In this episode of The Gravy Warren Maxwell employs the services of Wellington architect Gerald Melling. En route the Liverpudlian recalls his path down under, via underground publishing and scandal in 60s Toronto to designing punchy, idiosyncratic Kiwi buildings. These include the Signal Box house (Home New Zealand 2008 House of the Year) which lets the brake off the metaphorical possibilities of its Masterton location. Gabe McDonnell then looks at Richard Meros' obsession with Helen Clark, and its 'adaptation' for theatre by young lover/playwright Arthur Meek.
Jon Stevens (brother of singer Frankie Stevens) was born in Upper Hutt in 1963 and worked at EMI's record pressing plant as a teen. His own recording career got off to a stellar start when his first two singles ('Jezebel' and 'Montego Bay') were consecutive number ones. After recording an album in LA he moved to Australia in 1981. Since then he has fronted Sydney rock band Noiseworks for six years, played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and replaced the late Michael Hutchence in INXS from 2000 to 2004.
In the decades between the Sinatras' version of 'Somethin' Stupid' (1967) and 2009's 'Empire State of Mind', someone had the bright idea of pairing two Kiwi singers, and kitting them out in matching green and black. Fresh from two consecutive number one singles, ex Upper Hutt record factory worker Jon Stevens takes lead vocals on this breakup duet, which sees the magical arrival of Sharon O'Neill, 50 seconds in. The result got to number five on the local charts. This clip featured on after school show Tracy '80.
In 1979 Jon Stevens arrived from nowhere (actually Upper Hutt) to score the first of two consecutive number one singles: 'Jezebel' and 'Montego Bay'. Keen to develop a roster of local acts, Stevens' label CBS paired him with their first local signing, singer/songwriter Sharon O'Neill. The result was ballad 'Don't Let Love Go'. Stevens and O'Neill were both soon living in Australia, where Stevens formed rockers Noiseworks, and O'Neill got into extended contractual battles with the Australian arm of CBS.
Napier raised hip hop producer Darryl Thomson (DLT) is thought to be the first person to 'scratch' on a New Zealand produced record. At 16 he was inspired by a Life article about rap and breakdancing. He was a founding member of influential Kiwi hip hop groups Upper Hutt Posse and Dam Native. In 1996 he collaborated with Che Fu, who had recently left the band Supergroove. The result was single 'Chains', which topped the Kiwi charts, won three NZ Music Awards including Best Single, and kick-started Che Fu's solo career. These days DLT runs workshops on creating art and making beats, and is a father.
Samoan-born MC Feelstyle has long been lauded amongst Aotearoa's hip hop elite for his ability to craft music in both his native Samoan and English. The rapper earned a place in the history books, under the name RIQ, when he edged out Upper Hutt Posse to win the country's first ever MC battle in 1987. He's been in demand since, working closely with a list of Kiwi music's who's who and dominating the 2005 Pacific Music Awards with debut album Break It To Pieces.
This was the first music video funded by New Zealand on Air. The song is a colourful plea for Māori youth to preserve their culture by learning the reo — it also doubles as a handy guide to Māori pronunciation. Director Kerry Brown created vibrant animated backgrounds to match the song’s hip-hop beats. The cameo appearances include Moana Maniapoto’s father, MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave, Mika and various crew members. The Moahunters were Mina Ripia (who went on to her own act Wai) and Teremoana Rapley (from Upper Hutt Posse, who went on to manage King Kapisi).
This seven-part documentary series chronicled the history of modern Māori music, from the turn of the century and Rotorua tourist concert parties, through to the showband era (Howard Morrison Quartet, Māori Volcanics, Māori Hi-Five) and reggae and hip hop. The programme ranged from ‘Ten Guitars’ to Tui Teka, from Guide Rangi doing poi to The Patea Māori Club, from opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa to Upper Hutt Posse, Ardijah, Herbs and Moana and the Moa Hunters. The acclaimed 1990 series was directed by Tainui Stephens (My Party Song, The New Zealand Wars).
Long before “country people die on country roads” came this 1951 road safety film targeting rural audiences — specifically children between five and 12. Compared with the carnage of 21st Century road safety campaigns, In the Country is quaint: a traffic safety instructor tests a class to see what lessons that they’ve remembered, and the kids then demonstrate safe crossing, so they can get home in one piece to feed Chalky the horse his carrot. It was filmed at and around Te Marua School near Upper Hutt, and helmed by pioneering National Film Unit director Kathleen O’Brien.
Mid 90s hip hop act Joint Force was a brief collaboration featuring MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave (aka Mark 'Slave' Williams and Otis Frizzell) and Darryl 'DLT' Thompson with production by silent partner Angus McNaughton. The alliance arose after Williams and Frizzell began looking for a full-time DJ. They found one in Thompson who had parted ways with Upper Hutt Posse. One Inch Punch, their debut eight track EP, added Jamaican dub and dancehall influences to their hip hop beats and rhymes and featured a remix from Beasties Boys producer Mario Caldato.