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The first disco unit in New Zealand was built in Tauranga by Clive Ward, who was running Tauranga Sound Services. This was nothing more than a home built stereo, with a microphone and a few added extras.
Using this gear, the first Disco in NZ was held in Tauranga at the Judea Marae dining hall. Even on very short notice the hall was packed out.   Hey! Want to spread the word? Just tell a few kids.
A later unit was built using parts salvaged from old juke boxes which Clive serviced for the owner. This new unit weighed a ton with it's old valve amplifiers, but it was a huge step up from the first unit.
Gradually the gear was re-designed, lighting systems added, until a commercially viable system was ready. Several of these units were sold around the country, but sadly we have no pictures of them. One was reported in Wanganui, but scrapped before it could be traced.
Clive also designed and built amplifiers and speakers for band work (he played Bass in several bands) and put together most of his own sound system gear working on a very tiny budget. It was crappy gear, but it worked, although he was sabotaged by an opposition firm more than once. Some people just don't like to play fair.
Some of this sound and band gear was also used in the 'Unit One' Disco system he built for his own use. This was used for many years in the old Tauranga Town Hall on Friday nights, and the Judea Clubrooms were usually rocking when he was available. Unfortunately worsening health forced him to give up most of his work. He suffered badly from severe back pain most of his life, after an accident on a farm at age 20. Lugging heavy gear about didn't help.
He was very well known in Tauranga for having a permanent set of large horn loudspeakers mounted on his vehicle, usually parked in front of the workshop on Cameron Rd., Tauranga's main street.     Now supposedly retired in Wanganui, he takes a controlling interest in several ventures, this being one of them. And he still has loudspeakers mounted on his van.


Disco Unit 1 At left is the disco/karaoke unit put together in a rush for a karaoke job in Wanganui. This used a 50 watt stereo amp and speakers salvaged from a church throwout, plus an old desktop computer loaded with music tracks, an lcd screen with a broken stand, and an ancient TV for a lyrics display screen. It worked great. It still does. And hey, not a turntable, record, tape deck or cd player in sight. A far cry from the old days of a trolley full of records, needles always blunt, CD's skipping, tapes jamming... Gahhhhh.
Now relegated to being a spare unit, it still gets the odd night out when things get busy, but is mostly used as a training unit for new karaoke operators, who quickly find it's not really as easy as a good Karaoke/Disc/Video Jockey makes it look.


Disco Unit 2 At right is one of the current main disco/karaoke units. This one uses a 200 watt per channel stereo amp, with speakers built by us specially for the job. Each box has two 12 inch mid range 120 watters, plus a 40 watt tweeter. Then there's a 200 watt self powered sub as well. This all makes a rather impressive 600 watts total sound. And that's true RMS sound, not 'music power' which they try to fool you with these days.
Add a hi spec laptop full of tunes and video tracks, using Virtual DJ, plus a projector for video display, a flat screen lyrics display, some sound powered lighting gear. Mixer, michs, stands, wireless mikes as well... you're looking at around $10,000 of gear. Then there's the many many hours of work sorting songs, then creating the song books in two formats - by artist and by song title - printing them and inserting sheets into folders. And some people think it's "money for nothing." Yeah, right. NOT.
While all the disco gear goes under the name Unit One, there are of course several seperate units. We call this one the 2nd unit, although actually it's the third, since the second unit we built got stolen during a break in at our workshop. Around $8,000 of gear went walkabout, some of it new and unused. Worst thing is that we know who did it, but have no proof. He is advised not to be crossing the road just as our van has a sudden brake failure.