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Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa

Volume Extended Reads

Take an exploratory dive into New Zealand music with our online-only Extended Reads.

Live and direct
Being there. Never is it more important than when it comes to watching your favourite band. Check out the spaces and stories of live New Zealand music in our Volume Extended Read.
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Live and direct

Being there. Never is it more important than when it comes to watching your favourite band.

KickerThis is a kicker.

An underground club, a paddock in the middle of the South Island, the local RSA \- New Zealand's entertainment venues are as diverse as the music itself. But no matter what the genre or where you are, watching live music is one of life's greatest pleasures.

 

 

DANCING IN PADDOCKS

For thousands of New Zealanders, a road trip with friends has become a summer ritual. The destination? A music festival at one of the country's more remote live music venues \- a paddock.

State Highway 23 is a well\-trodden route \- the road to the top surf spot Raglan. But for three days in late January 2017, visitors to the small town weren't interested in the waves. Fans braved the wet and windy weather at the Soundsplash music festival, headlined by the ever popular New Zealand band Six60. Returning after an eight\-year break, the festival's diverse line\-up and family\-friendly approach captured a wider audience than the first roots and reggae offering in 2001.

 

 

#TBT - The calm before the storm

A post shared by Soundsplash (@soundsplashnz) on

 

Over on the east coast, the New Year's festival [Rhythm and Vines](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/rhythm\-and\-vines) has also evolved over its 14\-year history. It's grown larger and lasts longer and this year the festival stopped people bringing in alcohol \- the end of an era of BYO beers in your tent.

But that didn't stop the festival from selling out. More than 15,000 music fans made the trek to Gisborne to welcome in the new year with prominent New Zealand artists, P\-Money, Savage, and the Jordan Luck Band. With its east coast location, the festival bills itself as the 'first place in the world to welcome the first sunrise of the New Year'.

 

'Being in the crowd at R&V leading up to a NY countdown is an intensely exciting experience as there is a massive energy shared among the people, with everyone being there for the same thing - for the clock to hit midnight. You get the feeling that you're at the best place to be for the countdown.'

Bryn Kerr, four-time Rhythm and Vines attendee

 

More than a music festival, [Splore](http://www.splore.net/about#new\-page) promotes itself as New Zealand's greatest dress\-up party. Splore organisers set the theme well in advance, and almost everyone dons a costume for the Saturday night performances. This year's crowd \- dressed in a 'Strangely Familiar Family Reunion' theme and gumboots \- made the most of the muddy conditions. The festival closed with a Sunday afternoon show and an audience of 'mud people' got down and dirty to festival veterans Fat Freddy's Drop.

Fat Freddy's Mud People, Splore 2017, via There Shan Goes

EARLY FESTIVALS

We've come a long way since New Zealand's first music festival, inspired by the legendary Woodstock in 1969. Woodstock captured the imagination of New Zealand music fans ... and music promoters. The legendary [Phil Warren](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/phil\-warren) was quick to organise [Redwood 70](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/redwood\-70\-national\-music\-convention), only six months after the American event. More than 9000 people attended the two\-day festival in Swanson, which was tarnished by crowd antics that prompted headline act Robin Gibbs from the Bee Gees to leave the stage and postpone his performance until the next afternoon. The bonfires, dogs, and Sunday morning communion \(with wine in a glass\) are something you wouldn't see at a music festival today.

Three years later, the Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival stepped it up with promoters Robert Raymond and Barry Coburn optimistically preparing for a crowd of 25,000.

 

The festival played an important role in our music history \- Ngaruawahia was the occasion of early performances by the [Bulldogs Allstar Goodtime Band](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/bulldogs\-allstar\-goodtime\-band), [Dragon](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/dragon) \(before Marc Hunter joined the band\), and also [Split Ends](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/split\-enz) \(later Enz\) who didn't have a happy experience.

But with only 18,000 tickets sold and unforeseen logistical issues, it was a financial failure. It was a few years before anyone was ready to attempt another festival. [Nambassa](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/the\-nambassa\-festivals\-and\-the\-counterculture\-movement), in 1978, took an entirely different approach. Their focus on counterculture, crafts, and alternative living drew massive crowds \- in 1979 numbers were estimated at between 45,000 and 65,000! From the mid\-1990s, the number of festivals grew rapidly. In 1999 there were five on the summer schedule, including The Gathering on the Takaka Hill, and a return of the 1980s festival, [Sweetwaters](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/sweetwaters\-on\-the\-wane\-1983\-1984\-1999). By 2008 there were 13 festivals to choose from, ranging from the Christian music festival Parachute to the intentionally intimate [Camp a Low Hum](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/a\-low\-hum\-part\-1).

Check out the video to see the evolution of festivals from the 70s to today, and watch the full video in the exhibition _[Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa](http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/whats\-on/exhibitions/volume\-making\-music\-in\-aotearoa)._

 

CITY SPECTACULAR

You don't always need to go on a road trip to dance and mosh among huge crowds \- shows in the city can be just as epic.

 

 

@sonsofzionmusic @jimbeamhomegrown #sonsofzion #jimbeamhomegrown #homegrown2017 #nesianroots

A post shared by Nesian Roots Entertainment (@nesian_roots_entertainment) on

Located on the Wellington waterfront, Homegrown is a purely New Zealand music festival. With six stages spanning multiple genres, the hardest part for punters can be choosing who to see next. Homegrown is also home to musical reunions. In 2017, rockers [Elemeno P](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/elemeno\-p) reunited on stage for the first time in four years. As an annual event, it's also a chance for musicians to 'catch up with our peers and talk politics backstage'.

Now in its 10th year, the festival is still growing strong. In 2017, 49 bands performed to a sold out crowd of 20,000.

 

BIG NAMES FOR BIG CROWDS

Back in 1960, local acts also drew a crowd of 20,000 in a concert headlined by the Howard Morrison Quartet at Western Springs stadium. A year earlier, rock 'n' roller Johnny Devlin was the main act in a variety show at Western Springs that filled to capacity.

 

But before he became a headline act, Johnny earned his stripes as a support act for The Beatles. Likewise, Ray Columbus and The Invaders toured with The Rolling Stones. By touring with international artists, up\-and\-coming local artists get access to a stadium\-sized audience. But being the opening act is not always the greatest experience. When The Red Hot Chilli Peppers played at the Mt Smart Supertop in 1992, local musicians MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave were first support act, followed by Head Like A Hole \- at the height of their naked phase.

 

Fifteen\-year\-old Mark Easterbrook travelled down from Whngrei for what was to be his first 'proper' gig. 'The local opening acts got a fairly hostile reception from a fairly aggro crowd. At one point the promoter came out and abused the crowd for their behaviour and threatened to stop the show, which just made it worse.'

 

'In the end it was 95bFM's Hans Hoeflich - wearing Doc Martens, floral dress, pigtails, and a goatee - who calmed the crowd in one of the most masterful bits of crowd control I've ever seen. I believe at one point everyone actually sat down, cross-legged, and folded their arms. That, or memory is playing tricks on me.'

Mark Easterbrook

Mt Smart Stadium was also home to the Big Day Out for many years. The city festival was headlined by international acts, but always had a healthy amount of local acts to check out in a stadium setting. With your EFTPOS card safely stashed in your Doc boots, you were set to dance under the dripping ceiling in the Boiler Room or crowd surf to the soundtrack of Shihad.

 

 

'The Boiler Room it really lived up to its name. By night time it was jam packed with people and so hot that moisture would pool on the ceiling of the supertop and drip down on you. Despite the sore feet, exhaustion, and being covered in your sweat and other people's sweat, you still danced like crazy.'

Rebecca Loud, six-time Big Day Out attendee

Shihad, 'Bitter', 1995, recorded at the Big Day Out

 

Now, New Zealand acts fill large venues that were created with overseas bands in mind. Six60 and Devilskin play their own shows at Vector Arena, while Lorde has sold the venue out.

