The New Zealand popular music industry has recently undergone impressive growth, and is poised to make a significant international impact. Two aspects of this newly privileged position are examined. First, broadly sketching twenty years of developments, I argue that Government willingness to get behind the local industry, especially the role of the post-2000 Labour Government, is a crucial determinant of the present success story. Secondly, I consider the debated relationship between local music and New Zealand cultural identity, with particular reference to two prominent musical styles: Kiwi ‘garage’ rock, and Polynesian-dominated local rap, reggae and hip-hop-inflected music. I argue that the local must not be overly valorised, and that it is necessary to distinguish between ‘local music’ as a cultural signifier and locally made music, with both worthy of support.
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