were held at Leys until the end of 2019, when the building was red-stickered as an earthquake risk.  The orchestra is grateful to the Salvation Army for their generous assistance with temporary rehearsal premises. ​

We look forward to giving concerts at Leys Institute again, and returning to our rehearsal space at the Library when the strengthening work is complete.

The orchestra and its music collection have a valuable and colourful story to tell. We look forward to working with the Waitematā Local Board to tell this story, and to bring the Leys Institute facilities back to public use. 

Leys Orch conductor David Britten.jpg

Conductor David Britten

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