Ross Harris in conversation

The Kugels are a Klezmer group that features two former NZSO members, one Kiwi Jazz maestro, a fabulous vocalist and the New Zealand classical composer and Arts laureate Ross Harris. The members are Anna Gawn – vocals, Ross Harris – accordion, Robin Perks – violin, Debbie Rawson – clarinets xaphoon, and Nick Tipping – bass

The tunes they play include new compositions from both Robin Perks and Ross Harris as well as a selection of more traditional tunes. We were thrilled when Ross Harris agreed to be interviewed about The Kugels to tie in with the release of their second evocative CD The kugels at Breaker Bay and to tell us all about Klezmer; its history and its place in the contemporary music scene. The interview was done in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM.

Both Kugels CDs are available to borrow from the library along with a wide selection of Ross Harris compositions.

The Kugels at Breaker Bay. / Kugels
“This is the second release from the Wellington based Kugels the five-piece outfit which specialises in Klezmer and features some of New Zealand’ s finest classical musicians in their line-up. For a long time, they have been a bit of a hidden gem in the NZ music scene, but that changed recently when they did a sofa session with Bryan Crump. This latest release really shows how good they are, and includes emotive and atmospheric renditions of both traditional and original Klezmer pieces composed by arts laureate, and renown classical composer, Ross Harris.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Kugels play Klezmer by Ross Harris. / Kugels
“Ross Harris – The Kugels play Klezmer. … Melancholic, lyrical, delicate and beautiful , the music is played with grace and finesse by the Kugels who are the Wellington based quartet to which Ross Harris  belongs….” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Symphony no. 5 ; Violin concerto / Harris, Ross
“Ross Harris’s Symphony No.5 uses as its core poems by Panni Palasti.  The moving poems in the piece are based on the personal experiences of the poet during World War Two and the subsequent Hungarian Revolution. The work creates complex orchestral movements around these poems. This particular recording has conductor Eckehard Steir steering the orchestra and he judges well the balance between the moments of ferocity and the work’s sonic ebb and flow.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Free Radicals / Free Radicals (Musical group)
“Wellington based Free Radicals :-Ross Harris and Jonathan Besser were active in the early 80s, described by one reviewer as ‘Eno meets industrial punk meets Stockhausen’. This compilation of archival recordings show the full range, scope and ambition of the pioneering outfit.” (adapted from Catalogue.)


Requiem for the fallen / Harris, Ross
“Requiem for the fallen honours the memory of soldiers who died in the First World War. Poetry by Vincent O’Sullivan is woven through the Latin of the Requiem Mass and carries many homespun New Zealand references. Horomona Horo’s taonga pūoro improvisations add a haunting beauty that could only be from Aotearoa.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Need audio equipment for a gig, or for recording music?

Libraries are no longer just places to get books. Need a PA system for a party, a speaking engagement, or a wedding? Playing a live or studio gig? Need to do some recording in the field, or hook up some gear to your laptop and make a new album at home? The new Library Music Equipment collection has what you need. We love Wellington music at Wellington City Libraries and we are here to help you make it.

We have five new Music Kits for people to borrow as part of our new Equipment Lending Service:

AudioBox KIT:
• 1x Rode NT1-A Microphone
• 1x SM6 Shock mount & pop filter
• 1x Dust Cover
• 1x Rode 6m XLR cable
• 1x Presonus Audiobox iTwo
• 1x USB cable
$30 for 4 days/Overdue charge: $10 per day
Continue reading “Need audio equipment for a gig, or for recording music?”

Free Gig: Maika at Wellington Central Library

Mahinarangi Maika
Mahinarangi Maika pours a lifetime of heart and an eternity of culture into her music. Performing as Maika, her music flows easily between Maori and English languages, reflecting the cultural heritage of her native Aotearoa/New Zealand, in a style that blends reggae, soul, R & B, and jazz.

“Music is the language of the soul,” Maika says. “It is something that unifies us.”

Maika belts out that musical language without reservation. She has the vocal power of Melissa Etheridge or Pat Benatar, but with a different quality that makes her hard to classify. The music ranges across styles, her words and melodies reflecting the passion and pain of a life transiting the resurrection of a culture.
Maika is Ngati Porou and Te Arawa.

Performing for free and unplugged at Central on May 29th at 12noon.

An Interview with Toni Huata

Kia ora ano and welcome to our third and final feature in our New Zealand Music Month series of interviews with local Māori musicians. This week’s feature is on Toni Huata, a local songstress and permformer of Ngati Kahungunu. Check it out!


Would you like to introduce yourself?
My name is Toni Huata from Ngati Kahungunu , Rongowhakaata, Rongomaiwahine and Lebanon, Germany, Ireland and Scandinavia.

