If these walls could talk ... That dark, comfortable lounge there used to be a bedroom, and the front room was where the band rehearsed back in 1974. Almost three decades ago. On that Zimmerman piano which has been in the family since 1915 they auditioned Eddie Rayner for their group Split Enz. First notes struck on a long journey.

Mike Chunn looks around his home; the small kitchen with family photos stuck up by the pantry; the tiny office he shares with 9-year old daughter Ruby and its framed lyrics; Peter Cook and Dudley Moore photo; posters of Split Enz and Citizen Band. And his engineering degree.

"Once I start something I tend to commit. I knew I'd never do anything with it, but didn't like the idea of just walking out halfway through."


Next door to this striking Edwardian terrace house, one of a block of three on Parnell Rd, are the two his parents, Yvonne and Jerry, moved into in 1970.

They knocked the walls out to make the family home. Later Mike and brother Geoff rented this end one from their parents and Split Enz practised here. Two years ago Mike, his wife, Brigid, and four kids came home to it.

"It's been great living here, a bit like going through an old scrapbook."

But not for much longer. A real estate agent comes through with a prospective buyer. Chunn carries on chatting. The whole block is on the market and the Chunns are on the move.

"It's okay. It's just change. I don't ever regret going from one place to another, or from one job to another."

Just as well because the wheel of his life turns again. On Tuesday Mike Chunn, 51 and in excellent emotional and physical health, was farewelled at the Apra Silver Scroll awards in the Town Hall with a standing ovation. For 11 years Chunn helmed the organisation which controls the rights and royalty payments for the country's songwriters.

Yesterday was his last day on the job. No exit strategy as they call it, just time to go. The seeds were sown when the family went to Europe for five months this year and lived in towns in Spain, France, and Ireland.

"There's nothing like the hard decisions. Two croissants or three? Plat du jour or a la carte? It just empties your head."

He's coy and cryptic about what's next: "I'm talking to people. There are people I've contacted who wouldn't have expected to hear from me."

He's written three books and has a play in production so maybe he'll do more writing. And maybe he'll go back closer to the ground floor of the music business.

But no, the man who produced classic New Zealand singles such as the Swingers' One Good Reason can't see himself getting into production work: "It's hard yakka. A room with no windows except the glass into the studio? No."

He wants to be involved in helping careers. That's as specific as he'll get.

And so Chunn talks about Split Enz, quitting in England just before they started taking off, coming home and forming Citizen Band when the ambition was still there and he thought he could handle touring better. But his preference, then and now, is for what he calls "the normal life".

He loves this city with his life's landmarks: "First gig here, best gig there, the Penthouse nightclub in Henderson where CB played and there wasn't one human being in sight so we stopped mid-song and just went home."

Remembering: his first band Moses playing in Mangere to two people "and they ran outside to see a scrap", and the night in 1979 when Citizen Band rocked the Auckland Town Hall in a legendary show, "the most overwhelmed I've ever been on stage, the Enz or anything".

He thought of that, and the first Enz gigs there, on Tuesday when he made his eloquent farewell speech on the same stage.

He recalls the struggle to get recognition for New Zealand music through a quota, the pleasure of distributing Apra money to musicians, the irony of being in his position but unable to write songs.

"In terms of saying things a certain way that captures attention I'm okay. But to actually put words down and a song around it? I just don't get it."

And he talks of the agoraphobia, now beaten, that haunted him for almost 18 years. He went public with it in the Like Minds, Like Mine television campaign aimed to counter discrimination against those with a mental illness.

"It's a panic attack when you are away from a place of security, like a great poison released into your system."

For 10 years he thought he was mad and blamed it on "smoking weed", then came a watershed moment when he read a magazine article and recognised himself in it. An office job with Apra in his home town suited, and three years ago he sought professional help.

"Now I know it was totally stress related. I came out of that programme completely cured. I have the pill sitting in my bag, I just don't touch it. Maybe if it weren't there ... I would love not to have had agoraphobia, but I wouldn't change anything that might mean I'm not where I am today. Brigid and I and the kids, that's the core. And that's absolutely wonderful."

Aside from family - the pivot of his poetically autobiographical book Seven Voices five years ago - the other constant is music. In the bass guitar he finds a metaphor for his personality.

He enjoyed Apra because he likes to see people do well "and that's the bass player in me. I don't want to be the one up front, which probably sounds ironic, but like to be involved in everybody doing well. Bass players don't like to feature much, we're into teamwork because bass and drums are the one instrument."

It was that middle, supportive position Chunn brought to Apra. When radio baulked at an imposed quota he didn't characterise them as the enemy but quietly went out to win them through pragmatism and persuasion.

"I'm not one for confrontation. Again that's the bass player in me. The worst thing you can do is tell radio stations they're a pack of bastards. You just needed to change the mindset."

It has taken a decade, but it has happened. He leaves Apra when New Zealand artist Scribe has the number one album and single simultaneously. Another first he's witnessed, just as in August when four out of the five top albums were by local artists. Chunn, made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the music industry in June last year, has been a prime mover in changing the climate. By stealth as much as banner waving.

"You get a lot more done sneaking off to the corner of a coffee bar than you do in formal meetings. And I also just like drinking coffee," he says allowing himself a cheek-creasing laugh.

Kids come in from school and Mike Chunn - between jobs and relaxed - has things to do. Or not.

Next week he'll clean out his desk in the office down the road. No big exit.

"I don't like a fuss. It's the bass player in me."