Key Points:

Good lord, hasn't that Karyn Hay aged well. You remember her: the rock'n'roll gal who inspired something like breathy enthusiasm - well, for my generation anyway - when she fronted the music-clip show Radio With Pictures in what now feels like the 18th century.

Her famous vowels have softened. But her cool remains the same. So it's a true pleasure to see her fronting the latest waltz through New Zealand music's back catalogue, the six-part Rocked the Nation: 100 NZ Music Moments.

The packaging and repackaging of our music history has in recent years become, if not quite a business, then something like a cottage industry. It might have been a long time between encores after John Dix's rightly celebrated history of local music, Stranded in Paradise, was published in the late 1980s. But picking over the entrails has picked up apace since 2000 with the likes of the handsome and comprehensive documentary series Give it a Whirl, and a slew of publications including Grant Smithies' rousing Sound Track, four books by Gareth Shute (including his latest, NZ Rock 1987-2007) and of course Dix's 2005 update of his seminal work.

You'd imagine there'd be little left to add. New Zealand music is hardly the rich, deep vein that is American music.

Yet Rocked the Nation - thank God they didn't call it something obvious like Counting the Beat - manages to disinter persons believed long dead and tell a few stories I had certainly never heard.

The first on the list, No 100, for example, claimed that in 1982 New Zealand band Spyz was the first Western rock band to play a gig in China. With that name, how did they even get visas?

There was also the hilarious story (No 95) of the manager of Pop Mechanix who tried to buy the band a No 1 single by buying job lots of said single at stores that filed returns for the record charts. The trouble was he used cheques.

"I think [Pop Mechanix] would have got away with it if the cheques hadn't bounced," said former musician and music TV host Richard Driver, with a hint of a smirk playing across his face.

Other bands and moments included in the first episode (taking us from 100 to 82) were more obvious: Sweetwaters 99 turning sour; the unlikely (still!) success of The Warratahs and When The Cat's Away; Larry Morris being done for LSD; Neil Finn's putting together a super-group of players from Radiohead, Pearl Jam and The Smiths for no particular reason. There was also a live performance: Graham Brazier playing a rollicking version of what was said to be the first European song written here, a ditty to a lost sailor.

The show's rapid-fire approach to its countdown means bum notes or slow numbers pass quickly.

The countdown format is inevitably subjective. What makes a song or incident worthy of being No 46 instead of No 87?

Rocked the Nation's makers expected this. "Some [choices] you will argue with," said Hay, "some you won't. But rest assured we've scoured New Zealand's music archives and spoken to the greatest musical minds of our generation to come up with the definitive list."

We'll hold judgment of the use of the word "definitive" for now (and the "greatest minds" bit too), but certainly the first episode gently rocked my living room.

It's of course one of the curses of ageing that the enthusiasms of youth are in due course replayed to you as history. And one's own memories and tastes will be challenged. You'll disagree with some of the calls. But isn't that half the fun?

* C4, Monday, 8.30pm.