Celebrating Oamaru’s iconic Penguin Entertainers Club

Published on 08 May 2023

Elly Dunkley with posters donated to the Archive

Two of Council’s cultural facilities – the Oamaru Opera House and Waitaki District Archive - are partnering up with Oamaru’s renowned Penguin Entertainers Club during New Zealand Music Month to celebrate the club’s contribution to the local music scene, which spans more than three decades.

The Penguin Entertainers Club was established in 1990 by local musicians looking for suitable practice rooms and somewhere to chill-out after gigs. The current premises in Oamaru’s historic precinct were developed with the fundraising and other efforts of local volunteers.

The club has since hosted many hundreds of local, national and international musicians at their Harbour Street premises – ranging from The Feelers and Supergroove, to Anika Moa.

Oamaru Opera House Director, Frances McElhinney, said the idea to celebrate NZ Music Month in collaboration with The Penguin Entertainer’s Club emerged after the club donated a collection of promotional posters to the Waitaki District Archive representing many of the bands who have played there since its establishment.

“Archive staff were delighted to receive these posters and have really enjoyed digging around in the club’s history. The gifting of the posters coincided with the lead into NZ Music Month, which we saw as a great opportunity to highlight and celebrate the club’s important role in our local and national music scene.”

Mrs McElhinney said facility staff have since worked with the club to organise displays of the posters and other memorabilia at the Opera House and the newly renovated Archive.

“We’re also hosting a Jamming in the House event at the Opera House on Saturday 27 May, where local musicians associated with the Penguin Club will jam live on-stage for the evening. It’s a great chance for music lovers - including people new to Oamaru - to come and enjoy the music, learn more about the Penguin Club and meet some of the members.”

They would also use the evening as an opportunity to promote club membership, she said.

The Penguin Entertainers Club Secretary, Tony Adam, said members were excited to work with the Archive and Opera House to celebrate the club’s history during Music Month and for the opportunity for local musicians to play together to a larger audience at the Opera House.

“The Penguin Club is an integral part of Oamaru’s culture, so working with the Archive and Opera House - two of Oamaru’s cultural treasures - feels like a fitting way to celebrate NZ Music Month and The Penguin Club’s role in supporting and promoting local music”, Mr Adam said.

There will be a $5 cover charge for the Jamming in the House event, with door sales opening at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start, and a cash bar available. The Waitaki District Archive and the Opera House welcome all members of the public to come in during any other opening hours to view the posters and other club memorabilia.

The Penguin Entertainers Club will also be holding jam nights at their premises in Harbour Street on Friday 12 and 26 of May, and a special Kiwiana night on Saturday 20 May, with anyone welcome to attend.

Mrs McElhinney said Council’s cultural facilities plan to do something again next year to celebrate NZ Music Month and are hoping to involve more local community groups and musicians.


For further information:
Frances McElhinney – 03 433 0300