A tribute to Wayne Wright (1949 - 2003)
  Wayne Wright
  1949 - 2003
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A life that soared

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.


Wayne's Photo Album

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Message from Linton Conway - Friend
I write this on the 10th Anniversary of that day when God suddenly took you from us without warning. The rich memories, instead of fading, have grown. I play your CDs over and over. I recall so many things that enriched my life (and countless others in NZ, Australia and Singapore) as we did our 110 performances of "Edge of Tomorrow". I still use your music in my small group ministry and prison work. God continues to bless through it. The closing phrase of "Benediction" on the Heart and Soul CD is my daily prayer..."See the world through Your eyes, do what You would do". You were, and still are, one of the most treasured gifts God gave me in my life. Thank you Lord. Thank you.

Message from Linton Conway - Friend
I write this on the 10th Anniversary of that day when God suddenly took you from us without warning. The rich memories, instead of fading, have grown. I play your CDs over and over. I recall so many things that enriched my life (and countless others in NZ, Australia and Singapore) as we did our 110 performances of "Edge of Tomorrow". I still use your music in my small group ministry and prison work. God continues to bless through it. The closing phrase of "Benediction" on the Heart and Soul CD is my daily prayer..."See the world through Your eyes, do what You would do". You were, and still are, one of the most treasured gifts God gave me in my life. Thank you Lord. Thank you.

Message from Yvonne Bradley - Sister




“Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man,” said the Jesuits. In some important ways that’s true. Geoffrey Wayne Wright at seven years of age had many of the talents and character traits that we saw in Wayne Wright the man.  He was from birth a placid, easy going, likeable child. From a very young age he was tuneful, with excellent pitch and a natural sense of harmony. We used to sing duets together when we were very small, our being just a year apart in age, with a song made famous by Harry Belafonte, “The Jamaican Farewell” being our particular forte.


Yet in one significant way, Wayne Wright, aged seven, was not Wayne Wright the man. You see, at seven he was a failure. At seven he couldn’t read. The educational philosophy of how children should be taught to read in Primer One changed in the year Wayne started school, and somehow the latest way of teaching reading didn’t connect with him. At High School he still could barely read, so the whole experience of schooling for him was an experience of failure.  How extraordinary that is for someone who became a wordsmith, a lyricist, a poet.  But it also explains that quiet sense of determination that characterized Wayne the man. He taught himself to read when he left school at the age of 15. 


He was largely self-taught musically, too, taking up the guitar in his early teens, playing in church bands, singing in groups and solos, with a natural, intuitive musicality. 


Besides being naturally gifted, I like to think that another reason for Wayne’s ability with words and with music comes from his name. He was named Geoffrey Wayne Wright. I was named Patricia Yvonne Wright. He was called Wayne and I was called Yvonne.  My mother’s explanation for putting our Christian names in this reverse order was that it was all a question of rhythm and balance. They just sounded better that way. So from a very early age we not only had a keen understanding of rhythm and the way words should balance each other in good poetry and prose, we were also left with the need to constantly provide lengthy explanations to every organization, large and small, as to who we really were and why we were not called by our first names. I think that task ultimately served us well and Wayne never tired of explaining this parental idiosyncrasy. He can still be found in the phone book as G.W. Wright.


Physically, he was an early developer, so in his early teens he was quite a strapping young man and not a half bad athlete. He did well at rugby. Lock was his position and I have a clear recollection of watching him play for Mt Roskill Grammar School, resplendent in that leather head gear so loved by the tight five in the scrum. As well as getting much of the lineout ball, he scored a try that day, I recall. He was bigger and stronger than most of them so he just plowed right through the opposition, Jonah Lomu style, and touched down near the posts.


It was a nice symbol of the way he approached life. Wayne was one of those rare people who could see the try line; he had vision; he decided how to get there - but, most importantly, he got there.


In his early twenties, Wayne made one of the best decisions of his life. He married Linda, a delightful and highly capable girl who suited him perfectly. And throughout their marriage they have been a great team in so many ways.


Many of you here will know Wayne as a gifted, creative composer of musicals and songs, as a lyricist and a dramatist. Many of you will know him as an entrepreneurial, ethical and successful businessman. Some of you will know him as a relational and forward thinking youth pastor.  He was all of those things.


Yet Wayne himself would be the first to say that none of those accomplishments and achievements really matters. That is not what life is about. And it is not what we will remember when we think of Wayne. We will recall not Wayne Wright the composer, or Wayne Wright the businessman, or Wayne Wright the pastor. We will recall Wayne Wright the man. And I am sure that is how he will want to be remembered.


So, who was Wayne Wright the man?  He was a man of faith, a man of hope. He was, simply, a Christian man. But not in a narrow, legalistic, judgmental or pious sense. I think Wayne was one of those rather rare Christians who actually understood the gospel. He understood that Jesus taught and modeled acceptance, tolerance, love, generosity and contentment. He understood that his mission in life was to seek the welfare of others. Those were the essential gospel values that Wayne actually lived by.


He was a keen observer of human nature and was warmly understanding of his own and other people’s foibles. It was that perceptiveness and capacity, I think, that gave him the dry sense of humour that was so much part of his character.


There was no trace of pretension about him. Despite his many achievements, he cared little for status or image or money or fame.


Though by nature quite reserved and a sometimes solitary person, he was at his very core a genuine, open-hearted, kind and generous man.


So, when it comes to remembering my brother Wayne, I give him the highest accolade that you can give to anyone – he was a good, decent and honourable man, a devoted husband and father, a lovely son and brother. Because he lived, we have all been blessed.


He died too soon. He had much more to give, much more to enjoy. Yet he died in the prime of life.  I don’t claim to understand why. Nor will I attempt to diminish the horror and pain of such an unexpected and tragic loss.


But we have to give him up now - into the hands of the loving God in whom Wayne trusted and whom he served with such consistency and honour. In that spirit we who are left in his birth family – my father, my twin brothers Neville and Garth and I - bid him a loving farewell. As long as we live, he lives in our hearts and in our memories – until that day when we will all meet again.


Yvonne Bradley

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Brief Tributes to

Tribute placed by
Catherine Stones
on 16/04/2008:

What a great composer Will be missed.

Tribute placed by
Kerin Gedge
on 16/08/2007:

You carried others to Heaven & you got there first - now you know it was all worth it. See you soon!

Tribute placed by
Sara Thorburn
on 14/08/2007:

Will always miss Wayne. He taught me so much in the 5 years I knew and worked with him.

Tribute placed by
Sarah Heavey
on 21/06/2007:

He will always be in our hearts.

Tribute placed by
Karl Payne
on 06/10/2006:

A solid man of faith, a composer for souls. Enjoy God's company. You are enduring inspiration.

Click here to place your brief tribute to Wayne
Stormy weather

Peter's song

The Lord's prayer

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