 

WELCOME HOME

While a stadium show can be unforgettable, it turns out a living room can be just as exciting, and even better for the bands. There are no venue hire costs and the living room or backyard location inspires a sense of community \- though it helps if you have a few well\-connected flatmates to start with. With 21 rooms, 'The Big House' in Parnell is one such residency. In 2005, then\-Big House resident Mikhal Norriss was about to head overseas and planned a farewell bash. She was working at 95bFM at the time so she booked The Fanatics, Deja Voodoo, and Bleeders to play, organised staging and PA gear through her contacts and then emptied out one of the rooms to be the 'band' room.

 

'We had tied mattresses to the windows in the hope that the sound wouldn't keep up the neighbours half the night. Little did we know this would be the least of our worries. Just before the Bleeders were going to play the balcony collapsed.'

Mikhal Norriss

Mikhal instantly switched from party mode \(dressed as Courtney Love with smeared makeup, wonky wig and petticoat\) to taking charge and getting people out. Emergency services set up ambulances to check on everyone and amazingly the worst injury was a dislocated shoulder.

 

'The night was a mixture of the greatest party I had ever been to and the most stressful.'

Photographer Mikhal Norriss

 

 

HITTING THE DANCEFLOOR

Sometimes the greatest parties take place on the dance floor.

When Connan Mockasin, Liam Finn, Lawrence Arabia, and special guest Mick Fleetwood performed at the Crystal Palace in Mt Eden in 2016, they were in a sense re\-enacting what the venue once was \- a spot for local bands to perform covers of international hits, and provide the audience with some tunes to dance to.

 

DANCE DESTINATIONS

By 1965 Auckland was clearly New Zealand's entertainment capital. The era of large suburban dance halls was over, replaced by smaller clubs where the audience was just as interested in watching the band as they were in their dance partner. The Jive Centre on Hobson St and The Monaco on Federal St were just two of the clubs in the central city.

 

Barbara Dean started as a go\-go dancer at The Monaco in 1967. The resident band \- initially Larry's Rebels, followed by The Classic Affair and later The Dallas Four \- would play live dance music on Friday and Saturday nights from 8\-11pm. Compere Keith Adams kept the crowd rocking.

 

'Teenagers would be lined up down Federal St. The lighting was very dim and the dance floor was always packed right from the first song played by the bands. There was no alcohol (just a Coke and orange bar) and if any teenagers were caught with alcohol in their bags then this was confiscated on entry by the "bouncer".'

Barbara Dean, go-go dancer for the Monaco and later C'Mon

[Hugh Lynn](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/hugh\-lynn) was entrenched in Aucklands live music scene. He was a trained dancer, a compere at the Top 20 and the Oriental Ballroom and in 1965 his talent as a bouncer prompted Hugh to start a business, Eden Security, providing the muscle for club owners and promoters like Phil Warren.

 

'I loved Hugh Lynn fronting the Oriental Ballroom, he would dress up, he'd have a top hat on, he was in the foyer with a walking stick directing people 'you can't come in', 'you can come in', and he could hold his own when the King Cobra gang arrived on the doorstep.'

Phil Warren, via AudioCulture.co.nz

 

Phil Warren was one of the big players in the club scene. He was involved with the Oriental Ballroom, The Monaco, the Crystal Palace, Teenarama, The Beatle Inn, and more. The crowds were mainly female patrons, but behind the scenes it was all men.

 

[Cathy Howe](http://www.sergent.com.au/music/cathyhowe.html), who was named top recording artist of 1963, found that being the only female vocalist was very challenging.

 

'When I was performing, it was the men who owned and operated the nightclubs and made the bookings for artists, and as a shy teenage girl I did feel insecure and way out of my depth at times.'

Cathy Howe, quoted in Kiwi rock chicks, pop stars and trailblazers, by Ian Chapman

FROM BANDS TO DJS

Phil Warren also owned a club halfway up Wellington's Plimmer Steps, which under new ownership and a new name, Exchequer, was one of several venues that in the 1980s changed nightlife in the capital.

 

Exchequer, Dr Johns, and Clare's replaced their resident bands with resident DJs. By 1985, Exchequers was the city's most popular club, with the 'godfather of Wellington DJ scene', Tony 'Tee Pee' Pene, on the payroll. Club owners were very aware of the American influence on the scene. Not long after he had persuaded Pene to leave Dr Johns, Exchequer owner Nick Mills sent the budding DJ to the United States to hone his skills.

 

Up north, soul and funk reigned supreme for most of the 1980s in the [South Auckland club scene](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/the\-south\-auckland\-club\-scene\-1983\-89). Cleopatra's in Panmure was one of the best venues for live music. Every weekend locals would fill the clubs to see the soulful Ardijah, The Yandall Sisters and Annie Crummer.

By the end of the decade, the South Auckland scene had blended in with the new explosion of electronic music taking place in central Auckland. This gave rise to a club like [Box and Cause Celebre](http://simongrigg.info/box.htm) where rappers and jazz bands played in one room, while DJs and electronica producers played next door. There were also [large dance parties](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/colourblind\-auckland\-s\-dance\-music\-scene\-in\-1993) where hip\-hop acts rubbed shoulders with dance music producers \- held at rented warehouses or venues like the Powerstation.

 

Listen to Box and Cause Celebre co\-owner Simon Grigg and DJ Sir\-Vere remember the good times at the Auckland Museum LATE discussion in 2015.

 

Meanwhile, the drum 'n' bass scene was also developing down in Christchurch, at clubs like The Ministry. [MC Tali](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/tali) was a student when she heard the music that was to set her on the path to becoming a drum 'n' bass MC. 'A swirling wind sound coursed out of the bass speakers. Then a haunting voice cut through the darkness. Then the beat kicked in and I felt my mind stand to attention. The beat was minimal, punctuated with laser like sounds, and these husky feminine vocals that sounded slightly off key, cut across the track loud, understated and raw.'

 

'On we danced until the night finished at around 6am. As the lights flickered on I looked at the shiny, sweaty, happy faces of people around me stretching out their dance weary limbs. We were all clapping and cheering and in that moment I realised I had found it. My niche, my place, my passion.'

MC Tali

 

MC Tali has been in the scene ever since. She recently MC'd at Neck of the Woods in central Auckland, a venue which was opened to provide a home for underground music. Similar to late 90s venues, the bar features DJs and increasingly live music from a range of genres \- hip\-hop to electronica to rock. Neck of the Woods music director Dave 'Hudge' Hudgins says live music prompts all kinds of audience response.

 

'Music taps directly into our emotions so you see every reaction in the spectrum: from the "goosebump" moment to the contented grin, the solemn look of reflection to the one of complete awe.'

Dave 'Hudge' Hudgins
 

Loving the vibe caught by Max Burgess at the @smallfortunes release party. Check the whole album out on our Facebook page.

A post shared by Neck Of The Woods (@neckofthewoodsnz) on

 

 

ALL AGES, ALL PLACES

Being too young or too far away isn't always a barrier to seeing your favourite band.

BLERTA, 'Dance all around the World', 1971

There's one factor that limits access to many live music venues \- the legal drinking age. From 1910 to 1967 this was 21 years old; it later dropped to 20 and again in 1999 to 18. Most early rock 'n' roll fans were too young to go to the clubs where their favourite bands had a residency. Noticing the groups of bored young people, one Christchurch mother decided to organise Sunday afternoon dances at the Railway Hall in Sydenham. With music provided by her 15\-year\-old son [Max Merritt](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/max\-merritt) and his band The Meteors, the Teenage Club attracted dance\-goers from all over Christchurch.

 

Rock 'n' roll music could also be heard coming from church halls as parish leaders grew concerned by the perceived behaviour of young people in their community. Church\-run youth centres with live music and dancing were where some of our early rock 'n' roll bands found their first audience.

 

The Mori Community Centre on Auckland's Fanshawe St hosted early performances by Howard Morrison, Prince Tui Teka and Kiri Te Kanawa. The centre was a gathering place for musicians in the 1950s \- particularly Mori who were recent arrivals to the city. It was renowned for its talent quests and many performers honed their showmanship at the community centre before going on to join one of the era's Mori showbands.

