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NZ Music Month in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa

It’s May, so it’s NZ Music Month! NZ Music Month is all about music from Aotearoa, and the people who make it. Radio stations play more local tunes, and we celebrate homegrown talent across the length and breadth of the country. So what’s happening locally? What does NZ Music Month mean to our local musicians and how can we support our local talent?

The NZ Music Commission kicked off NZ Music Month in 2000. There was plenty of great music being made but not enough people got to hear it, see it, or have it on their shelves. It’s marvellous to see how far things have come.

My music month started brilliantly with friends over for a birthday celebration, so out came the CDs and vinyl. I’ve got some great early NZ compilations on vinyl, being rather partial to Flying Nun bands and NZ punk. I was lucky enough to be given the book “From AK79 to The Class Of 81” as a prezzy, with great photos of the era by Andrew Phelps. What could be better? Maybe more music? Oh yeah, a gift voucher for Spellbound Wax, our very own local vinyl store. So I went in and got the classic Straitjacket Fits album Hail.

I asked some local musos for their thoughts on NZ Music Month and the local scene (follow the link to our website below for links to these band’s tracks and playlist links on Spotify):

Gana Goldsmith of UNI-FI thinks “the local music scene has really boosted in the last few years since Darryl took over Smash Palace and has live music every weekend. NZ Music Month for me is celebrating awesome kiwi musicians and their creative works but I reckon it should be celebrated all year around and not just for one month!”

SuperFly Killa started the month writing songs for their second EP. Kevin Pewhairangi gave us his local music recommendations: Tuari Brothers, Supreme Brother Sound, UNI-FI, Clown’s Kiss , Strobe & Kwick.

As an artist songwriter ErnieJ says that being involved in NZ Music Month makes him feel like he is contributing to a bigger kiwi vibe “Following Covid lockdown, Kiwi acts stepped up and demonstrated we have the talent. If local original music is given opportunity in front of an audience then chances are, we grow together”.

The man behind Spellbound Radio and The Spellbound Wax Company Deane Craw says he always tries to get anything from New Zealand on vinyl for the shop, “the local music scene has really ramped up after Covid, with more local bands touring, and commercial stations finally coming to the party”.

New Zealand music airplay on commercial stations was 21% in 2020. The industry began a voluntary Music Code back in 2002, when they played less than 10% local music. Their target was for commercial radio stations to play 20% New Zealand music. Not bad, but I reckon they can do better and follow in the footsteps of public, student and iwi radio stations, which are strong supporters of local content.

OK, I know, it’s getting a bit nippy out so you might not make it to all of the live shows. Luckily, there are a couple of other ways to hear our local talent. You may have heard local music playing at a cafe, restaurant, bar or shop lately. That’s because Lazy Fifty band manager Kerry Taggart put together a Gisborne Musicians Spotify playlist and got it out to local hospitality businesses.  You’ll know if they have the playlist from the poster displayed in their window. Your ears can feast on tracks from locals, including The Crumb Factory, The Karuthers Brothers and Tama Waipara.

Another playlist, heavy on music from Tairāwhiti and 100% NZ made is the NZ Music Scene playlist. You’ll hear locals UNI-FI, Superfly Killa, Sit Down in Front, amongst others.

I could go on forever and don’t claim to have covered the whole spectrum of local music. But if you’re keen to find a new favourite NZ band, Bandcamp is a great place to start if you’re keen to support local artists. Check out Bandcamp here.

Enjoy your NZ Music Month and keep an ear out for a new project brewing at Gizzy Local that’s all about shining a light on local music – Gizzy Local music. Coming soon!

By Leah McAneney

Photographs by John Flatt – Lightseeker Photography

Business Speed Dating – Tāiki e!

It’s normal to get nervous before a date, right? What about a business date? I’d signed myself up for Business Speed Dating, a business networking event hosted by Tāiki e! in collaboration with Gisborne Chamber of Commerce. I’d also committed to writing an article on it, so no backing out now. Sometimes you’ve just gotta put yourself out there.

The place is already pumping when I arrive at Tāiki e! Impact House in Treble Court on Thursday night. It’s not even the advertised start time of 6:30 pm yet. I thought the Gizzy thing was to arrive late? Everyone is chatting away and happy to include someone new in their conversation. Strangers approach me and introduce themselves. As a new face I am in demand! Oh cool, there’s wine! Beer. Juice. Pizza. These folks have thought of everything.

