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The Panel

Russell Brown - Moderator

Russell has been involved with music in Auckland since he moved north from Christchurch to become deputy editor of Rip It Up in 1983. Since then he has written for Sounds, Select, Music Week and The Catalogue in Britain and served as Rock columnist in The Listener. He has been both a DJ on 95bFM and chairman of the station’s board of directors. He staged New Zealand’s first acid house party, Housequake!, in 1989 and still occasionally DJs at Auckland venues. He writes a popular music post every Friday in his personal blog, Hard News, at

Phil Bell (DJ Sir Vere)

Phil has been a DJ since he stepped up to the turntables at the age of 14 when his dad needed a toilet break – and hip hop has been his musical life since he saw ‘Beat Street’ at The Civic at the age of 17. He ran Auckland’s first 12-hour dance party, Planet Rock, in 1988, and founded bFM’s long-running Tru school Hip Hop Show, the huge Major Flavors hip hop compilation franchise and the Beat Merchants store, the centre of Auckland’s hip hop scene. He’s been the editor of Rip It Up magazine and programme director at Mai FM and has worked with everyone from Che Fu to Savage.

Rachel Lang

As co-creator (with James Griffin) of Outrageous Fortune and its “prequel” Westside, Rachel has told innately Auckland stories not only with words and images, but in song. Hello Sailor’s ‘Gutter Black’ led every episode of Outrageous Fortune and in this year’s Westside contemporary music has brought to life both story and history. We visited Hello Sailor’s infamous Ponsonby pad "Mandrax Mansion”, saw a young Dave McArtney (played by Dave’s son) working out the chords to ‘Gutter Black’, visited Auckland’s first punk rock club Zwines, and experienced a moving resolution to the strains of Split Enz’s classic ’Stuff and Nonsense’. The creators have underlined the importance of the songs by publishing the soundtrack for each episode. But the importance of music to Rachel’s stories goes back much further – through Shortland Street and 1996’s City Life, which was threaded through with local pop music and scenes from Auckland’s musical nightlife. She’s a fan.

Dave Dobbyn

Dave Dobbyn was born in the working-class Auckland suburb of Glen Innes and got his musical education from the sounds around him: the Irish songs in the home, the singing in the church over the road and the tunes on the radio. He joined a band and he grew up to write the songs of the city. For more than 20 years, he has lived in Grey Lynn, the national capital of songwriting.

Simon Grigg

Simon has been at the centre of Auckland’s musical history since, inspired by a childhood meeting with legendary Auckland promoter and manager Phil Warren, he assembled and managed the city’s first punk rock group, the Suburban Reptiles, in 1977. He went on to form the city’s first indie record label, Propeller, and ran its most famous nightclub, The Box.

And then he signed Pauly Fuemana to his Huh! record label and released the global hit ‘How Bizarre’ – a story told in his new book How Bizarre: Pauly Fuemana and the song that stormed the world. The book is published by Awa Press on August 21. From the author’s note:

"How Bizarre is also a little more than that, it’s the story of a coming together of the cultures in Auckland – it's the time when the first generation of young Polynesians born in New Zealand from that great immigration of the1960s and 1970s came to town and changed our city forever. How Bizarre, the song, is a child of that uniquely Auckland phenomenon.”

Simon is now the creative director of the New Zealand music legacy website Audioculture. Read his full bio here.

Emma Paki

Emma Paki has seen both sides of the city. She has won awards, had gold records and lived on the streets. And through it all she has created her waiata. Her singular voice is rarely heard in Auckland now, but it will be back to open this special night.