Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Upper Hutt Library’s Oral History project

Some great work by the folks at Upper Hutt Library, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Upper Hutt becoming a city,  saw residents and former residents interviewed about their memories of Upper Hutt in the ’60s.

Music related interviewees include Fourmyula musician and songwriter Wayne Mason, musician and Wellington city councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer (The Dedikation), Stefan Brown (Stacey Grove, Ebony), Peter Hall (The Bitter End) and Sam Southon (The Hi-Lites).


Wayne Mason, 1969

Wayne Mason
Wayne Mason talks about attending Heretaunga College, where he was asked to join the school’s junior band – which later morphed into the hugely successful ‘Fourmyula’. He also talks about playing at local dances; getting a recording deal; winning the Battle of the Bands; and travelling to London and writing the Fourmyula’s hit song ‘Nature’.

Stefan Brown
Stefan Brown talks about well-known musicians visiting their home growing up and the ‘healthy music scene’ of Upper Hutt, where he set up his first band ‘Stacey Grove’ with other students at Heretaunga College, and how his second band ‘Ebony’ became well-known for their song ‘Big Norm’, about then prime minister Norman Kirk.

Ray Ahipene-Mercer

Ray Ahipene-Mercer of the Dedikation at the Loxene Goldne Disc awards, 1969

Ray Ahipene-Mercer
Ray Ahipene-Mercer talks about how his parents were involved in kapa haka group Māwai Hakona, but he was more interested in popular music, playing in a band at school that went on to become the chart-topping ‘Dedikation’.

Peter Hall
Peter Hall talks about how his father came to play the trombone in the municipal band, and how the young Peter took up playing the cornet and joined the junior band. He describes hearing popular music played live for the first time, and how this inspired him to leave school and set up a band, ‘The Portraits’, which later became ‘The Bitter End’.

Sam Southern

Sam Southon, c. 1959–60

Sam Southon
Sam Southon moved to New Zealand from Western Samoa in 1956 to train as a typewriter mechanic. A keen musician, he performed solo and in a band with his cousins, and went on to become lead singer of popular local band the Hi-Lites. He describes playing at various balls, dances and events, and his involvement in later bands the ‘Bill Gorrie Set’, ‘Trinity Fair’ and ‘Jessica’.

All abstracts & photos courtesy of Upper Hutt Library.

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