 

Underage fans found they were welcome in _some_ clubs. Venues like The Shiralee, The Monaco and the Surfside opened to accommodate the growing number of Beatles\-inspired bands and their younger fans. Phil Warren's short\-lived club, the Beatle Inn, allowed entry only to under 18 year olds \- turning the idea of R18 on its head!

 

All ages venues continue to be a way for teenagers to see live music. In Palmerston North, The Stomach and later Great Job! normalised all ages gigs to the point where Great Job! founders Harry Lilley and David Stevens think it's abnormal to have R18 shows that exclude so many people.

CREATIVE PLACES

School halls and auditoriums were another unexpected venue for local music and the iconic school talent quest soon began to feature rock 'n' roll performances. But it wasnt just high school bands rocking the school auditorium. Throughout the decades, many of New Zealand's top bands played lunchtime concerts at high schools. [Herbs](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/herbs) performed regularly at high schools in their early days, and a [Push Push](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/push\-push) concert added some excitement to high school life in the 90s.

 

'We entered a radio station competition by writing pages of the line "We want Push Push". We were a pretty big school and we won! The concert was epic. The school hall was a moshpit of uniformed students. It was a lunchtime show, definitely more fun than our usual habit of hanging out at the canteen.'

Nathan Crocker, former student, Fraser High School, Hamilton

In the winter of 1979, Th' Dudes played a number of school lunchtime performances to 'a captive audience of record buyers who are too young to see them play in pubs'. With the band receiving 75 cents of the $1 entry fee, the income was a 'nice supplement' to their regular pub work. Watch their performance at Auckland's Kelston Girls' High:

While hundreds can fit into a high school hall, if you want a big crowd of all ages one of the best places to perform is a local park. In 1983, Split Enz performed in New Plymouth as part of their Enz of an Era tour. The Bowl of Brooklands is an outdoor stage with a large grass amphitheatre, set against the backdrop of Pukekura Park. Music writer Scott Kara was in the crowd. He was only 10 years old but it made a lasting impression.

 

'I remember Tim Finn rowing across the lake in front of the stage during Six Months In A Leaky Boat. At least I think that's what happened. I didn't know then what was going on with this mad music I was hearing. And it still sounds beautifully crazed today.'

Scott Kara, music writer

 

 

RECORD STORE SHOWS

It's not surprising that bands also take to performing in record stores. When touring in the 1990s, Supergroove would perform in local record stores to drum up interest for their gig that night. Real Groovy Records in Auckland has been hosting bands in\-store for years \- turning audience members into record buyers. For the release of his 2016 album _Absolute Truth_, Lawrence Arabia treated fans to an early morning performance in the basement of Auckland record store Flying Out, broadcast live on 95bFM.

 

 

How to start a Friday morning... Lawrence Arabia playing #absolutetruth @95bfm

A post shared by (@holigro) on

But there's one day a year where indie record stores really take centre stage \- international record store day. Stores in big and small towns across the country celebrate with in\-house performances that are open to fans of all ages. Dave Dobbyn, Orchestra of Spheres, and Anika Moa performed at Wellington's Slowboat Records in 2016. Anika performed 'Chop Chop Hiyaaa!' from her album _Songs For Bubbas 2_ \- attracting some of New Zealand's youngest music fans.

 

 

DOWN AT THE PUB

For those over the drinking age, some of New Zealand's best known watering holes were also some of the best places to see live music, and were compulsory stops in the national touring schedule.

Th' Dudes, 'Bliss', 1980

1967 was a watershed year. A referendum on licensing hours ended half a century of 6pm closing. For the first time in two generations, it was possible to watch music in the evening with an alcoholic beverage in hand. Hotels began to introduce live music to attract patrons and keep people entertained well into the evening. But there was no immediate revolution in the music. The traditional format of a resident band backed up by guest appearances remained the standard offering. Disdain for the counterculture meant that many of the more ground\-breaking acts had to play outside of bars, at places like university halls or community centres. During the 1970s, Lion booked bands for its bars directly so 'unacceptable' groups \- who played originals or challenging covers \- were locked out. But by the late 1970s, many pubs had introduced professional set\-ups \- a soundperson with a mixing desk and later lighting rigs. Local pubs in the main centres were soon to witness the birth of some of New Zealand's best\-loved bands.

 

In Auckland, two rival venues \- [The Gluepot](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/the\-gluepot) and Mainstreet Cabaret \- turned their back on the resident band format, instead embracing a mix of New Zealand and international acts. The Gluepot \- then the Ponsonby Club Hotel \- introduced live entertainment following the licensing law change in 1967. The Radars were the resident band for almost 10 years, supported by an array of Mori showbands. This all changed in December 1977 when local band Hello Sailor filled the pub, beginning almost two decades of legendary performances by bands including Th' Dudes, Mi\-Sex, Screaming MeeMees, The Chills, and a number of international acts including a 30\-minute set by Mick Jagger in 1988.

With the enviable status of holding a cabaret licence and its later opening hours, Mainstreet Cabaret was also in demand as a live music venue. Mainstreet was brought to the wider public's attention by the _Radio with Pictures_ TV show 'Live at Mainstreet'. The venue was used to record a number of live albums including the 1983 album, _DD Smash Live: Deep in the Heart of Taxes,_ and in August 1984_, Mockers: Live at Mainstreet._

Radio with Pictures - Live at Mainstreet montage, 1983

Another venue with a cabaret license was Napier's [The Cabana](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/rocking\-the\-cabana), which Midge Marsden infamously described as 'New Zealand's finest rock 'n' roll finishing school.'

 

In the early 1970s Cabana's manager Dick Kellett gave touring bands free accommodation, meals, and access to the house bar after the hotel had closed for the evening \- a lucrative offer for struggling musicians on the road. Liam Ryan of the Narcs recalled a tour where the band played to a crowd of 600 at the Cabana.

 

'The scary thing was that once the band was on that stage, there was no way you could get off bloody scary! We were dressed in white, the whole of the Cabana was soaking in sweat and of course you could smoke in bars in those days. We came off the stage at one point before an encore and looked at each other and all of our white clothes were streaked in this brown shit that was coming from the ceiling. It was the nicotine dripping from above onto our clothes, it was that hot and that full-on!'

Liam Ryan, the Narcs, via Audioculture.co.nz

In Christchurch, [The Gladstone](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/the\-gladstone\-hotel) cultivated up\-and\-coming bands such as the Gordons, The Clean, and The Verlaines in the 1980s, but by the 1990s, Dux de Lux was the Garden City's top live music venue. Dux de Lux sous chef, Tristen Anderson, saw countless gigs at the Christchurch venue before it closed following the February 2011 earthquake. It was a favourite spot for young touring bands because it offered a guaranteed payment, rather than relying on door takings.

 

'To know we had a hand in giving a lot of these bands a platform to perform and showcase their creativity was truly something special.'

Tristen Anderson, Dux de Lux sous chef

 

The importance of venues which both pay for and make a space for live music continues today. In Auckland, bars like [Wine Cellar, Whammy](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/wine\-cellar\-and\-whammy\-bar), and the Golden Dawn 'Tavern of Power' regularly host local, national, and sometimes international bands.

 

One of Auckland's oldest and most adored live music venues is set to close in the coming year \- The Kings Arms in Newton. With it's city fringe location, capacity for a mid\-sized crowd, and high quality sound at a relatively low cost; the pub has been the perfect spot for international touring bands and a coveted stage for local musicians for the past 30 years. Check out Fur Patrol performing 'Lydia', live at The Kings Arms:

 

Whether you're a promoter, a venue owner, a band, an aspiring musician, or someone who just loves music \- there's something about seeing it live and direct.

 

**GET THE SOUNDTRACK**

Check out the Spotify playlist to hear all the songs featured in this article, plus a selection of live performance recordings. What would you add to the mix?

