Wintec tutors Dr Nick Braae and Dr Matthew Bannister showed that academic research does not have to be boring and just published books about their separate projects on Taika Waititi and the music of Queen.
Wintec postgraduate supervisor Dr Matthew Bannister researches popular music and interest in New Zealand pop culture and last Friday launched Eye of the Taika: New Zealand Comedy and the Films of Taika Waititi while Wintec music tutor Dr Nick Braae released Rock and Rhapsodies: The Music of Queen.
Bannister says he got the idea for a book on Waititi in 2016 when he went to a screening of Hunt for the Wilderpeople in Hamilton.
"The audience was really excited – they were repeating the dialogue like they already knew it – at the end they applauded. I'd never seen anything like it in a New Zealand cinema."
It took him about two years to write the book. While writing, Bannister was surprised to learn the depth of disciplines that Taika has explored, from painting, stand-up comedy and writing, to directing and acting for television and advertising.
Bannister also spent time researching comedy and exploring what makes people laugh.
"To me, the funniest humour is physical comedy - it's great, it doesn't date. Slipping on a banana skin - that's timeless - if it's done right and Taika is certainly capable of using his body to be funny."
Taika clearly has the ability to switch between roles, says Bannister.
"He's also a Jack of all people, with his diverse cultural background, he's able to inhabit the world from many different points of view. It's a New Zealand way to just improvise, and Taika messes with the audience not knowing exactly how to take him."
Bannister is a member of the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM). He is best known in New Zealand music circles for his first band, Sneaky Feelings.
Rock and Rhapsodies: The Music of Queen, published by Oxford University Press, is a study of the band's music which is based on Braae's doctoral thesis.
Braae has been a fan of the band since he was a child and in 2019, he even had the pleasure of musically directing the Queen musical, We Will Rock You, when it played in Hamilton.
Braae managed the Waikato International Cello Festival 2016 and New Zealand Chamber Soloists from 2014 to 2016. He also presented several academic papers internationally, including in Germany, Denmark and France.