Kiwi Music Videos: The Award-winners

Music videos — often they're no more than a promotional tool; sometimes they are works of art. They provide a chart of changing fashions and trends, and offer emerging filmmakers the chance to really show their stuff. The best clips lift the music even higher. So get your groove on for this career-spanning, 'best of' compilation: from mad scientists to metalheads, from Supergroove to The Naked and Famous — almost every Best Music Video winner at New Zealand's local music awards, since Andrew Shaw first took the prize for DD Smash's 'Outlook for Thursday' in 1983.

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Outlook for Thursday

DD Smash, Music Video, 1983

This weather-themed Kiwi classic spent 21 weeks in the charts, and became one of DD Smash's biggest hits. The quirky, light-hearted video was played repeatedly on Saturday chart show Ready to Roll, and won Best Music Video at the 1983 New Zealand Music Awards. It was directed by a young Andrew Shaw (of Hey Hey It’s Andy fame, later an executive at TVNZ). DD Smash singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn hams it up in Adidas tracksuit and yellow raincoat, while drummer (and 1980s heartthrob) Peter 'Rooda' Warren appears in his speedos.

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I'm in Heaven

Dave McArtney and The Pink Flamingos, Music Video, 1983

NOTE: This video is currently unavailable on NZ On Screen 'I'm in Heaven' was from the third and final Dave McArtney and The Pink Flamingos album The Catch (the song was later rerecorded, with Graham Brazier on vocals, for Hello Sailor album Shipshape & Bristol Fashion). In the original video McArtney looks moodily out a window over the city and falls into a pool in speedos, and the band plays the song amidst backlit dry ice. Fast cuts match the crisp drum beats and synth. Directed by Bruce Morrison, it won Best Music Video at the 1984 NZ Music Awards. McArtney went on to provide music for Morrison’s 1986 movie Queen City Rocker.

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Diamonds on China

The Narcs, Music Video, 1985

This follow-up to 1984 Narcs hit ‘Heart and Soul’ marked the first single off the trio’s second album. Recorded with US engineer Tim Kramer, 'Diamonds on China' got to 15 on the New Zealand charts. Influenced by Brit pop band Go West, 'Diamonds' is full of punchy guitar and synthesizers. Prolific music video director Fane Flaws showcases massed horns, street racing video games, his own distinctive illustrations, and drumsticks hitting the skins "like diamonds on china". Flaws' efforts resulted in one of his first accolades: Video of the Year at the 1985 NZ Music Awards.

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As the Sun Goes Down

Everything that Flies, Music Video, 1986

The video for this 1986 synth-pop song sees Everything that Flies singer Dianne Swann – seen in a changing palette of colour tones – striding on the waterfront past a Greenpeace ship; intense in a restaurant, after hours; and singing in a studio with the band. An early credit for music video director Kerry Brown, the clip won Best Video at the 1986 NZ Music Awards. Song trivia: the single’s sleeve won Best Cover, and was designed by future Oscar-winning costume designer Ngila Dickson. Swann would soon join female Kiwi supergroup When the Cats Away.

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Sensitive to a Smile

Herbs, Music Video, 1987

Herbs visited the troubled East Coast town of Ruatoria in 1987, bringing music and aroha. They left with a documentary and this music video, which shows the band meeting and performing for the locals. Both The Power of Music and the music video were co-directed by Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors ) — in one of his earliest turns as director —and cinematographer John Day (Room that Echoes). The ode to love and harmony was judged Best Music Video at the 1987 New Zealand Music Awards.

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Sweet Lovers

The Holidaymakers, Music Video, 1988

The first single for short-lived Wellington band The Holidaymakers was a cover of a little-known song by American Bill Withers. It spent six weeks at number one and was the biggest-selling single in New Zealand in 1988. On a low budget director Fane Flaws created a beautifully lit video that captures the song’s infectious brightness and warmth. With a collection of lamps the only concession to props or special effects, nothing detracts from the compelling performances by vocalists Peter Marshall and Mara Finau. Sweet Lovers won Best Video at the 1988 NZ Music Awards.

