Auckland Museum’s Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa exhibition opened this week, shining a spotlight on the past 60 years of popular music in New Zealand. NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop charts the journey as it appeared on our screens.

The past six decades of music making in New Zealand have seen countless moments of brilliance, the odd questionable fashion choice, and a legacy of outstanding artists, songs, albums and live shows that continue to resonate to this day.

Along the way, cameras have often been there to record the event. The following represent some of the shows, specials and documentaries that have captured a slice of Kiwi music history.

As part of the Volume experience, exhibition visitors will have the chance to step on to a re-creation of the set of C'Mon, a TV show that brought the hits of the day into New Zealand living rooms during the late 1960s.

A monochrome frenzy of special effects, pop art sets, go-go girls and choreographed musicians, the show was hosted by a somewhat groovy Peter Sinclair. This episode features appearances from The Chicks, Mr Lee Grant and Ray Woolf, and opens with Sinclair exclaiming "Hi Swingers, come on in, the music's fine."


Watch an episode of C'Mon here:
C'mon - Series One, Final Episode

Born of the mid-70s, Grunt Machine started life as a late afternoon pop culture programme for teens, before morphing into a much hipper late Friday night rock show. Featuring performances, profiles and interviews, this excerpt shows footage of Split Enz doing a wonderfully extended rendition of Spellbound.

See Split Enz performing on Grunt Machine here:
Grunt Machine - Split Enz (Spellbound)

By the early 80s Ready to Roll was NZ's premier TV pop show. Having emerged in the mid-70s pre-music video boom, it was originally hosted by Roger Gascoigne (and later Stu Dennison) with bands and dancers live in the studio. It became a seamless video clip Top 20 countdown - complete with iconic opening credits soundtracked to the Commodores Machine Gun. This 1978 special covers the year's NZ Record Awards (now the NZ Music Awards), and features performances from John Rowles, Sharon O'Neill, Hello Sailor, Golden Harvest and more.

Watch Ready to Roll's coverage of the 1978 NZ Record Awards here:
Ready to Roll - NZ Record Awards 1978

For a generation of Kiwi music fans Radio with Pictures was a vital link to both local and international music - and essential viewing before TV2's Sunday night horror. RWP's run coincided with the rise of MTV and the music video, and a burgeoning 80s New Zealand music scene. Videos were a staple but artist interviews also featured and the show staged a number of televised concerts from local artists. Here, presenter Karyn Hay (dressed in an eye watering ensemble) introduces highlights from a series of shows at legendary Auckland venue Mainstreet. Included are snippets from Dance Exponents, Graham Brazier's Legionnaires, DD Smash, and Coconut Rough's synth-tastic Sierra Leone.
See an excerpt from Radio with Pictures - Live at Mainstreet here:
Radio with Pictures - Live at Mainstreet montage

Meanwhile, over on the other side of the musical fence, folks were loving the primetime extravaganza that was That's Country. Hosted by Ray Columbus, the show featured both local and international talent including Suzanne Prentice, Emmylou Harris and George Hamilton IV. That's Country helped launch many a local music career (including that of the Topp Twins) and was the first New Zealand-made entertainment show sold to the US. This 1982 episode features John Hore, Patsy Riggir, and Dinah Lee.

Watch an episode of That's Country here:
That's Country - 20 March 1982

While recent times may have seen a decline in regular music television shows, some notable films and documentaries have emerged focusing on Kiwi music (most recently, the fantastic Poi E: The Story of Our Song.) Made in 2012, Shihad - Beautiful Machine charts 23 years of one of our most enduring rock bands, covering personal drama, early tragedy, attempting to crack the US market, and adoring local audiences.

See excerpts from Shihad - Beautiful Machine here:

You can see more Kiwi music history on screen here, in NZ On Screen's Volume Collection.

Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa runs October 2016 to May 2017 at Auckland Museum.