How Bizarre: From Otara Millionaire to bankrupt

By Simon Collins

His song How Bizarre was the biggest-selling New Zealand record ever, lifting Pauly Fuemana far from his Otara roots.

Between 1995 and 2000, his ironically named Otara Millionaires Club (OMC) label lived up to its billing - selling almost 4 million records worldwide and earning him, by one estimate, about $1.5 million.

But 10 days ago, he was judged bankrupt. His house on the North Shore and other assets have been sold, and Official Assignee David Harte is looking into how his continuing royalties can be used to repay his personal creditors.

His company - first named OMC Ltd, and later after the Fuemana family - is in liquidation. Liquidator Vivian Fatupaito concluded last year that directors Pauly and Kirstine Fuemana "lived extravagantly on the early royalty proceeds but that their lavish lifestyle had not contracted when the royalties began to diminish".

All the company's assets were sold in the year before it folded. Remaining creditors were owed $91,440.44 and got nothing back.

The Fuemanas told the liquidator that their company's collapse was due to falling royalties, Pauly Fuemana's "inability to progress his musical career", and their "commercial naivety".

Friends said this week that Fuemana felt ripped off in the years he spent promoting How Bizarre, and returned to New Zealand feeling "paranoid".

"He basically just became a hermit," said one friend.

Fuemana spent several years travelling the world. "He was overseas right up till about three years ago, still promoting How Bizarre," said co-writer Alan Jansson. "Even though it happened here 10 years ago, it was happening in countries like Brazil and South America way after the fact."

Older brother Phil Fuemana died last year, aged 41. His surviving brother Tony and sister Christina declined to comment on Pauly Fuemana's affairs yesterday.

Simon Grigg, whose label published the How Bizarre album, said on his website that he and Jansson had to sell the rights to the song to PolyGram (now Universal) to cover the costs of taking the song worldwide.

They "proceeded to mishandle and generally make an appalling dog's breakfast of the project and Pauly's career".

Universal Music NZ managing director Adam Holt declined to comment.

The records of the Official Assignee show that Kirstine Fuemana was judged bankrupt on July 13 last year and Pauly Fuemana suffered the same fate on June 7. He was described as living at a rented address in Beach Haven and was "currently employed".

Visited at the address, Mrs Fuemana said she did not know where her husband was.

Mr Harte said Fuemana had 10 working days to provide a statement of his financial position before the bankruptcy could be enforced.

"We advertise for other creditors and we look to see any income streams that we can look to pull into the bankruptcy."

Fuemana will be barred for three years from being a company director, managing a business or travelling overseas.

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