As singing sensation Celine Dion arrives in New Zealand for her sold-out shows – NZ On Screen’s Zara Potts takes a look back at some of the visiting headliners who have loved and loathed our shores.

It's pretty much guaranteed that any visiting celebrity, when reaching the shores of our country, will be asked almost immediately what they think of New Zealand.

If we're lucky, they'll say nice things about us. If we're even luckier, they'll Instagram us or say something effusive on Twitter. But sometimes, celebrities don't play ball and instead say something along the lines of we're "the worst country they've ever had the misfortune of visiting".

John Cleese said horrible things about Palmerston North. Taylor Swift complained about unwanted press intrusion and Jeremy Clarkson warned people off Waiheke.

But perhaps the biggest diss (does anyone use that word anymore?) was from a member of the Rolling Stones.



There's debate about whether it was Keith Richards or Mick Jagger who called Invercargill the "bottom of the world", but with swear words. This was, of course, in 1965 – long before Keith got conked on the head by a rogue coconut and had life-saving surgery here in the home of the "a***hole of the world."

Watch Mick Jagger in this Radio with Pictures clip:


Much more polite, were those other British singers, the Fab Four, who arrived in Auckland a year earlier than the Stones and were given the right royal treatment. The only thing they had to complain about were the screaming crowds of teenagers who flocked to Aotea Square for a glimpse of The Beatles larking around with poi and making a bit of a hash of the hongi.

Watch the mad reception given to The Beatles here:


Speaking of royal treatment – poor old Prince Charles, despite also getting the red carpet rolled out for him, wasn't so keen on his reception here in 1981. Months before his wedding to the glamorous Diana, the Prince found himself struggling to keep up his enthusiasm. Later, his private thoughts were revealed in a letter in which he wrote: "If one more NZ child asks me what it's like to be a prince I shall go demented." In 1983, he returned to our shores with Princess Diana and a baby Prince William.

Watch highlights of the 1983 Royal Tour here:


Sometimes, Kiwi audiences have been treated to unscheduled performances by touring music acts. On one such occasion, canny reporter Dylan Taite managed to get UK punk rockers, The Clash, to perform an acoustic, if somewhat shambolic, rendition of Woody Guthrie's 'Who's Going to Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet' at the Auckland Railway Station.

Watch The Clash on Radio with Pictures here:


Radio with Pictures host, Richard Driver, also managed to get an unscheduled performance out of legendary songwriter Joni Mitchell. Despite having a cold, she performed compelling acoustic versions of 'Number One' (from her then current album Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm) and the brand new 'Night Ride Home' which she didn't know how she'd record. It would show up in a similar arrangement as the title track of her next album.

Watch Joni Mitchell on Radio with Pictures here:


Obliging interviewees are every reporter's dream. Paul Holmes struck gold when Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash performed their 1967 Grammy-winning song 'Jackson', ahead of their concert in Auckland in 1994. The duo also talked about prayer, drugs, scars, Tonya Harding and antiques.

Watch Mr and Mrs Cash on the Holmes show here:


Paul Holmes seemed to have the magic touch when it came to coaxing private (well, okay, televised) performances from his illustrious guests. In 1991, the inimitable Glen Campbell came to town and sang one of his best – 'Wichita Lineman' – live in the Holmes studio. In fact, Campbell fans got to see him playing throughout the interview, and one imagines when looking back at this interview that Paul Holmes' idea for his album (which contained 'Wichita Lineman') maybe began here.

Watch the late Glen Campbell on Holmes here:


A little bit of Nashville came to town when Emmylou Harris recorded her first ever TV special in Auckland. One of country music's great vocalists and most loved performers, Harris led her seven-piece band through an accomplished set (although banter is in short supply) including covers of Bruce Springsteen's 'Racing in the Street' and The Crystals hit 'He's A Rebel'.


Watch Emmylou Harris in her New Zealand television special here:


Holmes strikes again in this 1989 excerpt from the Holmes show. Visiting British jazz musicians Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball meet then-Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer in his Beehive office. The self-confessed "mediocre trumpeter" then jams with the slightly more impressive Bilk and Ball. The clip foreshadows US President Bill Clinton trying his best to be groovy and playing saxophone on The Arsenio Hall show in 1992.

Watch Geoffrey Palmer play the trumpet here: