In 2006 photographer Greg Semu was offered the first residency at indigenous museum Quai Branly in Paris. Just over a decade earlier his debut exhibition was on at Auckland Art Gallery — and he was making an award-nominated music video for the Sisters Underground, with veteran video director Kerry Brown. Set around Mangere Bridge, their clip exudes a palpable warmth, even if the lyrical references to MAC-10s and a hot and cruel June morning are nods to MC Hassanah’s Nigerian origins, rather than the South Auckland suburb. The song got to number six on the Kiwi charts.
This heartfelt 1981 hit was the first song sung in te reo to top the NZ singles chart. It was written by Te Arawa elder George Tait for his cousin Deane Waretini, who recorded it with musicians he could only afford to pay in fried chicken. Tait based the melody on Italian Nini Rosso’s 1965 hit ‘Il Silenzio’, but the lyric refers to the linking of Pākehā and Māori cultures at the time of the construction of the Mangere Bridge. The TVNZ video features the less imposing but rather more picturesque valve tower turret, at Wellington’s historic Karori reservoir.