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Most popular new zealand music – list of songs


A Brief Overview of the Rich Musical Heritage of New Zealand

New Zealand’s music culture is as diverse and spectacular as its breathtaking landscapes. With influences ranging from indigenous Maori traditions to modern pop culture, the musical journey of the nation is a rich tapestry. This article seeks to provide an enlightening view into the most popular music genres and songs in the country, paying homage to the unique blend of historical roots and contemporary innovation that defines New Zealand’s musical identity.

Mention the Scope of the Article: To Highlight the Most Popular Songs in Various Genres

In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll delve into various musical genres that have gained prominence in New Zealand, from the global phenomenon of pop to the soulful rhythms of jazz. We’ll look at chart-toppers and time-honored classics, recognizing both internationally acclaimed artists like Lorde and local talents that resonate with the Kiwi spirit.

Reference to the Strong Influence of Indigenous Maori Culture on Contemporary Music

The influence of Maori culture is an essential thread woven into the fabric of New Zealand’s music scene. From traditional instruments like the Taonga Puoro to the fusion of indigenous sounds in contemporary songs, the Maori heritage continues to shape and inspire musicians. It serves as a beautiful reminder of New Zealand’s rich cultural legacy, a legacy that we’ll explore further in this article, alongside the broad spectrum of popular songs and styles that New Zealanders love.

List of Most Popular New Zealand Songs (Preview):

  • Pop: “Royals” by Lorde, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House
  • Rock: “Love, Love, Love” by Avalanche City, “Forever Now” by Dave Dobbyn
  • Hip-Hop: “Not Many” by Scribe, “Stand Up” by Scribe feat. Savage
  • Maori and Pacific Music: “Poi E” by Patea Maori Club, “Waka” by Che Fu

In the sections to follow, we’ll navigate through New Zealand’s musical terrain, highlighting the songs that have defined generations and continue to shape the future of music in this beautiful island nation.

Historical Background

A Concise History of Music in New Zealand

New Zealand’s musical journey is a rich narrative marked by the blending of indigenous Maori culture with European influences, resulting in a unique and vibrant musical tradition. Here’s a brief look at the historical progression:

Pre-European Era: The Maori people developed a rich musical tradition, with songs and chants integral to social life. Instruments like the Taonga Puoro (traditional Maori instruments) were used in various ceremonies and rituals.

Colonial Period: With the arrival of European settlers, classical European music began to merge with Maori music. Church hymns, folk songs, and brass bands became popular.

20th Century: New Zealand’s music scene started to globalize, with influences from jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and pop permeating the landscape. The local industry began to blossom, and the NZ music charts were established in 1975.

Late 20th and Early 21st Century: The rise of internationally acclaimed artists like Crowded House, Split Enz, Lorde, and others. Genres like hip-hop, electronic music, and alternative rock began to gain traction. The influence of Maori and Pacific music remained significant, finding expressions in various contemporary forms.

The Rise of Different Genres: Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, Electronic, Classical, Jazz, etc.

New Zealand’s musical palate expanded considerably throughout the 20th century, embracing a wide array of styles:

  • Pop: Pioneered by artists like Crowded House and Dragon, pop music became a dominant force, with contemporary artists like Lorde achieving global success.
  • Rock: From the psychedelic rock of the ’60s to the indie rock of the 2000s, rock music evolved into a multifaceted genre. Bands like Shihad and The Datsuns became notable names.
  • Hip-Hop: The late ’90s and early 2000s saw the rise of Kiwi hip-hop, with artists like Scribe and Savage leaving an indelible mark.
  • Electronic: Electronic music found its footing with acts like The Upbeats and Opiuo, reflecting a global trend towards electronic dance music (EDM).
  • Classical: While rooted in European traditions, New Zealand’s classical music also embraced Maori themes. Composers like Douglas Lilburn played pivotal roles in shaping this genre.
  • Jazz: Jazz has been a part of New Zealand’s music scene since the early 20th century, influenced by American jazz. Festivals like the Wellington Jazz Festival continue to celebrate this genre.

The Influence of Maori Culture on New Zealand’s Music Evolution

Maori music’s influence on New Zealand’s broader musical culture cannot be understated. The traditional haka (war dance) and waiata (songs) resonate with New Zealanders of all backgrounds. Modern artists like Tiki Taane and Maisey Rika have infused Maori language and themes into contemporary music, bridging past and present.

The Contemporary New Zealand Music Scene

Overview of the Modern Music Landscape

The modern music landscape in New Zealand is a lively blend of traditional influences and cutting-edge trends. With music festivals like Rhythm and Vines and Homegrown, there’s a constant celebration of local talent. The accessibility of digital platforms has also given rise to a plethora of independent musicians who connect directly with their audience.

Mention of International Successes like Lorde, BROODS, and Others

New Zealand has produced several international successes in recent years. Here’s a glance at some key figures:

  • Lorde: Known for her unique vocal style and thoughtful lyrics, Lorde achieved global fame with hits like “Royals” and “Green Light.”
  • BROODS: This Nelson-born sibling duo has made waves in the pop scene with hits like “Bridges” and “Peach.”
  • Kimbra: With a distinct sound and eclectic style, Kimbra gained international recognition with the Gotye collaboration “Somebody That I Used to Know.”
  • Fat Freddy’s Drop: A Wellington-based band that mixes jazz, reggae, and dub, they’ve become festival favorites around the world.