VISIT VOLUME: MAKING MUSIC IN AOTEAROA

_[Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa](http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/volume?utm\_medium=shorthand&utmsource=am&utmcampaign=style)_ is the first\-ever major exhibition of New Zealand music, on now at Auckland Museum. There's opportunities to DJ, VJ, dance, step into the recording studio, or jump on stage in a rowdy 70s pub \- inspired by The Gluepot. You'll also see the gig posters, instruments, and momentos from seven decades of New Zealand music. [Get there now.](http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/volume?utm\_medium=shorthand&utm\_source=am&utm\_campaign=style)

 

 

#AMVolume

 

 

Dressing up the New Zealand sound
We know what New Zealand music sounds like, but what does it look like? Explore the sartorial style of seven decades of music in this Volume Extended Read - from art school suits to barbed wire armbands and knee make up.
Enter

Dressing up the New Zealand sound

We know what New Zealand music sounds like \- but what does it look like?

KickerThis is a kicker.

A song may begin with a few strums on a guitar or some catchy beats, but once it is performed it becomes more than what you can hear.

Lyrics aren't the only channel for getting a message across. A musician's look can champion a cause, turn heads, influence audiences or remind a rising star of where it all began.

 

'I wear my leather jacket like a great big hug'

The Chills, 'I Love My Leather Jacket'

 

 

It is a now\-famous [leather jacket](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/collection\-garment/black\-leather\-jacket\-with\-captain\-scarlett\-badge/) that connected The Chills' Martin Phillipps to the past. Normally associated with toughness, his jacket became the subject of a song written to honour its previous owner, bandmate Martyn Bull who died of leukemia in 1984. Listen to Martin's heartfelt tribute to his friend.

 

BEST DRESSED

Sophistication, style, and matching outfits \- it's a look that demands attention and adds a large dose of star power to the stage.

Tami Neilson is one such star who goes for this look. In the music video for her 2016 song 'Lonely', Tami is the essence of old\-school elegance, dressed in a black velvet gown with a fishtail and white gloves. Designed by Judy Dee of Curvy Couture, the ensemble is straight out of one of fashion's most glamorous eras, 1950s Hollywood.

Judy also worked with Tami to design a striking yellow dress and coat trimmed with feathers for the 2016 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

 

'I absolutely love making clothes for Tami. She presents my dresses exactly as I would like them to be worn. I get really excited when I see her in magazines, newspapers, and on TV. It's a very humbling experience as I am a one-person operation.'

Judy Moughton

 

 

 

Marlon Williams \- who features on Tami's song 'Lonely' \- is another artist who gravitates to old\-school fashion. His style references 1950s 'greasers' or you can also see him reinterpreting the country music uniform of checked shirts and string ties. His look complements his music, which is described by [Under the Radar](http://www.undertheradar.co.nz/review/1028/Marlon\-Williams.utr) as having 'a timeless and sensitive quality'.

 

But for New Zealand musicians performing in the 1950s, the style was far from 'greaser'. These bands may have been branded a bad influence, but most parents wouldnt have disapproved of the attire of the our first rock 'n' roll stars. When they took to the stage, Johnny Devlin & the Devils, Max Merritt and The Meteors and Ray Columbus & The Invaders were impeccably dressed in suits, ties, and polished shoes.

 

 

 

IMMACULATE GLAM

Mahora Peters, lead singer of the popular showband [The Maori Volcanics](http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/nat\-music/audio/201821770/the\-maori\-volcanics), alternated between glitzy cocktail outfits and versions of Mori and Pacific dress \- a piupiu, bodice, and headband or a hula skirt and lei. The band travelled all over the world, giving Mahora plenty of opportunity to shop for dazzling stage attire.

 

In outfits made by their dressmaker Mrs Ali Verhoek, the soul\-singing Yandall Sisters brought a glamorous prescence to the stage.

 

 

'Our mother instilled in us to always try and look good when going out and our agent Elaine Hegan also told us that when we performed we should always be the best-dressed women in the room, so we never forgot that.'

Adele Yandall

 

Meanwhile a young singer from Dargaville, Mark Williams, was making his own costumes. 'I felt it was important that not only do I sing but that I looked like something. Visual was very important to me.' Listen to Mark talk about his style below.

 

BLACK IS A BEAUTIFUL COLOUR

On the flipside, black clothing is a wardrobe staple for many New Zealand musicians. But is it a deliberate act of nonconformity or just indifference towards the world of fashion?

The meaning of wearing the colour black has a complicated history in New Zealand. It encompasses mourning protocol, uniformity, formality, and values of temperance. On the other hand, it represents modernity, nonconformity, and protest. These meanings were explored in the [2011 exhibition _Black in Fashion_](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/black\-in\-fashion) and the subsequent book _Black_, which explored the roles dark colours have played in New Zealand music. As New Zealand entered the 1970s, wardrobes were made up of a palette of bright colours.

 

'Black was really only worn at the margins: by the guardians of the prevailing civil code, the men in authority; by those practising dissent, the rebels; and by those proposing change, the avant-garde.'

Doris de Pont, curator of Black in Fashion: Wearing the colour black in New Zealand, 2011

 

But there was plenty of dissent happening in 1970s Ponsonby. Bands like Dragon and Hello Sailor were donning black leather pants and biker jackets, the latter group providing the anthem 'Gutter Black'.

Hello Sailor, 'Gutter Black', 1977

And there was a rising tide of political awareness and a call for change. As Andrew Clifford notes in _Black_, when [Herbs](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/herbs) \- a group with mixed Polynesian and Mori membership, and associations with the Black Panther movement \- released their first album _Whats' Be Happen_, they chose to shed the sunny colours and island imagery usually associated with reggae music. The album cover featured a black and white photo of the 1978 Bastion Point eviction day. This T\-shirt featuring the Herbs logo may feature a print of Rastafarian colours, but the symbolism of the T\-shirts black colour aligns with their songs of protest.

 

Down south the [Flying Nun bands](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/labels/flying\-nun) adopted an 'alternative' uniform \- variations on a black woollen jersey, leather jacket and dark jeans. Take a look in the 1987 Straitjacket Fits video for 'She Speeds'.

Straitjacket Fits, 'She Speeds', 1987

But the black jersey was more of a practical choice than a fashion statement.

 

'It was f**king cold down there, and it was cheap clobber; Warnock's had them by the lorry load and they were easy to wash. It was wearing what you got up in that day rather than any kind of fashion statement.'

Writer and music reviewer Grant Smithies, Black, 2012

When The Chills recorded the album _Soft Bomb_ with American label Slash in 1992, they wanted to capitalise on the popularity of the Dunedin Sound and produced a [woollen jersey](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/collection\-garment/soft\-bomb\-jumper/) as a marketing gimmick to help promote the album. [Chris Knox](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/chris\-knox) kept up the preference for black when he moved to the warmer Auckland climate \- usually performing in a [black singlet, shorts and jandals](http://nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/collection\-garment/chris\-knoxs\-t\-shirt\-jandals/).

BLACK WORKS

Shihad's Jon Toogood says the band worked out early on that black looks good with everything and could even 'make a bunch of nerdy metalheads from Wellington look sorta cool'.

 

'Wearing black also made us look and feel like an unified gang, all on the same mission without really that much effort. As long as you had a black T-shirt and black jeans you were ready for battle.'

Jon Toogood, Shihad

 

 

[Supergroove](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/supergroove) adopted the colours black, red, and white in a deliberate attempt to brand the band. Their logo, posters, album covers, music videos, and clothing all stuck to this palette. Each band member wore a personalised outfit made by fashion label Feline \- a hoodie, long\-sleeved top, and pants.

 

'We wore them on stage and into town. It made us a feel like a real band, like a gang I guess.'

Nick Atkinson, Supergroove

The concept recalls the bands of the 1950s and their matching stage attire. But by the time they released their second album, Supergroove had abandoned the red and adopted formal 'men in black' suits. Watch the video for 'You Gotta Know' to check out the black, red, and white in full splendour.

Supergroove, 'You Gotta Know', 1994

 

 

COSTUMES AND KOOKIE CLOTHES

For some musicians, the alternatives of a sharp suit or a uniform of black wasn't enough. Instead, fashion was a way to stand out from the crowd or an opportunity to be someone else.

