This summer has been one for the ages with warm, still, golden weather days atypically reliable (and showing no sign of ending). But the big dry is proving tough for farmers, growers and city reservoirs. As NZ faces up to the longest drought in generations — where Godzone's green and pleasant land has turned brown and sunburnt — we present a damp selection of onscreen rain to petition the meteorological gods. Whether it's "Don't you go out in the ..." or "I like ..." watch, listen, dance or cry and get the clouds opening. It's all about rain.
After splitting in 1979, Sydney based Kiwi hit makers Dragon reformed in 1983 to tour and pay off debts. The reunion gave them a new lease of life as the anthemic single 'Rain' went to number two on the Australian chart (at a time of severe drought). 'Rain' was a departure — written by Todd and Marc Hunter with Todd’s wife Joanna Piggott, and not previous song writer supreme Paul Hewson. There's more evidence of a new look Dragon in the video with drummer Terry Chambers (fresh from XTC) and American producer Alan Mansfield (now Sharon O’Neill’s partner).
The set has a back-drop curtain made out of milk bottle top foil; the band are wearing plastic rubbish sacks fashioned into tunics, and have painted faces. The props include a disco mirror ball, a toilet seat sculpture, a giant bug, and umbrellas. It's all slightly off-beam, but the band's performance is deadpan sweet. There’s the requisite Flying Nun film scratching, and some literal-but-amusing image and lyric matching. It all combines to make a DIY delight, an effortless two decades before Flight of the Conchords or Mighty Boosh.
Rain begins by evoking an idyllic kiwi summer. It's a 1970s beach holiday; Mum, Dad and the kids. Picture perfect. But, as the title hints, all is not sunny at the bach. Beneath still waters Mum is drowning in drink, Dad is defeated, and 13-year-old Janey is awakening to a new kind of power. An adaptation of the novel by Kirsty Gunn novel, Rain was director Christine Jeffs' widely acclaimed debut feature. The soundtrack was composed by Neil Finn and Edmund Cake. Kevin Thomas in the LA Times acclaimed Rain as “an important feature debut”.
A weather-themed clip for a weather-themed Kiwi classic that spent 23 weeks in the charts when it was first released. The quirky video (Auckland’s split personality climate is leveraged to fine effect) was played over and over on Ready to Roll and won Best Music Video at the 1983 Music Awards. It was directed by a young Andrew Shaw (of Hey Hey It’s Andy fame and now a TVNZ supremo). Dobbyn hams it up in Adidas trackies and yellow raincoat, and DD Smash drummer (and 1980s heart-throb) Peter “Rooda” Warren appears in his speedos — of course.
Sitting in the Rain is a New Zealand pop landmark. One of the earliest music promo clips, filmed for television in 1967 by the NZBC, it is a cover version by a local band that became better known than the original (by UK blues stalwart John Mayall). The Underdogs were a powerful electric blues combo, but with 'Sitting in the Rain' they knew that less is more; the film clip, used to fill TV scheduling gaps, is similarly unfussy. Like a surly, underground Monkees, the anarchic Underdogs don't hide the fact that the performance is mimed.
This smoky, soul-inflected love song comes from hip hop diva Ladi6's second album The Liberation Of... (winner of the 2011 Taite Music Prize). Water might be the chosen metaphor for love here but director Faye McNeil provides no glimpses at all of the wet stuff. Instead, the deep blue oases are graphical — the work of street and graffiti artists The Cut Collective. The sands that Ladi6 treks across are dunes at Te Paki in the Far North (where it rained for all but five hours of the three day shoot). It was a Best Video finalist at the 2011 NZ Music Awards.
This lauded documentary revisits the subject of a film Vincent Ward made in 1978, aged 21. That film, In Spring One Plants Alone, told the story of 80-year-old Puhi, who lived with her schizophrenic son in the isolated Urewera. The follow-up — part detective doco, part historical re-enactment — focuses on Puhi's life. She married the son of Māori prophet Rua Kenana, had 14 children, and after a run of tragedies, believed herself to be cursed. The excerpt goes “way out there in the bush” to the Maungapohatu community where Rua, “made the city of God on Earth”.
The Verlaines sing and play while sitting on a picnic rug under a tree, with assorted friends and family (and a dog) as fellow picnickers. Meanwhile mystic mask-wearing woodland creatures lurk behind the idyll. Cheap but certainly not without charms (there's even a feathery one hanging off the guitar). Check out a young Shayne Carter lounging under the tree fuschia.