Hip hop act Upper Hutt Posse is led by Dean Hapeta (aka Te Kupu and D Word), a poet and orator influenced by black American thinkers like Malcolm X. The group set out to fight racial injustice through music. Hapeta's radicalism quickly made him and the Posse into tabloid targets. Their bilingual single ‘E Tu’ became Aotearoa’s first local rap release in 1988. Acclaimed debut album Against the Flow was released on Southside the next year. Their music has incorporated elements of soul, funk and raggamuffin toasting. Members have included Darryl (DLT) Thompson, Teremoana Rapley and Emma Paki.
Upper Hutt Posse were the first group to release a hip hop record in New Zealand, with their politically charged breakthrough 1988 single 'E Tu'. On this single from 1992, they make something of a return to their reggae roots. By now the group had expanded from the original four-piece, and included Teremoana Rapley — also part of Moana and the Moahunters — on additional vocals. The song would later appear on the soundtrack of Once Were Warriors, with Posse members Dean and Matt Hapeta (aka D-Word and MC Wiya) making cameo appearances in the film.
This militant debut from rappers Upper Hutt Posse marked New Zealand’s first hip hop record. Dean Hapeta announces himself with a history lesson proudly namechecking the great Māori warrior chiefs of the 19th Century — Hōne Heke, Te Rauparaha, Te Kooti — and their Māori Battalion successors. ‘E Tu’ is also a personal manifesto, with promises to preach the truth but not to brag or wear gold chains. Hapeta's down the barrel delivery carries a degree of confrontation rarely seen from New Zealand musicians up to that point.
Rappers Upper Hutt Posse were the first New Zealand hip hop act to release a record (and one of the most radical). This reflection on troubles at home and abroad brings out a more reflective side. Against news footage of the Springbok Tour, Bastion Point and a host of international trouble spots, the sweet soul vocals of Teremoana Rapley and Acid Dread (aka Steve Rameka) float in and out of the raggamuffin toasting of MC Wiya (Matt Hapeta) and Dean Hapeta’s less than cheery weather forecast. This music video was one of the first to be funded by NZ on Air.
Satire Futile Attraction follows a dysfunctional reality television crew as they make a show about dating. The unfortunate 'couple' being manipulated for the cameras are a phone-obsessed nerd, and a woman consumed with being ecologically sound. In real life, director Mark Prebble became the first New Zealander to get funding for his movie via an online crowdfunding campaign (as detailed in the making of video). Alongside lead actors Danielle Mason (Black Sheep) and Peter Rutherford (Event 16), the late Alistair Browning shines as a smarmy television host.
"E tu stand proud, kia kaha say it loud", Dean Hapeta's lyrics typify the socio-political messages in NZ's early rap music. The four elements of hip hop: breakdancing, graffiti, DJ-ing and rap are examined through interviews with key players in the hip hop scene (including King Kapisi, Che Fu, Upper Hutt Posse). A recurring theme in the Sima Urale-directed documentary is that local hip hop artists are less interested in the "girls, booze and bling" school of hip hop, and more interested in using their art to make a political statement.
The King of the Ring came to Aotearoa in February 1979. Eyewitness reporter Karen Sims tags along with the reigning heavyweight champ as he jogs, woos the crowds, spars with school kids, and flirts with her. Muhammad Ali was 37 and in the twilight of a storied career (he sports a Dad bod — “his twins”). He announced his first retirement just a few months later. Ali's cornerman Drew Bundini Brown provides an insider perspective, while Sims reflects on Ali’s contradictions and charisma: “when the crowds are there or the cameras are rolling Ali pushes out energy like a jet stream”.
This edition of the 1970s current affairs show sees reporter Joe Coté investigating women in politics. A potted history of the trailblazers — from suffragist Kate Sheppard to Māori MP Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan (first to have a baby while in office) — leads to wide-ranging conversations with contemporary women in politics. Future Christchurch mayor Vicki Buck (here a 19-year-old council candidate) and others from across the spectrum, talk about ongoing struggles for equality: education, empowerment, abortion, childcare support, and the ‘old boys’ network.
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.
“Through falling leaves I pick my way slowly…” In 1970 a musical paean to getting your nature buzz topped the charts. ‘Nature’, by The Fourmyula, became a Kiwi classic: in 2001 an APRA poll voted it the best local song of the past 75 years. This 2010 Close Up report, from Auckland’s Montecristo Room, sees presenter Mark Sainsbury introduce the band's second performance of 'Nature' in Aotearoa (the band were overseas when it topped the charts). He quizzes composer Wayne Mason, and drummer Chris Parry recalls encountering The Clash while working in the English music scene.