Classic Kiwi Music Festivals

This Spotlight collection offers the chance to sample music festival options from years gone by, as campers descend on fields from Swanson to Ngaruawahia in TV specials about classic Kiwi festivals Redwood, Nambassa, Sweetwaters (1980 and 1999) and the Big Day Out (1999). The music includes Split Enz, Elvis Costello, Korn and Courtney Love. Plus bonus yodelling and yoga. Check out the "punters, munters, sights and sounds".

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Redwood 70

Television, 1970 (Documentary, Music)

It was the summer of 1970, six months after Woodstock, and local media had hyped this Phil Warren-promoted two-day music festival as NZ’s version. Despite promises of revolution it was more low key with 1500 music fans bussing out to the Swanson holiday park for, as MC Peter Sinclair introduced it, “36 hours of non stop top pops of New Zealand’s top bands”, from psych-rock to gospel. The international star was sometime Bee Gee Robin Gibb, whose high pitch was infamously welcomed with a pitched tomato. This festival was filmed for TV by the NZBC.

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Nambassa Festival

Television, 1979 (Documentary)

The three day Nambassa Festival, held on a Waihi farm in 1979, is the subject of this TV doco. Attended by 60,000 people, it represented a high tide mark in NZ for the Woodstock vision of a music festival as counter-culture celebration of music, crafts, alternative lifestyles and all things hippy. Performers include a frenzied Split Enz, The Plague (wearing paint), Limbs dancers, a yodelling John Hore-Grenell and prog rockers Schtung. The only downers are over-zealous policing and weather which discourages too much communing with nature after the first day.

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Radio with Pictures - Sweetwaters

Television, 1980 (Documentary, Music)

The legendary Dylan Taite hosts this RWP special on the first Sweetwaters music festival. The event took 12 months and half a million dollars to set up. Headliner Elvis Costello proved media-shy; some heavy-handed attempts to keep the cameras away are seen. Meanwhile, Taite muses on the impact of late 70s bands on the future of festivals. Sweetwaters would go on, although financial problems in 1999 led to the jailing of organiser Daniel Keighley. But, as this doco shows, for 45,000 concert goers the Ngaruawahia edition touched the youth culture node of the time. 

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Sweet As

Television, 1999 (Documentary, Music)

This documentary follows the experiences of two groups at the 1999 Sweetwaters music festival: six teenagers (including actor Kate Elliott, then 17), and a group of 30-somethings (many of them veterans of the 80s Sweetwaters). This excerpt catches up with them near the event's conclusion. Although some hangovers are being nursed, mostly spirits remain undimmed. English singer Elvis Costello drops the on-stage bomb that the artists haven't been paid, Chris Knox notes the "money fiasco" his own way; and the festivalgoers rate their weekend. 

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Havoc at the Big Day Out

Television, 1999 (Music, Young Adults)

This special 1999 edition of the youth show travels to downunder's summer music festival du jour: The Big Day Out. Mikey Havoc and Jeremy 'Newsboy' Wells slip, slop, slap and survey the "punters, munters, sights and sounds" at Mt Smart Stadium. They meet musical acts of the era, including Korn, Marilyn Manson and Fatboy Slim, and local heroes Shihad. Newsboy interviews "Nelson College old girl, grunge super bride and Big Day Out recidivist" Courtney Love, who gives him the glad eye (apparently) and he reads her a viewer question from "Doug Myers of Remuera".