Reggae band Herbs hold a special place in the history of New Zealand pop music, mixing feel-good rhythms with burning social and environmental issues. The original line-up consisted of five musicians from across the Pacific. Their string of hits in the 80s and 90s helped Aotearoa forge a new Pacific identity. For this documentary director Tearepa Kahi (Poi E: The Story of Our Song, Mt Zion) captures the band's reunion, and interviews key members about the protest movement that lit a fire under the group, their chart topping success, and famous collaborations.
Tama Renata’s fretwork made him a fixture of the local music scene for over three decades. As well as playing stints for Herbs, funk-reggae act Papa and singer Sonny Day, the self-proclaimed "speed king of NZ guitar" was perhaps best known for composing the iconic theme for Once Were Warriors — and its love song 'Here Is My Heart' (with fellow Herbs members Dilworth Karaka and Charlie Tumahai). Renata was inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame in 2012 for his work with Herbs. He passed away on 4 November 2018, a day before he was due to perform at a tribute concert for guitarist Billy TK.
Annie Crummer came to attention with her cameo in ‘For Today’ in 1985 and she was a member of the high profile late 80s act When The Cats Away — but her debut solo album Language didn’t appear until 1992. This cover of a song originally recorded by Eric Clapton was its first single. It features Pacific reggae band Herbs (with the late Charlie Tumahai as duet partner). Fred Renata’s stylish video is a study in monochrome as it alternates black and white backdrops (and wardrobe for Crummer), and augments them with photos of loved ones and shadow play.
Pacific reggae legends Herbs were one of Aotearoa's most distinctive bands of the 1980s. The band scored ten Top 20 singles, including hits with fellow Kiwi legends Dave Dobbyn ('Slice of Heaven') and Tim Finn ('Parihaka'). Though infectiously upbeat, Herbs' music was often politically conscious: 1982 hit 'French Letter' became the sound of New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance. Along the way Herbs featured vocalists Dilworth Karaka, Willie Hona, and the late Charlie Tumahai — plus (briefly) Eagle Joe Walsh. In 2008, the band reconvened for 30th anniversary compilation Lights Of The Pacific: The Very Best Of Herbs.