This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
Bill Sevesi was the 'Godfather' of Polynesian music in New Zealand; his impact can be heard in the strum of ukeleles in classrooms across the country. In this 24-minute film Sevesi (born Wilfred Jeffs) narrates his life story, including his childhood in Tonga, making his first guitar, and his role in bringing Pacific Island music into the dance halls of 1940's and 50's New Zealand. Sevesi's bands mixed Hawaiian steel guitar with pop tunes of the day, resulting in sunny hits like 'Kissing Hula'. Watch out for uke player Sione Aleki, Tonga's answer to Jimi Hendrix.
Buckle up as we blast from the past Russ le Roq, gameshow host Paul Henry, tweenaged Kimbra and catwalk model Rach. Paul Casserly primes the collection: "pig out on these pre-fame Kiwis, gaze upon their fresh faces and remember the good times, before they were famous, before they became household names, movie stars, action figures and flavours of ice-cream."
This segment from Grunt Machine is a visit to Wellington radio station 2ZM. Announcer Paul Holmes (and later Grunt Machine host — resplendent in afro and moustache) is interviewed after giving away an LP to Carol of Naenae. He isn't a fan of music charts and thinks 2ZM should drop its Top 20 because people just want to hear music now and not the hit parade. Elsewhere there are calls to record shops to check sales and compile the Top 20 that Mr Holmes would rather not have — and a listening session rattles through the new releases in very short order.
‘Everyone’s Gonna Wonder’ was penned by part American, part Kiwi Chris Malcolm, who passed through New Zealand in 1967. Busking in a Wellington wharf coffee house, he spied “a starry-eyed couple sitting, staring into each other’s eyes and totally oblivious to the surroundings, so I wrote a song about them.” After HMV producer Nick Karavias heard it, it became the debut single for his young charges the Avengers. This promo films a studio session. On the back of lush vocal harmonies the track rose to number seven on the Kiwi hit parade; it also earned a Loxene Golden Disc nomination.
During his last session on air, a veteran radio announcer finds himself on a quest through the streets and sewers. His mission: to retrieve a special record, in time to play it for a devoted listener. Signing Off was made by Nightmare Productions, a team of Dunedin filmmakers. The success of this comic adventure helped lead to Scarfies, the feature debut of Nightmare team member, director Robert Sarkies (Two Little Boys, Out of the Blue). A big seller overseas, Signing Off won awards at film festivals from Dresden to Montreal.
Bill McCarthy’s wide-ranging television career spans 50 years and counting. McCarthy won a keen following when he anchored coverage of the 1974 Commonwealth Games. After five years presenting Television One’s network news (alternating with Dougal Stevenson), he became a producer and director, and did time as TVNZ’s head of sports. McCarthy set up his own company in 1990, and continues to make shows for cable television.
Ron Skelley spent 36 years with the National Film Unit’s sound department, contributing to the soundtracks of Weekly Review, Pictorial Parade, and many other NFU and independent films. He started at the NFU in 1949, and was in charge of the sound department from 1977 until his retirement in 1985. Skelley died in March 1992. Image Credit: Photo from The Evening Post, courtesy of Fairfax Media
During his 34 years as a National Film Unit cameraman, Kell Fowler filmed throughout New Zealand, and travelled as far afield as China and the South Pole. Career highlights included his work as cameraman and director of Oscar-nominated Antarctic film One Hundred and Forty Days Under the World (1964), and the filming of the sweeping three-screen vistas that featured in Expo 70 hit This is New Zealand.
For three decades, playwright and critic Bruce Mason played intelligent, impassioned witness to many key developments in Kiwi theatre and culture; a number of them his own. His play The Pohutukawa Tree has spawned more than 180 productions, and was watched by 20 million after being adapted for the BBC. The End of the Golden Weather is both a classic solo play, and movie.