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I Feel Love

Fan Club, Music Video, 1989

"Hey you, you’ve got the moves … I can’t refuse!" Aishah and the Fan Club scored a run of pop hits in New Zealand and Malaysia in the late 80s with songs like 'Sensation' and this single (which peaked at No.8 in the charts). This bold studio-set video, directed by Paul Middleditch, won Best Music Video at the 1989 New Zealand Music Awards. With paint splashes, leather jackets, shades, silhouetted choreography, Dr Martens, and slick camera moves and editing, it’s an unmistakably 80s video, coupling the crisp pop beats with a fashion shoot or dance floor vibe.

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Bad Note for a Heart

Straitjacket Fits, Music Video, 1990

Filmed at Bethells Beach and in a tunnel somewhere in the Auckland suburb of Ellerslie, this award-winning video from future Whale Rider director Niki Caro traces a sea nymph, a beating heart and an elderly gentleman's struggle with his hat. Clearly reluctant to move into the 90s, the eternally rock Shayne Carter looks splendid in dark eye shadow — a look he later told RipItUp was "definitely a low point in rock". Bad Note for a Heart was judged best music video at the 1990 New Zealand Music Awards.

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Trippin'

Push Push, Music Video, 1991

'Trippin'' was the debut single and biggest hit for early 90s North Shore rockers Push Push, who were powered by the lung-filled squall of future media personality Mikey Havoc. It spent six weeks on top of the Kiwi singles chart, propelled in part by this highly effective, and award-winning performance video from Chris and Tim Mauger. The clip provides ample testimony to the power of guitars, hair, t-shirts, that voice, and a healthy dose of strobe lighting. It's worth noting that, even at this formative stage of his career, Mr Havoc isn't exactly shy of the camera.

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Four Seasons in One Day

Crowded House, Music Video, 1992

This 1993 award-winner was the first Crowded House video made in New Zealand. Director Kerry Brown and producer Bruce Sheridan wanted to emphasise the surreal, fantasy elements of the song, using distinctly Kiwi imagery. Locations included beaches and dense bush on the West Coast, the plains of Central Otago and the Victorian architecture of Oamaru. Scenes of an Anzac Day ceremony and marching girls also highlight the homeland setting. Brown took inspiration from Salvador Dali paintings for the psychedelic effects that were added in post-production.

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System Virtue

Emma Paki, Music Video, 1993

This evocative music video scored a double-header: it was voted best video at both the NZ Music Awards, and the NZ Film and Television Awards. Emma Paki won gongs for singing and songwriting. Director Josh Frizzell mixes images of Paki singing on the streets with often sombre portraits of locals in their element, from children to gang members. Widely regarded as Paki's magnum opus, System Virtue became one of the most played local music videos of 1994. Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman produced the song; a much lusher version later appeared on 1996 album Oxygen of Love

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Can't Get Enough

Supergroove, Music Video, 1994

It had to be a big ask getting all seven members of Supergroove in one shot and looking good for this video, but the result trips along with pace, great upside down special effects, and some bonus goldfish. Shot in one epic, 18 hour session, Can't Get Enough was one of the earliest Supergroove videos directed by bassist Joe Lonie, who went on to helm 50+ clips for everyone from King Kapisi to Goodshirt. In 1995 'Can't Get  Enough' was the first of a trio of Supergroove videos to take away the supreme award for Best New Zealand Music Video of the year.

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You Gotta Know

Supergroove, Music Video, 1994

Black, white and red exuberance abound in this award-winning music video from Supergroove. The band's funk-heavy live performance is intercut with scenes of the band clowning around at the Otara Market, on a Three Kings volcano, and crowded into the back of an open-top VW. The hairstyle of vocalist and future Cambridge classics scholar Karl Steven — shaved, aside from an extended fringe arrangement at the front — is a relic from another era. An alternative video made for the same song revolves around the band doing everything backwards.