[Dinah Lee](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/dinah\-lee) changed her name and her look in 1964. Not long after moving to Auckland, Dinah befriended Jacky Holm who worked in one of the city's most 'out\-there boutiques', The Casual Shop.

Teenagers loved her fresh image and copied it \- despite the protests of parents across the nation. A decade later and New Zealand had undergone a revolution. [Nineteen\-seventies fashion](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/the\-age\-of\-aquarius) was a sea of long hair, handpainted tunics, and flared jeans. But a few bands deliberately avoided that look; they were determined to be noticed. By 1974, TV was still seen as a way to get your music 'out there', but the talent show\-style programmes were often uninspiring. The appearance of Alistair Riddell, however, was revolutionary.

 

'Into the living rooms of the nation strides a tall, androgynous figure with dark tresses, silver eye shadow and white satin bell-bottoms. His scarf trailing almost to the floor, he pouts and preens his way through an ode to a drag queen.'

Nick Bollinger, writing in AudioCulture.co.nz

Space Waltz, 'Out on the Street', 1974

Split Enz were opening for Space Waltz at Hamilton's Founders Theatre when they introduced the look made them as distinctive visually as they were musically. Seamster Noel Crombie joined in 1974, bringing with him a bulky suit carrier and a vision for a groundbreaking visual style.

 

'We were dedicated to isolating ourselves from anything remotely resembling what the rest of the musicians in the country were up to.'

Mike Chunn in Stranger than Fiction

Check out the images below to see the stranger side of the 70s \- including the emergence of punk at the end of the decade.

 

MATERIAL MATTERS

Punk's anti\-establishment aesthetic meant accessorising yourself in everyday industrial materials, dressing in op\-shop garments, or borrowing your mum's sewing machine to whip up something new. Vinyl aviator suits, space\-age sunglasses, barbed\-wire armbands, and gas masks were just some of the garments seen on stage. When [Proud Scum](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/proud\-scum) changed their name to the Beagle Boys they had these orange jumpers made replicas of those worn by the Disney criminal gang the band named themselves after. Jonathan Jamrag's sister made them on her knitting machine.

 

After punk came bands more influenced by pop, and inspired by new wave music. Among these were the [Mockers](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/the\-mockers). Frontman Andrew Fagan says in their 'quest to find an audience they had a lot of fun playing live and challenging the orthodox approach to how you should look on stage'.

Mockers fans might remember Andrew's spectacular pink fluffy suit from the 'Alvison Park' music video, or from their 1983 tour.

 

'Wearing the pink fur suit on stage under the lights always resulted in it getting absolutely saturated with sweat. Each morning, it would be crispy dry and reeking of stale sweat. At the end of the six-week tour it still looked good but the other band members seemed to keep their distance from me, for obvious reasons.'

Andrew Fagan

Creating a spectacle is just as important to South Auckland band [Vallkyrie](https://www.facebook.com/vallkyriemusic/). They may look culturally overloaded but their mix of kimonos, Egyptian headpieces mixed with medieval armour and G\-shock watches is all about aesthetics and big striking statements.

The band have designed their own piece of branded fashion, based on the _tare_ \- a Japanese martial arts belt that features a name tag.

 

'We make all our branded clothing ourselves, we go to our local clothing printer in Manukau mall. He sees us and smiles and he says "Ooh BIG V, Old English, 13inch". Eventually we will start making merchandise and getting it manufactured in bulk so we can sell to the many.'

Vallkyrie
 

A photo posted by Vallkyrie (@vallkyrie) on

 

 

THE BAND T\-SHIRT

It only took a decade for the band T\-shirt to morph from an item given gratis to a band's inner circle to a product sold across the nation.

As a pirate radio station broadcasting from a ship anchored offshore, [Radio Hauraki](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/radio\-hauraki\-the\-pirate\-days\-the\-good\-guys) was soon looking for income to keep them afloat. In 1966, they were selling branded T\-shirts and merchandise through their formal network of listeners, The 1480 Club.

 

One of the first studio guests on Radio Hauraki was the band Larry's Rebels. They also printed T\-shirts showcasing their name. Magazines such as _Groove_ included coupons which readers could send away for T\-shirts.

 

'We didn't wear T-shirts to perform - we wore suits and shirts - but we gave away Larry's Rebels T-shirts to people who helped us out. They were also for sale through our fan club.'

Terry Rouse, Larry's Rebels

Screenprinting T\-shirts was a relatively new industry in New Zealand, and the demand was small. The cost limited early designs to one or two colours.

THE PRINTING BUSINESS

Larry's Rebels lead singer [Larry Morris](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/larry\-s\-rebels) went on to open a T\-shirt screenprinting businesses with promoter [Hugh Lynn](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/hugh\-lynn) and architect Jim Stoneman in 1972. Crazy Shirts was soon set up on Queen Street, printing T\-shirts in short runs while they learnt the ropes. Local bands such as The La De Da's and Herbs ordered branded T\-shirts as a form of self\-promotion. Screenprinting businesses soon popped up in New Zealand's main centres. Check out the T\-shirt Richard Egan wore as lead singer of the [Bulldogs Allstar Goodtime Band](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/bulldogs\-allstar\-goodtime\-band) when they performed on the children's series _Spot On_ in May 1974.

Crazy Shirt's Hugh Lynn recalls fans bringing in their own designs for custom T\-shirts featuring their favourite band. Wearing a band T\-shirt quickly became a means of self\-expression. Bootleggers caught on to the potential fan market and printed hundreds of T\-shirts that were sold at festivals and markets. But before long, bands and their promoters realised the moneymaking potential of merchandise and began to license their branding. Businesses like Crazy Shirts found a new market manufacturing T\-shirts under contract; while design firms like Snake Studios found new clients in record companies \- making T\-shirts for international bands including Alice Cooper and Little Feat to be sold at their New Zealand shows.

MERCH WITH A MESSAGE

By the 1980s, both the industry and the style had evolved. T\-shirts featured brighter and more complex prints \- often based on graphics from album covers or tours. They were part of a branded package. DD Smash's Dave Dobbyn designed the T\-shirt for their 1985 tour using the graphics from their single, 'Magic What She Do' as inspiration.

 

Comic artist Martin Emond designed two Hallelujah Picasso album covers \- the design on this T\-shirt first appeared on the cover of their 1995 EP, _Gospel of the DNA Demon_ and portraits he did of the band appeared on their second album. Martin later worked with Shihad, Head Like a Hole, and Danzig, and with the clothing label Illicit.

 

 

'Martin's later artwork in comics such as White Trash and Lobocop (published by Marvel) featured visual references to Hallelujah Picassos, such as our Black Spade Picasso Core logo. We were dead chuffed.'

Peter McLennan

Dawn Raid Entertainment built an empire on the back of selling t\-shirts. School friends Andy Murnane and Danny 'Brotha D' Leaoasavaii began selling T\-shirts at the Otara Markets in the late 1990s, and used the profits to fund Dawn Raid's first release, the compilation _Southside Story_. Mareko's 'Stop, Drop and Roll' t\-shirt was just one of many oversize styles from the Dawn Raid catalogue.

 

Wellington's [Mermaidens](https://www.facebook.com/mermaidensband) are lucky enough to have their own artist in the band \- bassist Lily West is a talented illustrator. She designed the first Mermaidens T\-shirt in 2015, a cosmic vibrating being surrounded by floating plants and other creatures.

 

 

A post shared by mermaidens (@mermaidensband) on

Flipping the usual process, Lily's T\-shirt design was used on the cover of Mermaidens' first album, _Undergrowth_. Elements from the design can also be seen in the animated music video Lily created for 'Under the Mountain II'.

The band says there is nothing cooler than seeing a stranger walk down the street wearing your band T\-shirt. But there's a more practical side to selling T\-shirts adds vocalist/guitarist Gussie Larkin. 'They're a pretty good money maker'.

 

'I've got a pretty good collection of band T-shirts, although I hardly ever wear them on stage - a T-shirt isn't dressed up enough for me! We definitely make them for our friends and fans to enjoy - and to be walking billboards!'

