Counting the Beat

The Swingers, Music Video, 1981

The opening images of this video — the swinging guitar, fingers on the fretboard — make for a defining moment in Kiwi music video history. The clip was actually shot in Australia; by the time they recorded the song, The Swingers had relocated from Aotearoa to Melbourne. They would soon be history. Aussie cinematographer/ director Ray Argall ('World Where You Live') matches the beloved composition with colourful images, quirky humour, and an infectious dance finale. In 2001 music organisation APRA voted the chart topper fourth on their list of the top Kiwi songs to date. 

Circus Kids

Bike, Music Video, 1997

'Circus Kids' was the second single from Bike’s sole long-play record Take In The Sun. It is a prime example of the layered, classically-inspired arrangements and pop songcraft that frontman Andrew Brough had touched on in his previous band Straitjacket Fits. In this swirling, elegantly-gothic promo video, an innocent young boy goes a-wandering, and discovers the seedy underbelly of circus life — all rendered in lush black and white by director Jonathan King, and veteran cinematographer Neil Cervin. 

Without a Doubt

Che Fu, Music Video, 1998

Che Fu’s influential debut album 2b S.Pacific (1998) melded Pasifika with reggae, soul and hip hop, to create a unique musical home brew. The first single 'Scene III' went to number four on the local charts, and this follow-up (a double A-side, paired with 'Machine Talk') got to the top in October 1998. Cinematographer Duncan Cole (Born to Dance) directs the music video, which sees a pair of Fu personas (street and club?) facing cameras in a film studio, while singing about making "the planet shake". Later Che Fu adds some comedy to a breakdance battle.

Fuji

Minuit, Music Video, 2006

Featuring Minuit performing a kooky WWII style gig in a smokey sake bar at the foot of Mount Fuji, this lavish clip merges stunning Japanese imagery and costuming with enchanting choreography. The video from choreographer turned director Alyx Duncan (The Red House) won gongs for Best Cinematographer and Best Editor at the 2006 Kodak Music Video Awards.

All about the Weather

Clap Clap Riot, Music Video, 2014

This 2014 single comes from Nobody / Everybody, the sophomore album by Kiwi guitar pop outfit Clap Clap Riot. Coming a couple of years after ballet psychodrama Black Swan (2010), the video concentrates on a ballet dancer who eventually pirouettes into an alternative reality; from the dance floor to submarine world and a pine forest, where a prone Stephen Heard is doing the singing.  The promo was created by director Karlie Fisher and cinematographer Jeremy Toth. Kody Nielson (Mint Chicks, Opossum) produced the song.

Parihaka

Tim Finn, Music Video, 1989

The non-violent action preached and practiced by Māori prophets Te Whiti and Tohu at Parihaka in Taranaki forms one of the most compelling episodes of New Zealand’s 19th century history, as they resisted Pākehā confiscation of their land and home. Tim Finn was inspired to write this paean to the pair after reading Dick Scott’s influential book Ask That Mountain. Band Herbs provide the accompaniment. Fane Flaws and cinematographer Alun Bollinger’s video was shot over a night at Auckland Art Gallery and takes Colin McCahon’s striking Parihaka triptych as its centrepiece.

No Music on My Radio

Coup D'Etat, Music Video, 1980

After making music overseas as part of theatre troupe Red Mole, Jan Preston and Neil Hannan headed home and founded the band that would be known as Coup D'Etat. Preston took lead vocals on this, their debut single. The video — by cinematographer Leon Narbey — sees her performing in a little red dress, while ex Hello Sailor guitarist Harry Lyon continues the colour theme. Then they head out on the highway. 'No Music on My Radio' proved a sadly apt title: local radio showed little interest. The band soon hit the airwaves (and the top 10), with 'Doctor I Like Your Medicine'. 

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.

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'.

What's the Time Mr Wolf?

Southside of Bombay, Music Video, 1991

This jaunty debut single from Wellington reggae band Southside of Bombay is as deceptive as the happy family sing-a-long it accompanied in Once Were Warriors (which turned it into a belated chart hit). Far from being a nursery rhyme, its lyrics are informed by composer and vocalist Ruia Aperahama’s Ratana religion and a belief in the clock ticking towards an end time. Cinematographer Richard Bluck’s Wellington-filmed video captures the band performing on the south coast, cut with archive footage of Aotearoa activism ... as Mr Wolf watches on. The song was produced by Ian Morris.