Where are you from? How long have you lived in Wellington for?
I was brought up in Hastings and have been based in Wellington now for around 20 years.

What’s your musical background? What instruments do you play?
I’m a vocalist and performer first then producer, director and voice tutor.  I play the guitar and piano but my voice is my instrument.

How did you learn? What made you want to learn?
Encouragement from family and friends to attend the Whitireia music course as a vocalist, which lead onto Touring Theatre Companies and eventually our own business. I also dabbled in percussion and the drums whilst at Whitireia but just for a tutu.

In what ways have you drawn on your Māori lineage for inspiration for your music?
Every way. My family is who I am and our stories in the past, present and future is what drives my compositions and music.

Are there any themes in your work? What are some of those?
Family, land, culture, love, health, empowerment, loss, children, being a parent, woman and mother, all sorts of things. I’m working on my fifth album Tomokia now so you can imagine we’ve covered a lot.

Where do you feel Māori music is at now?
I feel Māori music is always evolving and is particular to each individual artist in how they wish to express themselves. There are Māori language artists, kaupapa Māori artists and artists that produce music not necessarily with a Māori flavour or language, but are Māori.

What do you enjoy most about performing? Anything you don’t enjoy about it?
I love performing and expressing myself to all. With music I find it tends to be either intimate or big outdoor festival style which require different levels of energy but always with truth. In theatre it is different again, still the truth but in support of a central story. With music the story is in each song. Big theatre productions can make me nervous but I just say my karakia and ask for help to be on top of everything and trust that all will be well.


Who are some of your favourite musicians? Is there anyone you look to for musical inspiration?
I love many past and present artists for different reasons. Either their voice or their stage persona. Best to see them live in concert.

Who have you enjoyed working with?
I’m working currently with Paddy Free and it is another great working relationship. We also worked together on my single Tahuri Mai (releases on May 24 2013) and 4th album Hopukia (2012). I also love working with Gareth Farr (in RWC 2011, albums Hopukia and Whiti and stage production Maui – One Man Against the Gods), he is so talented and is a laugh in the studio. Past producers I have had many wonderful experiences with and always a good laugh. I love working with long time collaborators and friends Charles Royal and Tanemahuta Gray.

Will you be celebrating NZ music month?
Yes, we are currently in studio starting my fifth album Tomokia. My single ‘Tahuri Mai’ releaseD through DRM and Amplifier on May 24th and to iwi stations May 20th.

Favourite book?
Health, cultural, spritual and self-help books.

If you could listen to just one song forever, what would it be?
That’s a hard one, I love so many pop and Maori songs.

Are there any songs you’d like to cover?
I’m covering ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, a bi-lingual version, on this next album. The Māori lyrics are different to the original English lyrics but this has come by the request of many family members and friends.

Do you have any up-coming Wellington gigs we can get along to? Where can we find out more?
Check my websitefacebook and twitter.

In the near future I’m at the Wharewaka June 8th, then Kahungunu Matariki June 21st at Flaxmere Park in Hastings and in Wairarapa July 5th…


You can check out some of Toni’s albums right here at the library!



Te Maori e.

An Interview with Karl Teariki

Kia ora and welcome to the second interview in our series of interviews with local Māori musicians. Here we have an interview with local musician Karl Teariki, helping us to celebrate NZ music month by telling us all about his sweet sounds!

karl grfx

Would you like to introduce yourself?
I am from the tribe of Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Waka o Takitimu, growing up on my ancestral land known to our family as Maunga Kōhatu, but known these days as ‘Royshill’, Highway 50, 15 km south west of Hastings. My marae is Omahu and my hapū is Ngāti Hinemanu. On my father’s side, I also descend from Te Waka o Takitumu in Rarotonga, from the tribe Ngāti Raina with connections to Mauke, Tāhiti and Ra’iatea. Although I have lived in Wellington just over twenty years, I will always be from Heretaunga. The real one, not the one in Upper Hutt. I have worked on many kaupapa Māori albums starting with the iconic band Black Katz led by Ngātai Huata when I was 12 playing cello on the track Mahinaarangi.