Gussie Larkin, Mermaidens

The story of the band T\-shirt has come full circle with [Slash from Guns N' Roses spotted](http://www.viva.co.nz/article/fashion/slash\-gun\-n\-roses\-bad\-things\-apparel/) wearing muscle tank from Raglan\-based label [Bad Things](https://www.badthingsapparel.com/). No longer about proving you were at the show, the band T\-shirt has become the centrepiece of rock 'n' roll style \- adopted by celebrities and the public alike.

 

 

 

TRENDSETTERS

When musicians and fashion designers realised the crossover potential of their respective creative industries, the fashion\-music collab was born.

The arrival of TV in the 1960s introduced a new audience to New Zealand music. Artists quickly saw the potential of broadcasting into homes all over the nation, and they relied on local fashion designers to make sure they looked good. TV had a massive influence. Outfits worn by musicians on a Saturday night show were quickly replicated on the street.

 

Designer [Annie Bonza](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/fashion\-story/annie\-bonza/) returned from Sydney to Auckland in the 1960s, quickly becoming one of the 'it' designers. Annie's graphic style was made for black and white TV. Working closely with artist Murray Grimsdale, she designed outfits for the [_Music Hall_](https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/tv\-history/music) and _C'mon_ shows \- sending finished garments to the set by taxi.

 

'The exposure was huge but we were so busy creating that we didnt have time to think about it. We wanted to keep a constant flow of new garments for girls to choose from.'

Annie Bonza

Regular _C'mon_ performers The Chicks remember Annie for her 'different, way\-out clothes'. 'She was way ahead in the fashion field,' remembers Judy Donaldson. But the sisters were only teenagers and they didnt have much influence over their look. 'We were very young at that stage. I was 16 and Sue was only 13, so we didnt have much say in anything. It was our manager Ron Dalton who "created" The Chicks image.'

With her 26\-week residency on _C'mon_, Sandy Edmonds was soon a household name. Her long blonde hair and teen\-sullen pout meant she was sought after as a face of fashion \- Sandy advertised make\-up and appeared in fashion spreads for the _New Zealand Woman's Weekly_.

 

SOUGHT\-AFTER STYLE

By the 1990s, TV had lost much of its influence on street style, but made\-for\-TV pop phenomenon True Bliss briefly showcased New Zealand fashion in a prime\-time slot. Searching for an image that is 'very 1999', the band weren't so keen on the stylist's proposed 'westie meets homie' look \- watch their reaction in the clip below.

While True Bliss resisted \(unsuccessfully\), the rise of visual\-based media is only adding to the importance of nailing your image. Collabs between musicians, stylists, and designers are mutually beneficial \- the designer's brand is exposed to a new audience and the musician looks amazing. [Ladi6](http://ladi6.com/) recently collaborated with [Sera Mitchinson](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/fashion\-story/sera\-mitchinson\-selector/) and Kowtow Clothing to design a garment that she described as representing her music life story.

 

 

A post shared by The Life Of A ladi (@ladiwho) on

Designer [Shona Tawhiao](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/fashion\-story/shona\-tawhiao/) describes Ladi6 as having her 'own cool style' \- something that attracts designers keen to see their clothes worn by artists who exemplify values such as strength and individuality. Often wearing dresses by Lela Jacobs or [Tanya Carlson](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/fashion\-story/carlson/), Ladi6 pulls it all together with carefully chosen accessories like a Shona Tawhiao kupenga harakeke neckpiece paired with a top hat or statement jewellery by Nina Gordon.

 

Since 2005, [Aaradhna](https://www.facebook.com/AaradhnaOfficial/) has worked closely with sisters Sophie and [Marissa Findlay](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/fashion\-story/marissa\-findlay/), whose parents Liz and Neville started the fashion label [Zambesi](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/fashion\-story/zambesi/) in 1979.

 

'For me it feels like I'm working with family. It feels comfortable and I love their honesty and their eye for details. I trust their eyes they know what looks good and what's a no-go. Love working with Zambesi and getting to wear some of their amazing clothes and I love Liz, she's a beautiful spirit. The whole famz are!'

Aaradhna Patel

 

Sophie directed two of Aaradhna's most recent videos, 'Brown Girl' and 'Welcome to the Jungle', with Marissa as director of photography.

 

'We love working with Radz, it benefits Zambesi of course to work with her as she speaks of equality and strength and she oozes style and confidence through her image... we share those same ideas'

Marissa Findlay

Marissa continues, 'We have always loved supporting New Zealand artists when we can. As a photographer it's great for me as people see my work through Aaradhna's popularity. I also just LOVE Aaradhna on a personal level. She is an amazing human and of course stunning to photograph. Sharing the love and the collab works well both ways.'

 

They might not always write songs about their leather jacket, but musicians are very aware of the importance of their identity. Pictures are now firmly part of the package \- [the album cover](http://www.audioculture.co.nz/scenes/art\-of\-the\-album\-cover), [the music video](https://www.nzonscreen.com/explore/music\-video), [what a musician wears to perform](http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/collection/?e=&f=&c=6077) \- it all adds up to tell the story of the music.

 

**GET THE SARTORIAL SOUNDTRACK**

Check out the Spotify playlist to hear all the songs featured in this article \- plus a selection of tunes which feature clothing items and ideas in the lyrics. What would you add to the mix?

VISIT VOLUME: MAKING MUSIC IN AOTEAROA

_[Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa](http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/volume?utm\_medium=shorthand&utm\_source=am&utm\_campaign=style)_ is the first\-ever major exhibition of New Zealand music, on now at Auckland Museum. See the style of seven decades of New Zealand music \- including Split Enz suits, Lorde's school shoes, Andrew Fagan's pink fur suit, and Martin Phillipp's leather jacket. It's interactive too \- there's opportunities to DJ, VJ, dance, step into the recording studio, or jump on stage in a rowdy 70s pub. [Get there now.](http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/volume?utm\_medium=shorthand&utm\_source=am&utm\_campaign=style)

 

 

#AMVolume

 

 

Every rebellion has a soundtrack
What does it mean to be a rebel in Aotearoa? Six decades, six songs - dive into the music that fuelled our rebellious streak and inspired our righteousness. Plug in your headphones and put up your feet - you're in for a revealing read.
Enter

Every rebellion has a soundtrack

**What does it mean to be a rebel in Aotearoa?** Six decades, six songs \- dive into the music that fuelled our rebellious streak and inspired our righteousness.

KickerThis is a kicker.

Teens and 20\-somethings have always had an affinity for breaking the rules, whether those rules come in the form of laws, policies, or social norms.

Rule breaking is part of asserting personality and independence, and separation from the generation before. Sometimes that rebellion is simply for the sake of being adversarial, other times its about freedom, or even linked to a desire for change. And this affinity for rule breaking has often been expressed through music. From long hair to nudity, from songs celebrating hedonism to songs decrying racism, from swearing and drug references to statements of anti\-bullying and solidarity \- musicians in New Zealand have reflected and ignited what it means to rebel. **This is the soundtrack to our rebellion.**

 

**THE TEENAGER**

What did it take to be a rebel in the 1950s and 1960s? Being young \- and listening to your favourite rock 'n' roll music.

Hit play to hear Johnny Cooper exhorting you to rock around the clock, boogie, jump, shake, and hop to the rhythm.

'Pie Cart Rock and Roll' was a whole new ball game for teenagers in the 50s. With its jaunty saxophone line, toe\-tapping rhythm section, high\-energy chanting, and general cheekiness, this was the kind of music New Zealand teens were craving. They were the first generation in 40 years to experience a world that wasn't at war. Survival and austerity were no longer on the agenda, and people began searching for new films, magazines, books, and music. New Zealanders soon picked up on the rock 'n' roll sound coming out of America teen idols like Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly expressed the heartbreak, excitement, and frustrations of being young. 'Here, for the first time, was a musical style made specifically for and marketed to teenagers,' says Graham Reid, music expert.

