It's hard to reduce legendary band Split Enz down to a single sound or image. Soon after forming in 1973, they began dressing like oddball circus performers, and their music straddled folk, vaudeville and art rock. Later the songs got shorter, poppier and — some say —better, and the visuals were toned down...but you could never accuse the Enz of looking biege. With Split Enz co-founder Tim Finn turning 65 in June 2017, this collection looks back at one of Aotearoa's most successful and eclectic bands. Writer Michael Higgins unravels the evolution of the Enz here.
This 1962 National Film Unit production is a comprehensive survey of the history and (then) state of Māori carving. Many taonga are filmed on display at Wellington’s Dominion Museum, and the design aspects of ‘whakairo’ are examined, from the spiral motif to the origin of iconic black, red and white colouring. Finding reviving tradition in new “community halls”, the film shows the building of Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt in 1960, recording the processes behind woven tukutuku panels and kowhaiwhai patterns, as the tapping of mallets provides a percussive presence.
In November 1970 a New Zealand tourism fashion presentation designed for Australian audiences took place at Auckland Museum. Dancing models wore traditional Māori motifs, combined with contemporary fashion — then still a novelty. The designs include work by Kowhai Knitwear's Janice Hopper and Ann Rupe (who is heard on the soundtrack). Rupe had won the Coat and Suit section at the New Zealand Fashion Showcase '69, aged 20. The Taniko motifs were painstakingly beaded or individually painted on to the garments, rather than screen-printed.
This 1982 Kaleidoscope report interviews artist Theo Schoon, on his return to New Zealand after a decade in Sydney and Bali. Schoon was a pioneer as a Pākehā engaging with Māori design, melding modernist and Māori motifs (e.g. moko and kowhaiwhai patterns). He discusses his earlier estrangement from the New Zealand art world ("talking to the deaf"), his eight years documenting Māori cave drawings ("art galleries of a sort, art galleries that I'd never been conscious of"), growing and carving gourds, and being inspired by Rotorua’s geothermal activity. Schoon died in 1985.
'Sierra Leone' was one of those songs that quickly stood out from the pack. Andrew McLennan's synth-pop track won his new band Coconut Rough a deal with Mushroom Records, then became a runaway hit in 1983. The video, slick for the time, features bright colours, a running motif, and African imagery. But the pressure of being in demand for a single song became an albatross around the band's neck. As McLennan told website AudioCulture, "‘Sierra Leone’ became the only song from our repertoire that people wanted to hear and no matter what we did we couldn’t follow it up."
Alien Weaponry’s first single ‘Urutaa’ was released in late 2016, following their triumph at the Smokefree Rockquest and Pacifica Beats. The band won media attention for their inclusion of te reo Māori in metal music. The video sees them performing on a soundstage, interspersed with a pocket watch motif. The watch is a reference to a series of incidents between Māori and Pākehā in the early 1800s, which resulted in an attack by Māori on visiting ship The Boyd. The band used the incident as a metaphor for continuing misunderstandings "between cultures, generations and individuals".
Taken from hit music show C’mon, this short clip has Mr Lee Grant performing his first number one hit ‘Opportunity’. After leaping to attention — and suffering an awkward landing — he recovers quickly to offer a jaunty performance on a psychedelic set, complete with American flag motif. The song (a cover version) charted in May 1967, helping cement Mr Lee Grant’s position as one of the country's premier pop stars. He would top the local charts twice more — and come close another time — before leaving New Zealand in March 1968, in an attempt to conquer the United Kingdom.
Romper Room kept little 70s kids entertained while they waited for big brothers and sisters to come home from school. The format was imported to NZ from the US with these animated titles — all that remains of the show in the archives. The titles established the programme’s bee motif (carried through to Do Bee and Don’t Bee who were used to model correct and incorrect behaviour). Once the bee had bounced off the jack in a box, Miss Yvonne and her fellow presenters entertained with songs and stories — and looked through the “magic mirror” at the audience at home.
This wistful, gently melodic rocker was the breakthrough single for this Australian based band of Kiwi brothers. Written by drummer Dann Hume when he was 16, it spent four months in the Australian Top 20 and was the NZ APRA Silver Scroll winner for 2005. Melbourne director Sarah-Jane Woulahan's video makes the brothers an elfin presence in the depths of a black and blue forest while the clock motif, which echoes the song's theme of passing time, takes its visual cues from vintage cinema.
The first single off mutli-platinum 1998 album Supersystem helped bring Christchurch rockers The Feelers to a wide audience. For the video, director Joe Lonie has been given the resources to pull out all the stops — maintaining momentum with constant motion and cutting, while underlining the pressure motif by having the band performing in a boiler room, and claustrophobically running through a pipe. 'Pressure Man' was nominated for Best Video at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards. Lonie had first begun making music videos while playing bass for Supergroove.