When men were men

In New Zealand, before 1970 men were men and women were grateful.

Pakeha New Zealand was barely 100 years old,  the blood of the pioneers persisting, pumping thick and strong. The land was still being tamed;  work needed sinew and muscle not fingers and pens. Apron strings were still heavily tied to the Mother Land but ultimately swiftly cast aside upon Mothers entrance into the Common Market.

It was a mans world.

Rugby, racing and beer. Sweat and toil. Men hunted, they provided, and so did women, either in the kitchen or in the bedroom.

New Zealand was and still is a land of contradictions. She was the first country in the world to give women the vote, but the first also to throw them the dish cloth and tea towel.  There was genuine affection toward Maori, but this manifested itself in condescension. New Zealanders were generous, yet unthinkingly stole land they had no right to steal. At will they bastardized and and mis-pronounced the beautiful local tongue.

Within all this hubbub though, a national identity slowly started to emerge. A strong independent stand alone culture. A rugged, ‘sort it out, she’ll be right’ attitude toward life.

Peter Cape was a  first generation Kiwi born to an English family and was the most unlikely minstrel of our early cultural emergence. Although through his music and cleverly crafted lyric he captured the essence of what it was like to be a kiwi man.

But what about the women you ask?

Well no need to worry about them, the sheila’s will be in the kitchen cutting the supper.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Peter Cape’s folk music. I believe his life’s work  is seriously underrated; while musically simple, lyrically it’s clever, and historically accurate – painfully so. His body of work is of significant importance to NZ – so on that count give me Peter Cape over Lorde any day.

It’s nostalgic to  look back. But to appreciate it best you need to look back in with corrective lens of context not romance.

As for the man himself, Peter Cape was the perfect kiwi man. A complete and utter contradiction. Unusually for a singer he had a speech impediment which you can quite clearly hear in his vocals. He was Kiwi born to an English family. A man new to NZ but one who captured the essence of being a kiwi man perfectly. He was an ordained Anglican Priest, yet thought nothing of leaving his wife and children to follow the arts and crafts movement evolving in Nelson.

So what do I think of Peter Cape?

As a Musician I believe he was a talented man and I enjoy his music.

As  a recorder of history – he was absolutely brilliant with perfect insight into the psyche of the Kiwi Male.

As a bloke, well I think  he was probably a bit of a bastard.

But then again I think most men were back then.

It was all part of being a kiwi.

Kia Ora

PS: When I hear Peter’s music – I hear the song of my father’s life.

Roly

When the feeling is gone

For me; when the feeling is gone I will no longer be breathing. For there isn’t a day on earth that I can’t imagine not being in love with Betty-Anne Monga.

Image result for betty anne ardijah

I was in my late teens when Betty-Anne and Ardijah burst onto the NZ music scene.

‘Who is that ‘Atua Wahine?’ I asked myself after seeing her for the first time on Ready to Roll. Not only was she stunning, she sounded like an angel – a siren singing straight to my heart. I would have gladly drowned enveloped in her supple brown arms, be tangled and strangled within her long dark hair. God, her beauty hit me right between the eyes and the ears, and to be honest I’ve never fully recovered.

Image result for betty anne ardijahImage result for betty anne ardijah

Of course Ardijah didn’t really just hit the scenes. They had been working the pub scene in Auckland for many years – but for all of those early years they were a covers band. Not a bad thing to be, because they honed their skills, they learnt their craft. So when the big time came they were ready. By god they were ready. It was only after a wag called out during one of their gigs, ‘play something original’  did they feel empowered, did they feel brave enough to unleash their brand of music upon Aotearoa, and I’m so glad they did. Time makes a wine indeed.

Now, I’m no great fan of RnB. But when it is fused with a Polynesian back beat, reggae, funk and ska roots I’m a convert. To me Ardijah is a seminal band for NZ in the way they achieved the finest quality and subtle blend of these elements.  They coined the term Polyfonk – it stuck and it is now the name of their recording label.


https://www.nzonscreen.com/embed/77254beb7e975a88

Ask any Kiwi worth their salt who were their musicians of the eighties, the answers will invariably be:

Split Enz, The Exponents, Dave Dobbyn (and bands), Herbs, Dragon, Mi-Sex, the chills and Hello Sailor, The Clean and more. But where’s Ardijah? Where the hell is Ardijah?

To me they were the sound of the eighties and the nineties. Hot summer days at the beach, picnics, long drives with the window down, arm out the window and my ardijah cassettes on auto rewind. Balmy nights spent wondering where Betty-Anne was playing and wishing I could be there too. Wishing I could drown…yes, yes, heard it already Roly.

Time has flown by, I am now a 50 something overweight pakeha male, but Betty-Anne is still an Atua Wahine. She is still my imaginery 80’s girlfriend.

Ardijah still gig and make music; now they are master craftsmen who have dug even deeper into their polynesian roots. They have immersed themselves into music of the land, of the islands, of the people and themselves. They are also doing covers again, and their version of Prince Tui Teka’s E-Ipo is a beautifully sculptured piece of immense gravitias and mana – easily equal to Herb’s ‘Sensitive to a smile,’ to which it gives a well deserved nod. Bravo!

So Betty-Anne for me the feeling will never be gone. We have never met (damn-it)  but I look back at the eighties and am very grateful that you played such a major part of those years. It was a journey I loved sharing with you. And as you sang so many years ago – time does indeed makes a very fine wine.

Here’s to many more glasses on our journey’s.

Image result for betty anne ardijah

Kia Ora Roly