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.
Persperation running off the walls ... poor Malo, his blisters burst, blood came out on the tea chest, I said 'Malo look at your hands, go put some plasters on' and he said 'no, I'm so bloody happy'. Boom, boom boom, he kept on going.– Bill Sevesi recalls his bass player's commitment to the groove
Chris Todd and Chris Williams
Made with the assistance of the Creative Film and Video Fund of the Queen Elizabeth ll Arts Council, Kodak NZ and Atlab
Includes performances by Bill Sevesi and his Islanders, Bill Wolfgramm, Koe Fisi Oe Pohutukawa and Fetu'u o Tonga