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If I Had My Way

Supergroove, Music Video, 1996

This single from Supergroove’s second album Backspacer (1996) reached number seven in the charts, and captures the band's shift from funk to rock after the exit of rapper Che Fu and trumpeter Tim Stewart. The lyrics ask "who would you kill?". Via madcap music video logic, they’re channeled into a fictional TV show, an exercise equipment promo, a pigsty, ice-skating rink, and a burning piano on a beach. The results won Best Video at New Zealand's local music award ceremony in 1997. Bassist Joe Lonie and cinematographer Sigi Spath had won it the previous year, for 'You Gotta Know'.

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Home Again

Shihad, Music Video, 1998

This Shihad classic has a classic video to match. With primary colours accentuated and the energy levels of Shihad turned up to match, the band members perform and bustle about in a film studio in one extended shot, without any edits. The time and motion tomfoolery is surely handled; someone has had the bright idea of putting developing Polaroid photos at the bottom of the frame, in order to show that the whole video is unravelling in one continuous scene. Directed by Mark Hurley, Home Again was judged Best Video at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards.

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Wait and See

Shihad, Music Video, 1998

The video for Shihad’s 'Wait And See' has the band shot in sepia, and trapped in industrial landscapes. Caught in the confines of a factory, the band face tentacles growing out of the walls and a mystery typewriter that seems central to proceedings. Mimicking surveillance footage, the video is made up of fast cuts and shaky shots. The song features on their EP Blue Light Disco, and was later rerecorded for number one album The General Electric. In 2000 the clip won director Reuben Sutherland the first of two consecutive Best Music Video gongs, at the Coca-Cola NZ Music Awards.

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My Mind's Sedate

Shihad, Music Video, 1999

Reuben Sutherland directs a hair-raising tour through a wretched laboratory in this music video — his second Shihad clip in a row to take away the Best Video Award, at Aotearoa's yearly music award ceremonies. Frenetically paced and skillfully edited, the video adheres to the feverish temperament of the song, while layered graphics add a sinister and unsettling sci-fi edge. Singer Jon Toogood nails his performance as a demented pharmacist bent way out of shape. Aside from making videos and commercials, director Sutherland is also one half of sound plus visuals group Sculpture.

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Touchdown

The Stereo Bus, Music Video, 1999

'Touchdown' was drawn from the second (and final) Stereo Bus album Brand New (1999). The stylishly minimalist video, directed by Alex Sutherland and Michael Lonsdale, appears to be a continuous shot, circling around band members and objects in a white studio set. Biffed chairs and bottles, and singer David Yetton, get up close to the lens while guitarist Jason Fa'afoi (who was co-hosting What Now? at the time) also makes multiple appearances. The slow pan matches the tempo of the band’s textured guitar pop; the promo won Best Music Video at the 2001 NZ Music Awards.

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Fade Away

Che Fu, Music Video, 2002

This soulful number was the first single from Che Fu’s second album The Navigator. It marked the debut of his new band, The Krates. The ambitious video translates the song’s message of undying friendship to a World War II setting (filmed at the NZ Warbirds Association hangar at Ardmore Airport). Che-Fu’s Supergroove bandmate turned Krates drummer Paul Russell plays the cheeky English chap, while P-Money has found some turntables that possibly aren’t authentic wartime issue. Fade Away was judged Best Music Video and Single of the Year at the 2002 NZ Music Awards. 

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Sophie

Goodshirt, Music Video, 2002

How long does it take to remove all the furniture and fittings from an apartment? If you’ve got band Goodshirt on the case, apparently three minutes and 45 seconds. One of a series of Goodshirt music videos directed by Joe Lonie, all of them filmed in one continuous take, this clip highlights the dangers of having the volume up too loud. As a young woman listens to Goodshirt’s latest single, she is unaware she is being robbed her of everything she owns. Sophie took away three gongs at the 2003 NZ Music Awards: Best Video , Best Single and Songwriter of the Year.

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Stand Up

Scribe, Music Video, 2003

Scribe's first single ‘Stand Up’ conquered the charts, paired as a double A-side with soon to be signature tune ‘Not Many’. But where ‘Not Many’ is a statement of personal intent, ‘Stand Up’ flies the flag for Kiwi hip hop: the video features many of the fellow musicians namechecked in the song. Shot in a basement below Auckland's Real Groovy Records in black and white (except for the ‘Not Many’ sections), Chris Graham's NZ Music Award-winning video offers an energetic, confrontational performance from Scribe, who took another five NZ Music Awards in the same year.

