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He's probably the most influential radio DJ in Britain, has rock stars for mates and still speaks with a Kiwi accent.

But when Zane Lowe returns to New Zealand for his first stadium gig this week, most of the audience won't recognise his trademark goatee or cropped hair.

In a few years, the former Aucklander has gone from working in a second-hand music store in London to presenting BBC TV coverage of all the major United Kingdom festivals.

He is best known for championing new music, playing tracks from little-known bands to hundreds of thousands of impressionable young Brits on his BBC Radio 1 show.

And Lowe, who opens for The Chemical Brothers at Vector Arena on Wednesday, said he's not surprised about his low profile at home.

"I'm amazed anyone has even heard of me. I've just been focusing all my efforts on putting out the best possible shows over in Britain."

Speaking from London, he said he had been in "total shock" since the Canterbury earthquake struck on Tuesday.

"I grew up in Auckland but know that beautiful city well and we are all feeling their pain."

The 37-year-old said he would play his own tribute to the victims.

"I have had to broadcast in some pretty traumatic circumstances. I was on air the night of the 7/7 London bombings.

"What I have learned along the way is that music can be a great relief for people. I am hoping people will let off some steam and take positive steps forward."

Lowe is best known for helping to break bands such as the Arctic Monkeys and was the first radio DJ to play Gnarls Barkley's hit Crazy.

On hearing a future hit for the first time, he says: "It's a magical thing. You've got to feel like you've been taken to somewhere else.

" I'm looking for something I've never heard before."