As someone who struggles to remember names, I’m grateful that people are wearing name tags. There’s one for me on the table too. I don’t have to muddle along by myself, everyone is really helpful. More gratitude when I see my name is spelt correctly.

It’s just as well Cain and Seda have a microphone to announce the start of the event and how the evening’s going to run. We’re getting pretty loud. Those of us with tags written in green go sit on one side. We have to stay put for the evening. The folks with the black name tags move around to the left. We have 5 minutes to find out a bit about each other. Get your business cards ready!

It’s all a bit of a whirlwind from there. In quick succession, I meet 10 locals, tell them why I’m there, and find out about them. Many have gained skills away from home that they want to share with Te Tairāwhiti. Have I said I was impressed yet? I’m impressed. There’s some innovative stuff happening in our quiet corner of Aotearoa.  I’ve never come across so many inspiring people who care about our community in one place before. Ever better, there’s plenty of crossover. Phil Kupenga hit the nail on the head, describing his goal to bring technology knowledge to the region. He said let’s be more future ready than shovel ready.

The event focus is on business networking in a fun and friendly environment. You can share your contact information and decide who you’d like to follow up with.  It’s a great way to boost professional networks, generate new business leads and find other skills and wisdom within the community. As they say,  It’s all about who you know.

The event is for anyone, budding or established entrepreneurs and anyone else interested in meeting new people and building their networks. The next one will be advertised on Taiki e’s Facebook page and you’ll need to register through Eventbrite.

Story & Photograph by Leah McAneney

Youth Entrepreneurship – Rosa Meredith

Rosa Meredith with some of her printed paper she is selling as @pasifika.prints

Rosa Meredith looks like a regular high school student in her GGHS uniform. She is.. and she isn’t. Rosa is also a young entrepreneur, under the mentorship of Tāiki e.  

Rosa makes and sells hand-printed wrapping paper at markets and through her Instagram page @pasifika.prints using vibrant colours and traditional Samoan patterns to decorate the paper. 

This isn’t the first time she’s made and sold the gift wrap. As a Year 6 student in Samoa, she and her sister Eve needed to make some money. They were in Samoa to connect with their heritage, a year long family trip that extended to four years in Vailima, near Apia.

Rosa loved being immersed in the culture and experiencing the different lifestyle of Samoa. She describes it as vibrant and colourful; poor in economic terms but rich in family values, the sense of community and incredible hospitality. 

She was humbled by her experiences. In the village, her extended family live communally, a group of small houses – fale – around a central meeting house. They were fed fabulously when visiting relatives in the village and she remembers kind gestures like her cousins swatting flies away from her food while she and her sister ate. 

Local boys sold stencils that they’d carved in traditional designs, out in the street. Rosa and her sister bought some stencils and started printing the paper after school. They sold the paper at a car boot sale and to friends and family, who loved it. 

The stencils are made out of discarded X-ray films from the hospital. You could still see someone’s broken leg or ribs on them. But that is the ingenuity of it – repurposing something that has been discarded.  Sustainability may not have been a word in Rosa’s vocabulary back then, but the concept resonated with her, and it’s a cornerstone of her business model. She still buys the stencils from Samoa, supporting local artists who in turn can support their families with the income. 

The prints reflect the vibrancy of Samoa. Rosa uses bright colours, choosing those that best suit the pattern. The designs include flowers – frangipani, teuila (the national flower of Samoa), birds – the toloa, and shark teeth. Stencilled onto rolls of brown paper they retain a traditional feel, and the family component is there too, Grandad has cleared space in his shed for a safe spot for the printed paper to dry out. Rosa’s been asked to include other items like duvets and reusable bags, and hopes to extend the range in future.

The Pacifica connection has continued for Rosa back in Gisborne, joining the Pacifica group for Girls and Boys High students and going along to Tautua Village, a space underpinned by Māori and Pacific values in which rangatahi can connect. It was at Tautua Village that Rosa found out about Tāiki e.