Discussion of Popular Music Festivals, Awards, and Platforms that Promote New Zealand Music


  • Rhythm and Vines: A three-day festival that celebrates the New Year with top Kiwi and international acts.
  • Homegrown: Focused on local talent, this Wellington-based festival showcases the best of New Zealand music across various genres.
  • Splore Festival: Known for its eco-friendly approach, Splore offers a mix of music, art, and culture.


  • New Zealand Music Awards: Often referred to as the “Tuis,” these awards honor excellence in New Zealand recorded music.
  • APRA Silver Scroll Awards: Recognizing songwriting talent, these awards are a significant accolade for New Zealand musicians.


  • NZ On Air: A government-funded initiative that promotes local music through funding and support.
  • Music Month: An annual event every May that celebrates New Zealand music and artists through various events and promotions.

Most Popular Genres in New Zealand

New Zealand’s musical culture is rich and diverse, encompassing a wide range of genres. From the global pop sensations to the traditional Maori rhythms, the country’s music scene is a vivid tapestry. Let’s explore some of the most popular genres:


Pop music in New Zealand has been at the forefront of international success. Artists like Lorde, Kimbra, and Ladyhawke have garnered global fame with their unique styles. Some notable pop songs include:

  • “Royals” by Lorde
  • “Bridges” by BROODS
  • “My Delirium” by Ladyhawke


Rock music has a long and influential history in New Zealand, from classic rock bands like Crowded House to modern rock acts like Shihad. Distinctive songs from this genre include:

  • “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House
  • “Home Again” by Shihad
  • “Victoria” by Dance Exponents


The Hip-Hop scene in New Zealand is thriving, with artists like Scribe and Savage leading the way. The genre has become a significant voice in contemporary culture. Some standout hip-hop tracks are:

  • “Not Many” by Scribe
  • “Swing” by Savage
  • “Stop, Drop and Roll” by Mareko


Electronic music has found a niche in New Zealand, with festivals like Rhythm and Vines showcasing local and international EDM talents. Key electronic tracks include:

  • “Midnight Youth” by The Letter
  • “Harlequin” by Opiuo
  • “A Thing Called Love” by The Upbeats


With its roots in storytelling, Folk music is an integral part of New Zealand’s musical heritage. Artists like Aldous Harding and Nadia Reid carry the torch. Popular folk songs are:

  • “The Barrel” by Aldous Harding
  • “Richard” by Nadia Reid
  • “Apple Pie Bed” by Lawrence Arabia


Classical music in New Zealand is a blend of European traditions and indigenous Maori influences. Composers like Douglas Lilburn and Gillian Whitehead have made significant contributions. Notable classical compositions include:

  • “Aotearoa Overture” by Douglas Lilburn
  • “Ta Teitei (On High)” by Gillian Whitehead


With influences from American jazz, New Zealand’s Jazz scene has a unique flavor. Musicians like Nathan Haines and Rodger Fox have played key roles in popularizing jazz. Notable jazz pieces include:

  • “Squire for Hire” by Nathan Haines
  • “Misty” by Rodger Fox Big Band

Maori and Pacific Music

The sounds of the indigenous Maori and Pacific communities continue to resonate in contemporary music. Artists like Patea Maori Club and Tiki Taane blend traditional elements with modern sensibilities. Unforgettable Maori and Pacific songs include:

  • “Poi E” by Patea Maori Club
  • “Tangaroa” by Tiki Taane

Emerging Trends and Unique Aspects

Fusion of Maori and Contemporary Music

In New Zealand’s ever-evolving music scene, the fusion of traditional Maori sounds with contemporary music is a distinct trend. Artists like Tiki Taane and Rob Ruha are creating new expressions by blending Maori instruments, language, and themes with modern genres. This fusion offers a rich cultural experience that resonates with audiences worldwide. Examples include:

  • “Kei Tū O Te Tai Ao” by Rob Ruha
  • “Tangaroa Whakamautai” by Maisey Rika

Support for Emerging Artists

New Zealand is home to numerous initiatives that support emerging talents. Organizations like NZ On Air and initiatives like the New Zealand Music Foundation provide funding, exposure, and mentorship. Radio stations like RNZ National also play an essential role in promoting local musicians.

Influence of the Scenic Landscape

The breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand have often been a source of inspiration for musicians. From the majestic mountains to the tranquil beaches, the country’s natural beauty reflects in the music, creating an ethereal and grounding connection between the land and its art.

Growth of Indie and Alternative Music

Independent and alternative music has seen significant growth in New Zealand, with artists like The Chills and The Clean leading the way. The rise of digital platforms has made it easier for indie musicians to share their work, leading to a more diverse and vibrant music scene.

Focus on Sustainability and Community

Music festivals and events in New Zealand are increasingly focusing on sustainability and community engagement. Splore Festival, for example, emphasizes eco-friendly practices, and many events involve the local community, celebrating not just music but also art, culture, and social connection.


New Zealand’s music scene is a reflection of its diverse cultural heritage, scenic landscapes, and innovative spirit. From the powerful Maori rhythms to the international pop sensations, the country’s music resonates with authenticity, creativity, and a sense of community. The blend of traditional and modern, local and global, underscores a rich musical tapestry that continues to evolve and inspire. Whether you’re exploring the vibrant festivals, diving into the indie scene, or revisiting the classics, New Zealand’s music is a journey worth embarking on.

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