What’s your musical background? What instruments do you play?
I first started on guitar when my Mum was getting classical guitar lessons from a well-known Hastings musician, the late James Baker, who was a session player from England, a lovely man and a great teacher. I used to sit in on her lessons after school when I was 6 years old, and I think I just soaked it up like a sponge as kids do. I started playing the pieces my Mum has learned by ear, and she taught me what she had learned. She says she stopped teaching me when I got better than her. A few years later I also learned classical cello from my teacher Alison Hansen, as well as continuing on guitar with Mr Baker, and later at high school with Dave Boston. When I was 15, guitar was definitely cooler, so I put the cello away and transferred what I had learned on the cello to electric guitar. Music has always been a creative outlet for me as has art and ‘The art of Tutu’, my number one passion. Tutu means basically to learn and explore through experimentation.

karl hill small

In what ways have you drawn on your Māori lineage for inspiration for your music?
I have always drawn on my heritage when it comes to composing, from my first release at the age of 17 with a grant from Puatatangi. It was called He Taonga, and combined what I had learned on classical guitar, and my mum and dad also performed on the title track He Taonga. My favourite track from that release was Whakakāhu, which means ‘to assume the form of a hawk’, and combined orchestral elements I composed and were performed on keyboard by my cousin Traci Tuimaseve. I am interested in using the thought processes and concepts handed down from the ancestors and translating those into modern genres for people to enjoy. That was the concept behind the release of PAO, which featured my sons Tangaroa and Te Manea. It was a 5 track EP made with funding from Te Mangai Paho. On that EP I created some Whakatauki, (Maori proverbs) that reflect how the ancestors formed thoughts from observing nature. For example, in the song Ko Te Reo (The Language),

Iti nei, iti nei,
ka hangaia e te manu
tōna kohanga.

Iti nei, iti nei,
ka tipu te pī,
ki te manu tīoriori.

Little by little,
the bird builds
their nest.

Little by little,
the fledgeling grows
into a beautiful songbird.

The thing with whakatauki is they can relate to many things, depending on how they are examined. This one could relate to learning or goal setting; a bird building its nest from little things. Learning is the same, each small thing learned is an achievement that build towards a bigger outcome. I guess themes in my work are to do with my heritage, and how that fits into the modern world. 

Where do you feel Māori music is at now?
I feel that Māori music is continually growing and evolving, depending on the generation that is carrying it. Each generation has its own preferences and tastes, like the word whakapapa which translates to genealogy. It literally means, ‘to become a layer’; each layer / generation has its responsibility to those before and after it.

What do you enjoy most about performing? Anything you don’t enjoy about it?
What I enjoy most about performing my music is to leave a thought or feeling with someone that they did not have previously. An idea can be shared with someone, without losing it.

Who are some of your favourite musicians? Is there anyone you look to for musical inspiration?
I have many favourites but for me it’s about how that piece of music can make me feel, regardless of the composer or genre. I appreciate music that is crafted, but then a three chord song can tell amazing stories. I prefer a music ‘smorgasbord’ over ‘a la carte’ if that makes sense.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working towards the second release from PAO, again featuring the vocals of my sons who will be 14 and 16 when we are finished. A couple of the songs are in English with the rest in Māori. They cover many themes from losing loved ones, returning home, heritage, heartbreak, tutu, and also covers a few favourite songs, including AEIOU written by Wī te Tau Huata in the 1950’s and sung by many a primary school student across the country.


If you could listen to just one song forever, what would it be?
That would probably be a song called Nemesis, by a group named Shriekback released in 1985. I like its weirdness and strangeness.

Are there any songs you’d like to cover?
I’d love to cover the following songs from a Polynesian / Māori perspective: UK black – Soul II Soul, Exodus – Bob Marley, Sing our own song – UB40. There are also many beautiful Māori songs I would love to cover one day.

Do you have any up-coming Wellington gigs we can get along to? Where can we find out more?
Get a free download:
PAO on soundcloud.

Karl Teariki on soundcloud.

An Interview with Matiu Te Huki

Kia ora ano! You might remember, I promised some exciting things for NZ Music Month here on our he korero o te wa blog… and here goes! Local musician Matiu Te Huki very kindly answered some (okay, a lot of) questions for us, and told us all about his music and his inspirations. Check it out!

Paekakariki Memorial Hall 2011

Would you like to introduce yourself?
Ko Kahungunu me Rangitane ki Wairarapa oku iwi.
I’m also of Italian, Irish, Scottish and English descent. I’m a dad, I teach kapahaka in kindys and schools and love dogs.

Where are you from? How long have you lived in Wellington for?
I’m from Masterton, lived in the South Island for a while and I’ve lived just north of Wellington in Raumati South, Kapiti Coast for 8 years now.

What’s your musical background? What instruments do you play?
Started as a child on the ukulele, then guitar, sang my way through school in choirs and kapahaka groups. My voice is my main instrument and the guitar is the instrument I play to accompany my voice and to compose music with.

How did you learn? What made you want to learn?
A lovely old man called Pop Joe taught me to play for a couple years (from 10-12 years of age), I’ve been bluffing it ever since. I’m still learning. I learnt guitar because I love music so much and it’s easy to carry around.

In what ways have you drawn on your Māori lineage for inspiration for your music?
I really got into singing at Hato Paora Maori boys college. It gave me a real sense of identity and pride to stand and sing, especially in my native tongue. I still write songs in Maori and use haka, chants and traditional instruments in my music, more than ever now actually.

