Sun is shining, weather is sweet. Makes you want to move your dancing feet.

That's New Zealand's patron saint of summer Bob Marley summing up the Kiwi summer experience in just two sentences during the opening verse of his undeniable, 1971 summer banger, Sun is Shining.

But is ol' Bob on the money?

Accepted wisdom would think so. New Zealanders love summer so much we built a whole genre around it; BBQ Reggae. But, despite housing all the elements of a quintessential summer hit, Sun is Shining never got to Number One.


So, what did?

What follows is a trip down our collective musical memory lane. A chance to relive summer's past and, for younger readers, summer's unknown...

Starting in 1978 and going right through to last summer we've collated the 40 songs that were all at one point the sound of summer. These songs all hit the top spot as the year opened to soundtrack New Zealand's summer holidays, our barbeques and our lives.

They were inescapable. They were everywhere. They were the most popular song in the country.

They were all Number One.

Some will make you nod in summery agreement. Some will make your brow furrow in disbelief. Some, and I'm not gonna lie here, will make you deeply ashamed to call yourself a Kiwi...

But all earned their place at the top.

So, what can we learn from all of this? What do these 40 number one songs tell us about ourselves as a people? And, more significantly, as music fans?

"We're real hard to predict," said Clint Roberts, ZM's afternoon host, after a session listening to the songs. "And there's not enough of our songs in there. We have such good summer music and yet it's not reflected in the charts. What this tells me is we have to look closer to home."

For John Campbell, TVNZ's roving reporter and confessed hardcore music guy, the deep dive into our collective musical psyche was, at times, a harrowing experience, and one that left him is a state of reflection.

"It tells me I need to relax more and not worry about the larger meaning of music," he said. "I don't know why I can't just be in the company of the music I'm with, button off and just happily be with it. The way you ought to be with music on a summer day. But I always want some larger significance, some greater sadness or some greater insight."

The Project's Kanoa Lloyd and Jaquie Brown joined forces to break down these Number One hits together.

"It's quite eclectic," Brown said. "I like that it shows the heart wants what the heart wants and we all want really weird, different things and we can celebrate that."

Lloyd had a different take. "It's embarrassing for us," she said.

But the last word on the four decades of summer Number One's belongs to Campbell.

"There's some bloody good songs there," he reckoned with trademark enthusiasm.

"Actually, it's better than I thought it would be."

We kick off back in 1978 and travel through to 1985 taking in dreadlocks, dutchies and jezebels along the way....