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.
When photographer John Lake offered to collaborate with Wellington band MarineVille, the song he chose was ‘Time’: a meditation on the relentless ways that time plays out in our lives taken from their third album Fowl Swoop. The resulting video, shot around the suburb of Newtown over three hours, stars drummer Greg Cairns desperately attempting to flee the inevitable march of time — only to get his comeuppance from the grim reaper, a room full of people he offended along the way (“Vitutaa” is Finnish for “We are annoyed”) and a catering pack of cream.
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.
The fourth single from Tiki Taane’s first solo album, ‘Always on My Mind’ is an unadorned, heartfelt love song featuring Tiki accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. It became his breakthrough hit, a chart topper and the first Kiwi digital single to achieve platinum sales. The video is one continuous shot set in an imagined “Heathcote Valley Hall” (a nod to the Christchurch suburb where Tiki grew up) with Tiki unplugged, a shimmering floor and a backdrop inspired by Elvis Presley’s legendary 1968 Comeback Special. It won Best Solo Video at the 2008 Juice TV Awards.
The Warratahs were unique in the late 80s NZ music scene — a band playing classic country music with an eye on the mainstream. They enjoyed some chart success but director Waka Attewell's video for their first single almost seems to anticipate that they will make their major impact as a live act — honing their sound on the road in halls, pubs and woolsheds the length and breadth of the land. The location is a school hall in the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn, with a room full of dancers responding to the Warratahs' signature warmth and timelessness.
Don McGlashan wrote this rousing secular gospel number for a key scene in No. 2, Toa Fraser's cinematic tribute to the Auckland suburb of Mount Roskill. Beyond the screen it won an APRA Silver Scroll and spent 22 weeks in the charts. That sales success was helped in no small part by this Fraser-directed video which recreates the film's (eventually) joyous, party vibe. Cast and crew gather to watch the fruits of their labours and witness a backyard performance by Hollie Smith, McGlashan and the other members of the Mount Raskil Preservation Society.
Auckland troubadour Greg Johnson won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award for 1997 with this moody, tortured love song from his fourth album (his first for a major label), Chinese Whispers. The elegant, uncluttered video was directed and edited by Jonathan King. The video was shot in the Auckland suburbs of Newmarket and Parnell. With a narrative straight out of Hitchcock, Johnson is cast as narrator — and both the victim and accomplice of a blonde femme fatale in what appears to be a murder ... with a mysterious handbag the only clue.
In the tradition of novelty songs, ‘Culture?’ was catchy to the point of contagion. Fuelled by carnival keyboards, it was The Knobz response to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a 40% sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), and Muldoon's typically blunt verdict on the cultural merits of pop music (“horrible”). The giddy, hyperactive video comes complete with Muldoon impersonator (Danny Faye), and casts the band as the song’s 'Beehive Boys'. In the backgrounder, Mike Alexander writes about his time as the band's manager.