This memorial site was created in memory of, Wayne Wright, who was born on February 27, 1949 and died on September 3, 2003.
The following was written by Mark Pierson, long time friend of Wayne:
Wayne Wright was widely known for the musicals he wrote and produced on Christian themes. His first, 'The Jesus Musical' opened at Mt Albert Baptist Church in 1974. He had finished the first of what would become three stints as youth pastor there and saw the need for something to challenge and involve the young people to use their creative gifts.
Drawing heavily on the Gospel of Luke Wayne wrote some songs and strung together basic dialogue. Never intended as anything more than a one-off, demand meant it toured the North Island for 10 faltering performances over the next nine months. Around 20 different musicals featuring over 200 different songs followed over the next 30 years.
It is less well known that Wayne left school when he was fifteen, virtually unable to read and academically a failure. (It is equally hard to imagine him succeeding - as he did - at Rugby as lock for Mt Roskill Grammar!) He taught himself to read with the same determination that he taught himself to play guitar. Determination that characterised his approach to every project he took on throughout his life. He couldn't write or read music score, and the week before he died was still accompanying himself on guitar as he sang new songs and recorded them on a dictaphone for later transcribing.
A stint in retailing at Levene's and various Department Stores saw him rise to Manager of Haywrights Remuera store. It was from here he acquired his first printing press. A cast off from their office. Wayne had no formal training as a printer, but Gestetner copies were poor quality and there were scripts and booklets to be produced for Baptist Youth Ministries and youth groups. The press occupied his and Linda's garage; Wayne taught himself printing and SAUCE Publishing was born. Later it transitioned into SOURCE and became the large and successful printing and publishing business that exist today.
Despite his success with it, business has always been a means to an end for Wayne. He became a follower of Jesus in his late teens and entered into a lifelong struggle with the scriptures in order to have them shape every aspect of his life. In his last week he had been on retreat re-reading the Gospel of Matthew, and said he had seen some new things that would influence his rewrite of the Easter musical 'Jesus With the Light On'. He allowed the life of Jesus to shape and change his life.
Wayne's concern for his staff and cast members was always deep and genuine.
His involvement went beyond what was required or expected. He was a true pastor and a man of deep integrity and broad acceptance. He was always looking for ways to encourage and to bring out creative gifts in people.
His printing and publishing business funded and underwrote many projects. The tension between building the business in order to keep up with the game and still having enough time and resources to devote to his projects was provocation for constant reflection and questioning and realigning of his priorities. He rarely rested on the status quo. There was always another idea, a further possibility to explore.
An enduring memory I have of Wayne is his turning up in Christchurch with a friend just as I was starting a large Pebblebrook camp down there. The first I'd run without his involvement. He turned up from Auckland unannounced to support and encourage me, and to do anything that was needed. That about summed up Wayne. He supported and encouraged people.
Helped them to see their potential and to realise it. 'He taught me so much?' is a comment many people make about Wayne.
Songwriting and musical producing were also means to an end for him. His passion was for people. He wanted to see young people reach their potential, discover their gifts and use their talents to extend the Kingdom of God. He wanted people of all ages to capture a new understanding of who God is and to come into a new relationship with God through knowing Jesus.
He used his own gifts and resources to that end and never lost sight of that vision.
Wayne is well known for his achievements and for the person he is. He could not have accomplished what he has without Linda, his wife. For more than three decades Linda has shared the journey with Wayne. Her generosity, openness, loyalty, compassion, integrity and support have equalled his. She has often been the private partner but she has always been an equal one.
He also has three adult children.
On Tuesday 2 September 2003 after work Wayne had dinner and went to bed as usual with no signs of any illness. At around 2am Linda woke to find him struggling to breathe. A few minutes later he was dead. The diseased heart he had harboured unknown had blocked an artery.
Wayne's life was such that he could have become the subject of one of his own musicals. But he would never have allowed that. His sudden death is a reminder to us all to keep short accounts, to make sure we regularly say the things we need to say to the people we care about.
The last of Wayne's musicals to be performed under his direction was 'The Reason Why'. Approximately 30,000 people in New Zealand saw 69 performances from September 2002 to July 2003. The budget ran to $300,000.
It told the story of Robert Laidlaw the founder of Farmers Trading Company.
Over Easter 2003 the last musical Wayne wrote, "Jesus with the light on" was trialled at the Auckland Baptist Tabernacle - 5 performances to 1200+ people. It ends with a song we now know as 'Stormy Weather'. In the script it is named simply as 'Final Song'?
"I've lost some good friends along the way
I've lost some good friends I can't replace,
And I think I want to say
There is more to life than we can see right now
There's another place and time somewhere
And they'll be waiting and they'll be singing
And a light will be shining there."
Written by Mark Pierson, long term friend, pastor of Cityside Baptist, Auckland NZ, and first printed in New Zealand Baptist magazine, October 2003.