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We Gon Ride

Dei Hamo, Music Video, 2003

Director Chris Graham delivers five minutes of cars, comedy and eye candy in this slick who's who of the 2003 Kiwi scene. Featuring DJ Sir-Vere, ex sports star Matthew Ridge, Paul Holmes (well actually he was a no show — but his understudy appeared to get the message across) and VJ Jane Yee, this remarkably polished clip succeeded in planting a relatively unknown hip hop artist squarely on the front page. The result was the biggest selling Kiwi single of the year — and a 2005 NZ Music Award for Best Video. It cost at least $50,000 to make. 

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Wandering Eye

Fat Freddy's Drop, Music Video, 2005

Set in a Grey Lynn fish'n'chip shop, this clip delivers a killer kai moana concept, when it's revealed that the greasy takeaway is merely a front for the club downstairs. Winner of Best Music Video at the 2006 Vodafone NZ Music Awards, the video features a host of cameos in addition to the members of Fat Freddy's Drop: including Danielle Cormack, Ladi6, John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld. It was directed by Mark 'Slave' Williams, sometime MC for the band. The track was part of Fat Freddy's first studio album Based on a True Story, one of the biggest-selling in Kiwi history.

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Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!

The Mint Chicks, Music Video, 2006

This award-winner from the 2007 NZ Music Awards sees the Mint Chicks performing after dark, somewhere on the edge of suburbia, while a wolf (actually a siberian husky) sparks a journey through the streets — past people wrestling with poultry, and each other. Director Sam Peacocke (Manurewa, Shihad - Beautiful Machine) displays the same enigmatic approach taken with Mint Chicks clip Walking Off a Cliff Again. The band also took out NZ Music Awards for Best Group and Album. Real Groove magazine later rated this the best New Zealand single of the decade. 

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Her Hairagami Set

The Brunettes, Music Video, 2007

This award-winning puppetry/comic book creation follows a put upon heroine enduring jibes from the cool crowd about her hairstyle. She resolves to rectify her situation using a new 'Hairagami Set'. The video was created by duo Trophy Wife (Ian and Rebecca Hart), who later revealed that the Hairzilla monster was a late addition, after US record label Sub Pop felt uncomfortable with "school shooting imagery". The clip won Best Music Video at the 2008 Vodafone NZ Music Awards. Check out the true to life puppets of band members Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield.

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Brother

Smashproof, Music Video, 2009

Chart-topper 'Brother' is about Smashproof's South Auckland neighbourhood, and how the hip hop trio want it to change — crime and violence are not the only options. It's an urgent message, delivered via a powerful, Tui award-winning drive-by video from music video director Chris Graham. The clip made it into mainstream news media for a scene bluntly inspired by a high profile incident, where a businessman stabbed a young tagger. Singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore features during the chorus. 'Brother' broke local chart records, after spending eleven weeks at number one.

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The Making of Brother

Short Film, 2009 (Full Length)

This 'making of' film goes behind the scenes of the music video for Smashproof's hit song Brother. Chris Graham's promo won Best Music Video at the 2009 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. The 10 minute film includes interviews with Smashproof, talking about the consciousness-raising song (a "metaphor for South Auckland"). Meanwhile director Chris Graham discusses the concept of cruising the streets in an invisible car  — the idea "came from Sid's opening lyric: 'I've got my hand on the windowsill looking out at the world'..." — and how it was executed.

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Just a Little Bit

Kids Of 88, Music Video, 2010

The urgent, pulsating 'Just a Little Bit' was the second single for Auckland electropop duo Kids of 88. On a set lit by suitably retro fluorescent light tubes, director Tim van Dammen's clip echoes the video for the band's debut 'Our House' — but with models fighting each other rather than having paint poured over them. Van Dammen's aim was to create "a fight, but shot to look like an orgy" — and, by the end of the video, the line between passion and aggression is all but indistinguishable. The single and video were both winners at the 2010 Vodafone NZ Music Awards.

