This NZ Music Month collection showcases NZ music television, spun from a playlist of classic documentaries and beloved music shows. From Split Enz to the NZSO, Heavenly Pop Hits to Hip Hop New Zealand, whether you count the beat or roll like this, there’s something here for all ears (and eyes). Plus music writer Chris Bourke gets Ready to Roll with this pop history primer.
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.
Tim Finn is a New Zealand pop music icon. A founding member of legendary band Split Enz in the early 70s, he hasn't stopped writing, recording and performing since. Though they broke up in the 80s, Split Enz still do the occasional reunion concert. Since his 1983 hit Escapade, Finn has recorded an eclectic range of albums as a solo artist. He has also recorded two Finn albums alongside his younger brother Neil, and was briefly a member of Crowded House, co-writing a number of hits for their 1991 album Woodface.
London-based jazz saxophonist Nathan Haines returns home to perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, where he's accompanied by his bassist father, Kevin, and guitarist brother, Joel in a musical family reunion. They've followed different paths since the mid-80s when Nathan was 14 and they used to play as a trio (seen here in archive footage). The NZSO concert features standards and new songs from the brothers. This documentary backgrounds those songs, and follows the tricky business of melding jazz group and orchestra in rehearsal and concert.
Christopher Bourn is the pioneering entertainment producer best known for his work on the classic talent series Studio One. He has also worked as a sports director, and on a range of other early TV shows. His legacy of live TV broadcasts includes directing the first ever All Black rugby test to be broadcast on television, as well as the boxing at the 1974 Commonwealth Games; and serving as New Zealand producer for international co-production The Pacific Song Contest.
Clare O'Leary is a politically-motivated, award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her documentaries, made in Australia and New Zealand, aim to give a voice to those who are seldom heard.
His name was synonymous with entertainment in New Zealand. Dubbed Ol' Brown Eyes — Māoridom's version of Frank Sinatra — Howard Morrison's voice and charisma carried him through decades of success both here and abroad. From the Howard Morrison Quartet to time as a solo performer, Morrison's take on songs like 'How Great Thou Art' ensured his waiata an enduring place at the top of local playlists.
New Zealand’s first left-wing documentary filmmaker, Cecil Holmes achieved notoriety in the late 1940s through the highly publicised exposure of his communist activity as a Public Service Association (PSA) delegate in the National Film Unit. He went on to become a significant film director in Australia.Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-023573; F (detail)
English-born Rob Guest, OBE, started out as a pop singer. In the 1970s he sang on New Zealand shows like Happen Inn and Popco, before starring in a number of one-off TV specials, including 1985's Rob and Guests. After spending the first half of the 1980s performing in the United States, Guest relocated to Australia, to make his name in musical theatre. Following an award-winning role in Les Misérables, he began a record-breaking seven year run as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. He also hosted the Aussie version of game show Man O Man. Rob Guest died early in October 2008, after suffering a stroke.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.