 

 

 

BODGIES AND WIDGIES

The milkbar was where young Kiwis went for a spot of socialising or to show off their new motorbike or sharp dress sense. Though we were mimicking American fashions, New Zealanders added their own twist. Leather\-jacket wearing rockers who were into bikes and cars became known here and in Australia as bodgies and widgies \(guys and girls respectively\), taking their cues from the 'greaser' subculture of America \(immortalised in the film _Grease_\), but with slightly rougher, more bogan styling.

 

An integral element of teenage subculture was a sense of disillusionment with the conservative views of society, and a certain disrespect for the government of the day, who, in their eyes, were intent on quashing anything fun.

 

'We were rocking and rolling and making a row
when along came a copper said a move it on down
said listen here man don't ya understand
we got the pie cart rock n roll'

Johnny Cooper, 'Pie Cart Rock and Roll'

 

 

A wave of moral panic arose from several violent incidents caused by youthful crimes of passion. The fatal shooting of 19\-year old Sharon Skiffington by her jilted lover in March 1955 on Auckland's Queen St and a stabbing at Ye Olde Barn in Upper Queen St just four months later shone a spotlight on a youth culture of flashy clothes, casual sex, and drunken parties. Government officials, parents, and police cited music, as well as the pervasive influence of American comics, gangster novels, and teen rebel movies as a cause for this rise in juvenile delinquency.

 

But despite the hysteria, there was little anyone could do to stem the rising popularity of rock 'n' roll and pop music, whether it was coming from overseas, or being recreated here by acts like [Johnny Cooper](https://goo.gl/UIbF0r) \(who was known as the Mori Cowboy\), [Johnny Devlin](https://goo.gl/ryjuPS) \(Whanganui's Elvis\), and Max Merritt. The tunes were short, sharp, designed for wild dancing, and sometimes included coded sexual references in the lyrics.

 

Understandably, teens went crazy congregating en masse, mobbing pop stars, and indulging in wild behaviour unlike anything their parents had seen. Johnny Devlin literally had the shirt ripped off his back multiple times. The music might not sound too deviant to us now, and these artists were never specifically protesting against a particular aspect of life in New Zealand. But their mere existence and popularity was a rebellion against the austere and conscientious values of the previous generation.

 

COUNTERCULTURE

As the 1960s rolled around, a new sound was emerging to counter the relatively tame 1950s rock 'n' roll.

Listen to the heavy rhythm\-and\-blues\-based sound of The Underdogs, which struck a chord with older, more worldly teenagers and young adults as they experienced feelings of alienation, of being misunderstood, and out of place. Taking their influence from international acts like The Rolling Stones and The Animals, [The Underdogs](https://goo.gl/eaXSnT) were part of a burgeoning underground local music scene in the 60s.

While the New Zealand music scene was particularly influenced by The Beatles who toured down under in 1964 \(their style and sound emulated by local acts like [Ray Columbus & The Invaders](https://goo.gl/8GVMAB) and [The Librettos](https://goo.gl/nDAPWS)\), there was also a notable rise in the underground sound. These bands rebelled by wearing unconventional suits and longer hair, and steered away from the upbeat, jovial pop sound favoured by the Fab Four. At the same time more and more people were attending university and somewhat extending their 'youth', rather than immediately joining the workforce. By the end of the decade a hippie\-influenced counterculture had emerged and marijuana was becoming more widely available. This led to a rise in lyrics and songs with a particularly stoner vibe.

 

'Am I just wasting my time...
...I think I'll just slow down a while
So let the sun the shine'

The Underdogs, 'Wasting My Time'

 

 

 

**RADIO REBELS**

And then there was the birth of Radio Hauraki. 'There was a lot to rebel against in the 1960s, as the state\-owned radio monopoly confined pop music to weekly top\-20 shows and write\-in request sessions,' explains music journalist Murray Cammick. 'As teens took their music more seriously and cool albums became the focus, hit parades were about to become pass and there was a need for a new kind of music radio. But the Broadcasting Authority wouldnt grant anyone else a license to create a privately owned station.' So in 1966, Wellington\-based journalist David Gapes and a bunch of keen friends came up with the idea to start a private radio station which would broadcast music from a ship moored in a thin strip of 'international waters' in the Colville Channel on the western side of Great Barrier Island.

 

If it sounded a little mad, well it was. But it worked. Radio Hauraki became hugely popular despite being hounded continuously by the authorities. The DJs were rock stars in their own right, known as 'the good guys', with just about as many young female fans as the bands whose records they were playing. They were also champions of local music, and for the first time local pop and rock 'n' roll was widely broadcast \- bands like Larry's Rebels, the Pleazers and the La De Da's got airplay, and acts like The Chicks and Tommy Adderley did station promos. And so, after four years of broadcasting 'illegally' from their ship, Radio Hauraki was granted a license in 1970, forever changing the flavour of New Zealand radio.

 

 

 

**OUTSIDE SOCIETY**

Going against the norm was one thing, but as the 1970s marched on an unpredictable anarchist element showed up.

Drawing on British punk acts, The Scavengers were equally fuelled by their own fiery dissatisfaction with the world, and they found plenty of fans who felt the same. Check out the raucous, stripped\-back sound of 'Mysterex'.

Growing out of a burgeoning DIY ethos in the New Zealand music community, with an attitude that anyone could just get up and play music, punk flourished in New Zealand in the late 70s. Young people unsurprisingly connected strongly with the energy of bands like the [Suburban Reptiles](https://goo.gl/EJ3Zfj) and [The Scavengers](https://goo.gl/rTVqhk). Swearing, taking to the stage drunk, lewd gestures, nudity, ear\-splitting volume and feedback, controversial graphics, being banned from venues these were all part and parcel of a punk show. 'There was life and fury in the punk movement which allowed for raw songwriting and connected with a young audience equally frustrated by mainstream New Zealand rock,' says Graham Reid.

 

'Well I think you know enough to sing about hating nine to fivers
Well you're a bloody hypocrite just a dirty social climber'

The Scavengers, 'Mysterex'

 

 

 

OVER THE TOP

The 70s were a fertile time for New Zealand music, and plenty of artists rebelled in their own ways. There was a hedonistic counterculture emanating from the infamous Mandrax Mansion a large house in Ponsonby which was home to working\-class rock bands [Hello Sailor](https://goo.gl/3l0v4B), [Dragon](https://goo.gl/0Z3pm3), and countless other musicians and artists. Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll was the mantra for Mandrax, along with a casual disregard for authority and a desire to shake things up for the sake of it. Bands like [Split Enz](https://goo.gl/DrQQnE) blended together all manner of genres. Along with glam\-rock acts like [Space Waltz](https://goo.gl/NiuE5M), they offered the new perspective that flamboyant music and personal style could be successful in New Zealand, with their dramatic make\-up and costumes, flexible portrayals of gender, and spectacular presentation acting as a counterpoint to mainstream pop ideas.

 

**GETTING POLITICAL**

The 1980s was a volatile decade, with New Zealanders feeling a deep need to express where they stood on matters of justice and human rights. And, of course, musicians were there with them.

Listen to 'Azania', a passionate anti\-apartheid song inspired by the controversial [Springbok rugby tour](https://goo.gl/xTVAY3). The [Herbs](https://goo.gl/zeJ4Kp) brought together the influence of reggae, African chanting, and heavy rock to create a political song with punch. Protesters chanted parts of 'Azania' on marches.

The influence of reggae, and especially [Bob Marley who performed here at Western Springs](https://goo.gl/q7SPXj), Auckland, in 1979, continued through the 80s. Fans and musicians become attracted to the idea of peaceful rebellion. In the wake of the [Ng Tamatoa](https://goo.gl/QqCemf) \(Young Warriors\) movement, the [Polynesian Panthers](https://goo.gl/Qy9kgU), [debate over the Treaty of Waitangi](https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/treaty/the\-treaty\-in\-practice/the\-treaty\-debated), the [1975 hkoi](https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/te\-matakite\-o\-aotearoa\-1975) protesting the loss of Mori land, and the [occupation of Bastion Point](https://goo.gl/FU9p0F), Bob Marley's message of 'Get Up, Stand Up' resonated in a particular way with Mori and Pacific people in New Zealand.

