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Best of New Zealand
Culture l Farming Life l Maori Culture



New Zealand musicians need not be in Australia or become Australian to make their debut in the international stages. Crowded House became a global hit while recording in New Zealand and just recently, Pauley Fuimana saw huge success with his hit How Bizarre. Foreign music still rank top on radio stations' list, but local artists have now been given increased airtime. Bic Runga, Annie Crummer, Moana and the Moa Hunters, and Headless Chickens are among the many that produce distinct local sounds.

Lovers of classical music are well served by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and regional orchestra in the four main centers. Chamber and jazz music are also rapidly flourishing. New Zealand opera has made a comeback with world-class productions performed regularly in the main centers, each of which has its own opera company. Performances by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Dame Malvina Major, and Sir Donald McIntyre guarantee packed houses.


Professional theater is booming in New Zealand and the playwright to whom local actors and writers owe a great deal to is Bruce Mason (1921-82). He was a one-man theatrical band whose roots were purely local. Mason performed his classic works, The End of the Golden Weather and The Pohutukawa Tree, many times in theaters and country halls throughout the country. His colleague, Roger Hall, also enjoyed huge success with his plays Middle Age Spread (which was performed in London's West End) and By Degrees, among others.


The most famous New Zealand-made film is The Piano, which was directed by Jane Campion who is now based in Australia. Once Were Warriors, a product of Maori director Lee Tamahori, features an all Maori cast. These two films enjoyed box office success and several awards.

Since the late 1970s, the feature film industry achieved significant success, starting with Roger Donalson's Sleeping Dogs, which starred Sam Neil. Thanks to the support from the New Zealand Film Commission, many local smash hits have followed suit. These include Geoff Murphy's Goodbye Pork Pie, Vincent Ward's Vigil, and more recently Harry Sinclair's Topless Women Talk About Their Lives. With the rise of women's liberation, a new generation of Kiwi female filmmakers such as Merata Mira, Gaylene Preston, and Alison McLean now exists. Another film phenomenon is Peter Jackson with his comic 'splatter' films Bad Taste and Brain Dead.

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