New Zealand Music

A DigitalNZ Story by National Library of New Zealand Topics

Explore the culture, history and uses of music in New Zealand along with famous singers (traditional and contemporary), music awards, bands and the styles of music unique to New Zealand. SCIS number. 1913344

social_sciences, arts, english, history, technology, Māori

The birth of Kiwi rock 'n' roll

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Punk rock poster, 1978

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Rock concert, Christchurch

Alexander Turnbull Library

Waiata hōu – contemporary Māori songs

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Making music - Moana Maniapoto discusses singing Māori songs

Making Music - Moana Maniapoto

NZ On Screen

Musician Dave Dobbyn and 'Loyal'

Dave Dobbyn and 'Loyal'

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Music Nation - First Episode focuses on winners of NZ Music Awards

Music Nation - First Episode

NZ On Screen

Kate Robertson reviews singer Lorde's album.

Lorde Review

Radio New Zealand

NZ Music Month is back for its sixteenth year - Simon Wood from the NZ Music Commission talks about what it means, and why it's still needed.

NZ Music Commission's Simon Wood on Music Month 2016

Radio New Zealand

Singers and musicians (New Zealand)

National Library of New Zealand

‘God defend New Zealand’

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Studio One

NZ On Screen

Recording companies and studios

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Story: Alda, Frances - New Zealand opera singer

Story: Alda, Frances -

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Rock chicks

DigitalNZ

Musical theatre

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Māori composers – ngā kaitito waiata: Composing Māori music

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Te Taha Tū – Moteatea

Radio New Zealand

Music in New Zealand

Services to Schools

Blue Smoke

Services to Schools

New Zealand folk song

Services to Schools

E Tu

Services to Schools

Waiata

Services to Schools

Stan Walker

Services to Schools

Audio Culture

Services to Schools

NZ Music Month

Services to Schools

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

New Zealand opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa began her professional international career with a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council bursary. This assisted with her study at the London Opera Centre. Her first public performance in 1971 as Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro was highly praised in the British Financial Times. Kiri went on to perform many important operatic roles in the world’s major opera houses including New York, Paris, Milan and Sydney. A highlight of her career was singing Let the Bright Seraphim at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1982.

Portrait of Kiri Te Kanawa in traditional Maori attire

Alexander Turnbull Library

Face the music

New Zealand Music Week was initially launched in 1997 and went on to become New Zealand Month in May 2001. From then on many media broadcasting organisations have made it a goal to showcase and promote New Zealand music and performances during May. However, in this ‘Mayhem’ cartoon the cartoonist has subverted May music month to read Mayhem face the music month. This is a reference to and a commentary on, all the headline political embarrassments, mistakes and bad publicity the Government faced in May 2013. This included the state sale of assets, legislative reforms allowing GCSB to spy on Kiwis, and National MP Aaron Gilmore’s behaviour at Hanmer Springs.

Winter, Mark 1958- :'..the answers my friends are blowin' in the WINZ..' 17 October 2012

Alexander Turnbull Library

The Sheffield Choir

This article is about the 200 strong British Sheffield Choir’s tour of New Zealand in 1911. In Wellington (at the Wellington Town Hall) the choir was reinforced by 250 local singers and was conducted by Dr Harris and Dr Coward. Elijah and The Bells of St Michaels were among the pieces of music sung that were enthusiastically received. Their 3 evening performances and one matinee brought in 3,200 pounds reflecting the huge interest in, and popularity of, choir music at the time. Choral singing was one of the most widespread and popular forms of music in New Zealand in the early 20th century. There were choirs in towns, cities, churches, workplaces, and even in schools.

MUSIC FESTIVAL. (Otago Daily Times 3-7-1911)

National Library of New Zealand

Johnny Devlin — rock singer

John Lockett Devlin popularly known as Johnny Develin was once considered New Zealand’s answer to Elvis Presley. Born in 1938 in Raetihi, Johnny’s passion for music began when he was given a guitar for his 11th birthday. His obsession with rock & roll began after he heard Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel. His 1958 debut single Lawdy Miss Clawdy was a massive hit, selling 2000 copies in Auckland alone. However, Devlin’s Elvis-like gyrating hips, his popularity and the near-riots from concert fans (including girls ripping off the singer’s shirts and trousers) were frowned upon in some New Zealand conservative quarters.

Johnny Devlin, rock singer

Alexander Turnbull Library

Inia Te Wiata

This poster is an invitation to listen to opera singer Inia Te Wiata at the Invercargill Civic Theatre. Born in Otaki on 10 June 1915, Inia or Happy Davidson as he chose to call himself, was a bass profundo (bass singer with the lowest vocal range) at the age of 14 years. He was spotted by Reverend A.J. Seamer who engaged him as a soloist and choir member of the Methodist Māori Mission choir. His exceptional voice earned him a government scholarship to study music at the Trinity College of Music in London which unfortunately was a college for teaching music but not for singers like Inia. A chance meeting with Steuart Wilson of BBC helped Wiata to transfer to Joan Cross’s Opera School.

New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation :Inia Te Wiata. An evening with Inia Te Wiata, Thursday 24 October, Invercargill Civic Theatre. Bookings Beggs...

Alexander Turnbull Library

Musicians Ruru Karaitiana and Gary Mutton

A love for music has brought these two New Zealand musicians together. The man with the hat is Ruru Karaitiana and seated beside him is Gary Mutton. Ruru is the composer of the song Blue Smoke which, in 1949, became the first record wholly produced and pressed in New Zealand. Sung by Pixie Williams, the song was a hit for New Zealand owned record label TANZA (To Assist New Zealand Artists). Ruru, who was part of the Māori Battalion in the Second World War, composed the song in 1940 on the troop ship Aquitania when his friend drew his attention to some passing smoke.

Ruru Karaitiana and Gary Mutton

Alexander Turnbull Library

WOMAD festival of Music, Arts and Dance

WOMAD stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance. It is an international arts festival initially created through a shared enthusiasm and passion for world music. The musician Peter Gabriel was one of the co-founders. In New Zealand, (one of the 27 countries that holds WOMAD festivals) WOMAD draws thousands of people to New Plymouth’s Brooklands Park where they experience a variety of food, crafts, workshops, and music from around the world. More than 1000 artists have appeared at WOMAD New Zealand. For example, the 2013 festival headlined such performers as Amparo Sanchez, Hugo Mendez, Soweto Gospel Choir, Tenzin Choegyal and the Monks of Tibet, Taj Mahal and Newtown Rocksteady.

Photographs of WOMAD festival 2013, New Plymouth

Alexander Turnbull Library

Māori music in London

This article from 1910 is about Rangiuia, a young Māori who had been studying music in Europe. At the time he had become quite popular in London society and was reported by one newspaper to be lord and chieftain of 14,000 Māori people in New Zealand. Under the patronage of Princess Christian he gave a concert in Hotel Curzon in Piccadilly where he appeared in a costume of beads, grasses and exotic draperies. He also had on a feather cloak or kahu that he had made himself — which he also wore when he met King Edward VII. Rangiuia (who could sing in 5 languages – Māori, English, French, German and Spanish) sang ritual songs or waiata, and also narrated legends about his people.

MAORI MUSIC IN LONDON. (Clutha Leader 22-3-1910)

National Library of New Zealand

Apra Amcos

Services to Schools

NZ Music month

Services to Schools

Kiwi songbirds

Services to Schools

Aotearoa hip hop

Services to Schools

RNZ Music

Services to Schools

Lemon and Paeroa

Services to Schools