Music of New Zealand: 6 Iconic Musicians and 5 Awesome Music Festivals in New Zealand

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The indigenous Maori tribe of the country is credited for introducing the culture of music in New Zealand. Derived from their Polynesian origins, Maori music is an essential way to celebrate the history and customs of the Maoris. Originally sung using microtones and taonga puoro instruments, the traditional Maori music started to get heavily inspired by the harmonies and instruments introduced by the European settlers since the European colonization of New Zealand in the nineteenth century.

Nowadays, guitar is commonly used in Maori musical performances all over the world. Other genres of music like rock, pop and hip hop are also hugely popular in New Zealand. The country is also blessed with a good number of talented musicians.

6 Iconic Figures in the Music of New Zealand

1. Brooke Fraser

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A musical teenage prodigy turned platinum-selling singer-songwriter, Brooke Fraser released her first album ‘What to Do with Daylight’ in late 2003. Over one hundred and five thousand copies of the album were sold in New Zealand alone and it remained on the charts for sixty six weeks. Sang and co-wrote by her with the Hillsong Worship group, ‘What a Beautiful Name’ won the Best Contemporary Christian music song/performance at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

 Her songs are usually Christian-themed and reflective.

2. Fat Freddy’s Drop

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A seven-piece music band that combines dub, reggae, soul, jazz, rhythm and blues and techno, Fat Freddy’s Drop is best enjoyed in live performances. Having completed over thousand shows now, the band was originally formed in the 1990s by Wellington’s musicians who used to perform for other bands. The highest selling album by a national artist in the history of New Zealand was Fat Freddy's Drop's first album, ‘Based on a True Story’.

3. Hayley Westenra

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A legendary figure in the history of music in New Zealand, Hayley Westenra is a classical crossover singer, songwriter and the second youngest UNICEF ambassador. Her debut album ‘Pure’ came out in 2003 and went on to become one of the fastest selling albums in the history of New Zealand by selling over two million copies all over the world. She associated with Ennio Morricone and produced an international album called Paradiso which was certified gold in New Zealand.

4. Broods

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A brother and sister duo from Nelson, Broods released their debut single online in 2013 which earned two hundred thousand streams in a week before debuting at No.8 in the New Zealand single chart. Winners of ten New Zealand Music Awards, they have toured with Taylor Love, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding.

5. Lorde

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The millions of views for the songs of Lorde on YouTube is itself proof for her immense acceptance around the globe. Lorde has become a significant personality in the music of New Zealand within the age of just twenty four. Winner of two Grammy Awards and two Brit Awards, she has also received a Golden Globe nomination.

An excellent electropop music artist, Lorde uses unconventional musical styles. She rose to prominence after the release of her debut single named ‘Royals’. One of the most successful artists of her generation, Lorde was featured in the Time’s list of the most influential teenagers in 2013 and 2014.

6. Dave Dobbyn

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Dave Dobbyn, the sixty-three year-old Kiwi musician has written some of the most famous songs in New Zealand over the last forty years. He was part of a rock band Th’Dudes which attained huge fame following the release of their single ‘Bliss’ from the album ‘Where Are The Boys?’. The song dedicated to the joy of drinking beer turned into a cult New Zealand drinking song.

His other huge hits are ‘Loyal’ and ‘Welcome Home’.      

 To enjoy the best of the musical talent of Kiwis, be sure to check out these engrossing music festivals:

5 Awesome Festivals Where Music of New Zealand Is Celebrated

1. Rhythm and Alps, Wanaka

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A music and camping festival held in Cardrona Valley near Wanaka, Rhythm and Alps lasts for three days from the twenty ninth of December to the first of January. Also known as R & A, it debuted ten years back on the final two days of 2011 at Terrace Downs before relocating to the current venue in 2013.

The premier festival of South Island, Rhythm and Alps features fifty international and local acts across four stages with the finest light and sound production.

2. Splore, Auckland

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Beautifully set in the Tapapakanga Regional Park, Splore is a music and arts festival that happens continuously for three consecutive days and a celebration of the music in New Zealand. A diverse range of native and non-native musical artists showcase their talent on the stages along with other visual arts and performances. Pre-register a boat online and sail to Splore to take in the magnificent views across the festival site.

Since the roads contain some sharp corners, be very cautious while driving to Splore.

3. WOMAD, Taranaki

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WOMAD is a three-day festival that collectively brings artists across the globe in a celebration of music, arts and dance. In the WOMAD held every year in Taranaki since 2005, workshops and artists-signing sessions are organized specifically to enjoy the amazing music. With stalls for shopping, a whole garden for kids, the Global Village Food Court and scope for camping, the internationally established festival is family-oriented as well.

Due to the uncontrollable COVID-19 situation, WOMAD for 2021 has been cancelled.

4. Homegrown, Wellington

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The Homegrown festival gloriously happens every year with New Zealand’s native artists at Wellington waterfront where the five stages feature diverse musical performances like Dub & Roots, Reggae, EDM, Rock and Hip-hop. Fifty fabulous acts and an additional sixth stage have been announced for the Homegrown of 2021. The event earlier scheduled to happen on 2020 is currently postponed to March 2021 and all the tickets booked for 2020 are valid for the new date.

5. Rhythm and Wines, Gisborne

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Rhythm and Wines started out by hosting performances of both up-and-coming and established New Zealand musicians before transitioning into the biggest music and camping festival of the country.

Is there more to the alluring music of New Zealand? Please let us know in the comments.

This post was published by Vishnu Kesavan

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