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Punching in a Dream

The Naked and Famous, Music Video, 2010

This music video continued the fruitful collaboration between The Naked and Famous and directing duo Special Problems. Joel Kefali and Campbell Hooper brought their trademark mix of graphic design, film and painting to the synth-driven pop song. As vocalist Alisa Xayalith moves through a dreamscape, she sleepwalks, runs, skates and flies through pine forest, snow, sand, and a manor. Ice hockey masks and hoodies add menace. It won Best Music Video at the 2011 NZ Music Awards, part of a major awards haul for the group. The song has featured on a number of TV shows.

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The Sun

The Naked and Famous, Music Video, 2012

The Sun was perhaps the most daring and experimental video yet for directors Joel Kefali and Campbell Hooper. Collaborating once more with electropop band The Naked and Famous, they scored their second award for Best Music Video with another track taken from breakthrough album Passive Me, Aggressive You (2010). The widescreen video is built around a series of split second shots of a man and a woman getting intimate. As the video continues, the images fracture, multiply, and become increasingly kaleidoscopic. Warning — this video is not suitable for younger viewers.

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Royals

Lorde, Music Video, 2013

WATCH Royals video here 'Royals' took Lorde far indeed. The Auckland teen found herself topping the charts in ten countries, with her debut single (which she co-wrote with producer Joel Little). The award-winning music video has been seen a mind-boggling 680 million+ times online. The clip was born from conversations between Lorde and director Joel Kefali about what it was like to be a teen in Auckland. Kefali has said the intent was to "capture a mood, capture a particular (sometimes ignored) slice of teenage life". The American version of the video features slightly more of Lorde than the original.

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Hearts Like Ours

The Naked and Famous, Music Video, 2013

Though gifted with a typically driving chorus, this Naked and Famous track evokes a state of limbo and dissatisfaction. Winner of a New Zealand Music Award for Best Music Video of 2014, Campbell Hooper's clip is permeated by mist and mysterious, possibly violent events. Is that a murder playing out on screen, or merely someone getting the firewood ready? Are those men doing exercise, or punishing themselves? And is that Michelle Ang getting out of the pool? Longtime collaborator Hooper directed the video in New Zealand and the band's base in Los Angeles.

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Cymatics

Nigel Stanford, Music Video, 2014

"I always wanted to make videos that turn sound into form". So says musician Nigel Stanford about the video for this track, from 2014 album Solar Echoes. In the Shahir Daud-directed video, science meets art and music meets image, as sound waves create an array of visual patterns in water, fire and sand. The mad professors’ physics class employs the Tesla Coil, Chladni Plate and Ruben’s Tube to vivid effect. It took two days to shoot, eight months to complete, won Best Music Video at the 2015 Vodafone NZ Music Awards, and has been watched over 14 million times on YouTube.

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Inside Out

Avalanche City, Music Video, 2015

A lone boy in the wilderness and a mysterious airborne menace feature in this evocative, NZ Music Award-winning video for Avalanche City (aka musician Dave Baxter). Discovering a stag who’s fallen victim to the abstraction from the sky, the boy takes it upon himself to fight back, before it can inflict more damage on the forest’s residents. Despite the song being a last minute inclusion on Avalanche City’s second album We Are for the Wild Places, it later became the only Kiwi song to hit number one in 2015. An earlier video for the song was shot in one extended take on Raglan beach.

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Got It Bad

LEISURE, Music Video, 2016

Auckland band LEISURE’s statement on the YouTube page for this song says: "with the world in its current state of flux, sometimes we just need to switch off and float away from it all." The video for the group's first single takes note, as a camera roams through a series of tableaux – from street to bedroom, passing various people chilled to a state of inertia – before following their gaze to the next still life. Directed by Joel Kefali (Royals), the clip won Best Music Video at the 2017 NZ Music Awards. The song featured on supernatural teen TV show Shadowhunters and HBO comedy Insecure.