Tāiki e were offering business mentorship for young people. Rosa, now in Year 11, was ready to get back into business and develop her skills. Rosa, Eve, and their friend Neela started having weekly Zoom meetings with Cain Kerehoma of Tāiki e during lockdown, learning the steps to build a successful business. In November they scaled back the meetings – it was time to get into production! They sold Pacifika Prints at a few different markets and Rosa was hooked. 

Rosa has continued the business by herself, fitting it in between school, the school Pacifika dance group, her roles on the school cultural council, as a Year 11 class representative, Hospice Youth Ambassador, and oh, and her holiday job! 

In continuing her business and sharing her story, Rosa hopes that more opportunities are created for Pacifika people. She enjoys creating reminders of home and sharing the beauty and culture of Samoa with the people of Tairāwhiti. She’s had plenty of challenges along the way, but the mentorship has taught her to learn from any failures and where to go from there. 

Rosa’s mentor Cain, says he saw Rosa and her team’s confidence grow during the mentorship growing from shy, reserved rangatahi to future leaders. Environmental concerns were embedded in their plan and he loved the beauty of their business idea in terms of celebrating and showcasing their culture. 

Rangatahi should give it a go, says Rosa.  Better to give something a try, even if you’re not successful at first. It’s just the thing to develop the skills to get started as a young entrepreneur.

Rosa selling her Pasifika Prints at a Market Day at Tāiki e!

YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP CLUB

Starting in April, rangatahi keen to learn about entrepreneurship have the opportunity to head along to Tāiki e, meet other like-minded youth, and get a leg up into the world of business. It doesn’t matter if you have a business idea or not. You’ll build confidence, network, learn how to use business tools, get mentoring, access to seed funding, and market opportunities.  It’ll be one afternoon a week from 3 to 5 pm, alternating between Tāiki e and Tautua Village

It is run pretty informally. Think of it as a group of aunties and uncles sharing their knowledge and skills, rather than formal business mentoring. But don’t be fooled, just because no one’s in a suit and tie, these guys know their stuff and are back here to share it and develop the raw talent of Tairāwhiti.

The club will be held 3 – 5pm Mondays at Tāiki e! and 3 – 5pm Thursdays at Tautua Village. Check out Taiki e! on Facebook for further details.

Story and first photograph by Leah McAneney
Second image supplied.

Building Bands, One Night at a Time

It’s sorta obvious the current owner of Smash Palace Bar Gisborne, Darryl Monteith is a musician. As I walk in, he’s already on stage cranking out “History Never Repeats” by Split Enz, accompanied by his mate Mo. A young fulla and his dad have arrived at the same time, guitar case in hand, obviously here to play. Others, like me, are here to listen, to support budding musicians gaining their confidence, and perhaps experience a seasoned talent bust out something special.

Build-a-Band started about 2 years ago, and used to be on Fridays. The instruments are all on loan from local musicians, but bringing your own is pretty standard too. Electric guitars (including left hand), acoustic guitar, bass, drums, bongos, various percussion instruments…. all there. If you’re a bit shy there’s a post to stand behind, but that spot can get a bit crowded.

The original concept was that individual musicians get up and jam, some would gel as a group and go on to start a band. Darryl reckons there’s loads of musical talent in Gisborne and sees Build-a-Band as a way of helping to nurture and develop that talent. Mostly folks are happy to just come along and jam. Try out a song they’ve written. See what sort of reaction they get, or have that one time a week they are totally in the zone. It’s building bonds between local musicians who probably wouldn’t otherwise have known each other existed.

As we know, Gisborne attracts a few travellers, and even though our borders are closed we still have interesting folks from far off places passing through or basing themselves here. Some of them have proved to be accomplished musicians and thrilled to have a chance to play. On nights like that, Smash patrons get to experience something they may have to pay big bucks for in another setting. But this is Build-a-Band. Everyone’s welcome. The ages vary, the styles of music vary, the levels of experience vary, but everyone’s all about the music. As I head out the door there’s a call from the stage, “We need a blues guitarist!”

What: Build-a-band
Where: Smash Palace Bar, 24 Banks St, Awapuni
When: Every Thursday night, 7 – 11pm
Cost: Free – wouldn’t hurt to buy a beer while you’re there though!
Story by Leah McAneney
Photographs by John Flatt

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