 

SONGS OF PROTEST

'Azania' was released in 1981, as protests erupted throughout New Zealand. The Springbok rugby tour divided the nation: many believed sport and politics shouldnt mix and the tour should go on, while others were incensed at the idea of hosting a team from a nation which had apartheid as a state policy and took to the streets. The protests were mired in violence, and marked a significant change in the public's relationship with authority and government.

 

'Azania
Bow to the freedom fighters
Azania
Liberation soon come
Azania
Bow to the brothers and sisters
Azania
Send racists on the run'

Herbs, 'Azania'

 

Musicians in general were on the side of protesters. Punk act [Riot 111](https://goo.gl/cVuG0K) wrote a song called '1981!', which was based on the All Black's haka, and became instantly popular, rising to number 18. And then, in 1985, when it looked like the All Blacks were heading to South Africa, a young Don McGlashan, Chris Knox, and Rick Bryant banded together with many diverse New Zealand musicians and public figures to create the powerful song and music video, '[Don't Go](https://goo.gl/802Skn)'. But that wasn't the end of it. There was high youth unemployment, and rising anger felt by young people at the National Government led by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. This manifested in different ways across the decade, and sometimes music was unfairly blamed as the catalyst as in the case of the[Queen St riot](https://goo.gl/0HYMBW).

 

**STANDING UP**

Ever since the late 1980s, New Zealand hip\-hop has hit back hard with its own brand of rebellion.

Tapping into the issue of [French nuclear testing in the Pacific](https://goo.gl/SyghgG), which came to a head in the 80s and 90s, rising hip\-hop producer DLT and rapper Che Fu proved that we could take hip\-hop's distinctly American heritage, and use it to voice our dissent in New Zealand too. Listen for yourself.

Hip\-hop rose to distinction in the 90s \- both in the number of artists making records and the number of people listening to it. It wove together various cultural elements which had been on the fringe \- graffiti, breakdancing, tattoo art \- and turned them mainstream. And while New Zealand hip\-hop never had a group quite as blatant and fiery as America's N.W.A., the genre itself has always welcomed inflammatory rhetoric, which was equally embraced by our hip\-hop artists.

 

'Come test me like a bomb straight from murder
How comes I got cyclops fish in my water, A
Nation of Pacific lambs to the slaughter three
Eyes for my son and an extra foot for my daughter'

DLT feat Che Fu, 'Chains'

 

 

[Upper Hutt Posse](https://goo.gl/QDZxMZ) \(and specifically Dean Hapeta aka Te Kupu\) were the first to light the flame, with their incendiary and uncompromising tracks, with rhymes in both te reo Mori and English. Their 1988 debut single 'E Tu' \(also the first rap track in New Zealand\) was blunt and staunch, and paved the way for groups like Urban Disturbance and [3 The Hard Way](https://goo.gl/7ezhLF), along with individuals like Otis Frizzell \(MC OJ\), Mark Williams \(Slave\), [DLT](https://goo.gl/Hpbj80), DJ Sir\-Vere, and King Kapisi.

 

 

STILL STAUNCH

Hip\-hop in New Zealand over the last 10 years has often sat between consciousness and rebellion. [Home Brew](https://goo.gl/7nUvD1) \(feat Tourettes\) took on the governments seeming obsession with economic growth in 'Listen To Us', @Peace put John Key squarely in their sights with their track 'Kill the Prime Minister', and MEER is [challenging oppression in her community](https://goo.gl/Y1rkVo) with 'Mango'. In his latest single 'Don't Rate That', David Dallas triumphantly and furiously expresses his anger with the attitudes found in New Zealand society, and its oppression of certain races and ethnicities.

 

'Seem to have an issue with what the
country comprises
Xenophobes on the rise and
I don't rate that shit'

David Dallas, 'Don't Rate That'

 

 

 

**REBELS WITH A CAUSE**

These days rebelling is as much about standing 'for' something, as it is raging against anything.

One of our smartest rebels in recent years is [Coco Solid](https://goo.gl/eXtjEg). She's found critical acclaim on the world stage, with songs that combine lyrics crackling with hard truths, along with colourful or comic visual elements in order to disrupt mainstream assumptions \- check out 'Slow Torture'.

'I'm sick of getting the same old stories told to me over and over again,' she said in a _Sunday Magazine_ interview in 2015. 'The same authoritative, white, male perspective. It's time for a switch\-up, you know. It's the 21st century, where the women at, where the brown people at, where the different genders, different orientations, different class perspectives, different struggles?'

 

'I can read into what they imply
judging saying I'm commitment shy
I can tell you now if I was a guy
They would say your lifestyle's sorta fly'

Coco Solid, 'To Wise to Wed'

 

Lorde is a champion of a measured kind of teenage rebellion. She found success in presenting a more perceptive perspective on teenage life in the 21st century than many of pop stars around her.

 

'But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair'

Lorde, 'Royals'

 

While her lifestyle may have grown closer to the lyrics of 'Royals', Ella Yelich\-O'Connor is a testament to remaining true to one's self in an era of mass commodification. She uses her huge social media following to speak her mind, share the work of her fellow musicians, and amplify different voices all the while still capturing the more universal experiences of being young.

 

 

When ur mum's like "go stand by that tree"

A photo posted by Lorde (@lordemusic) on

 

SPECTACULARLY REBELLIOUS

For some of our most notoriously rebellious modern musicians, there is still the idea of being adversarial and making mischief. The desire to shake up audiences and keep them on their toes seems more important than ever in a world saturated with curated content. [The Mint Chicks](https://goo.gl/SjYvst) were heroes of that particular brand of rebellion, unapologetically brash, disruptive, and destructive, and continually looking for ways to surprise us. They developed a reputation for mayhem, releasing songs with titles like 'F\*\*k the Golden Youth' and 'Opium for the People'.

 

Kody and Ruban Nielson with Paul Roper and Mike Logie went beyond challenging fans through their lyrics, however. They kidnapped a journalist, scaled speaker stacks and fences every time a live gig afforded the opportunity, and in one very memorable performance at the Big Day Out, they didn't like the sponsor banner which was strung up in front of the stage, so lead singer Kody cut it up with a chainsaw. Though both Ruban and Kody have gone on to acclaimed solo careers \(as [Unknown Mortal Orchestra](https://goo.gl/Ayrt4h) and [Silicon](https://goo.gl/A3fKau) respectively\), The Mint Chicks final show in 2010 was memorable for its carnage, which resulted in an onstage fight, gear being thrown, and utter confusion for the crowd. The next day, the band's website had been taken down, and in its place was a single screen with the words:

 

'Start your own f**king band'

 

And perhaps that statement best typifies the situation for musicians today. There's no need to conform anymore because the internet has opened so many doors to find like\-minded people across the globe. And if you can't find songs that resonate with your own passions and causes, then you can always write one yourself and form your own band of rebels.

 

GET THE FULL SOUNDTRACK

It takes more than six songs to sum up six decades of rebellion \- check out the playlist for more. What would you add to the mix?

VISIT VOLUME: MAKING MUSIC IN AOTEAROA

_[Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa](http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/whats\-on/exhibitions/volume\-making\-music\-in\-aotearoa?utm\_medium=shorthand&utm\_source=am&utm\_campaign=rebellion&utm\_content=text)_ is the first\-ever major exhibition of New Zealand music, on now at Auckland Museum. You'll see the instruments, records, outrageous clothes, and angry lyrical scribblings of six decades of musical rebels \- and you might even become one yourself. There's opportunities to DJ, VJ, dance, step into the recording studio, or jump on stage in a rowdy 70s pub. [Get there now.](http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/whats\-on/exhibitions/volume\-making\-music\-in\-aotearoa?utm%3Ci%3Emedium=shorthand&utm%3C/i%3Esource=am&utm%3Ci%3Ecampaign=rebellion&utm%3C/i%3Econtent=text)

 

 

#AMVolume

 

 

 

 

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