Finn 'sick' of PM grabbing music glory

By Joanna Hunkin

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Neil Finn has launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Helen Clark, who he says takes undue credit for the success of the local music industry.

"It sort of sickens me to see Helen Clark getting up at the music awards and taking the bows," Finn said in an interview with Real Groove.

"Being lauded by the music industry because everyone's getting a handout. It's like New Zealand music is taking over the world and it's all because of Helen."

Finn, made an OBE in 1993, added: "I think there is a tendency in New Zealand at the moment, because of NZ on Air dishing out large sums of money, for people to have unreal expectations for what New Zealand music can achieve overseas or is actually achieving."

He added: "I think it would be unrealistic for New Zealanders to expect that more than one or two things at a time would even get attention.

"But there's a perception that is somewhat hype generated at the moment that all this music's going out and making a big splash, and it's really not."

The comments appear in the magazine's May issue which coincides with NZ Music Month.

Finn, 48, found fame with Split Enz and later Crowded House, a band that has just reformed for a world tour.

A spokesperson for Helen Clark said the Prime Minister was not going to engage in a personal row with Neil Finn.

She said Helen Clark was proud to have supported the musical sector and that she did it because she believed in it.

Helen Clark, who is also Arts and Culture Minister, launched the seventh annual event on Tuesday, likening it to national institutions such as Anzac Day and Waitangi Day.

"Every year we reaffirm things on Anzac Day, every year we reaffirm things on Waitangi Day. I think every year you reaffirm things through music month that music, New Zealand music, has value to us," she said.

Helen Clark said New Zealand music month had lifted confidence in local music and had resulted in more airplay.

"There's some music that will be a big hit commercially at home and offshore there's other music we'll hear which we play for the sheer joy of it and not looking for a commercial reward at all."

The annual New Zealand Music Awards are produced by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. The association's chief executive Campbell Smith said last night he had no comment to make on the matter because he hadn't seen the original article.

- additional reporting NZPA

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