Are there any themes in your work? What are some of those?
My main themes are about revolution. Internal (evolving, loving oneself, letting go of fear etc) and external (Learning what’s really going on in the world, loving one another and standing up for our rights together…while we still have them).

Where do you feel Māori music is at now?
I feel it is under-appreciated in this country by the music industry. In saying that, a lot of people are ready and hungry for it, especially overseas.

What do you enjoy most about performing? Anything you don’t enjoy about it?
I love connecting with people, uplifting their spirits, inspiring them with my themes and putting myself out there. I don’t really enjoy playing to drunk crowds anymore as I feel most of the time they’re missing the point.

Who are some of your favourite musicians? Is there anyone you look to for musical inspiration?
Warren Maxwell, Ria Hall, Louise Baker, DUB FX are a few that come to mind. I’m inspired by those who follow their hearts, break the rules, and play what they want, not what the industry says people want to hear.

Who have you enjoyed working with?
I loved playing on stage with Fat Freddies Drop for the experience of the big crowds, composing and recording with Anika Moa for her skill and voice and I loooooooove jamming freestyle with people and feeling things fall naturally and beautifully into place.

Will you be celebrating NZ music month?
I’m pretty much gigging every weekend at the moment, I feel I’m having a music year!

Favourite book?
Way of the Superior Man by David Deida.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m developing my solo act, about to come in for winter and write some new stuff and getting ready to tour Europe in August.

If you could listen to just one song forever, what would it be?
Hmmmmm….. I think that would drive me crazy!

Are there any songs you’d like to cover?
I cover a few of my favourites, I’d love to play ‘Killing in the name of” by Rage Against the Machine. In the right environment, of course.

Do you have any up-coming Wellington gigs we can get along to? Where can we find out more?
I post my gigs on my Facebook page and my website is
My next gig in Wellington is at the Southern Cross 18th May, 10pm-12, free entry.

Syndetics book coverThe way of the superior man : a spiritual guide to mastering the challenges of women, work and sexual desire / David Deida.
“What is your true purpose in life? What do women really want? What makes a good lover? If you’re a man reading this, you’ve undoubtedly asked yourself these questions-but you may not have had much luck answering them. Until now. In The Way of the Superior Man, David Deida explores the most important issues in men’s lives-from career and family to women and intimacy to love and spirituality-to offer a practical guidebook for living a masculine life of integrity, authenticity, and freedom. Join this bestselling author and internationally renowned expert on sexual spirituality for straightforward advice, empowering skills, body practices, and more to help you realize a life of fulfillment, immediately and without compromise. “It is time to evolve beyond the macho jerk ideal, all spine and no heart,” writes David Deida. “It is also time to evolve beyond the sensitive and caring wimp ideal, all heart and no spine.” The Way of the Superior Man presents the ultimate challenge-and reward-for today’s man: to discover the “unity of heart and spine” through the full expression of consciousness and love in the infinite openness of the present moment. Book jacket.” (Syndetics summary)

Listen to NZ musician Tama Waipara on our radio show podcast!

Wellington City Libraries has a monthly radio show on Radio Access. For a recent show (27th November, 4.00 – 4.30) we interviewed Tama Waipara, singer/songwriter behind the 2009 release ‘Sir Plus and the Requirements,’ – a beautifully realised concept album rich in pop hooks and delicous arrangements.

Listen to the Tama Waipara interview here

Tama talks generously about his inspirations, lyrics and songs and the 35 minute interview includes 6 songs from his 3 albums so far.
Below are the albums featured in the show:

TAMA2Sir+Plus and the Requirements

2331191Triumph of time

10321441Leaving Paradise

Radio show podcast – New Zealand musician Edmund Cake

Wellington City Libraries has a monthly radio show on Radio Access. For an upcoming show (7 August, 4.00 – 4.30) we recently interviewed Edmund McWilliams (Ed Cake) writer of brilliantly skewed pop gems over the last 15 or so years.  (Grab a preview of this show below)

His most recent release, The Fearsome Feeling was the last CD to be featured in Nick Bollinger’s ‘100 essential New Zealand albums.’

Here’s how it’s described on Pie Warmer’s Myspace page,

‘The album features songs about love, not love songs as such, but songs that blend ideas about love with fear, insanity, talkback radio, violence against children, death of a loved one, indecision, abandonment, fame, Michael King/motorcars.’

Listen to the entire interview – covered are 2 songs from each of Ed’s 3 albums so far and Ed’s views on his songs, music and the potential of percussive tap dancers!

Below are the albums featured in the show:

Downtown Puff by Edmund Cake

Bressa Creeting Cake by Bressa Creeting Cake

The Fearsome Feeling by Pie Warmer